Wednesday, April 26, 2006

 

The case for abolishing nuclear weapons

My recent post on abolishing nuclear weapons prompted a long exchange over on Cliopatria with Alan Allport, who convinced me that I needed to make a clearer and more convincing case for the abolitionist position. So here goes.

I start with the premise that the use of a nuclear weapon is never morally justified. Some disagree with that premise, most notably those who believe that dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki helped end World War II and prevented the casualties that would have been suffered by an invasion force in Japan. That justification, however, relies solely on consequentialist moral reasoning -- that the results of an action are the only things that bear on its justification. And at best, consequentialism merely postpones moral deliberation to a later stage (since we would now only find ourselves asking, not which acts are morally good, but which results are). Besides, it is possible to acknowledge that some evils are averted by other evils, without conceding that either evil was morally justified itself.

My premise about nuclear weapons is easy to accept if you already accept the premise that violence is more often unjustified than not. Human societies have not always accepted that premise, but it has been esteemed one of the marks of civilization that we should seek to resolve conflicts peacefully. Even those who stop short of a pacifist position tend to believe that violence must be used as a last resort -- that there is such a thing, for instance, as a just war and an unjust war, or a murder and an act of manslaughter committed in self-defense. We take for granted that violence has to be justified carefully to be tolerable. Moreover, all of our society's justifications for violence depend on the assumption that violence can be controlled and directed, proportionately and precisely, at a particular person or group of people -- the invading army, for instance, or the aggressor who induces our violent act of self-defense.

The use of nuclear weapons, however, could never be justified by the kinds of calculus that justify, say, a defensive war or a citizen arrest, because the violence they unleash is necessarily uncontrolled, disproportionate, and imprecise. A nuclear weapon is incapable of discriminating between combatant or noncombatant (a crucial distinction in any just war theory), as it also incapable of discriminating between guilty or innocent. This is not only because the yield of even a small nuclear weapon is so explosive that it is impossible to direct, but also because the technology itself involves the release of harmful radioactive materials whose patterns of dispersion cannot even be predicted with great accuracy. I believe that the indiscriminate nature of nuclear violence undermines any attempt to justify its use.

To that point can be added other strikes against nuclear weapons. In addition to believing that violence can only be justified when its victim is deemed somehow "deserving," our society tends to believe that even justified violence must stay within limits of scale and kind. We believe, for instance, that certain kinds of punishment are cruel and unusual, and that certain amounts of force are excessive. By any reasonable definition, I believe, a nuclear weapon would have to be classified as a cruel and unusual form of weapon that unleashes excessive amounts of force. Nor is the destructive power of a nuclear weapon limited to the fatalities and casualties it would immediately cause; it also wreaks unjustifiable harm on the ecological landscape, making its use not only homicidal but also indirectly suicidal.

One could argue, of course, that all kinds of military weapons wreak ecological harm, and that war cannot avoid being cruel and unusual, that accepting war means "collateral damage" to civilian and ecological life. Those points are some of the reasons why I incline strongly towards pacifism. But suppose you don't incline the way I do. You still believe that militaries should take steps to minimize such collateral damage. And even from my point of view, with my strong inclination towards pacifism, I can acknowledge with real and sincere gratitude the steps that the U. S. military in particular takes in this regard. I do believe that most commanders in the field try to clear aerial targets of civilians, for instance. And while I am suspicious of claims that evidence of torture at places like Abu Ghraib point simply to a "few bad apples," I also believe that American servicemen and servicewomen are not in the habit of torturing people, since I know some of them personally. A non-pacifist should and does see the honorable restraint shown by soldiers in not torturing combatants or harming civilians as morally praiseworthy. But for that very reason, even a non-pacifist can reject the justified use of nuclear weapons: the casualties such weapons inflict on survivors cannot be described as anything but torturous, and once again, whereas in the case of most weapons, steps might be taken to limit harm to civilians, in the case of nuclear weapons such steps are not only improbable but would also be strategically counterproductive.

If it is impossible for the use of a nuclear weapon ever to be justified, that seems to me a strong prima facie reason for abolishing nuclear weapons. How many other artificial things do we keep around or cover with legal protection even when we know there is no conceivable scenario in which those things could be justifiably used? (Seriously, I tried to think of an example of such a thing and could not.) On the other hand, we routinely pass laws that criminalize the possession of materials (like certain biochemical agents, for instance, or explosive devices, or backyard superconductors) whose imaginable range of justified uses is extremely small. Those considerations, to me, add up to a strong presumption against the very possession of nuclear weapons being morally justified. There may be a moral distinction between the possession and use of nuclear weapons, such that we could describe the user of them as somehow incurring "more guilt" than mere possessors, but this is a slender distinction on which to hang an argument against abolition.

