In the polarizing topic of nuclear disarmament it is hard not have an opinion on the issue and even harder to keep said opinion to oneself. Keeping that disclaimer in mind, my opinion hinges on one simple skepticism on the growing debate.
Second disclaimer: no one—okay, almost no one—wants to live in a world with the threat of millions of people dying because of a nuclear attack. But the gleefully ideological idea that we could just discard 10,000 nuclear weapons without any consequences is a bit short sighted.
It all comes down to practicality, as it always does when liberals get behind controversial issues, like nationalized health care and LBJ’s war on poverty. Sure, we would love for everyone to be wealthy and have health care coverage, but that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily practical or possible to accomplish. It often makes things worse.
The same applies here. In Bill Wickersham’s April seminar at Longview, he laid out mountains of solid evidence of the dangers of nuclear weapon attacks that could happen on the U.S. At one point, he said, “The chances of a terrorist nuclear attack in the next decade are above 50 percent.”
This is quite frightening.
Dismantling our nuclear arsenal does nothing to dissolve this threat, though. It would require a treaty between the U.S. and countries such as Iran, Russia, China and North Korea to do the same. But a similar treaty is already in place: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is ignored by North Korea, and Iran breaks its terms as if the NPT were just suggestions.
Russia and China both openly defend North Korea’s right to a space program (wink-wink), when referring to Kim Jon Il’s test launch of an intercontinental rocket. So, in order to live in a world absent of a threat of nuclear disaster, we need to rely on countries such as North Korea and Iran being rational and understanding.
At the moment, we can’t even get China to sign off on a treaty limiting greenhouse gas emissions for economic reasons—but it is more likely that they will destroy their nuclear arsenal, which costs trillions of dollars to develop?
The video played at the conference stated, “There are not enough visionary leaders in congress” as the reason this issue has been ignored. He is wrong here for two reasons. One, proper “vision” should allow the apparently non-visionary leaders of congress to see the reluctance of many nations towards disarmament.
Two, the issue hasn’t been ignored. George W. Bush (cue the ominous music) “negotiated cuts (of warheads) down to 1,700-2,200 apiece by 2012,” according to The Economist.
A cautious approach to nuclear disarmament should be taken. Pres. Barack Obama can expand on the efforts taken by past presidents, including the apparently sociopathic superconservatives such as Ronald Reagan and George Bush.