Political Science | Force & Diplomacy in Nuclear Age
Y210 | 23384 | & 24325 Spechler


Contrary to most people’s expectations, the end of the Cold War has
not eliminated the threat to national and planetary survival posed
by nuclear weapons. Both the US and Russia retain huge arsenals,
which both sides are working hard to modernize. A growing number of
other states are acquiring arsenals of their own. In the meantime,
the collapse of the Soviet Union is accelerating the process of
nuclear proliferation and increasing the danger of nuclear war from
an accident or detonation by terrorists.  At the same time, the two
nuclear superpowers are faced with serious environmental damage and
substantial risks resulting from the production and storage of
nuclear warheads and fuel. This course will examine the key
decisions over the last 60 years by policy makers in the US, the
USSR/Russia, Europe, and the Third World that created this dangerous
situation, the contemporary consequences of these decisions, and the
prospects for the future. We will consider the options open to
decision makers in the past and the present, the wisdom of and
rationale for the choices they made, and what should be done now.

The course will be taught as a seminar, meeting two hours a week and
emphasizing discussion. Weekly reading will be 50-60 pages,
including many original source documents (memoirs, letters,
speeches) and news articles from the past and present, as well as
scholars’ discussions of the issues. Writing assignments will total
approximately 20-25 pages. There will be a midterm and a final.