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In his article, "Same As It Ever Was: Nuclear Alarmism, Proliferation and the Cold War," published in International Security, Strauss Center Director Frank Gavin analyzes how policymakers should consider nuclear proliferation historically, in the present and in the future.

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In his article, “Same As It Ever Was: Nuclear Alarmism, Proliferation and the Cold War,” published in International Security, Strauss Center Director Frank Gavin analyzes how policymakers should consider nuclear proliferation historically, in the present and in the future. Gavin asserts that many scholars view nuclear proliferation is more dangerous than ever, the gravest threat to our society, and there are no lessons to be gained from the nuclear history during the Cold War. Gavin labels this common outlook as “nuclear alarmism.”

The article is divided into three sections. First, Gavin explains what he sees as the nuclear alarmists’ main arguments. His second section attempts to debunk the four myths that Gavin argues are the basis of nuclear alarmism. The first myth is that nuclear threats are more dangerous now than ever before. The second myth is that unlike today, nuclear weapons stabilized international politics during the Cold War. The third myth is scholars conflate the nuclear arms race of the Cold War with other competitive driving forces of the time. Finally, the fourth myth nuclear alarmism is based on, according to Gavin, is that the Cold War was the only driving force for nuclear proliferation. Gavin’s article works to discredit these four myths and offers a new interpretation of nuclear proliferation and Cold War history.

The article concludes by suggesting that scholars and policymakers should abandon the “nuclear alarmism” approach, which mischaracterizes history and misguides policymakers to decisions that threaten security. Gavin encourages readers to examine how and why the international community escaped nuclear disaster during the Cold War and learn from this more dangerous time period when calamity was ultimately avoided.

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