August 16, 2005

Unilateralism and nukes

Opinion Journal offers up some insight on the history of nuclear weapons:

[Yet] the notion that the nuclear genie can be willed out of existence through the efforts of right-thinking people is as absurd as it is wrongheaded. Just as guns and knives will be with us forever, so too will the bomb.

... who cannot be grateful that it was Truman who had the bomb, and not Hitler or Tojo or Stalin? And looking forward, who can seriously doubt the need for might always to remain in the hands of right? That is the enduring lesson of Hiroshima, and it is one we ignore at our peril.

A neat short story that illustrates this view perfectly is Ben Bova's "Nuclear Autumn." In it, the president (ironically a female) and her science advisor (who seems to be a Carl Sagan knockoff) butt heads with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff over whether the Soviets will actually launch a threatened nuclear strike. The former two say "most assuredly not" while the latter is adamant that they will, and the US should be ready to respond. The president's and advisor's reason: such a strike will result in a "nuclear winter" which will eradicate all life on the planet. Why would the Russians be so stupid? Well, they're not. Their own scientists have calculated how many nuke explosions the earth can withstand without the nuclear winter scenario, and while the Soviet premier has the US president on the "hot line," he informs her of just this. And, his missiles are already in the air. It's too late to react. The president looks around the room asking "What should I do?" She finally asks the Soviet premier this, who responds "Learn Russian."

Posted by at August 16, 2005 05:06 PM | TrackBack

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