One might draw a less slender distinction between agents who can be trusted with nuclear weapons and those who cannot. Analogously, for example, our society generally recognizes that a person of a certain age and criminal record can be trusted to own a gun, while other persons cannot. But that analogy breaks down in the case of nuclear weapons, because when we speak of those who can be trusted with guns, we mean those who can be trusted only to use the weapon justifiably. And it is because we can imagine such scales of trust that we accept the possession of guns as morally feasible. Those scales of trust, however, depend fundamentally on there being an accepted range of justifications for the use of guns. Since there is no justifiable use for nuclear weapons, what do we mean when we refer to an agent who can be trusted with such weapons? In this case we actually mean those who can be trusted never to use the weapons, not someone who can be trusted to use them "in the right way" or "at the right time," since there is no such way or time.

In addition to the prima facie reasons for abolition, such a step also makes sense in light of principles that, again, we already acknowledge in more quotidian spheres. There is, for example, our sense that a person who endangers a child's well-being is to some extent morally culpable, even if that person does not actually abuse the child. Given the destructive power of nuclear weapons, a power that would be just as destructive if unleashed accidentally as intentionally, I think a case can be made that their mere possession is a culpable form of reckless endangerment.

*


There is a compelling objection, however, to this last conclusion, and a compelling alternative to nuclear abolitionism. One could argue, as Alan has, that (a) whereas nuclear weapons can never be justifiably used, and (b) whereas it is impossible to abolish the technical know-how that makes nuclear weapons possible, therefore (c) the best thing for a state to do is possess a nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to their use by other states.

This case was made most forthrightly, of course, by the architects of American and Russian nuclear strategies in the Cold War. The theory is that a balance of nuclear power between two states will prevent either state from launching a nuclear strike. The mutually assured destruction (MAD) that would result from such a strike checks the impulse of either to pull the trigger. Even the proponents of this doctrine have to admit there's a degree of lunacy to it, since it requires both sides to made credible threats that they will do the very thing that their nuclear policy is supposed to prevent -- that is, launch a first strike. The Cuban missile crisis showed just how dangerous and ultimately unsustainable that high-stakes game of "chicken" can be. Nonetheless, the case can be made that in a nuclear age, nuclear policies that take MAD as their starting point are the best we can hope for. If so, building nuclear arsenals is not reckless endangerment, but a rational safeguard. And that possibility has to be taken seriously by the abolitionist, since it also begins with the presumption that the actual use of nuclear weapons is unjustifiable and must be prevented at all costs. As I will argue below, however, I believe a nuclear policy of balancing arsenals is more likely, not less, than abolition to result in their eventual use, especially in our post-Cold War world. (And in making that case, I'll be following closely some of the persuasive arguments for nuclear abolitionism made by Jonathan Schell in his book, The Unconquerable World.)

Before I argue for that conclusion, though, it's worth noting a slightly tangential debate in the discussion over at Cliopatria, where Alan has raised the possibility that nuclear weapons not only act as checks against their own use, but also help to deter nuclear powers from waging conventional wars with each other. Alan writes:
Would a world without nuclear weapons be necessarily 'better' than the one we have? Frightening as the implications of MAD may be, it is arguable that the risk of truly catastrophic retaliation has proven rather more successful in keeping the Great Powers in check than the much lower risk of conventional retaliation ever did. If the A-Bomb had never been invented would the US and the USSR have been as likely to refrain from open warfare during the late 1940s onwards? One might not look back on the Cold War that we actually got with unalloyed nostalgia, yet still accept that there were much less desirable alternative outcomes.
My initial response was that while the Cold War prevented conventional war between the Great Powers, it also facilitated indirect wars between the Powers in places like Vietnam, Korea, and Latin America. (And, I might add here, that in defining the priorities of American and Russian foreign policy for decades, the Cold War also contributed to the world's neglect of regions, like Africa, which were deemed as off the board in the chess game between democracy and communism. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think a fair assessment of the consequences of the Cold War would have to include a wrestling with the genocidal and devastating hot wars that have taken place over the past several decades in places like the Congo and the former Yugoslavia.)

Alan replied that, as bad as these hot wars were, their horror would have paled in comparison to an outright conventional war between the Soviet Union and the United States. Perhaps that is so: debates about counterfactuals know no end. But I'm not sure I see the utility of drawing up a balance sheet of fatalities, with one column for the number of those who died in the "hot" Cold War and with one column for estimates about the number of those who would have died in a war between the Great Powers. For however much the A-bomb contributed to maintaining peace between Russia and the United States, surely all can agree that it was an intolerable kind of peace. It was a peace founded less on true peace -- an absence of conflict combined with friendly cooperation -- than on the cultivation of mass terror. There was a lack of conventional war, yes, but that did not constitute peace. At least, it's not the kind of peace that I want to bequeath to my children as the legacy of this generation.

