The Politics of Nuclear Weapons

Course Details
& Course Number
POL SCI 340, LEC 201
Class Number
Course Type
Undergraduate (Milwaukee Campus)
Meets Requirements
Steven B. Redd
Course Dates

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”  Vishnu, Bhagavad-Gita.  This line from the Hindu holy text was famously recalled by J. Robert Oppenheimer, the architect of the nuclear bomb, upon seeing the first nuclear test at the Trinity test site near Alamogordo, NM, on July 16, 1945.  While this event occurred over 75 years ago, we might be tempted to ask ourselves, “Are nuclear weapons and deterrence still relevant in the 21st Century?” The answer is “Most emphatically . . . yes!”  The nuclear rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War transformed the nature and conduct of world politics that exists even to this day. In this class, we will discuss nuclear arsenals and force structures, nuclear jargon, nuclear ethics and psychology, arms control, strategic and civil defense, and the effects of a possible nuclear exchange. In addition, we will also address strategies of deterrence and nuclear weapons decision making. We will also examine the implications stemming from both the vertical and horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Course Syllabus (.pdf)