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Justifying Ballistic Missile Defence
Technology, Security and Culture


Part of Cambridge Studies in International Relations

  • Date Published: December 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521130417

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About the Authors
  • Technology is championed as the solution to modern security problems, but also blamed as their cause. This book assesses the way in which these two views collide in the debate over ballistic missile defence: a complex, costly and controversial system intended to defend the United States from nuclear missile attacks. Columba Peoples shows how, in the face of strong scientific and strategic critique, advocates of missile defence seek to justify its development by reference to broader culturally embedded perceptions of the promises and perils of technological development. Unpacking the assumptions behind the justification of missile defence initiatives, both past and present, this book illustrates how common-sense understandings of technology are combined and used to legitimate this controversial and costly defence programme. In doing so it engages fundamental debates over understandings of technological development, human agency and the relationship between technology and security.

    • Details different understandings of technology and their relationship to understandings of security
    • Covers the history of the debate, from post-war missile defence advocacy, the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), and ballistic missile defence in the US
    • Deals with wider debates surrounding the role of technology in society
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Extensively researched, erudite and highly readable - an admirable mix! This is a truly significant contribution to the field of Critical Security Studies and the discipline of International Relations.' David Mutimer, York University, Toronto

    'Despite the already vast literature on ballistic missile defence, Columba Peoples's book, winner of the British International Studies Association (BISA) International Studies PhD thesis prize in 2007, is a welcome and important addition to our understanding of why ballistic missile defence continues to escape the perceived confines and limitations of its costly, complex and contentious nature. … this book marks an important step forward in our understanding of the American infatuation with ballistic missile defence, and provides a highly readable example of how critical theories of security can aid and abet our understanding of policies and phenomena that might otherwise continue to baffle us.' International Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: December 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521130417
    • length: 318 pages
    • dimensions: 233 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Technology, Security and Culture:
    1. Critical theory, security and technology
    2. Technology and common sense in America
    Part II. Post-War Missile Defence:
    3. Defence in the missile age?
    4. Post-war missile defence and the language of technological fears
    Part III. The Strategic Defence Initiative:
    5. The Strategic Defence Initiative and America's technological heritage
    6. 'Star Wars' and technological determinism
    Part IV. Contemporary Missile Defence:
    7. Ballistic missile defence:'technology working for you, now'
    8. The iron cage of proliferation
    Conclusion: common sense and the strategic use of 'technology'.

  • Author

    Columba Peoples, University of Bristol
    Columba Peoples is a Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics at the University of Bristol. His research focuses on the question of technology and its impact on international relations and global security. He received the British International Studies Association Thesis Prize for International Studies in 2007, and has published widely in the fields of International Relations and Security Studies.

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