Monday, May 23, 2005

MAD World

Recently, I wrote about the rather frightening future possibility nuclear weapons disrupting society as we know it. Once I had submitted the post, I thought about it a little more, and I thought about how difficult it is to write about this problem without sounding like a kook. Complain too loudly about nuclear proliferation and some folks look at you with the same look that they reserve for conspiracy theorists and new-age gurus. I think nuclear proliferation is a legitimate and large concern, however, and, more importantly I think it's an entirely reasonable concern.

So, too, apparently does Robert McNamara--yes, that Robert McNamara. He's written the cover article for the latest issue of Foreign Policy and here's what he concludes:
We are at a critical moment in human history—perhaps not as dramatic as that of the Cuban Missile Crisis, but a moment no less crucial. Neither the Bush administration, the congress, the American people, nor the people of other nations have debated the merits of alternative, long-range nuclear weapons policies for their countries or the world. They have not examined the military utility of the weapons; the risk of inadvertent or accidental use; the moral and legal considerations relating to the use or threat of use of the weapons; or the impact of current policies on proliferation. Such debates are long overdue. If they are held, I believe they will conclude, as have I and an increasing number of senior military leaders, politicians, and civilian security experts: We must move promptly toward the elimination—or near elimination—of all nuclear weapons. For many, there is a strong temptation to cling to the strategies of the past 40 years. But to do so would be a serious mistake leading to unacceptable risks for all nations.
Sobering, huh? Reasonable? Absolutely.

He also quotes William Perry, who shares a similarly depressing view of the near future:
[J]ust last summer, at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry said, “I have never been more fearful of a nuclear detonation than now.… There is a greater than 50 percent probability of a nuclear strike on U.S. targets within a decade.” I share his fears.
Me too. One of the shameless fallacies this administration has peddled for a while now is that Bush and company have been successful in preventing a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. What they neglect to point out is that almost decade passed between the first failed attempt on the the World Trade Center and the second horrifyingly successful attack on them. These large-scale terrorists attacks take time to plan and execute, and everyone in the administration has to know that just because there hasn't been an attack since 9/11 most certainly doesn't mean there isn't go to be another one.

Some of them don't mind using the absence of attacks--explicable in many different ways--for political gain. They're like the guy standing in the middle of his suburban living room with a can of anti-elephant spray. "It works, see. No elephants."

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