Political Science | The Cold War and After
Y396 | 3474 | 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 the process of nuclear proliferation and
increased the danger of nuclear war from an accident or detonation by
terrorists, while 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 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.