Reinhold Niebuhr and the Nuclear Dilemma: Conceptualising the Cold War

Hamish Stirling


This article re-examines the thought of Reinhold Niebuhr through the framework of his views on the nuclear dilemma. Recent historiography has questioned the theoretical consistency of Niebuhr’s approach to this issue. However, the article demonstrates that his approach is based on a common misunderstanding of the ‘realist’ thrust of Niebuhr’s thought, particularly his conception of the national interest and the potential for limiting conflict between states. In exploring his political philosophy more deeply, we can also clarify his more general Cold War stance and distinguish it from those of some of his contemporaries in important ways. 


Reinhold Niebuhr; Cold War; Nuclear Dilemma; National Interest; Realism; Cold War Consensus

DOI: 10.6092/issn.2611-2752/9871


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