This essay examines an important icon of American nuclear modernity, the operator at the interface control panel, to show how the logic of nuclear legitimation in the Cold War has perdured into the contemporary world, and that nuclear terrorists and bombwielding "rogue states" can function as inventions that rationalize America's claim to nuclear hegemony. Through a critical account of the "competent" gestures of the statesanctioned nuclear operator at the interface, and the "incompetent" gestures of the staterepudiated nuclear terrorist, we argue that that the rationalization of nuclear weapons, in a psychoanalytic sense, has depended on rationalization in the Weberian sense.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-66
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication and Critical/ Cultural Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Interface
  • Nuclear legitimacy
  • Rationalization: terrorism
  • Rogue states

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies


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