Paul Braken Examines the "Second Nuclear "Age"

February 19, 2015

On the afternoon of Thursday, January 29, 2015, IGS hosted its first Harold Smith Defense and National Security Series seminar of the semester, featuring Yale political science and business professor Paul Braken.

Braken, author of The Second Nuclear Age (2011), spoke about international order in the post-Cold War “second nuclear age,” the status of the world’s nine nations that currently own nuclear weapons, and questions to consider when examining the changing landscape of nuclear weapons.

Braken described the first nuclear age as a time of “head games” between nations, during which no  nuclear weapons were actually ever fired. Braken probed the audience to consider how the world could prevent crisis in this second nuclear age, noting that “we got through the first one with some skill and some luck.”

Braken believes that the world has entered a second nuclear age, showing parallels between former President Truman’s foreign policy attempts and President Barack Obama’s foreign policy attempts. Between 1945 and 1948, President Truman tried to establish an amicable relationship with its allies, but by 1948 realized the Soviet Union would not be a partner for peace. Six years ago, in 2009, President Obama called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, but since then these nuclear weapon-holding countries have only improved and modernized their nuclear weapons.

The Harold Smith Defense and National Security Series, now in its fifth year, focuses on United States defense policies and nuclear weapons management.