Tag Archives: cuban missile crisis

A New Cold War?

27 Mar

I was recently asked to offer some commentary for this BBC piece on whether or not we’re in a new Cold War. Obviously, such articles can only use a tiny fraction of the submitted information, so I thought I’d place my full responses here. The questions are those posed by the BBC and, of course, all of my thoughts can and should be contested.

1) When would you say Cold War tensions peaked and why?

The period that we call the Cold War had deep roots in the nineteenth century, and more immediate roots in the period from the 1917 Russian Revolution onwards. It emerged after World War Two as the result of misperception, misunderstanding, ideological fixation, economic tension, and – crucially – the decisions of key individuals such as US president Harry Truman and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. It’s a handy term that covers the period from the mid-1940s to the late 1990s, encompassing the confrontation between the two major (at the time) ideological systems of liberal capitalism and collectivist communism. It was not the only major feature of the period, but it came to be entangled with other facets of the post-World War Two world such as decolonisation and the emergence of newly independent, formerly colonised, states.

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Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Nuclear Identity

13 Apr
Hogg

Jonathan Hogg’s forthcoming book British Nuclear Culture

Last Friday, April 10, the Centre for the Study of Modern Conflict at the University of Edinburgh played host to a workshop on ‘Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Nuclear Identity’. This formed part of an ongoing series of workshops under the auspices of the British International Studies Association’s Global Nuclear Order Working Group. I was delighted to be able to organise this very stimulating and interesting session that brought together faculty, postgraduates, and practitioners from across the UK.

The aim of the day was to discuss and debate various interpretations of ‘nuclear identity’ and how the work we are doing in our different disciplines can fruitfully be shared. One of the main aims – for me certainly – was to grapple with how we understand ‘identity’ and how do we analyse it in our different disciplines and across disciplinary boundaries. In regard to this, I was struck by how much common group we all shared, whether working in history, political science, international relations, or within the nuclear establishment itself.

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Teaching The Nuclear Cold War: Weeks 4 and 5, US-UK relations & the Berlin and Cuban crises

21 Oct

An omnibus edition this time round, because of extreme busy-ness last week!

Week four of the course saw us tackle the ups and downs of the Anglo-American nuclear relationship. From the sudden cut-off because of the McMahon Act to the restoration to full cooperation under the Mutual Defence Agreement, nuclear relations between London and Washington were never that smooth.

This aside, one of the most fascinating aspects of week 3 was our examination of the 1955 Strath Report, and it’s this I’d like to concentrate on. Few university courses use the report in full as a primary source, but I think it – and the reactions it provokes – provide immensely instructive insights into British nuclear thinking in the 1950s. In brief, the Strath Report argued that with the advent of the hydrogen bomb, British society – in its 1950s form – could not survive nuclear war. Ministers responded to this with horror, recoiling from many of William Strath’s recommendations to increase survivability. Likewise, the government declined to make public the findings of Strath.

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