Francis Gavin, a candidate for the endowed chair position at the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy, presented at the Josef Korbel school on Thursday, January 20th. The presentation was titled, "Same as it ever was: Reassessing the History of the Nuclear Age." In his lecture, Gavin exposed what he finds to be flaws in the stylized, conventional narrative that exists about the role nuclear weapons have played in international politics since 1945.
"The best way to get some kind of traction is to look at the past," Gavin said. "To take history seriously and see how the U.S. wrested with the nuclear question in its policies and strategies. The idea of taking history seriously is rarer than you might think. Many claim the past has little to tell us. But the past transforms the present. Continuity exists."
Gavin, who is the Director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin, believes that a thorough examination of our past will provide insight into the many pressing questions surrounding U.S. policymakers including nuclear strategy, proliferation and nonproliferation policy. So in an effort to change nuclear policy, Gavin researched declassified documents and wrote a book manuscript that he said shows the powerful role historical analysis can play in making better policy.
"Historical lessons are crucial to making better policy decisions which could mean life or death," he said. "This is not going away any time soon."
-M. Schwinn, MA candidate in International Security
Josef Korbel School of International Studies