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Horns of a Dilemma

May 8, 2023

On this episode of Horns of a Dilemma, Jonathan Hunt talks about his book, The Nuclear Club: How America and the World Policed the Atom from Hiroshima to Vietnam. Hunt starts out with an anecdote about the origins of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty under U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson and his Special Assistant for National Security Affairs Walt Whitman Rostow. He then outlines the core argument of his book: that parallel to the nuclear revolution was a “counter-revolution” to prevent the universalization of nuclear weapons, therefore maintaining the dominance of the “nuclear club” of nuclear-armed states. He then discusses the sequence of events that led to the implementation of nuclear laws, including the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Finally, he touches on the lessons of this narrative and how the politics of nuclear diplomacy during the Cold War led to the rise of a “paternal” U.S. presidency. This was recorded at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin.