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.
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.
Introduction; 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'.