There is a widely acknowledged gap between policy making and academic theory. As Paul Nitze\u00a0once observed:\r\nMost of what has been written and taught under the heading of \u201cpolitical science\u201dby Americans since World War II has been contrary to experience and common sense. It has also been of limited value, if not counterproductive, as a guide to the actual conduct of policy.\r\n\u00a0\r\nThis gap is especially pronounced in the realm of nuclear strategy. In academia, nuclear scholars have consistently argued that nuclear-armed states only need a limited number of warheads to maintain a secure second-strike capability, and building larger arsenals is of no utility. During the Cold War, however, the Soviet Union and United States built tens of thousands of weapons, and Moscow and Washington still maintain arsenals well in excess of what academics believe is necessary. In seeking to explain this gap, most scholars have fallen back on the argument that the superpowers are\u00a0simply acting\u00a0\u201cillogical\u201d when it comes to nuclear strategy.\r\nMatthew Kroenig seeks to bridge this gap in his new book,\u00a0The Logic of American Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters.\u00a0A professor at Georgetown University, Kroenig often takes controversial positions and challenges the conventional wisdom, especially the conventional wisdom in the Ivory Tower. In doing so, he makes his points so persuasively that even his staunchest critics are forced to grapple with his arguments.\r\nThe Logic of American Strategy\u00a0is arguably Kroenig\u2019s most ambitious project yet. The book challenges the conventional wisdom on U.S. nuclear strategy but does so from a position firmly grounded in the work that came before it. Thus, Kroenig accepts that a secure second-strike capability is sufficient for deterring most conventional attacks, but \u201cargues that military nuclear advantages above and beyond a secure, second-strike capability can contribute to a state's national security goals.\u201d Most notably, his \u201csuperiority-brinkmanship synthesis theory\u201d contends that by building a robust nuclear posture\u2014\u201cwith capabilities designed to limit damage in the event of nuclear war\u201d\u2014the United States enhances its ability to take risks in nuclear crises. That is because America has counterforce capabilities\u2014i.e., those that can take out an adversary\u2019s nuclear arsenal\u2014that reduce the level of destruction it would suffer in a nuclear attack.\r\nAgain, this is rooted in the pioneering work of intellectual giants like Thomas Schelling. As Schelling demonstrated, in a world characterized by Mutually Assured Destruction, countries are less likely to fight wars. In their place, countries compete through brinkmanship, where each side takes increasingly risky actions in an effort to get the other side to back down. Brinkmanship is a battle of resolve, and most theorists believe that whichever side has greater interests at stake will demonstrate more resolve. That is, they will be willing to take the most risky actions in order to achieve their ends. This presents a paradox for the United States. As the only country that provides extended deterrence over its allies in theatres like Europe and Asia, it almost always has less at stake than adversaries like Russia and China. Thus, if resolve is simply a matter of which side has greater stakes at risk, America should lose every time.\r\nWhy doesn\u2019t this happen, then? Kroenig argues that resolve is about more than what interests are at stake. Similar to Daryl Press's\u00a0theory on credibility,\u00a0Kroenig argues that resolve is better calculated as a combination of the stakes involved and each state\u2019s capabilities. By building a robust nuclear force, America\u2019s losses in a nuclear war\u2014though extraordinary\u2014will be less than its adversaries. This makes U.S. leaders more willing to gamble in nuclear crises than they otherwise would be. As Kroenig puts it:\r\nLeaders in nuclear superior states still badly want to avoid a nuclear exchange, but because the costs of a nuclear exchange are relatively lower, we should expect that they will be willing, on average, to hazard a higher risk of disaster than their nuclear inferior opponents, making them more likely to ultimately win nuclear crises.