From H-Bomb to Star Wars: The Politics of Strategic Decision Making

In This Review

From H-Bomb to Star Wars: The Politics of Strategic Decision Making

By Jonathan B. Stein
Lexington Books, 1984
118 pp. $20.00
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Sir Solly Zuckerman wrote in Scientists and War (1966) that "the decisions which we make today in the fields of science and technology determine the tactics, then the strategy, and finally the politics of tomorrow." Jonathan Stein contends that the reverse is true, that politics can drive technological development. He bases his argument on two case studies, Truman's decision in 1950 to build the hydrogen bomb and Reagan's 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative. In neither case were the basic technologies and much of the fundamental physics needed to build the weapons in hand; in both cases they were perceived by some of the participants as a technological fix to a political problem. The "Star Wars" case study, although necessarily incomplete, is nevertheless most interesting in the context of today's debate.