March 1, 2014 · 2:30 PM
Our March Humanist Conversations meeting will be replaced by a special program. Eugene Kogan will give a Saturday afternoon talk on nuclear proliferation.
Fifty-one years ago, President John F. Kennedy said he was “haunted” by the possibility that “15 or 20 or 25 nations” may acquire nuclear weapons by 1970. “I regard that as the greatest possible danger and hazard,” the President stated. So far, nuclear weapons have spread much slower than Kennedy feared, but the hard work to contain this terrible danger continues. Saudi Arabia is on record that it will get nuclear weapons if Iran goes nuclear. This talk will provide a historical overview of U.S. efforts to convince its Cold War-era allies (Taiwan, South Korea, Pakistan, and Israel) from going nuclear. It will then discuss what lessons policymakers can draw as the United States confronts the possibility of contemporary allies, such as Riyadh, considering acquiring nuclear capabilities. “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme,” Mark Twain is said to have observed. Mining history for insights on what factors motivated our allies’ nuclear pursuits in the past is important for crafting a smarter policy today to prevent the spread of the most destructive weapons known to humanity.
Eugene B. Kogan is Stanton Nuclear Security Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He studies the use of pressure and reassurance in nuclear negotiations. He received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University, where he was Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Dissertation Year Fellow. His doctoral thesis examined nuclear bargaining between the United States and its allies during the Cold War.
We’ll start with thirty minutes of coffee and conversation at 2:30 p.m. The talk will follow brief announcements at 3:00 PM.