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Exposing Flaws in the Logic(s) of Nuclear Deterrence as an International Security Strategy – a Feminist Postcolonial Perspective

By Madita Standke-Erdmann & Victoria Scheyer

Nuclear deterrence as a security strategy originated from the period of Bipolarity and remains critical to the neorealist security narrative today. Being protected by a nuclear shield has been framed as essential to international security and as a tool to peace. This paper looks at the logic behind this neorealist narrative and deconstructs the world’s power game that fuels the nuclear arms race by applying a feminist postcolonial analysis. We reveal how patriarchy and (neo)imperialism act as global organizing principles to uphold this logic. By looking at nuclear tests and their ramifications in French Polynesia and the Marshall Islands, we demonstrate how racialized and gendered dynamics of inclusion and exclusion define who is considered under the umbrella of international security and who is not. That is, irrespective of the deprivation of indigenous population’s homes and resulting social, economic and physical insecurities, nuclear tests were justified as necessary to keep the world at peace. Finally, we argue that the deeply entrenched logics of racialized and gendered inequality and injustices are inherent to a system in which nuclear deterrence is argued as a tool to peace.

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