The central dilemma of the nuclear age has been how to obtain the benefits but avoid the risks of an extraordinarily powerful technology when no state can control its spread nor protect itself unilaterally against hostile or reckless misuse. PUAF 720 covered choices made about nuclear weapons during the Cold War and its immediate aftermath. PUAF 798M considers how powerful trends associated with globalization affect long-standing issues on the arms control and nonproliferation agenda. It also explores how they are creating new types of challenges, including biosecurity and cybersecurity, which cannot be addressed through purely unilateral means, but which also do not fit well with traditional forms of arms control and nonproliferation. Of particular interest is how the level of international cooperation that would be required to respond effectively to global warming affects the amount and type of cooperation needed to manage nuclear energy, prevent proliferation, and minimize risks from existing nuclear arsenals.
The class begins by examining different kinds of explanations for arms control and nonproliferation outcomes and debates about what, if any, need the United States and the rest of the international community for formal arms control now that the Cold War is over. We will use both the current debate about the best way to reduce risks from Iran’s nuclear program and longstanding arguments over the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as case studies of the interplay between substance and process during negotiation, ratification, and implementation. The course will then consider questions of central importance to security relations among the United States, Russia, and China, including missile defense, space security, and cybersecurity. It will then consider incremental and transformational proposals for addressing a range of global security challenges where technological advances, empowerment of non-state actors, economic interdependence, and climate change are making it increasingly difficult to achieve core security objectives either through unilateral action or through arms control and nonproliferation strategies developed during the Cold War.