Political Science | Force and Diplomacy in the Nuclear Age
Y490 | 8636 | Spechler
Political Science , Force and Diplomacy in the Nuclear Age
Y490 , 8636 , 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 significant arsenals of their own, and
terrorist groups are attempting to purchase such weapons. In the
meantime, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the policies of
certain governments are 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 70 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, emphasizing discussion.
Weekly reading will be 50-60 pages, including many original source
documents (memoirs, letters, and 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.