Hegemony and Culture in the Origins of NATO Nuclear First Use, 1945-1955
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Johnston argues that the preemptive first-use of nuclear weapons, long the foundation of American nuclear strategy, was not the carefully reasoned response to a growing Soviet conventional threat. Instead, it was part of a process of cultural 'socialization', by which the United States reconstituted the previously nationalist strategic cultures of the European allies into a seamless western community directed by Washington. Building a bridge between theory and practice, this book examines the usefulness of cultural theory in international history.
worldviews and provided the earliest military rational for first-use. There were two ways in which it did so. First it aimed to reduce strategic “over-extension” by redeploying forces from the periphery.The JCS stated in August 1953 that regaining the initiative required a reorientation of priorities. Placing “our major emphasis in the military field on peripheral deployments overseas,” meant that American “freedom of action is seriously curtailed, the exercise of initiative severely limited.”145
change), but that because our “vehicles of conception” are a function of shared values and semiotic devices, our way of knowing and thus acting cannot be conceived outside of this collectively built lens. Culture is that dimension of social symbolism that mobilizes our sense of the meaning of things.28 The slippage between reality and sign cannot be stretched infinitely. It must address what we believe to be real (that men and women are different; that the economy produces variations in power;
“rules” that make society stable) and social change through the very capacity for action (agency) given by the systems that produce agents. Giddens argued for a “duality of structure” in which action embodies both continuity and the means by which people transform the structures in which they live.We use social rules to interact with each other in creative ways.Acting as if rules were real gives them a hardness they otherwise lack.At the same time, actions can change structures. Giddens insisted
been a documented history of the origins of NATO strategy.We have had less to say about the slippery birth of nuclear first-use than its advocates or, for that matter, its critics, might wish. 6 Origins of NATO Nuclear First-Use This book aims to rectify that omission. It is about an important (but not primal) moment in NATO history, one that did not reveal timeless laws of deterrence, or provide NATO with the secret to collective security in the nuclear age. Nuclear first-use, I argue,
nuclear ones; as LeMay affirmed, many believed that it was simply a case of having “overwhelming strength so that nobody would dare attack us,” a realpolitik, and unimaginative strategic idea.77 But because the new plan was a critique of the Korean War, its preoccupation was the credibility of extended deterrence.This was a more difficult proposition in so far as it rested on making threats that endangered the allies one was trying to protect. Since this protection came in the form of