Tag Archives: national security archive

The Heights of the Cold War

3 Dec
Above: The height of Cold War satire.

Above: The height of Cold War satire. Slim Pickens as USAF Major ‘King’ Kong rides the bomb in Dr Strangelove.

A recent article in the Daily Mail, plus a subsequent Twitter conversation, has provoked me to address this blog posts to journalists everywhere. This is not some academic lecturing from his lofty ivory tower (it’s actually made of brick, and my office is only on the first floor), rather a plea for a little bit of historical thinking.

Daily Mail journalist Matt Hunter examines on a tense standoff between the air forces of the United States and the Soviet Union in October, 1986. Hunter notes that “The incident above the Barents Sea, near Soviet waters, took place between a US Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and a MiG-31, the premier Soviet interceptor aircraft, at the height of the Cold War 30 years ago.”

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Barry and the Bombers

21 Apr

Following on from A.Q. Khan’s angry letter about British television, here’s another snippet that didn’t make it into the final version of the thesis.

Throughout the mid-to-late 1970s, successive US administrations attempted to use arms sales as a means of shifting Pakistan from the nuclear path. During this period, the weapon system that was always a major sticking point was the advanced A-7 attack aircraft. The Pakistanis wanted it. The Americans didn’t want them to have it. Then they did. Then they didn’t. Then they did. And so on ad infinitum.

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Nixon, Intelligence, and the Indian Bomb

23 Dec

‘The most peculiar and haunted of presidents’ is going to be a quixotic figure in any field of study.(1) Nixon and Henry Kissinger – the man most closely associated with the president and his policies – are sources of endless fascination for the scholar and layperson alike.

In my own field, the relationship between the two men and the idea of nuclear proliferation is no less enthralling than any of the other areas in which they involved themselves. Both had little time for the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and non-proliferation activities in general, as their sights were firmly set on the ‘big picture’ policies of d├ętente with the Soviet Union, the normalisation of relations with the People’s Republic of China, the Middle East peace process, Vietnam, and the ‘Year of Europe.’

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HOTCUS Conference 2012

21 Dec

The other day I received notification from the organising committee of the 2012 Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) conference that my paper proposal had been accepted. My intention is to discuss US-UK motivations towards the Pakistani nuclear issue in 1978-79, looking a how ideas of democracy, civilisation, and religion influenced their stances alongside the more traditional geopolitical and Realist conceptions of international relations. Here’s the abstract:

During 1978 and into 1979 it became apparent to Western observers that Pakistan was engaging in covert efforts to produce the raw material for nuclear weapons. In light of this, the United States and United Kingdom jointly engaged in diplomatic strategies aimed at curbing the emergent Pakistani nuclear programme. Using recently declassified and previously unseen sources from both sides of the Atlantic, this paper argues that US-UK cooperation in the (ultimately fruitless) attempt to prevent Pakistani development of nuclear weapons capability was far closer and more involved than traditionally suggested.

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The Subtle Art of the Demarche

16 Dec

I meant to post about this ages ago, when the documents were first released, but other stuff got in the way as usual. However, this is so interesting that I had to talk about it at some point.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University continues its excellent work in obtaining the release of previously classified nuclear documentation with this recent set of diplomatic messages.(1) They highlight the efforts of the United States in trying to restrain Pakistani nuclear ambitions while concurrently attempting to achieve other – often conflicting – foreign policy objectives.

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