"Nearly 40 years after the concept of finite deterrence was popularized by the Johnson administration, nuclear Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) thinking appears to be in decline. The United States has rejected the notion that threatening population centers with nuclear attacks is a legitimate way to assure deterrence. Most recently, it withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, an agreement based on MAD. American opposition to MAD also is reflected in the Bush administration's desire to develop smaller, more accurate nuclear weapons that would reduce the number of innocent civilians killed in a nuclear strike...At the start of the NPEC's [Nonproliferation Policy Education Center] work on this book, a review of the literature concerning nuclear planning was conducted. It highlighted the dearth of historical publications on either the origins or the practice of MAD. Certainly, a clear account of the premises behind MAD's original argumentation and a critical assessment of the extent to which this theory was applied by nuclear weapons states are needed to develop sound alternative policies. It is hoped that this book, which details the origins and practice of MAD and highlights sounder alternatives, will fill this gap in the literature and encourage debate about how best to supplant what's MAD that remains."
Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/pubs/recent.cfm