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Nuclear Desire

Nuclear Desire: Power and the Postcolonial Nuclear Order

Shampa Biswas
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt9qh3p6
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  • Book Info
    Nuclear Desire
    Book Description:

    Since its enactment in 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has become one node of a massive, sprawling, multibillion-dollar regime that is considered essential to slowing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. However, according to Shampa Biswas, these well-intentioned efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons deflect attention from a hierarchical global nuclear order dominated by powerful states and capitalist interests that benefit from the status quo.

    InNuclear Desire, Biswas proposes that pursuit and production of nuclear power is sustained by this unequal global order whose persistent and daily harmful effects are experienced by some of the most vulnerable bodies around the world. Making a compelling case for nuclear abolition, she shows that the path to nuclear zero is more successfully traversed through the perspective of postcolonialism and the political economy of injustice?rather than through the prism of "security." In the end, the nonproliferation regime maintains a hierarchy of haves and have-nots, one that reinforces inequalities that run counter to the NPT's broader goal.

    Innovative, forcefully argued, and long overdue,Nuclear Desiremoves beyond conventional critiques to give scholars and students of international relations new insights into how a more secure world might simultaneously be more peaceful and just.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4343-5
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Use and Waste in the Global Nuclear Order
    (pp. 1-26)

    “Order” and “disorder” have shaped the nuclear world. Nuclear fission is the process of splitting the center of an atom to set in motion a process of radioactive decay. The remarkable scientific discovery of how to make and sustain such a chain reaction to generate incredible amounts of energy produced some of humankind’s loftiest aspirations as well as its most apocalyptic nightmares. In its utopian incarnation of nuclear energy, nuclear fission can solve our most pressing energy needs—it can deliver us from the environmental limits of relentless capital accumulation and consumerism and, indeed, reign us back from the portending...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Intentions and Effects: The Proliferation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime
    (pp. 27-74)

    An odd constellation of forces arguing for nuclear disarmament suddenly appears to have emerged on the global scene. Even though the lively antinuclear movement of the Cold War era dissipated in anticipation of the “peace dividend” that was to follow the end of U.S.–Soviet nuclear antagonism, many cautious voices on the left continued to urge restraint and advocate disarmament by the infamous club of the “nuclear five.”¹ What is interesting, however, is to see this chorus expand to include voices that, though always nervous about the perils of proliferation outside the club, were at one time fierce defenders of...

  7. CHAPTER 2 Whose Nuclear Order? A Postcolonial Critique of an Enlightenment Project
    (pp. 75-108)

    In the massive regime erected to stall and eliminate nuclear weapons possession that the previous chapter discussed, the NPT has had a certain pride of place. Signed in 1968 and going into effect in 1970, with all but four countries in the world as party to the treaty, the NPT has long been considered quite effective in preventing the horizontal spread of nuclear weapons. Among some of its strongest supporters on the left, it has also been celebrated for enshrining the principle of disarmament. However, there appears to be a fair bit of recent anxiety that the NPT may be...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Unusable, Dangerous, and Desirable: Nuclear Weapons as Fetish Commodities
    (pp. 109-134)

    The previous chapter discussed what is considered one of the two grand bargains in the negotiation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—the permission that existing nuclear weapons states (NWS) had to retain their possession of their nuclear stockpiles in return for a (weakly worded) commitment to nuclear disarmament sometime in the indeterminate future. Much has also been made of the second of those bargains, considered to be a serious loophole in a treaty that aims to prevent the horizontal spread of nuclear weapons—permitting states to house the entire nuclear fuel cycle within their countries for the purposes of...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Costly Weapons: The Political Economy of Nuclear Power
    (pp. 135-170)

    I have already referred to the provocative “more may be better” argument made by well-known neorealist international relations scholar Kenneth Waltz (1981)—that the proliferation of nuclear weapons induces cautious deterrent practices among rational states, thus enhancing global security and stability. In his also well-known rebuttal of what is called the “nuclear optimism” argument, Scott Sagan (1994) paints a rather bleak image of alleged state rationality, pointing to the myriad instances of near-misses and close mishaps induced by the less than fully rational dynamics of the organizational systems and cultures responsible for administering nuclear weapons. The category of “accident” or...

  10. CONCLUSION. Decolonizing the Nuclear World: Can the Subaltern Speak?
    (pp. 171-200)

    Mainstream international relations (IR) theory—particularly in its neorealist and neoliberal incarnations—cannot capture the “third world security predicament,” argues Mohammed Ayoob. This is what motivates Ayoob to create a version of realism that he calls “subaltern realism,” to capture the different dynamics of domestic variables and external pressures through which third world states express their foreign policy behaviors. Ayoob is not interested in troubling the notion of security or rejecting the state-centricity of traditional realism, but he lambasts IR scholars for their ethnocentric generalizations from the experience of richer and more secure first world states, a neocolonial vantage position...

  11. APPENDIX. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime
    (pp. 201-208)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 209-240)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 241-266)
  14. Index
    (pp. 267-280)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-281)