Seeing as Iâ€™ve survived completed my first year of grad school, I thought it was a good time to resurrect this long-dormant blog and engage in one of my all-time favorite activities: shameless self-promotion.
In the spring edition of Strategic Visionsâ€”the biannual newsletter of Temple Universityâ€™s Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy (CENFAD)â€”I have an extended review of two new books on nuclear weapons and international politics. The two books, Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in Americaâ€™s Atomic Age by Frank Gavin* and Paul Brackenâ€™s The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics, both attempt to provide new perspectives on the role of nuclear weapons in international politics.
In Gavinâ€™s case, he hopes to reassess some of the prevailing assumptions about how nuclear weapons affect international politics in light of newly available documentary sources. Gavin challenges some of articles of atomic faithâ€”such as the ability of nuclear weapons to stabilize international relations and the role superiority in American nuclear strategyâ€”by re-examining aspects of the Cold War, such as the various crises over Berlin and arms control during DÃ©tente in light of new evidence.
For his part, Bracken hopes to reverse what he sees as a dearth in post-Cold War strategic thinking. In Brackenâ€™s telling disarmament and nonproliferation efforts have been ascendant since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and therefore little room has been left for research on how to deal with the consequences of proliferation when it occurs. While this diagnosis is not without merit, the analysis Bracken builds around it is, wellâ€¦ not particularly convincing.
The full newsletter is available here and includes my review, as well as several excellent essays and reviews by my classmates in the history department at Temple that are well worth checking out, as well as recaps of CENFAD events and news on recent student and faculty activities. For what itâ€™s worth, I highly recommend the essay by John Worsencroft on the role memories of World War II played in the days leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
In the meantime, new content should begin to reappear on this blog in the coming days and weeks (I hopeâ€¦).
*My editor felt it was unnecessary to include it in the original review, but in the interest of full disclosure I should note that I was a participant in the 2010 Hertog Global Strategy Initiative at Columbia University where Professor Gavin served a co-director.