The rise and fall of the dreadnought : a weapon system in its social context
Pordes, Anthony Karol.
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references. A nation's decision to deploy a major weapons system may not spring solely from military necessity and the state of available technology; it may also stem from such causes as an ambition to forge an empire, a desire for national prestige, or even ego gratification for a ruler. Such complex causes underlay the competition to build dreadnoughts that preoccupied Britain and Germany before the First World War, and this race was a significant factor that impelled these two nations toward that war. This race, and other, similar races, represented major national decisions to allot national resources to the construction of extremely expensive weapons instead of allotting those resources to desirable social programs.; This thesis examines the advent, performance, and eventual disappearance of a particular weapon system, the type of warship known as the dreadnought, as a case study of a major weapons system in the broad context of twentieth century history. It also explores the symbolic significance of these warships, and is intended to illuminate the complex interaction between military technology and the society in which that technology operates.; The thesis concludes that the performance of the dreadnought in combat did not justify the substantial costs of building such warships and that rapidly evolving technology soon made the dreadnought vulnerable and obsolete. It also concludes that the career of the dreadnought shows parallels with issues of defense acquisition of major weapon systems that are now present and provides examples of possible outcomes of current defense acquisition policies.
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