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The Eisenhower Administration and the Origins of Regional Denuclearization: An International History Open Access

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This dissertation analyzes the origins of regional denuclearization, both as concept and reality, during the Eisenhower Administration. It pinpoints the geostrategic, geopolitical, tactical, and propagandist considerations that went into proposals for regional denuclearization and determined their outcome. Only one proposal (for Antarctica) came into existence during that period, but states made proposals for Europe, outer space, and the developing world, ideas that endured throughout the Cold War and beyond. In addition to revealing long forgotten proposals that had serious potential to alter the nuclear arms race, this dissertation argues that states weaponized schemes against adversaries and allies alike. The United States opposed regional denuclearization in inhabited regions, but showed more interest in the denuclearization of uninhabited areas where it seemed possible to forestall the nuclear dangers of the Cold War. Various pressures from allies, adversaries, neutrals, Administration officials, and the public confused and complicated these impulses. Overall, this dissertation demonstrates that proposals for regional denuclearization played an important role in key aspects of the Cold War, such as the space race, the Second Berlin Crisis, the Sino-Soviet split, and the debate surrounding nuclear proliferation with the so-called “fourth-country problem.” At times, it appeared that the fate of continents, if not humankind, hung in the balance.

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