What is the nature of the responsibility of a nuclear scholar and how can we ensure we are up to the mark?
Given the destructive potential, secrecy, technicality, cost and limits of command and control over nuclear weapons, those are crucial and surprisingly unaddressed questions. The context of Trident renewal and the possible independence of Scotland make them even more pressing. In this, I urge those nuclear scholars among us to broaden our definition of policy-relevant scholarship and to rethink our responsibility vis-à-vis the public. That responsibility must not be confined to communicating the existing terms of the elite policy debate. In other words, I urge us to think beyond the narrow notions of deterrence and non-proliferation, to go back to the problem of nuclear vulnerability, and to engage with the public as well as policymakers beyond the terms of the policy debates of the day. I finally urge us to always be explicit about the ethical underpinnings of the policies we advocate and to resist the temptation of overconfidence.