Casting the atomic canon: (R)evolving nuclear strategy

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Research Article

Publication Title

European Journal of International Security

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Looming decisions on arms control and strategic weapon procurements in a range of nuclear-armed states are set to shape the international security environment for decades to come. In this context, it is crucial to understand the concepts, theories, and debates that condition nuclear policymaking. This review essay dissects the four editions of The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy, the authoritative intellectual history of its subject. Using this widely acclaimed work as a looking glass into the broader field of nuclear security studies, we interrogate the field's underlying assumptions and question the correspondence between theory and practice in the realm of nuclear policy. The study of nuclear strategy, we maintain, remains largely committed to an interpretive approach that invites analysts to search for universal axioms and to abstract strategic arguments from the precise circumstances of their occurrence. While this approach is useful for analysing the locutionary dimension of strategic debates, it risks obscuring the power structures, vested interests, and illocutionary forces shaping nuclear discourse. In the conclusion, we lay out avenues for future scholarship.

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