But let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that a balance of nuclear terror does help prevent both nuclear and conventional wars because it maintains an unstable armistice between nuclear powers. If this line of argument is correct, then doesn't it lead inevitably to the conclusion that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, far from something to be feared, is a positive good? If the Cold War was (in some sense) a success story, then should we encourage the reproduction of its conditions in other conflict situations? Does the possession of nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan, for instance, prevent war between the two just as it did between Russia and the United States? Instead of making the destruction promised by nuclear weapons less assured, shouldn't we go about making the assured destruction more mutual, so that MAD can do its psychological and political work more effectively?

Jonathan Schell makes the case against this kind of pro-proliferation reasoning more concisely than I could, so I'll simply cite some of his reasons for rejecting it. First, the logic behind creating a "balance of terror" assumes a bipolar, Great Powers world in which we no longer live. It is conceivable, I suppose, for two states to try to match each other in an arms race, but it is hard to imagine how eight or ten or twenty states could calibrate the balance of nuclear power among them so that the doctrine of MAD would be effective. Moreover, it should be underlined that the geographical distance between Russia and the United States was one of the only reasons why MAD made sense to strategists, since it meant that both states could develop "launch on warning" missiles that would activate before a first strike by either arrived. Even then (and, I should add, even now), the amount of warning each state could have was terrifyingly short -- each head of state could count on one hand the number of minutes he had to decide whether to launch after being informed of a first launch. But further proliferation would make even that amount of warning impossible: in the case of India and Pakistan, for instance, a first strike would likely be the only strike, which is perhaps one reason why nuclear weapons on the subcontinent have not perceptibly lessened the likelihood of conventional war.

Encouraging proliferation, thirdly, would make controlling proliferation virtually impossible. If arms control treaties have been difficult to negotiate between the two great powers, negotiating multilateral reduction treaties between multiple powers is nearly inconceivable. The alternatives we have here are not between abolition and a carefully regulated proliferation coupled with the reduction of present arsenals, but between abolition and untrammeled proliferation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the proliferation of more nuclear weapons merely increases the risk of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, for whom non-proliferation and reduction treaties mean nothing.

The reality of global terrorism is the most decisive reason why the potential lessons of the Cold War have little, if any, applicability in the twenty-first century. MAD depended not only on the presence of identifiable Great Powers who could stare at each other seriously across the table while also making reduction deals under it. But it hardly needs to be said that the kinds of terrorists who are the most eager to obtain nuclear weapons have no apparent fear of their own destruction. Once you run up against an enemy for whom suicide is not only not an evil, but a consummation devoutly to be wished, the logic of MAD dissolves. Keeping nuclear weapons out of such hands therefore has to be a priority of any foreign policy in the present age, and seriously advocating further proliferation would only undermine that task.

Of course, in that last paragraph I might as well be quoting from a Bush administration official. The Bush administration, like the Clinton administration before it, perceives the threat of nuclearized terrorists, working in conjunction with nuclearized "rogue states," as the most pressing danger we face. But both administrations have also believed it possible to pursue diplomatic agreement for non-proliferation without embracing nuclear abolitionism, and that is where our views part ways. The Bush administration, in particular, believes that the only way to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons is, ultimately, to launch preemptive, conventional strikes on states close to acquiring them. But that strategy has numerous diplomatic and strategic pitfalls. Diplomatically, it weakens cooperative relationships even with our allies because it asserts our right to military hegemony, exercised unilaterally at moments of our choosing. And it also creates a diplomatic double standard whereby some states are allowed to develop nuclear weapons (indeed, are even, like Pakistan, welcomed into our diplomatic embrace for doing so) while others are denied them, even when they can make a case that possessing them is the only way to offset imbalances of nuclear power with their enemies.

Strategically, preemptive wars also encourage the very thing they are designed to prevent, since they give non-nuclear states an incentive to develop nuclear weapons more quickly and more secretively than before. Despite the administration's spin on Libya's apparent pliability after the fall of Baghdad, the lesson that our enemies learned from the Second Gulf War was that actually possessing weapons of mass destruction is the only way to avoid such invasions. And it is simply not possible to pursue multiple invasions and state-building projects at once, so that we can effectively be sure that we are preempting all our enemies from developing nuclear weapons -- especially since, diplomatically, our aggressive assertion of the right of preemption is causing our enemies to proliferate.

We come again, therefore, to the case for abolishing nuclear weapons as the only way to prevent their proliferation and use. Indeed, the global community has already recognized, in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, that abolition is the other side of non-proliferation. The NPT, which the United States signed but has been interpreting very selectively ever since, included the promise of non-nuclear states not to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for the commitment of nuclear states to disarm. There is no reason why that kind of multilateral, negotiated disarmament treaty, combined with an international inspection regime that would verify the compliance of all parties, might not accomplish abolition -- if, that is, the United States has not already gone so far down the path of preemption (which the NPT acknowledges as a breach of its rules) as to undo the diplomatic work that has already been done.

