FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Caging the Cold War Monster

and STANLEY SHEINBAUM

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.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). 

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robert Koehler
The New Abnormal
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
Elliot Sperber
All of Those Bezos
November 15, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Ukania: the Land Where the Queen’s Son Has His Shoelaces Ironed by His Valet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Spraying Poisons, Chasing Ghosts
Anthony DiMaggio
In the Wake of the Blue Wave: the Midterms, Recounts, and the Future of Progressive Politics
Christopher Ketcham
Build in a Fire Plain, Get What You Deserve
Meena Miriam Yust
Today It’s Treasure Island, Tomorrow Your Neighborhood Store: Could Local Currencies Help?
Karl Grossman
Climate of Rage
Walter Clemens
How Two Demagogues Inspired Their Followers
Brandon Lee
Radical Idealism: Jesus and the Radical Tradition
Kim C. Domenico
An Anarchist Uprising Against the Liberal Ego
Elliot Sperber
Pythagoras in Queens
November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail