Firstly, I would like to sincerely thank Jayita Sarkar for her generous review of my book. She is a scholar for whom I have the greatest respect and whose work leads the way in new understandings of nuclear non-proliferation’s history and impact.
Secondly, something of a mea culpa. This book emerged from my doctoral thesis and, were I to have my time again, greater knowledge and experience would dictate a slightly different shape to the work. The book straddles the lines between several competing research interests of mine (sometimes complementary and clearly intersecting, sometimes not), including nuclear non-proliferation, US-UK relations, the Cold War, and ‘Western’ relations with the ‘greater Middle East’.
Moving on the substance of the review, I would again like to express my appreciation for the warm terms in which Dr Sarkar lays out her critique. I was delighted to see that the ‘Islamic bomb’ element was viewed favourably. This is a theme that I intend to make central to my second book project, and I fully take on board the comments on integrating the issues raised within this theme more fully with the impact of oil politics and wider climate of the era. In this regard I have found very recent works such as those by Christopher Dietrich immensely valuable.(1) Likewise, I think there is still much to be done on more rigorously connecting short, medium, and long term domestic developments within the United States to intersections between nuclear weapons and fear of Islam.(2)
Dr Sarkar is quite right to suggest that some elements of the book leave certain issues implicit rather than explicit. The problems of discriminating between overtly ‘nuclear’ exports and grey area, dual-use exports lay at the heart of official concern surrounding Pakistan’s weapons programme. British civil servants and politicians in particular had great difficulty, for example, in obtaining straight answers from their counterparts in Bonn on the subject of electrical inverters. Such were the wide-raging uses of these industrial products that it took nearly a year for West German officials to arrive at any sort of conclusion and thence communicate this to London. Even then, there remained a considerable amount of debate as to whether or not these inverters were indeed intended for nuclear uses. It appears, though, that critical distinctions could have been made a little clearer to the reader.
On the reasons why successive UK governments sometimes vacillated over non-proliferation, again I think there is much work to be done in this area. Compared to US policy, British non-proliferation policy is relatively under-studied. I would argue that – within the confines of Britain’s problematic economic situation in the 1970s – economic self-interest frequently pushed aside global non-proliferation concerns. As I argue in the book, this was coupled to a range of domestic and foreign policy imperatives, from unemployment and the balance of trade, to post-colonial diplomatic relationships and rivalry with continental European competitors such as France. British officials concerned with the sale of the Jaguar strike aircraft, for example, persistently expressed concerns about leaving the field open to the “unscrupulous French” should non-proliferation concerns trump the need for international arms sales.(3)
To return to the start of this reply, I am grateful to Jayita Sarkar for her rigorous, insightful, and provocative review. As an early career scholar, such collegial feedback can only make my future work stronger.
(1) Christopher R.W. Dietrich’s Oil Revolution: Anticolonial Elites, Sovereign Rights, and the Economic Culture of Decolonization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017) for example, is a fascinating study that sadly appeared just after my own book manuscript was submitted. Suffice to say, studies such as this are already having a considerable influence on my own work.
(2) See for example Pamela E. Pennock’s The Rise of the Arab American Left: Activists, Allies, and Their Fight against Imperialism and Racism, 1960s-1980s (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017) and key sections of Salim Yaqub’s Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, and U.S.-Middle East Relations in the 1970s (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2016).
(3) For a concise version of the elements in the book related to this issue, see Malcolm M. Craig, ‘”I think we cannot refuse the order”: Britain, America, nuclear non-proliferation, and the Indian Jaguar deal, 1974–1978’, Cold War History 16:1 (2016), 61-81.