James Cameron is an incoming postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Science and Security Studies and the Centre for Grand Strategy at King’s College London. A historian of nuclear strategy and arms control, he is the author of The Double Game: The Demise of America’s First Missile Defense System and the Rise of Strategic Arms Limitation (Oxford University Press, 2018). He completed his Ph.D. in July 2013 at the University of Cambridge.
His dissertation, “The Development of United States Anti-Ballistic Missile Policy, 1961-1972”, used the transformation of the American anti-ballistic missile (ABM) program from John F. Kennedy to Richard M. Nixon as a prism through which to examine changing patterns of presidential nuclear leadership during this period. Employing both new American and Russian sources, the thesis shows the way in which successive occupants of the Oval Office and their most trusted advisers managed the tension between their publicly articulated nuclear strategies and their inner convictions regarding the utility of nuclear weapons during this pivotal decade of the Cold War. The thesis sheds new light on the development of U.S.-Soviet détente by illustrating how the collapse of the American domestic political consensus regarding the importance of nuclear superiority over the Soviet Union led Richard Nixon to fully support the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT). This was despite his preference for maintaining American nuclear predominance through a new arms race with the USSR. In showing how this resulted in the 1972 ABM Treaty banning national missile defense systems for the United States and the Soviet Union, the thesis illustrates the power of public opinion in the formation of nuclear strategy and arms control policy in the United States.
James is very interested in the contribution history can make to informing today’s debates on nuclear strategy and U.S.-Russian relations. After completing his master’s in Russian and East European Studies at the University of Oxford, he was a business consultant specializing in the former Soviet Union.