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The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation Identity, Emotions and Foreign Policy.

The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation Identity, Emotions and Foreign Policy

Jacques E.C. Hymans

Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 0521850762 hc, $75.00 / $150.00 AU, 273 pp.

ISBN: 0521616255 pbk, $29.99

The total volume of investigative theories related to human factors of proliferation is noticeably dwarfed by operation structure theory and technology and supply side reasoning. In The Psychology of Nuclear Proliferation Identity Emotions and Foreign Policy Professor Jacques Hymans offers an important cognitive model that is a useful study to add to the short library list of psychology based literature in the field of nuclear proliferation. Hymans, an Assistant Professor of Government at Smith College in Massachusetts challenges a common interpretation that strategic calculations by nuclear players are the only or primary reasoning behind a choice to proliferate. He has recently presented his ideas before a group of French military officials.

Using a national identity conceptions model as a base, links are drawn regarding the personality characteristics and emotional perceptions of leaders who impacted proliferation decisions for the nations of Australia, Argentina, the French Fourth Republic and India. Two dimensions, solidarity and status are shown as interrelated in creating four significant types of national identity: sportsmanlike nationalist, oppositional nationalist, sportsmanlike subaltern and oppositional subaltern. The argument is made that a leader's national identity conception is instrumental in a leader's preference for or against nuclear war related themes. Hymans' argues that what a nation stands for and how high it stands in the nuclear race is not only a social factor but is grounded intersubjectively within the individual leader.

A one time reference to the Rorschach test and interpolations of common myths about international non proliferation keep the reader's attention and make the work enjoyable. There is information on macro political systems as well as individual and organizational decision making theory. Nuclear proliferation is a vast subject and this book fills in some of the more individualized gaps in current literature. The work is unique in its broad scope and application of a variety of structural and behavioral concepts. Readers of political science, management, military science and public affairs would find the content of the book worth examining.

Identity categorizations are woven throughout several chapters on nuclear choice, struggles in the French Fourth Republic, Australia's search for security, Argentina's nuclear ambition and India's nuclear U-turn in the nuclear arms arena. Two of these nations have ended weapons research, one is a known nuclear power atomic state and the fourth is a thermonuclear weapons state. The big four constituents of nuclear proliferation, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China are not reviewed. These four nations would be of interest in a follow-up study using Hymans' theses and models.

Support for the ideas presented was derived from interviews with international nuclear scientists and technocrats and review of government documents and academic journals. Categorizations for leader cognitive styles, national identity conceptions are supported through the authors review of vocabulary from speeches and analyses of leader perspectives of Charles deGaulle, Pierre Mendes France, Robert Menzies, Johns Gorton, Gough Whitlam, Ambassador Julio Carasales, Antonia Careea and several significant players in the nuclear history of Argentina and India.

This part history, part academic study ends with some thoughts about traditional depictions as to why there is nuclear proliferation. Having weapons because it is a deterrent, a point of international status and a way to achieve personal power are shown to be simplified versions of what may be a more complex psychological base of inclusion into the arms community.
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Author:Raum, Mary
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:589
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