Kahn, Herman

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Kahn, Herman

(kän), 1922–83, American military strategist. b. Bayonne, N.J. After graduate work in physics at the California Institute of Technology, he joined the Rand CorporationRand Corporation,
research institution in Santa Monica, Calif.; founded 1948 and supported by federal, state, and local governments, as well as by foundations and corporations. Its principal fields of research are national security and public welfare.
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. Unlike scholars such as Bernard BrodieBrodie, Bernard,
1910–78, American military strategist, b. Chicago. Brodie edited The Absolute Weapon (1946), the first book on nuclear strategy, and was a strategic theorist at the Rand Corporation (1951–66).
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, he believed that nuclear war could be won. At Rand, he studied the application of such analytic techniques as game theory and systems analysis to military theory. In 1961 he founded the Hudson Institute, where he conducted research into questions of national security and the future. His writings include On Thermonuclear War (1961), Thinking about the Unthinkable (1962), On Escalation (1965), The Emerging Japanese Superstate (1970), The Future of the Corporation (1974), The Japanese Challenge (1979), and Thinking about the Unthinkable in the 1980s (1984).


See biography by B. Bruce-Briggs (2000); study by S. Ghamari-Tabrizi (2005).

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In 1984 real estate developer Gary Melius bought Oheka Castle, Otto Herman Kahn' 126-room French chateau in Huntington, and began restoring the estate to its former glory.
In a series of works published in the early 1960s, Herman Kahn, a RAND strategist, was arguing that the US could survive an all-out nuclear war and even resume something like a normal life.
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During these discussions, more names joined the list of scholars dealing with grand strategy, including John Gaddis, Bernard Brodie, Henry Kissinger, and Herman Kahn.
In July 1964, Henry Kissinger annoyed the strategist Herman Kahn as he unfolded to a seminar at Harvard his elaborate theory of escalation, which formed the subject of a huge and useless tome.
Two years later, amid rising social disorder, the futurist Herman Kahn and a high-profile commission at the Hudson Institute adapted Sorokin's model of sensate society to introduce the acclaimed study, The Year 2000.
Aggressive Russian actions in Ukraine, Syria and cyberspace have led some analysts to review Cold War texts such as Herman Kahn's classic "On Escalation," which describes a psychology of "escalation dominance" where adversaries take action in the expectation that they will prevail.
Kaplan shows SAC unable to respond conceptually to challenges raised by civilian theorists (Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, Henry Kissinger, and others), the Navy's finite deterrence embodied in the Polaris submarine-launched ballistic missile, and the Army's ideas of limited war voiced by Maxwell Taylor.
In 1982, the brilliant futurist Herman Kahn published The Coming Boom, in which he pleaded for the reestablishment of "an ideology of progress." Kahn warned:
The "logic" behind JOSHUA's thinking is the satirized logic of Herman Kahn, RAND's controversial game theorist and the author of On Thermonuclear War (1960).
The futures field is an integrative science of reasoning, choosing and acting." (4) The pioneers of futures studies include such figures as Harold Lasswell, Daniel Bell, and Herman Kahn. The collective work of these pioneers was concerned with developing the policy sciences into an interdisciplinary pool of problem-solving methodologies to serve as a guide to future decisionmaking.
As Herman Kahn, the dean of American nuclear strategists, said when people criticised him for making cold-blooded estimates of how many millions of Americans would be killed as a result of US strategies for fighting a nuclear war: "Would you prefer a nice, warm mistake?"