Caging the Cold War Monster



Throughout the Cold War, nuclear deterrence was at the heart of US nuclear policy. But deterrence has some important limitations that make it highly unreliable, particularly in a time of terrorism. The most critical shortcoming of nuclear deterrence is that the threat of even overwhelming retaliation is not credible against extremist groups that cannot be located. Further, even a credible threat of nuclear retaliation would not be effective against an enemy that was suicidal. Simply put, an enemy that is not locatable or that is suicidal cannot be deterred, no matter how large a country’s nuclear arsenal or how clear its threats of retaliation.

The decreasing value of deterrence in the post-Cold War period has been recognized by a bipartisan group of former high-level US officials, including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn. They have argued in a seminal Wall Street Journal article that reliance on nuclear weapons for the purpose of deterrence "is becoming increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective."

Going back to 1984, Ronald Reagan argued in his State of the Union Message, "A nuclear war can never be won, and must never be fought." Reagan concluded, "The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?"

The bottom line is: Nuclear weapons do not make us safer. US reliance on these weapons sets the standard for the world. Right now the US appears content to promote nuclear double standards, one standard for ourselves and our friends and another for our perceived enemies. For example, the US is seeking to bend the international non-proliferation rules for India, a country that has developed and tested nuclear weapons, while threatening to attack Iran for enriching uranium, which it claims is for nuclear energy development.

The problem is that double standards do not hold up ­ not with children and not with nations. So long as the US government continues to rely upon nuclear weapons for security, other nations will also do so, and eventually these weapons will further proliferate, end up in the hands of terrorists and be used with devastating consequences.

Some people believe that we must wait until nuclear weapons are used again before policy makers will realize the critical need to eliminate this danger. We disagree with this view. We believe that humans are capable of using their imaginations, foreseeing the likelihood of future nuclear weapons use in a world in which deterrence is not effective, and acting with determination to prevent such a catastrophe.

What should we do? First, the US must lead the way by working with Russia to reduce nuclear dangers and then convening the other nuclear weapons states for a common effort to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Such a plan is far more pragmatic than utopian. What is truly in the realm of fantasy is the belief that nuclear proliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear war can be prevented by continuing with business as usual.

Since US leadership is essential, the US needs either new nuclear policies or new leaders and most likely both. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has developed an Appeal to the Next President of the United States that calls for US leadership "in convening and leading the nations of the world" to take the following seven steps:

* Remove all nuclear weapons from high-alert status;

* Make legally binding commitments to No First Use of nuclear weapons;

* Initiate a moratorium on research and development of new nuclear weapons;

*Ratify and bring into force the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty;

*Bring all weapons-grade nuclear material and the technologies to create such material under strict and effective international control;

*Commence good faith negotiations on a treaty for the phased, verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons; and

*Reallocate resources from nuclear armaments to alleviating poverty, eliminating hunger and expanding educational opportunities.

Achieving these goals will not be easy, but they are essential. The Appeal has already been endorsed by the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and many other leading world citizens.

A world free of nuclear weapons is a goal that demands our high-priority commitment and our country’s best efforts. Each of us on the planet shares in the responsibility to prevent future nuclear catastrophes. If we fail, the future will not be bright. If we succeed, we will leave the world a better place for our children and grandchildren.

DAVID KRIEGER is the President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Stanley K. Sheinbaum is a former Regent of the University of California.



November 24, 2015
Dave Lindorff
An Invisible US Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness
Mike Whitney
Turkey Downs Russian Fighter to Draw NATO and US Deeper into Syrian Quagmire
Walter Clemens
Who Created This Monster?
Patrick Graham
Bombing ISIS Will Not Work
Lida Maxwell
Who Gets to Demand Safety?
Eric Draitser
Refugees as Weapons in a Propaganda War
David Rosen
Trump’s Enemies List: a Trial Balloon for More Repression?
Eric Mann
Playing Politics While the Planet Sizzles
Chris Gilbert
“Why Socialism?” Revisited: Reflections Inspired by Einstein’s Article
Charles Davis
NSA Spies on Venezuela’s Oil Company
Michael Barker
Democracy vs. Political Policing
Barry Lando
Shocked by Trump? Churchill Wanted to “Collar Them All”
Cal Winslow
When Workers Fight: the National Union of Healthcare Workers Wins Battle with Kaiser
Norman Pollack
Where Does It End?: Left Political Correctness
David Macaray
Companies Continue to Profit by Playing Dumb
Binoy Kampmark
Animals in Conflict: Diesel, Dobrynya and Sentimental Security
Dave Welsh
Defiant Haiti: “We Won’t Let You Steal These Elections!”
November 23, 2015
Vijay Prashad
The Doctrine of 9/11 Anti-Immigration
John Wight
After Paris: Hypocrisy and Mendacity Writ Large
Joseph G. Ramsey
No Excuses, No Exceptions: the Moral Imperative to Offer Refuge
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS Thrives on the Disunity of Its Enemies
Andrew Moss
The Message of Montgomery: 60 Years Later
Jim Green
James Hansen’s Nuclear Fantasies
Robert Koehler
The Absence of History in the Aftermath of Paris
Dave Lindorff
The US Media and Propaganda
Dave Randle
France and Martial Law
Gilbert Mercier
If We Are at War, Let’s Bring Back the Draft!
Alexey Malashenko
Putin’s Syrian Gambit
Binoy Kampmark
Closing the Door: US Politics and the Refugee Debate
Julian Vigo
A Brief Genealogy of Disappearance and Murder
John R. Hall
Stuck in the Middle With You
Barbara Nimri Aziz
McDonalds at 96th Street
David Rovics
At the Center of Rebellion: the Life and Music of Armand
Weekend Edition
November 20-22, 2015
Jason Hirthler
Paris and the Soldiers of the Caliphate: More War, More Blowback
Sam Husseini
The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine
Mike Whitney
Hillary’s War Whoop
Pepe Escobar
In the Fight Against ISIS, Russia Ain’t Taking No Prisoners
Ajamu Baraka
The Paris Attacks and the White Lives Matter Movement
Andrew Levine
The Clintons are Coming, the Clintons are Coming!
Linda Pentz Gunter
Let’s Call Them What They Are: Climate Liars
Paul Street
Verging on Plutocracy? Getting Real About the Unelected Dictatorship
Nur Arafeh
Strangling the Palestinian Economy
Patrick Howlett-Martin
The Paris Attacks: a Chronicle Foretold
Vijay Prashad
Rebuilding Syria With BRICS and Mortar
Brian Cloughley
Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace