10th January 2012: John Lewis Gaddis on Nuclear Weapons & Grand Strategy


This lecture at Columbia University on 12th August 2010 features a couple of interesting moments. Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis compares Clausewitz’s absolute war, George Kennan’s containment strategy, and Ronald Reagan’s nuclear disarmament talks with Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet Union. This lecture illustrates how Gaddis constructs a logic chain, uses analogical reasoning, and selects historical sources in order to make arguments (including revisionist debates about particular historical figures, such as James Mann’s The Rebellion of Ronald Reagan). Gaddis also makes a couple of side-comments about a Columbia student simulation on nuclear weapons that was run the afternoon of the talk. The question and answer session touches on several potential research programs that others might explore, such as the role of weapons proliferation in asymmetric wars.