This introductory chapter sets out the focus of the book, namely the unfolding story of Britain's policy for maintaining its own strategic nuclear force and of the nuclear diplomacy engendered by the quest to attain American assistance in this venture: the diplomacy is of the intra-alliance variety and concerns the bargaining with the United States for acquisition of technical know-how, and ultimately of completed delivery systems, to sustain the long-term future of the British nuclear force. It offers a systematic interpretation of the official rationales of British nuclear strategy and of the considerations and concerns which contributed to specific decisions about weapons and force levels. The strategic case for such missiles as Blue Streak, Skybolt, and Polaris will be reviewed and set in the context of the internecine bureaucratic and service politics of which they were so much a part.
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