The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
There has been a resurgence of interest in the US in the question of nuclear disarmament. A major element in this resurgence has been a series of pro-disarmament op-eds in the Wall Street Journal by the bipartisan "four horsemen" group of George Shultz, William Perry, Sam Nunn, and Henry Kissinger. In this Project on Managing the Atom Seminar, Jacques E.C. Hymans will analyze the likely effectiveness of these op-eds from the perspective of the psychology literature on fear appeals, focusing in particular on the Extended Parallel Process Model and Terror Management Theory. Then, he will present his content analysis of the five op-eds, followed by a content analysis of the Catholic bishops’ 1983 Pastoral Letter on War and Peace. Hymans will argue that the Catholic bishops' letter was more in line with the messaging prescribed by the psychology literature on fear appeals, and how that the letter indeed had a significant impact on public opinion and on Reagan administration nuclear policy.