"An effective instrument of peace" Scientific cooperation as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy, 1938-1950

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The profound transformation of postwar world affairs wrought by science encompassed both competition - driven by the atomic bomb and the growing centrality of science and technology to military as well as economic security during the cold war - and cooperation, driven by the desire to use science, in the words of the 1951 Berkner report, as "an effective instrument of peace. " Of the two, the former has garnered greater attention among scholars and among public audiences; the latter, however, has also significantly influenced the organization and conduct of world affairs In the years since World War II, scientific and technological cooperation among governments has become a prominent fixture on the global stage, in programs of development, in the existence of powerful international expert institutions, and in the day-to-day business of international diplomacy. Indeed, scientific and technological cooperation has transformed the institutional apparatus of the state for foreign policy, supplementing, and on occasion displacing, diplomacy with programs of technical assistance, coordination, and harmonization. This paper explores the early phases of this transformation, globally and in the foreign policy organs of the state, in the mobilization and deployment of intergovernmental scientific cooperation as an instrument of U.S. foreign policy between 1938 and 1950.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-160
Number of pages28
StatePublished - Sep 18 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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