The Nuclear Club: How America and the World Policed the Atom from Hiroshima to Vietnam | Jonathan Hunt

Tuesday, May 21, 2024
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

William J. Perry Conference Room

  • Jonathan Hunt

About the Event: The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is one of the most significant, observed, and contentious accords in world politics. How and why did the international community come to negotiate a treaty that divided nation-states between five authorized “nuclear-weapon States” and a teeming mass of nuclear unarmed? The Nuclear Club pushes back against interpretations that either attribute the NPT’s creation to the superpowers alone and to the United States in particular or that discount the importance of nuclear-security guarantees to the global nonproliferation regime. It also reveals the extent to which the Vietnam War both catalyzed and circumscribed U.S. support for nuclear internationalism as President Lyndon Baines Johnson sought to burnish his peacemaking credentials amid escalating military involvement in Southeast Asia. By reconnecting the origins of Washington’s commitment to nuclear containment to that of communist containment and by reconstructing the international consensus that arose for a closed nuclear club, processes that would go on to shape global nuclear politics for the rest of the Cold War and beyond are cast in sharper relief – an open-ended U.S. commitment to policing nuclearity across an endless frontier and an uneven nuclear order deliberately forged to avert great-power conflict while permitting and even legitimating limited wars.

About the Speaker: Jonathan R. Hunt is an Assistant Professor of History and Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College in the Deterrence Studies Institute of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies. His research comprehends the international and global history of the Cold War with an emphasis on U.S. foreign policy on matters of war, peace, and commerce. He is the author of The Nuclear Club: How America and the World Policed the Atom from Hiroshima to Vietnam (Stanford University Press, 2022) and the co-editor with Simon Miles of The Reagan Moment: America and the World in the 1980s (Cornell University Press, 2021). He received a B.A. in Plan II Liberal Arts Honors, History, and Russian and East European Studies and also a Ph.D. in History from the University of Texas at Austin and has been a fellow or scholar at Stanford CISAC, RAND Corporation, and Harvard University, among others. He has previously taught at the University of Southampton and the U.S. Air War College. This year he is a fellow at the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs’ Nuclear Security Program, part of International Security Studies.

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