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Video: NDISC director on nuclear weapons, the military, and America's role in the world

Author: Todd Boruff

 

“[America] can't do everything, even as the world's most powerful country, and often our efforts to try to do everything turn out to be counterproductive both for us and for the unfortunate people that we're trying to help.” 

— Michael Desch

Michael Desch is professor of political science and director of the Notre Dame International Security Center. His research interests include international relations, American foreign policy, and American national security. More information can be found at his faculty page.


Video Transcript

My main area of expertise in political science is international relations, American foreign policy, and American national security affairs.

One big issue is trying to rethink America's role in the world. We can't do everything, even as the world's most powerful country and often our efforts to try to do everything turn out to be counterproductive both for us and for the unfortunate people that we're trying to help.

I'm also interested in nuclear weapons and particularly the apparent disconnect between, on the one hand, how the military and the national security bureaucracy thought about using nuclear weapons, which wasn't very different than how they think about using conventional weapons, and the position of American civilian leaders and particularly presidents who I think have taken a very different view of the utility of nuclear weapons, and that's to restrict them simply to instruments of deterrence. They think about using nuclear weapons by not using them.

The third issue I'm very interested in is the relationship between the military and the rest of society. The fact that such a small fraction of our society serves and they tend to be from a particular area of the country and a particular socio-economic background, it's very easy for us to send people to war we're not related to or whom we don't know personally. We'll pop up and give a standing ovation to the veterans, but if you ask us, "will you serve or will you encourage your children to serve?" most of us want to take a powder from that. So that strikes me as a very profound issue that our country is wrestling with and it's one that I've been interested in for a lot of my career.

Notre Dame is becoming a much more international university and of course international security is a big part of that. We've established a critical mass here at Notre Dame that rivals any of the top programs in international security around the country. It's been a thrill. I mean, this is what, when I came here in 2008, I hoped we'd be able to do and we're doing it.