We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.
~ Kurt Vonnegut
Codenamed Giant Lance, Nixon’s plan was the culmination of a strategy of premeditated madness he had developed with national security adviser Henry Kissinger.
Now, thanks to documents released through the Freedom of Information Act, it’s clear that Giant Lance was the leading example of what historians came to call the “madman theory”: Nixon’s notion that faked, finger-on-the-button rage could bring the Soviets to heel.
Nixon’s madman pose and Giant Lance were based on game theory, a branch of mathematics that uses simple calculations and rigorous logic to help understand how people make choices â€” like whether to surge ahead in traffic or whether to respond to a military provocation with a strike of one’s own.
The madman theory was an extension of that doctrine.
The sudden conclusion reinforced the madman pose.
Denying that there was ever a madman theory in operation, he emphasized that Giant Lance was designed to be a warning, not a provocation to war.