This past September, the U.S. Air Force introduced a cache of 20 new B61-12 nuclear bombs to the Luftwaffe’s Büchel Air Base in western Germany. The upgrade, part of the NATO program on nuclear “sharing,” replaced a higher-yield version of the venerable B61 with a less destructive weapon, but it nonetheless sparked protest by opposition parties in Germany.
Those who used to worry endlessly about the “N + 1” problem—rampant proliferation—in the Sixties would be quite surprised some fifty years later. As the consensus of the strategic community had it at the time, there were some twenty countries with the industrial base capable of building nuclear weapons—and would do so in short order.
Drawing on the older traditions of the Prussian army, nineteenth-century Germany grew into a formidable military power, and during the twentieth century it nearly dominated Europe. It took two world wars to defeat Germany and to contain its aggressive ambitions.