The primary objection of nuclear states to disarmament is that inspections do not work, that "rogue states" will acquire nuclear weapons anyway and then supply them to terrorists who do not fear to use them. It's worth noting, though, that this objection admits, implicitly, that our own possession of nuclear weapons does not give us any solace any longer. If our fear is that terrorists will acquire nuclear weapons and target us with them, then our fear is based on the knowledge that the doctrine of MAD provides us with no security against stateless enemies. It's hard to see, then, why the fear of terrorists nuclearizing should count as a reason to delay our own disarmament, since that delay is doing nothing to prevent the efforts of our enemies to arm. Moreover, our claim that inspections do not work leaves much to be desired in the way of credibility. Another lesson from Iraq that we seem not to have learned yet is that for all of Saddam's bluffing, the inspection regime did its job well and prevented him from acquiring weapons of mass destruction in secret.

There is, however, a final reason that might be advanced against the abolition of nuclear weapons: that it is chimerical. Now that nuclear power has been discovered, it will be impossible to put the evil genie back in the bottle, and futile to try to do so. As Alan put it in the thread at Cliopatria:
The only end point of disarmament that would really ensure a lasting non-nuclear world would be the destruction of the knowledge of how to build a nuclear device at all. Since that seems to me not simply impractical but logically impossible at this stage then it hardly seems worth arguing about; it's a bit like saying that having discovered the New World the Europeans should have pretended that they didn't know it was there. The A-Bomb is "going to be around" forever whether I or you or anyone else likes it or not. Its existence is not a matter for worthwhile dispute; what is is whether we can create a situation where the likelihood of its use is kept to an absolute minimum.
Much like the argument that a world with the bomb may be better than one without, this argument accomplishes more than it wants to, for if the mere technical knowledge of a nuclear device makes it futile to pursue disarmament, it makes it equally futile to pursue non-proliferation or reduction of any kind. The argument from futility cannot be directed solely at the nuclear abolitionist; it amounts to an argument against action of any kind.

But it also simply doesn't follow that because the knowledge of how to build the "A-Bomb" will always be with us, the "A-Bomb" must therefore always be with us too. If that did follow, then it would be impossible to argue for the abolition of anything -- including slavery, or lynching, or abortion, or capital punishment -- since if something is around to be abolished, that means the knowledge of how to do it will always exist. We can't go back to a time in which the New World was not discovered and then forcibly populated with African slaves, but thankfully we live in a time when slavery has been abolished throughout the New World, even though the knowledge have how it was done is becoming more robust and detailed every day. I hope for a world in which nuclear weapons will be similarly slated for abolition.

Abolition, of course, does not mean extinction. Alan is right that even if all nuclear states fully disarmed -- not just by removing their weapons from deployment but by actually dismantling them -- the possibility of recreating and reassembling nuclear weapons will always remain with us. We cannot go back to a non-nuclear or pre-nuclear world. But, and this is a point that Schell also makes brilliantly, that knowledge itself would serve the same deterrent function that the weapons themselves are alleged to serve by the opponents of abolition. If the fear of MAD prevents nuclear weapons from being used, the same fear would operate (in a post-abolition world) against their redevelopment and redeployment. By abolishing nuclear weapons, we would not be extinguishing the possibility of nuclear weapons but would merely be stepping as far away from the brink as is conceivably possible in a post-Hiroshima world.

We already realize that we are too close to the brink, since even the Bush administration holds the belief (despite its contradictory support for the development of "tactical" nuclear weapons) that our nuclear arsenal does not need to be as large as it is to serve its much ballyhooed deterrent purposes. Neither does the arsenal need to be on hair-trigger alert, according to a nuclear posture review drafted by the Department of Defense. But if a nuclear weapons does not need to be on hair-trigger alert to be deterrent, then why does it need to be assembled? And if it does not need to be assembled, why do its parts need to be manufactured? If our goal really is, as Alan says, to keep the likelihood of a nuclear launch to an "absolute minimum," surely abolition is as absolute a minimum as we can conceive.


Collective Improvisation:
If it is impossible for the use of a nuclear weapon ever to be justified, that seems to me a strong prima facie reason for abolishing nuclear weapons. How many other artificial things do we keep around or cover with legal protection even when we know there is no conceivable scenario in which those things could be justifiably used? (Seriously, I tried to think of an example of such a thing and could not.)

You avoid the issue by using the word "artificial," but both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. have kept supplies of the smallpox virus around for research on treatments, even though it would be possible to wipe them out.

Even the proponents of this doctrine have to admit there's a degree of lunacy to it, since it requires both sides to made credible threats that they will do the very thing that their nuclear policy is supposed to prevent -- that is, launch a first strike. The Cuban missile crisis showed just how dangerous and ultimately unsustainable that high-stakes game of "chicken" can be.

