Statue of Mother and Child at the Hypocenter, Nagasaki
Other nations in Europe also made insufficient attempts to create conventional forces that would deter Germany. Mr. Ulyanov’s argument assumes that deterrence existed but failed, when in fact it follows logically from the word’s meaning that if it failed it didn’t exist. American general Brent Scowcroft made this point in 1983 when he said, “... deterrence is a very ambiguous notion. It cannot be demonstrated unless it fails, in which case you know it was not there. Otherwise, it cannot be demonstrated.”  It is difficult to conceive of how Germany could have avoided defeat once it was opposed by both the USSR and the USA, so Hitler should have been deterred but he obviously wasn’t. Considering the gamble he took in fighting the war he chose to fight, it is conceivable that he wouldn’t have been deterred in the post-nuclear world, either. Such a reckless leader might gamble that no one would dare use a nuclear weapon, and indeed North Vietnamese and North Korean armies did not surrender under to a nuclear-armed opponent.
In any case, the circumstances of WWII were unique, and we must keep in mind that deterrence is not a concrete noun. It doesn’t exist in weapons themselves. It exists as a set of behaviors and messages deployed in a particular circumstance in order to try to influence the behavior of others. Nations can defend themselves, and war can be avoided in numerous ways without a nuclear arsenal, and even a nuclear arsenal wouldn’t be enough to deter all hypothetical opponents. In fact, the existence of a nuclear arsenal creates new dangers and can make nations extremely complacent about building the foundations of lasting peace.
 ABC News Viewpoint, Discussion panel following the broadcast of The Day After, November 20, 1983, 00:21:23~. Accessed August 27, 2016, https://youtu.be/UzXcQ2Lr-40