What role do nuclear weapons play in U.S. grand strategy and statecraft? Given recent events in East Asia, it is hard to imagine a more important, timely, and contested issue. Strategy concerns difficult choices taken by governments and individuals facing radical uncertainty. Yet, according to the most prominent interpretation in nuclear studies, the bomb largely removes choice and lessens the importance of particular leaders and regimes. Prof. Gavin challenges the received wisdom on nuclear security, arguing that we should integrate our analysis within the framework of a state’s grand strategy, as opposed to studying nuclear weapons through an apolitical lens, disconnected from the traditions, interests, and history of the state and leaders in question.
Prof. Francis J. Gavin is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at Johns Hopkins SAIS. His writings include Gold, Dollars, and Power: The Politics of International Monetary Relations, 1958-1971 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004) and Nuclear Statecraft: History and Strategy in America’s Atomic Age (Cornell University Press, 2012). He received a PhD and MA in History from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master of Studies in Modern European History from Oxford University, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Chicago.