The Cuban Missile Crisis led to the establishment of better lines of communication between the superpowers (like the hot line). And postulating that it demonstrated the unsustainability is appealing to a counterfactual in the same way that you critique below. What we do know is that the Cold War did remain relatively stable.


My initial response was that while the Cold War prevented conventional war between the Great Powers, it also facilitated indirect wars between the Powers in places like Vietnam, Korea, and Latin America.

With casualty rates that were astronomically lower than either of the World Wars.

Alan replied that, as bad as these hot wars were, their horror would have paled in comparison to an outright conventional war between the Soviet Union and the United States. Perhaps that is so: debates about counterfactuals know no end. But I'm not sure I see the utility of drawing up a balance sheet of fatalities, with one column for the number of those who died in the "hot" Cold War and with one column for estimates about the number of those who would have died in a war between the Great Powers.

Really? Even if the difference is 57,000 (Vietnam) and 26 million (the Russian Front in World War II)?

For however much the A-bomb contributed to maintaining peace between Russia and the United States, surely all can agree that it was an intolerable kind of peace. It was a peace founded less on true peace -- an absence of conflict combined with friendly cooperation -- than on the cultivation of mass terror. There was a lack of conventional war, yes, but that did not constitute peace. At least, it's not the kind of peace that I want to bequeath to my children as the legacy of this generation.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "intolerable peace." My sense is that you're reaching for an abstract "perfect" kind of peace and holding anything less than that to be unacceptable. That the Cold War peace was certainly not what one might look at as a model for peace, it was certainly better than the three decades of 1914-1945.


If this line of argument is correct, then doesn't it lead inevitably to the conclusion that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, far from something to be feared, is a positive good? If the Cold War was (in some sense) a success story, then should we encourage the reproduction of its conditions in other conflict situations? Does the possession of nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan, for instance, prevent war between the two just as it did between Russia and the United States?

Sure. And, in fact, the situation between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has calmed considerably since both acquired nuclear weapons because both have become much more cautious about making belligerent moves, and because the United States has started paying sustained attention to the situation.

Jonathan Schell makes the case against this kind of pro-proliferation reasoning more concisely than I could, so I'll simply cite some of his reasons for rejecting it. First, the logic behind creating a "balance of terror" assumes a bipolar, Great Powers world in which we no longer live. It is conceivable, I suppose, for two states to try to match each other in an arms race, but it is hard to imagine how eight or ten or twenty states could calibrate the balance of nuclear power among them so that the doctrine of MAD would be effective.

Actually, it's remarkably easy to calibrate that. Everyone needs to have enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire world. Once they have that, destroying a specific country is simply a matter of using a subset of your total weapons. Destroying the entire world would probably take about 1000 thermonuclear warheads on 100 delivery systems. That's not particularly expensive, by military terms.

Moreover, it should be underlined that the geographical distance between Russia and the United States was one of the only reasons why MAD made sense to strategists, since it meant that both states could develop "launch on warning" missiles that would activate before a first strike by either arrived. Even then (and, I should add, even now), the amount of warning each state could have was terrifyingly short -- each head of state could count on one hand the number of minutes he had to decide whether to launch after being informed of a first launch. But further proliferation would make even that amount of warning impossible: in the case of India and Pakistan, for instance, a first strike would likely be the only strike, which is perhaps one reason why nuclear weapons on the subcontinent have not perceptibly lessened the likelihood of conventional war.

Which is why the United States and the Soviet Union also invested heavily in bombers (which could be launched on warning and recalled if necessary) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which were essentially undetectable. There's no reason that other nuclear powers couldn't do the same.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the proliferation of more nuclear weapons merely increases the risk of those weapons falling into the hands of terrorists, for whom non-proliferation and reduction treaties mean nothing.

“We have chemical and nuclear weapons as a deterrent and if America used them against us we reserve the right to use them."
--Osama Bin Laden, Nov 9, 2002.

Oddly, even the terrorists are using the language of deterrence.

But it hardly needs to be said that the kinds of terrorists who are the most eager to obtain nuclear weapons have no apparent fear of their own destruction. Once you run up against an enemy for whom suicide is not only not an evil, but a consummation devoutly to be wished, the logic of MAD dissolves.

Really? I'd be interested to see how Al-Qaeda would react to a nuclear retaliation threat on Mecca and Medina. Making such a threat would have political consequences, but it would possibly be an effective deterrent.

Much like the argument that a world with the bomb may be better than one without, this argument accomplishes more than it wants to, for if the mere technical knowledge of a nuclear device makes it futile to pursue disarmament, it makes it equally futile to pursue non-proliferation or reduction of any kind. The argument from futility cannot be directed solely at the nuclear abolitionist; it amounts to an argument against action of any kind.

