Justifying Ballistic Missile Defence: Technology, Security and Culture

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Technology is championed as the solution to modern security problems, but also blamed as their cause. This book assesses the way in which these two views collide in the debate over ballistic missile defense: a complex, costly and controversial system intended to defend the United States from nuclear missile attacks. Columba Peoples shows how, in the face of strong scientific and strategic critique, advocates of missile defense seek to justify its development by reference to broader culturally embedded perceptions of the promises and perils of technological development. Unpacking the assumptions behind the justification of missile defense initiatives, both past and present, this book illustrates how common-sense understandings of technology are combined and used to legitimate this controversial and costly defense program. In doing so it engages fundamental debates over understandings of technological development, human agency and the relationship between technology and security.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Extensively researched, erudite and highly readable – an admirable mix! This is a truly significant contribution to the field of Critical Security Studies and the discipline of International Relations.”
David Mutimer, Associate Professor of Political Science and Deputy Director of the Centre for International and Security Studies, York University, Toronto
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Columba Peoples is a Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics at the University of Bristol. His research focuses on the question of technology and its impact on international relations and global security. He received the British International Studies Association Thesis Prize for International Studies in 2007, and has published widely in the fields of International Relations and Security Studies.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements viii

List of abbreviations x

Introduction 1

Part 1 Technology, security and culture 9

1 Critical theory, security and technology 11

2 Technology and common sense in America 46

Part 2 Post-war missile defence 75

3 Defence in the missile age? 77

4 Post-war missile defence and the language of technological fears 99

Part 3 The Strategic Defense Initiative 123

5 The Strategic Defense Initiative and America's technological heritage 125

6 'Star Wars' and technological determinism 153

Part 4 Contemporary missile defence 179

7 Ballistic missile defence: 'Technology, working for you now' 181

8 The iron cage of proliferation 215

Conclusion: common sense and the strategic use of 'technology' 249

Bibliography 275

Index 294

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