Monthly Archives: November 2010

A Nuclear Reductio ad Absurdum

A government that is exposed to atomic threats in peacetime readily regards them as “blackmail” whereas the threatening power is likely to call them “deterrence.” Hans Spear in World Politics, April 1957. This quote opens Richard Betts’ 1987 book, Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance. While much has changed in the intervening years, most of the author’s fundamental conclusions are far too relevant today. Here are some of the choicest excerpts: Continue reading

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Another Face of North Korea

Stanford Professor and Director Emeritus of Los Alamos Siegfried Hecker recently returned from his seventh trip in as many years to North Korea. The purpose of his visits has been to assess that nation’s nuclear program and to seek ways to defuse the nuclear threat on the Korean peninsula. There has been extensive press coverage of his observations from this trip, but it has focused on the parts that feed American fears. This is dangerous because, in a guest lecture to my seminar last February, Prof. Hecker suggested a program to improve American national security with respect to North Korea, but noted that it was impossible to implement because of domestic political considerations. Media coverage that reinforces American fears and myths therefore harms our national security. Continue reading

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A Profile in Courage: Senator Lugar on New START

Kudos go to Senator Richard Lugar for having the courage to take on obstructionist elements within his own party for putting power politics above national security. As the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his thoughts with regard … Continue reading

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Urgent Need for Action!

The New START Treaty is in danger and needs your help to stay alive! While making only a modest reduction in both the US and Russian arsenals from 2,200 to 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads, rejection of this treaty would set back – and could well halt – efforts to reduce the unacceptable risk posed by our bloated nuclear arsenals. Continue reading

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When Pigs Fly

Imagine a world in which the threat of nuclear annihilation is a distant nightmare of the past, and people wonder how their ancestors – that’s us – could have been so inhuman as to threaten genocide. That world is so hard to imagine from our current vantage point that many people would say, “That will happen when pigs fly.” When confronted with inconceivable ideas, a friend of mine used to have a similar expression: “That will happen when the Berlin Wall comes down.” Until shortly before the Wall was breached in 1989, that seemed as ridiculous as pigs flying, but after it occurred, my friend told me he was going to have to re-evaluate a number of seemingly impossible events. Maybe the inconceivable really is possible! Continue reading

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