Sure--that's the abstract logic of it, and I don't know that I disagree. But here also you're projecting the current situation, unchangingly, into the future. Having a Russia of 1949 gain the atomic bomb was a much more serious situation than if a non-proliferation effort had allowed a Russia of 1999 to gain the atomic bomb. In both cases, proliferation failed, but (in this hypothetical situation) the regime had changed for the better as well.

If South Africa had gained the bomb during the apartheid era, it would have been much more worrying than if they gained it now.

But it also simply doesn't follow that because the knowledge of how to build the "A-Bomb" will always be with us, the "A-Bomb" must therefore always be with us too. If that did follow, then it would be impossible to argue for the abolition of anything -- including slavery, or lynching, or abortion, or capital punishment -- since if something is around to be abolished, that means the knowledge of how to do it will always exist.

Name a weapons technology that, once discovered, has been left _universally_ undeveloped and stockpiled because of moral qualms about its possession and use. I don't think that you can.

But, and this is a point that Schell also makes brilliantly, that knowledge itself would serve the same deterrent function that the weapons themselves are alleged to serve by the opponents of abolition.

"Mr. President, the Premier of [Insert Favorite Enemy Country Here] is on the phone. He says that [Insert Favorite Enemy Country Here] has secretly assembled a cache of 50 H-bombs loaded on ICBMs. Unless the United States surrenders in the next hour, he will launch them at us."

"How fast can we reassemble our nuclear arsenal?"

"Two years."

--
Paul Fussell also wrote a bracingly pungent essay on a similar topic.

Posted by Anonymous David Silbey on 4/26/2006 01:17:00 PM : Permalink  

Thanks for your comments. I'll try to keep my reply brief (or at least briefer than my book-length post!).

To begin at the end of your comment, with your imagined scenario of a nuclear blackmailer suddenly threatening a state that has dismantled its own arsenal. The rhetorical force of this scenario depends on the idea that, if all states were to sign and implement a non-proliferation and disarmament agreement, a single miscreant state could somehow hold such a world hostage by developing a nuclear weapon. Several wars have been fought since Hiroshima between a nuclear state and a non-nuclear state in which the nuclear state did not achieve victory or its political objectives. If abolition left us with a world where a single nuclear state stood against a united front of scores of non-nuclear states, I wouldn't necessarily place my bets on the single nuclear state getting everything it wanted.

Besides, I find it extremely unlikely that, in a post-abolition world like the one I'm imagining, any state would be able to acquire nuclear materials, assemble nuclear weapons, and then actually deploy those weapons in absolute secrecy. If, hypothetically, it would take "two years" for a formerly nuclear state to reassemble its own arsenal, it would take much longer for a state that had never possessed nuclear weapons to build them, and it would be much harder for such a state to do so undetected. Perhaps I should have underlined that the kind of non-proliferation agreement I'm imagining (like the NPT) would build on current structures like the IAEA and the UN to create a comprehensive, international inspection regime. If you balk at the feasibility of such a regime, I would only add that even in your alternative world, where MAD is globalized by massive proliferation, some kind of similar regime of surveillance, national or otherwise, would still be required to make us feel sure that every state possessed an equally powerful nuclear arsenal. If we're not going to follow the path of least resistance and do nothing, it seems to me just as feasible -- while at the same time no less difficult -- to create a relatively failproof inspection system as it would to give every state a relatively failproof Doomsday Machine, which seems to be the only other proposal you make.

At some level, for my case to make any sense, you have to have a basic preference for trying to create an international order that is founded on cooperation rather than on coercion. And if you're seriously okay with the idea of an indefinite number of states possessing enough nuclear weapons to "destroy the entire world," thus increasing exponentially the risk of such an apocalypse actually happening, then your concept of the aims of deterrence is fundamentally different from mine. The doctrine of MAD at least assumed that deterrence could be used to advance a state's interests; how it could ever be in any state's interest to destroy the entire world is impossible even to conceive, and it is not in a state's interest, surely, to expend resources to give itself the capability of doing something that could never be in its interest.

I don't understand your response to my point that further proliferation would make "launch on warning" technology impossible. My point was that contiguous nuclear states would not have time for reciprocal launches, thus making the logic of MAD ineffective. Your answer seems to be that the United States and the U.S.S.R. found ways to move missiles so close as to be practically contiguous. That's not a point against my point: it is my point. If states find ways (as they already have, and necessarily would in your entirely nuclearized world) to conduct nuclear strikes without giving an enemy's command-and-control centers time to respond before being reduced to ash, destruction is not mutually assured and therefore would act as no deterrent on a state that strikes first, whether intentionally or accidentally.

The kind of peace I'm calling for is not an unattainable abstraction. The difference between tolerable and intolerable, in this context, is simple, and since I've relied on some of Jonathan Schell's arguments already, I might as well quote him here: "No tolerable policy can be founded upon the permanent institutionalization of a capacity and intention to kill millions of innocent people. No humane international order can depend upon a threat to extinguish humanity."

