Jeffrey LewisToday's Nuclear Equation

The State Department has a released an e-journal entitled, Today’s Nuclear Equation.

In addition to a digital copy of the “Duck and Cover” video, the e-journal contains a weird smattering of Administration propaganda (including articles from POTUS, DeSutter, Rademaker and Sanders) tarted up with articles by “experts” that toe the Administration line.

My favorite article is by a husband-wife team.

Tons of laughs.


  1. dan (History)

    “He has taught marketing at the University of Southern California and California State University at Los Angeles. And he has taught English as a Second Language at the Institute for Intercultural Learning in Seattle and the University of San Francisco.”

    Good thing he wasn’t teaching to native English speakers…

  2. JLo (History)

    Odd that the husband in the “husband-wife team” is a professor of consumer behavior; that skill seems especially well-suited to the positioning of propaganda.

    Speaking of “husband-wife” teams, is Rademaker married?

  3. just another historian (History)

    “Just when we thought that the end of the Cold War also meant the end of nighttime terrors about nuclear annihilation, that evil atomic specter, rising out of a terrible mushroom-shaped cloud, has reappeared.”

    Apart from the painful mixed metaphor, I’m amazed that any U.S. agency would refer to the “evil atomic specter” and the “terrible mushroom-shaped cloud”—it seems far less reserved (“nobody wants to use nukes but we gotta have (lots of) them anyway”).

    History has shown that imagery can get out of the hands of the people who invoke it. Spencer Weart’s wonderful book, Nuclear fear: A history of images, documents this quite well. The human mind—even the public mind—is not so asleep as to realize that nuclear weapons cannot be “evil” (an, along the lines of Iran, “unnecessary”) in one context and “a vital part of our national defense” in another.

  4. PHK (History)

    Jeffry: The State Department e-journal you found on the Internet is named “U.S. Foreign Policy Agenda.” It is published by a part of what used to be the U.S. Information Agency that was folded into the State Department in 1999. As such, the journal is aimed at overseas audiences, not American citizens. This restriction comes under the Smith-Mundt Act which bars this portion of the State Department from propagandizing Americans. So, if you were to call IIP and ask for the URL, the staff could not give it to you. However, if you find it via an Internet search as you did, that’s a different story – the USG can’t stop you from having it.

    Does this make Smith-Mundt obsolete, or not? This is a problem the bureau has been wrestling with since the advent of the Internet.

    In these days of the Bush Administration dishing out unattributed television “documentaries” to local stations, I am thankful that the source of this journal is – at least – clearly identified whether I agree with its contents or authors or not.

  5. Jeffrey Lewis (History)


    How does that square with the e-mail that I received announcing the publication?

    Messages from the ARMS-CONTROL mailing list are sent only to subscribers from the U.S. Department of State

    U.S. Policy on Halting Spread of WMD is Focus of New Publication
    (Latest electronic journal, Today’s Nuclear Equation, published online March 31) (410)
    Washington — When dangerous buyers meet opportunistic sellers of destructive knowledge and materiel, the result is potential disaster. The possibility of nuclear weaponry in the arsenals of terrorist organizations or rogue states is one of the most severe threats facing the world today.

    As 188 countries prepare to gather May 2-27 in New York for a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — the original backbone of nuclear arms control — the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs announces the release of its newest online journal Foreign Policy
    Agenda: Today’s Nuclear Equation.

    This publication is specifically designed to outline the key issues surrounding the 35-year-old NPT and to explain the United States’ position on how to strengthen it further. It discusses a series of current challenges to the treaty’s long-held goals to safeguard the security of all countries, contribute to global and regional stability, and reinforce efforts to achieve peaceful solutions to existing problems among states.

    Foreign Policy Agenda: Today’s Nuclear Equation features the following:

    Stephen Rademaker, assistant secretary of state for arms control and nonproliferation, and Ambassador Jackie Sanders, head of the U.S. delegation to the NPT Review Conference, discussing 21st-century challenges to the NPT and changes that the United States would encourage to enforce the treaty and make it stronger for the benefit of all.

    A range of U.S. government and non-government authors providing expert analysis of the threats to the NPT and global security from North Korea, Iran, and new non-state actors, such as A.Q. Khan’s nuclear smuggling network.

    Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard G. Lugar urges governments to not rest on the laurels of positive results to date on nuclear threat reduction programs, such as those created by the landmark “Nunn-Lugar” legislation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

    A cinema history professor taking a serious look at how the threat of weapons of mass destruction has been portrayed in fiction and film from Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War masterpiece “Dr. Strangelove” to more recent works that seek to capture the modern threat emanating from terrorists and other non-state actors.

    Today’s Nuclear Equation will be made available in Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, Persian, and Chinese. The English version can be viewed at the following address:

    (Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

    The Arms Control website: