Tag Archives: nuclear deterrence

A New Map for Relationships: Chapter 1

My last blog post announced that my wife Dorothie and I will be using my half of the $1 million ACM Turing Award to further our work on building a more peaceful, sustainable world. Our initial thrust will be to bring attention to a new approach described in our forthcoming book, A New Map for Relationships: Creating True Love at Home and Peace on the Planet. That approach combines a concern for global issues with improving one’s marriage or other intimate relationship. It worked wonders for us, while nothing else had dented our cycle of seemingly endless fights. We also found that working on both the personal and global dimensions simultaneously accelerated our progress on each of them. We hope to have the book ready in time for the formal conferral of the ACM Turing Award in June, and in the meantime hope to excite interest by posting some chapters of the book here. Chapter 1 is immediately below, and watch here for additional installments. Continue reading

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What Are Acceptable Nuclear Risks?

When I read Eric Schlosser’s acclaimed 2013 book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, I found a tantalizing revelation on pages 170-171, when it asked, “What was the ‘acceptable’ probability of an accidental nuclear explosion?” and then proceeded to describe a 1957 Sandia Report, “Acceptable Premature Probabilities for Nuclear Weapons,” which dealt with that question. Continue reading

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A Nuclear Weapons Convention?

I hope you’ll take six minutes to watch ICAN’s excellent and important video on the need for new thinking with respect to nuclear weapons. As you watch it, remember that, contrary to the claims of scare stories which stop you from thinking, banning nuclear weapons does not mean we would get rid of all of ours tomorrow and be at the mercy of any nation which cheated. Continue reading

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Secretary of Defense Admits Perfection is Required

Yesterday, in a speech to STRATCOM, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said: “Perfection must be the standard for our nuclear forces. … there is no room for error. … Americans trust you with their security, their families, and their future.” Unfortunately, saying that perfection is required, does not mean perfection is achieved: “to err is human.” So why are we relying on nuclear deterrence when just one mistake could destroy our homeland, and us along with it?
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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 6: North Korea

Over the last few months, North Korea has severely tested the world’s patience. It conducted its third nuclear test, canceled the armistice ending the Korean War, threatened the US with nuclear ruin, warned foreigners to leave the country because war was imminent, cut its hotline with South Korea, and readied a missile for firing. This shrill, irrational behavior seems to confirm the conventional wisdom that North Korea is a rogue nation, run by a nut job – end of story. In that perspective, there is little we can do other than hope that our military power deters them from following through on their hair-brained threats. While there is truth in that perspective, it pays to examine some other hypotheses which, if true, would give us more effective options for reducing the risk of a needless war. Continue reading

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Avoiding Needless Wars, Part 4: Nixon’s Madman Nuclear Alert

The first three installments in this series of posts drew on irrefutable evidence – formerly classified top secret documents and a recording of a presidential phone call – to show that the public needs to critically question government claims before going to war. Those posts showed that the Gulf of Tonkin incidents, which became the legal basis for the Vietnam War via Congress’ Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, were incorrectly portrayed by the Johnson Administration as unprovoked North Vietnamese aggression. The second incident never happened and the first incident was, in the words of CIA Director John McCone, a defensive reaction “to our attacks on their off-shore islands.” While the loss of over 58,000 Americans and approximately 2,000,000 Vietnamese is reason enough to avoid future such mistakes, the Vietnam War also added little-known nuclear risks. This post deals with the most bizarre of these, an event that has been dubbed Nixon’s “Madman Nuclear Alert.” In a 2003 paper, Stanford Prof. Scott Sagan and University of Wisconsin Prof. Jeremi Suri describe the origins and trajectory of this dangerous ploy: Continue reading

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US Unwittingly Encouraging North Korea’s Nuclear Program

While encouraging nuclear proliferation is one of the last things we want to do, we couldn’t be doing a better job if we tried. Every time we engage in regime change, we give would-be proliferators one more reason to seek nuclear weapons of their own. What other way do they have of deterring our much more powerful military from toppling them at some future date? Continue reading

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