If that strikes you as a pie-in-the-sky peace, I don't know quite how to respond. I'm not imagining an international order in which there is never conflict between states (which would be truly utopian), I'm only trying to articulate an order humane enough to realize that such conflicts cannot be resolved with either the threat or the use of nuclear weapons.

Posted by Blogger Caleb on 4/26/2006 05:17:00 PM : Permalink  

Several wars have been fought since Hiroshima between a nuclear state and a non-nuclear state in which the nuclear state did not achieve victory or its political objectives.

In all of those cases, there were nuclear states on the sidelines who would have looked in grave askance at the use of nuclear weapons by one state, or the use of nuclear weapons was not necessary for victory by the nuclear-armed state.

Besides, I find it extremely unlikely that, in a post-abolition world like the one I'm imagining, any state would be able to acquire nuclear materials, assemble nuclear weapons, and then actually deploy those weapons in absolute secrecy.

"Extremely unlikely" is not the same as "impossible." And, in fact, I would suggest that there would be every incentive for countries that were weaker on a conventional military scale to undertake exactly such a secret program.

In any case, any attempted abolition of nuclear weapons would likely founder on the scenario of just such a nation trying it, getting caught, and everyone preemptively rearming.

I would only add that even in your alternative world, where MAD is globalized by massive proliferation, some kind of similar regime of surveillance, national or otherwise, would still be required to make us feel sure that every state possessed an equally powerful nuclear arsenal.

No, it wouldn't. "I have enough nuclear weapons to destroy you," does not have to be verifiable beyond the technical and industrial ability to do so. If Country B is 98% certain that Country B doesn't actually have the nuclear capacity, would they be willing to risk it?

you have to have a basic preference for trying to create an international order that is founded on cooperation rather than on coercion.

I have a basic preference for such an order. I have a basic skepticism that it would ever be universally possible.

point was that contiguous nuclear states would not have time for reciprocal launches, thus making the logic of MAD ineffective. Your answer seems to be that the United States and the U.S.S.R. found ways to move missiles so close as to be practically contiguous.

You misunderstood my reply. The U.S. and the U.S.S.R. didn't develop SLBMs and bombers to move closer, they developed them because both would be impossible to destroy in a first strike (the submarines because they would be undetectable and the bombers because they would be airborne). Combined with a Command and Control system such as the airborne one developed by the United States (the "Looking Glass" plane). Thus a country could withstand a first strike and still be able to strike back how and when it wished, or not, and would not be forced into launch on warning. Any country contemplating a first strike would know that their destruction was _still_ assured, and refrain.

"No tolerable policy can be founded upon the permanent institutionalization of a capacity and intention to kill millions of innocent people. No humane international order can depend upon a threat to extinguish humanity."... I'm only trying to articulate an order humane enough to realize that such conflicts cannot be resolved with either the threat or the use of nuclear weapons.

And I'm trying to point out that such a humane order would be more rather than less likely to lead to either a conventional war that killed millions if not tens of millions, of people, the use of nuclear weapons to subdue the disarmed powers, or a world dominated by those willing to arm themselves

Posted by Anonymous David Silbey on 4/26/2006 07:46:00 PM : Permalink  

Sorry--some corrections to the above:

Combined with a Command and Control system such as the airborne one developed by the United States (the "Looking Glass" plane). Thus a country could withstand a first strike and still be able to strike back how and when it wished, or not, and would not be forced into launch on warning.

should be:

Combined with a Command and Control system such as the airborne one developed by the United States (the "Looking Glass" plane), a country could withstand a first strike and still be able to strike back how and when it wished, or not, and would not be forced into launch on warning.

and

would be more rather than less likely to lead to either a conventional war that killed millions if not tens of millions, of people,

should be

would be more, rather than less, likely to lead to either a conventional war that killed millions, if not tens of millions, of people,

Posted by Anonymous David Silbey on 4/27/2006 07:16:00 AM : Permalink  

Caleb,

Great post! I find myself in the uncomfortable position of agreeing that nuclear weapons are immoral but unconvinced that abolition is practical. Still, lots to think about.

I do have a question about this:

For however much the A-bomb contributed to maintaining peace between Russia and the United States, surely all can agree that it was an intolerable kind of peace. It was a peace founded less on true peace -- an absence of conflict combined with friendly cooperation -- than on the cultivation of mass terror. There was a lack of conventional war, yes, but that did not constitute peace. At least, it's not the kind of peace that I want to bequeath to my children as the legacy of this generation.

I think this is right and true, that "peace" founded on terror is a pretty paltry kind of peace. Nevertheless, isn't that sometimes the best we can do? Consider this analogy: we use the threat of punishment as a deterrence against crime. Now, it would surely be preferable if society consisted entirely of free and uncoerced mutually beneficial cooperation, thus rendering the need for deterrence obsolete. But no one seems to have figured out a way to bring such a society about, so we keep our law enforcement mechanisms and other types of sanctions in place. In other words, suppose our choice isn't between the peace of terror and the peace of friendly cooperation, but between the peace of terror and something much worse. An absence of conflict, it seems to me, is not something to be sneezed at or taken for granted.

