Discipline: Political Science

Theory in military strategy which asserts that if a state has so much weaponry that it can defend itself, destroy any aggressor (and perhaps the world) and still have weapons to spare, it is capable of overkill.

Not surprisingly, the concept has been met with a mixture of derision and dismay, and has passed into common usage as a synonym for an unnecessary and excessive response in any situation; not so much a sledgehammer to crack a nut, as a flamethrower which defeats the object of eating the nut.

David Robertson, The Penguin Dictionary of Politics (London, 1986)


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