This paper seeks to answer the question of how the development of nuclearweapons changed the nature of warfare, diplomacy, and international relations. It frames thehistorical context in which these weapons were invented, how they were used to achieve militarygoals, and asks ethical and moralistic questions about how they changed the way global affairswere conducted. The focus of this paper begins with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and ends with the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962. This seventeen-year period marks the era of the Cold War upon which nuclear weapons had the most pronounced and profound effect. Though their influence has never left the geopolitical landscape, the historical events and actors who lived through this initial phase were operating without guidelines or precedent to steer them, and thus their ability to navigate mankind out of this tumultuous time without engaging in an open nuclear conflict is somewhat remarkable. That unique achievement will be the central theme of this paper.