Tall tales and deceptive discourses

Auteurhugh Gusterson
BeschrijvingWEAPONS SYSTEMS, TREATIES, and strategies come to seem right (or wrong) in the con-text of the stories we tell ourselves about them. Social scientists and historians call these stories discourses. Sometimes new discourses (like our discourse on civil rights) originate from below and eventually gain enough credibility that they are co-opted by the government. Other dis-courses (like the discourse on deterrence during the Cold War) originate within the government, and within the tight circle of think tanks that speaks to the government, and are then propagated outward through society by waves of speech-making and media dissemination. From time to time there are sharp historical breaks as new stories and propositions become accepted with startling suddenness. Senior officials in the Bush administration are now trying to create this kind of radical shift in our discourse about nuclear weapons. The Cold War saw the rise of an official discourse on nuclear weapons that is now looking more than a little tattered. Its chief assumptions were: that the genie having escaped the bottle in a dangerous world, nuclear weapons could not be abolished, and anyone who thought otherwise was naive or worse; that even though the two superpowers were inevitable rivals racing to improve their arsenals, they were rational enough to manage their competition in ways that would not cause a nuclear war; that the arms race could be channeled and disciplined, though not prevented, by arms control treaties; and that certain avenues of competition were destabilizing and should therefore be fore-closed by mutual agreement. These included a race to build defensive anti-missile systems and a race to put nuclear, anti-satellite, or anti-ballistic weapons in space. After the Cold War, this way of looking at the world began to look increasingly outmoded. The Clinton administration attempted to strike up some new discursive themes, but its attempts were undercut by their own half-heartedness. For example, the administration made some vague re-marks about moving toward a world without nuclear weapons, but it failed to negotiate any new arms reductions and it proclaimed through its Nuclear Posture Review that the United States would rely on nuclear weapons for its security for the indefinite future. Similarly, Clinton ad-ministration officials said that they supported the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty only to sponsor re-search and development programs that pointed in the direction of its
Datum 1 december 2001
Pagina nummer65
TijdschriftBulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Washington, US
Jaargang 57
Aantal pagina's 4
Tags: RUSLAND - land, opvolger van USSR en GOS
KERNWAPENS - kernwapens algemeen
NOORD KOREA - Land in Azië (DPRK: Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea)
VS - Verenigde Staten
SAMENWERKING - tussen bedrijven, bedr.en overheden of overheden onderling
VERDRAGEN - (Inter-)nationale verdragen
SDI - Strategic Defense Initiative, Starwars, relatie met KE
PROLIFERATIE - verspreiding van nucleaire technologie/materiaal/kennis
LOBBY CAMPAGNES - Pro-nucleaire campagnes
IRAN - Land in het Midden-Oosten
IRAK - Land in het Midden-Oosten

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