Monthly Archives: August 2010

Two Takes on Attacking Iran

The current issue of The Atlantic magazine has an article by Jeffrey Goldberg which argues that an Israeli military strike against Iran is the most likely outcome of the current standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program. The article describes a nuclear armed Iran as an existential threat that Israel cannot allow to come into existence. While Iran’s rantings lend credence to that viewpoint, I found a retort by Iranian exile Trita Parsi also to have value. As is often the case in complex international disputes, each viewpoint has some valid points and a synthesis of the two provides a better perspective than either one alone. I encourage you to read both articles and include key excerpts from each one as motivation. First from Goldberg: Continue reading

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Scientific American Lays Odds

I just received Scientific American’s September Special Issue on “The End” and immediately turned to pages 82-83 to read the article “Laying Odds on the Apocalypse: Experts Assess Doomsday Scenarios.” Eight scenarios are listed, ranging from a killer pandemic (Destruction Ranking 4, Odds: 1-in-2 over the next 30 years) to bubble nucleation, in which a universe pops up within our own (Destruction Ranking 10, Odds: 1-in-1,000,000,000 over the next trillion years). While I skipped over the latter (and won’t pretend to understand it), I was very interested in scenario #5 on nuclear war. The magazine gave it a Destruction Ranking of 6 (hundreds of millions dead) and Odds of 1-in-30 over the next 10 years. Continue reading

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Could Afghanistan Lead to a Nuclear Disaster?

While now a professor of history and international relations at Boston University, Andrew Bacevich is also a West Point graduate and retired Army Colonel with service in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf. Bacevich has an uncanny ability to combine his academic and military perspectives to produce a brilliant, common sense approach to international issues, especially those involving war and peace. In this post, I recommend his most recent OpEd, which appeared today in the LA Times. In it, he relates Afghanistan to Kennedy’s disastrous 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion – an event that helped lay a foundation for 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis. Continue reading

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A Sign of Hope

Because society pays so little attention to the risks posed by our reliance on nuclear weapons, most of my posts try to illuminate those unseen dangers before they become obvious – and possibly fatal. Today, though, I am happy to report on a sign of hope in Russian-American relations. An article in Forbes reports:
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The Georgian War Revisited

Two years ago, war between Georgia and Russia took the world by surprise. It also created the danger that, if President Bush had stood by his earlier promises to Georgia, the world could have stared at the nuclear abyss in a way it had not since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. We did not have to be surprised because there were numerous early warning signs that, if recognized and acted upon, could not only have been foreseen the war, but also prevented it. Unfortunately, a similar lack of foresight is keeping us from seeing similar early warning signs today. Continue reading

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