The Road to My Thesis
A very large part of my heart has always been in public service, finding politics an extremely noble calling, but unfortunately cut-throat to say the least. But in this worthy pursuit, I gave upwards of a decade of my life. At first, I volunteered on campaigns, then I worked on campaigns, then I worked at the Virginia General Assembly briefly as a Legislative Assistant, and then, years later, was on the ballot myself, coming up with the Silver metal but unfortunately not the Gold. But to this day, it is an endeavor of mine that I am proud of, for having tried, having thrown my hat in the ring to make a difference.
At the core of my interest in public service was always the belief that it was here that I could help the most amount of people with the one life I have been given. I still, to this very day, find public service noble, necessary, and vitally important.
After these years of political involvement, I pursued a master’s degree with a concentration in government – in my ever-dogged pursuit to continue trying to make a difference before leaving this world.*
(* Intentions though, my readers, are different than actions, and, I, admittedly – here at this stage of my middle age – have yet to make any solid ones. Honesty hurts but as Dostoevsky points out poignantly in The Brothers Karamazov [and yes, an Everyman’s book], “The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” )
So, please, reader, forgive me for my digression here, but it was important to not simply leave that sanctimonious sentence immediately above, by itself – in all its do-goodness pining – without at least a dollop of personal honesty thrown in, however bad it hurts, for true color, before proceeding.
And Back to my Point, Nuclear Weapons
It is in this vain, that nuclear weapons and the nuclear weapon regime have always had an absolute, profound grasp on my imagination and personal interest – they are such a blight on mankind, such a danger to society and civilization, that honestly, I find the threat simply, surreal – and not surreal in a good way. But so surreal that the topic has always grabbed my attention, left me almost dumbfounded with the severity of their capabilities, and a topic that I think is of grave importance – but is hardly even given a second thought by the (proverbial) “average Joe” walking down the street today.
So, oblige me for a second and let me advance the point I’m trying to convey with a little help from Einstein:
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
And hence, my graduate thesis – an in-depth dive into an issue with regard to the nonproliferation regime – a two-hundred page book that I spent a few years hunkered down in the depths of the stacks of Widener Library, in Harvard Yard, in a quiet and tucked-away carrel on the fourth floor, the world hardly knowing I existed – much less my thesis. (So it goes with the world of theses.)
So, without further ado, let me give my thesis a modicum amount of light here, on its very own, dedicated website link, ha! It is my selfish attempt to double the readership from two people that have read it to four.
And given it is likely the only book I will every write (though never say never!), maybe Everyman’s Library will consider my thesis for publication one day, ha!
Thank You for Your Time and Interest on this Important Topic
On a serious note, if interested, you can read my thesis’ Abstract below, along with a quote from John F. Kennedy that accompanied a painting from 1812 by English painter Richard Westall called the Sword of Damocles, both which were at the beginning of my thesis. And, if still interested to read more, you can download my entire thesis for further reading.
Thank you for affording me the time to share with you a topic that is of profound interest to me and of the utmost importance to mankind at large.
"Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us."¹ – President John F. Kennedy
With the Manhattan Project in the 1940s, U.S. nuclear technology created the first nuclear bombs, which promptly ended World War II. What to do with this new technology with regard to nuclear armaments never seemed hard to comprehend, as the world witnessed the advent of the nuclear arms race that led to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union until almost the end of the 20th century. Since the dawn of this new atomic age however, the United States has wrestled indefinitely with how best to promote peaceful nuclear technology for nuclear energy programs around the globe, while at the same time curtailing the proliferation of nuclear weapons—what is known as the nonproliferation regime. The dual-use nature of peaceful nuclear technology has brought countries worldwide one giant step closer to acquiring nuclear weapons, which has posed great challenges to the progression of the nonproliferation regime. This study examines two distinct arms control policy approaches currently being contemplated for future bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement negotiations with countries interested in partnering with the United States. The case-by-case policy method is a negotiation between the United States and a country seeking nuclear energy technology and expertise and is a negotiation based on the foreign policy variables at the time of the nuclear contract. The gold standard policy method is a similar negotiation, with the additional caveat that the partnering country must give up its right to obtaining and creating indigenous nuclear fuel with these sensitive nuclear technologies. The advocates of the latter policy claim it is the most effective way to ensure that the country will not ultimately proliferate and build a nuclear arms arsenal. This study explores both policy methods in detail. Using a case study methodology as the empirical part of the study, I then apply the merits of these arguments to numerous countries considering nuclear agreements with the United States. After the arguments for both policy methods are thoroughly vetted and then aligned alongside the potential individual bilateral nuclear partners, the research overwhelmingly found that the gold standard method’s requirement that countries forego their right to explore and possibly obtain sensitive nuclear technologies and capabilities for peaceful nuclear energy programs, while an admirable aim, would nonetheless, weaken the nonproliferation regime, not strengthen it. This study found that the case-by-case method is the best method based on the evidence uncovered in this research. The United States, when approached by a country considering a nuclear agreement in exchange for nuclear expertise, brings to each negotiation the following items: a varying level of leverage depending on the country that has approached the United States, a declining domestic nuclear industry, and finally, the weight of hypocrisy on its back in that the United States has these sensitive nuclear technologies and the majority of the other countries in the world do not but feel that they possess these rights through their membership in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that is the bedrock of the entire nuclear regime. Therefore, based on a thorough analysis of the arguments and country case studies, the research supports the case-by-case method as the best method for U.S. nuclear policy makers to employ in future bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements. The case-by-case method is based in reality and the gold standard, while its aims are admirable, is not. The gold standard will therefore actually weaken the nonproliferation regime, rather than strengthen it.
Swords of Damocles:
The Story of Swords of Damocles:
¹ Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damocles
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