The doctrine of “mutually assured destruction” (MAD) holds that a full-scale nuclear war between two superpowers can never happen because it would result in the total annihilation of both sides. In game theory, this represents a so-called “Nash equilibrium” – a stand-off where no player can gain an advantage by unilaterally changing strategy.
MAD, in fact, was responsible for the world’s most dangerous arms race. For almost 50 years during the Cold War, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. competed to research, develop and manufacture increasingly sophisticated missiles and warheads. As a result, both powers ultimately acquired massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons.