Nuclear Nihilism, Creating the Soviet Dead Hand: A Necessary Evil

  • Ezra K. Beudot


This paper discusses the development of the Soviet nuclear strategic control and command system, called Perimeter. The paper sources from first hand accounts and secondary research, in order to explain the Soviet rationale for creating Perimeter. Such an explanation is useful, as from our perspective, it may be difficult to understand why a government would be willing to construct what is essentially a doomsday system. Perimeter itself is a "fail-deadly," system, meaning that should the system detect a nuclear attack on Russia, it will automatically or semi-automatically (depending on the setting) order the launch of Russia's land-based nuclear arsenal, securing retaliation, even if the normal Russian command leadership is knocked out in a nuclear decapitation. Ultimately, the paper argues that the Soviet leadership had considerable reason to implement Perimeter.