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At the Interface: The Loaded Rhetorical Gestures of Nuclear Legitimacy and Illegitimacy

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This essay examines an important icon of American nuclear modernity, the operator at the interface control panel, to show how the logic of nuclear legitimation in the Cold War has perdured into the contemporary world, and that nuclear terrorists and bomb-wielding “rogue states” can function as inventions that rationalize America's claim to nuclear hegemony. Through a critical account of the “competent” gestures of the state-sanctioned nuclear operator at the interface, and the “incompetent” gestures of the state-repudiated nuclear terrorist, we argue that that the rationalization of nuclear weapons, in a psychoanalytic sense, has depended on rationalization in the Weberian sense.

Keywords: Interface; Nuclear legitimacy; Rationalization: Terrorism; Rogue States

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2011


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