Political Science | Honors Seminar: Force and Diplomacy in the Nuclear Age
Y210 | 3362 | 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 USA 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,
while the two nuclear superpowers are faced with serious environmental
damage resulting from the production and storage of nuclear warheads and
fuel. This course will examine the key decisions over the last 50 years by
policy makers in the USA, 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 that 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.