Thanks for the detailed response and for linking to that other post. I’ve been dealing with chickenpox in the house so this is probably later and briefer than the analysis deserves.
+1 to ‘Command and Control’ and ‘Nuclear Folly’ as well worth reading—between them, enough to dispel any illusions that the destructive power of nuclear weapons was matched with processes to avoid going wrong, whether by accident or human folly. I’ll check out ‘The Bomb’.
The worrying aspect for me is the combination of leeway for particular commanding officers combined with environmental factors that reduce the ability of those officers to know what’s going on, and/or to exercise rational judgement. The sub is the most obvious example of this.
beyond the fact that the Soviet response to a US invasion of Cuba could be to attempt to take Berlin
That’s a pretty strong argument in favour of escalation to nuclear exchange! I think it’s also other situations taking up the bandwidth of intelligence and politicians, introducing uncertainty, increasing the number of locations where normal accidents or individuals doing something stupid could increase tensions. For China, it came to nothing but one more thing taking up attention and not ideal if you’re dealing with one nuclear-armed Communist country to have another one with an unpredictable leader invading another country...