John Mueller on Nuclear Disarmament
The New York Times website has a blog called “Room for Debate,” where a bunch of people—experts in their areas—write short essays commenting on a news item. (I participated a few weeks ago.) Earlier this month, there was a post on nuclear disarmament, following President Obama’s speech in Cairo that mentioned the subject. One of the commentators was John Mueller, Ohio State University political science professor and longtime critic of the terrorism hype. (I recommend his book, Overblown.) His commentary was very good; I especially liked the first sentence. An excerpt:
The notion that the world should rid itself of nuclear weapons has been around for over six decades—during which time they have been just about the only instrument of destruction that hasn’t killed anybody. The abolition idea has been dismissed by most analysts because, since inspection of any arms reduction cannot be perfect, the measure could potentially put wily cheaters in a commanding position.
There may be another approach to the same end, one that, while also imperfect, would require far less effort while greatly reducing the amount of sanctimonious huffing and puffing we would have to endure.
Just let it happen.
While it may not be entirely fair to characterize disarmament as an effort to cure a fever by destroying the thermometer, the analogy is instructive when it is reversed: when fever subsides, the instrument designed to measure it loses its usefulness and is often soon misplaced.
Indeed, a fair amount of nuclear arms reduction, requiring little in the way of formal agreement, has already taken place between the former cold war contestants.