UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

No alarm : hypersonic weapons development and the shifting logics of arms control Garcia, Omar


Why has the development of hypersonic weapons systems provoked such little concern among arms control organizations relative to that raised by the development of autonomous weapons systems and soldier-enhancing technologies, on one hand, and past weapons research programs with similar strategic implications, like Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, on the other? This thesis employs social network analysis and case comparisons to argue that a historical shift in arms control imperatives has shifted attention from weapons systems of interstate strategic consequence to weapons systems of individual consequence. Specifically, the shift from the Cold War arms control paradigm to a humanitarian arms control agenda after 1991 has led to the prioritization of efforts to limit or ban weapons that indiscriminately or disproportionally harm individual human lives. As a result, weapons systems that threaten to upset the military balance between the leading global military powers—like hypersonic weapons systems—no longer cause as much concern as was the case for most of the past century and a half.

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