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Nuclear Diplomacy in an Age of Global Fracture

Many Baby Boomers still recall crouching under their grade-school desks in frequent bomb drills during the Cuban Missile Crisis—a clear representation of how terrified the United States was of nuclear war.  Thus far, we have succeeded in preventing such catastrophe, and this is partly due to the various treaties signed in the 1960s forswearing the use of nuclear technology for military purposes.

In Fallout, Grégoire Mallard seeks to understand why some nations agreed to these limitations of their sovereign will—and why others decidedly did not.  He builds his investigation around the 1968 signing of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which, though binding in nature, wasn’t adhered to consistently by all signatory nations. Mallard looks at Europe’s observance of treaty rules in contrast to the three holdouts in the global nonproliferation regime: Israel, India, and Pakistan. He seeks to find reasons for these discrepancies, and makes the compelling case that who wrote the treaty and how the rules were written—whether transparently, ambiguously, or opaquely—had major significance in how the rules were interpreted and whether they were then followed or dismissed as regimes changed. In honing in on this important piece of the story, Mallard not only provides a new perspective on our diplomatic history, but, more significantly, draws important conclusions about potential conditions that could facilitate the inclusion of the remaining NPT holdouts. Fallout is an important and timely book sure to be of interest to policy makers, activists, and concerned citizens alike.

384 pages | 2 halftones, 16 line drawings, 12 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2014

Language and Linguistics: Language and Law

Law and Legal Studies: International Law

Political Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations

Sociology: Individual, State and Society


“This brilliant book should be of wide interest to students of government, politics, sociology, and law, as well as to high-level policy makers and the general public concerned with nuclear non-proliferation and problems of global governance.  Mallard draws deftly on a wealth of primary and secondary sources to provide us with a lucid and captivating account of the centrality of ’opacity’ as a discursive strategy in transnational affairs.”

Daniel Halberstam | University of Michigan

“With this extraordinarily ambitious and pioneering work Mallard opens up an entirely new research frontier for sociology—the terrain of international relations, diplomacy, and treaty-making in pursuit of nuclear arms control. Through a fine-grained parsing of complex foreign policy struggles, Fallout recounts how Euratom and the IAEA emerge alongside states as influential transnational actors. Mallard offers a sophisticated theoretical account of the role of transparency, ambiguity, and most importantly, opacity in treaty-writing and international law. This artful and path-breaking study of interpretation and reinterpretation of treaties reveals how much formal properties of law influence subsequent negotiations and shape the trajectory of non-proliferation and international law more generally.”

Terence Halliday, coauthor of Bankrupt: Global Lawmaking and Systemic Financial Crisis

“The nuclear age is often bifurcated between a Cold War confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union on the one hand, and then a transition into the age of globalization focusing on nuclear non-proliferation on the other. Grégoire Mallard has uncovered a profound link between the two narratives in the frustrated ambitions of influential Eurofederalists—architects of today’s European Union—to build a unified nuclear force. Mallard traces the path from the Euratom treaty to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to today’s nuclear-armed or -arming Israel, India, and Iran by exploring the productive ambiguities and opacities of nuclear negotiations.  Fallout masterfully combines several disparate histories into a single powerful analysis of the nuclear regime in particular and global diplomacy in general.”

Michael D. Gordin | Princeton University

“A strikingly original book, one that opens important intellectual terrain for historical and global/transnational sociology. . . . Fallout’s most exciting innovation is the emphasis on ambiguity and opacity as a key strategy that actors adopt in international affairs.”

Julia Adams, Trajectories

“As a sociology of diplomacy and law, Mallard’s choice of case study is ingenious. . . . His choice of method allows him to break new methodological and conceptual ground in the sociology of international law. He is able to combine attention and faithfulness to legal texts with attention to the social position of those who negotiate and write them. . . . A tour-de-force, a mesmerizing book that is chockablock with intrigue and world politics.”

Ron Levi, Trajectories

“Fallout’s historical investigation into nuclear diplomacy offers the kind of carefully crafted empirical examination that gives historical sociologists a good name among both sociologists and historians. . . . It is not only useful, but also insightful, while still, inevitably, leaving some important questions open.”

Nitsan Chorev, Trajectories

“A very original and quite sophisticated toolbox for analyzing what would seem to be, at first sight, a very classic and age-old theme of study, that of diplomacy, secrecy, and treaty-making strategies.”

Antoine Vauchez, Trajectories

“Diplomatic machinations to limit Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs command headlines. To make sense of why nuclear programs in these countries have proved to be so difficult to restrain, one could not do better than consult Mallard’s thoughtful, analytic history of global nuclear diplomacy. Fallout’s strength lies in its ability to combine historical detail with conceptual clarity in order to bring diplomatic choices into focus. The book portrays law not just as something made by men and women in robes but also as a phenomenon that is constructed by how people talk about and use written laws and unwritten norms.”

Political Science Quarterly

“In Fallout, Mallard examines an important and understudied issue: the origins of the complex of rules that make up the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Scholars of international institutions tend to eschew hard security issues in favor of areas where international law has a firmer basis, such as international trade and finance, while students of nuclear issues often overlook institutions in order to study the strategic dynamics of nuclear deterrence and proliferation. The nuclear nonproliferation regime is, however, one arena where international institutions and high politics undoubtedly come together, and in this thoughtful and well-researched book, Mallard has the good sense to make it his field of study.”

American Journal of Sociology

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Explaining Recursive Cycles of Treaty Interpretation: The Role of Transparency, Ambiguity, and Opacity
Chapter 3: Secrecy and Transparency in the Early Nuclear Age: How They Both Failed World Federalists
Chapter 4: Ambiguity and Preemptive Interpretation: How Legal Indeterminacy Failed the Eurofederalists
Chapter 5: Opacity in Legal Interpretation: The Transatlantic Negotiations of the Euratom Treaty
Chapter 6: The Price of Opacity: How New Leaders Clarify Opaque Treaty Rules
Chapter 7: The Resilience of Opacity in a Changing International Legal Environment: How Europe Weighted East-West Negotiations of the NPT
Chapter 8: The Singular Legacies of Nuclear Opacity: The Difficult Road toward the Universalization of the NPT Regime

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