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Friday, February 12, 2010

Is Nuclear Deterrence Dead as the Dodo Bird?

The title of this post is also the title of one of my papers for next week's International Studies Association Annual Meeting in New Orleans. I've been a bad blogger for weeks because in the past 6 to 8 weeks, I've completed a draft chapter on the Iraq war (from a critical theory perspective), a coauthored chapter on the politics of climate change, another ISA paper on "Teaching Global Politics Through Film: The Role of Comedy" and this paper.

Here's the revised abstract:
Supporters and opponents of nuclear deterrence are clearly engaged in a renewed “contest” about the status of a long-standing normative idea in international relations. While the reality and logic of nuclear deterrence is often taken-for-granted, recurrent debates about the meaning and effectiveness of the norm arguably reflect an ongoing legitimacy crisis. Academic critics of nuclear strategy have for the most part simply revealed and explained the many contradictions in deterrence theorizing and practice. Most of these critics seek to correct, perfect, and reinforce the fundamental logic of deterrence. In contrast, the primary concern here is whether the growing recognition of the contradictions, irrationalities, and even absurdities of nuclear deterrence might usher in the strategy’s demise—and potentially create the conditions for, and/or provide the impetus to, a world free of nuclear weapons. Empirically, much attention is directed at the anti-nuclear activism of numerous prominent former and current public officials and military leaders who have condemned nuclear weapons and called for a world without them. Alternatively, the paper explores whether the death of deterrence might merely assure the long life of preventive war strategies (like the “Bush Doctrine”)? In terms of international relations theory, this paper serves as an immanent critique of nuclear deterrence.
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