Truth Politics & Power: The Unthinkable Edition

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Military personnel observe a nuclear weapons test in Nevada, the United States, in 1951.

Truth Politics & Power is a weekly series where host Neal Conan engages with historians, journalists, scholars, poets and even comedians to explore the context and meaning of the Trump era.

Donald Trump vowed to put America's nuclear forces back at the top of the pack when he was running for president, and a strategic weapons review that's underway comes as new technology upends one of the principal tenets of deterrence: for the first time, nuclear arsenals may be vulnerable to a first strike. In this episode, Neil Conan speaks with Keir Lieberman and Daryl Press, the authors of a paper that describes how advances in technology combine to undermine deterrence (case in point: North Korea). Plus, Paul Bracken, the author of The Second Nuclear Age, concludes that we're about to enter a new nuclear arms race with a president who trumpets unpredictability.

Airs Saturday, June 17 at 10pm on AM820


Daryl G. Press is Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College. He’s the author of Calculating Credibility: How Leaders Assess Military Threats. He has also served as a consultant to the Department of Defense and the RAND Corporation.

Keir A. Lieber is Associate Professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Government at Georgetown University and was selected as member of the inaugural class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows. He’s the author of War and the Engineers: the Primacy of Politics Over Technology.

Paul Bracken is a professor of Political Science and Business at Yale University, and the author of The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces and The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics.