Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Program on Energy and Sustainable Development Stanford University

President John F. Kennedy meets with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in the Cabinet Room, 06/19/1962.
Photo credit: The National Archives

October 9, 2013 - CISAC In the News

CISAC affiliate Pelopidas argues that nuclear realism is unrealistic

Benoît Pelopidas argues in this provocative commentary in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that adopting the viewpoint often called nuclear realism -- the notion that technology and careful management will keep us safe -- is a "dangerous course, akin to putting on blinders."

Pelopidas is a CISAC affiliate and lecturer in International Relations at the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS), University of Bristol. He was a postdoctoral fellow at CISAC for the 2011-2012 academic year.

"The stance called nuclear realism has been counterproductive since the early days of the Cold War," he writes, "when it was considered 'realistic' for the United States and the Soviet Union to build ever more nulcear weapons, so as not to fall behind in the arms race with the opposing country. Realism has become the reigning ethos of both of these nuclear superpowers, and it has led would-be critics of the nuclear build-up to censor themselves -- when they were not silenced -- for fear that they might be politically embarrassed by not looking tough enough on defense."

Topics: International Relations | Nuclear safety and security | Security