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Operation Giant Lance was a highly secretive military operation by the United States during the Cold War. On October 10, 1969, U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered a squadron of 18 B-52s loaded with nuclear weapons to race to the border of Soviet airspace in order to convince the Soviet Union that Nixon was capable of anything to end the Vietnam War. The operation concluded on October 30. Details of the plan remained unknown to the public until Freedom of Information Act requests in the 2000s revealed documents about the operation.

Giant Lance was based on the game theory idea of the irrational actor. Two people are stuck in a deadly situation, for example, chained together on the edge of a cliff, and the game can be won by the other person giving in and the winner gets a big prize. One strategy is to act in such an irrational manner to convince the other person that you are a "madman" and capable of anything. Rather than die, the other person would rather give up the prize and give in.

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