Duck and Cover: Nuclear Issues in the 21st Century

The Winter 2017  issue of the Harvard International Review, Duck and Cover: Nuclear Issues in the 21st Century, has hit newsstands! Check out the latest print edition as well as some exclusive online content.

According to the linguist, philosopher, and political activist Noam Chomsky (who is also featured in this issue of the Harvard International Review), “it’s a near miracle that nuclear war has so far been avoided.” During the Cold War, nuclear war was a constant threat, due to the US and Soviet doctrines of mutually assured destruction (MAD). Nine countries still possess nuclear capabilities, but the fear of nuclear conflagration has subsided as other international issues have dominated the headlines. However, issues surrounding nuclear energy, proliferation, and deterrence remain key topics of debate today.

This issue examines the political, economic, and security implications of nuclear affairs across the world. Brianni Lee explores the impact of the US deployment of the THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, and its contribution to heightened tensions with China and North Korea. Ikenna Ugboaja looks at the Marshall Islands’ quest for global nuclear disarmament via the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Nick Lowell argues that the renewal of the UK Trident nuclear program is crucial for the nation’s global leadership and economic growth. Finally, Vojta Drmota highlights a debate in Germany over the relative risks and benefits of nuclear power, driven by concerns about terrorism and climate change, respectively.

The Winter 2017 issue of the HIR also features prominent voices on issues outside of nuclear affairs. However, just as the topic of nuclear affairs raises questions about the morality of their use, many of the interviews and perspectives in this issue grapple with similar ethical concerns. Noam Chomsky is interviewed about a variety of topics, including the humanitarian questions surrounding the use of drones. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, answers questions about the efficacy of international humanitarian law, particularly in Syria. And Francis Collins, who was a leader in the research for the Human Genome Project, speaks to us about pressing global health problems and the role of science in society today.

This issue marks the third time that the HIR has addressed nuclear weapons. From a 1987 issue on Arms Control and Nuclear Strategy to a 1992 issue on Nuclear Proliferation to the current topic of Nuclear Issues, it is clear that nuclear power still poses important and enduring questions for the international community even though nuclear war might be a less pressing concern. Additionally, the strategic, ethical, and legal controversies around nuclear issues today are applicable to questions of power and prestige in international relations more broadly.

To a safer future,


Kevin Xie and Basia Rosenbaum


About Author

Kevin Xie

Kevin Xie is one of the Editors-in-Chief of the Harvard International Review.