The 1969 Nuclear Crisis: Confusion, Contingency, and China | David Logan and Joseph Torigian

Tuesday, April 9, 2024
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM

William J. Perry Conference Room

  • David Logan,
  • Joseph Torigian

About the Event: What are the political effects of nuclear weapons? What are the dynamics of territorial disputes and militarized crises between nuclear-armed states? As China continues with its unprecedented nuclear modernization program and U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreements are cast aside, these questions have taken on new urgency. We address these questions through a detailed reexamination of the 1969 border crisis between China and the Soviet Union. This crisis is a crucial case for both Cold War history and international relations theory. However, until recently, much of the evidence on this incidence remained either unused or inaccessible. Using hundreds of newly available and previously unused archival and primary sources from Albania, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, the Soviet Union, and the United States, and elsewhere, we shed light on new and important dynamics in the crisis including the role of psychological factors in interstate bargaining, elite politics in authoritarian states, and the impact of the strategic nuclear balance. The work has important implications for our understanding of the history of the Cold War, crisis escalation dynamics, state signaling and perception, and the political effects of nuclear weapons.
About the Speakers:

David Logan is Assistant Professor of Security Studies at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. He researches nuclear weapons, arms control, deterrence, and U.S.-China relations. He has conducted research for the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at National Defense University, and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He has published in International Security, Journal of Strategic Studies, Georgetown University Press, National Defense University Press, Foreign Affairs, and Los Angeles Times, among other venues. He holds a B.A. from Grinnell College and an M.P.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Joseph Torigian is an assistant professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, a global fellow in the History and Public Policy Program at the Wilson Center, and a Center associate of the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan. His book Prestige, Manipulation, and Coercion: Elite Power Struggles in the Soviet Union and China after Stalin and Mao was published in 2022 by Yale University Press, and he has a forthcoming biography on Xi Jinping’s father with Stanford University Press. He studies Chinese and Russian politics and foreign policy.

 All CISAC events are scheduled using the Pacific Time Zone.