Medical experts who review the Pentagon psychological profile of Vladimir Putin unearthed by USA Today this week aren’t going to be impressed. It’s probably wrong in diagnosing the Russian leader as a victim of autism. However, it still highlights a key problem in U.S. nuclear strategy: foreign leaders who don’t think like us, and therefore are harder to deter. U.S. policymakers assume that the threat of massive retaliation will dissuade other nations from attacking, but leaders like Hitler who have mental disorders might completely mis-interpret the signals Washington sends — making nuclear war more likely. So in addition to modernizing our nuclear arsenal to continue deterring “normal” adversaries, maybe we should be building missile defenses to protect America from leaders with the kinds of mental-health issues the Pentagon study of Putin highlighted. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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