P.S. Have you ever read Finnis, Boyle, and Grisez's Nuclear Deterrence, Morality and Realism? They apply just war criteria to MAD and come to some strikingly radical conclusions.

Posted by Blogger Lee on 4/27/2006 09:35:00 AM : Permalink  

Caleb, I don't have time to really pick up this argument again (which I'm sure is an enormous relief to your readers), but I would like to respond to one point which you made earlier in the week and again in this post.

"But let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that a balance of nuclear terror does help prevent both nuclear and conventional wars because it maintains an unstable armistice between nuclear powers. If this line of argument is correct, then doesn't it lead inevitably to the conclusion that the proliferation of nuclear weapons, far from something to be feared, is a positive good?"

No, I don't think that follows. The logic of MAD assumes that the decision-makers involved are rational actors, easily identifiable and with a powerful self-interest in their own survival. The greater the spread of nuclear weapons around the world, the more likely that at least one of these criteria will not apply to one of the nuclear-armed parties - because, say, they are a covert terrorist group rather than a traditional nation-state (and thus more difficult to target in retaliation) or because they are more interested in a millenarian apocalypse than in the prolongation of their own lives. I see no contradiction between looking on MAD as a necessary evil and still wanting to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons into the hands of those who don't currently have them.

Posted by Anonymous Alan Allport on 4/27/2006 10:59:00 AM : Permalink  

Does no-one read Herman Kahn anymore? Maybe it's because he wrote before the now-conventional terminology developed, but he made a compelling arument regarding the unsustainability of MAD in the long term, especially when multiple powers are involved. (See chapter five of Thinking About the Unthinkable for Kahn's analysis of how even an "ideal" form of MAD lacks absolute stability.) In fact, Kahn suggested in On Thermonuclear War that Cold War stability was due in large part to the fact that both superpowers were heavily invested in the status quo, rather than that nuclear weapons held them in check. Matthew Melko expanded upon this theme in Peace In Our Time where he argued that MAD was irrelevant for this reason. In any case, serious students of nuclear deterrence need to read the "classic" literature on the subject- Kahn, Brodie, Kissinger, etc., in order to understand the development of thought on this issue. The point is that MAD has been mythologized to the point where most people don't really understand what it is or how it developed, and make sweeping interpretations of the Cold War nuclear legacy based on a modern-day understanding the concept. Considering that the nuclear arms race was well under way before MAD was formally conceptualized, it is vital to engage other modes of thought for considering the history of nuclear deterrence.

Posted by Blogger Sovietologist on 4/27/2006 01:12:00 PM : Permalink  

Some of us have read Kahn, thank you. And since the conclusion he developed out of the argument that MAD was unstable was that the nuclear powers had to be equipped and able to fight a sustained nuclear war, he's not really evidence in favor of Caleb's argument for abolition.

Posted by Anonymous David Silbey on 4/27/2006 05:06:00 PM : Permalink  

Thanks for the additional comments, and sorry for my slow reply.

One of the things I've been mulling over (and this might speak in part to all of the comments) is the assumption that nuclear deterrence works only because of the basic, self-interested imperative of all parties for their own survival. In other words, according to the doctrine of MAD, the assurance of their own destruction is the only thing that compels nuclear states to refrain from launching a first strike.

I wonder if that assumption is entirely warranted, though. It could be that heads of nuclear states have thus far refrained from launching nuclear first strikes in part because of sincere qualms about the moral legitimacy of incinerating hundreds of thousands of people. If such qualms play any role at all in the decision calculus of heads of state, then one cannot conclude that a balance of terror is absolutely necessary to prevent launches or (in a post-abolition world) rearmament. And if such qualms play a truly significant role in nuclear decision-making, then they could be sufficient deterrents to such scenarios.

Of course, this line of thinking may simply be exposing how deeply these debates are shot through with our prior assumptions about human nature and the horizons of human possibility. I'm not sure how to avoid the fact that the deeper we dig into arguments on both sides of this issue, the more likely we are to hit bedrock attitudes (like David's "basic skepticism" about the practicability of universal international cooperation, or like my basic hope that such cooperation is practicable with practice) that are both reasonable and hard to revise. Perhaps, in the end, that fact simply underlines what barely needs to be said: that this is not an argument that can be settled finally in the comments section of a blog post. Although I tried to make as strong and persuasive case for abolition as I could (within the window of time I had to spend on the post), I was under no illusion that I have made a comprehensive case, nor am I as sure as I seem that a comprehensive case can be made.

Alan,

I certainly understand not having enough time to continue this exchange, though I'm sincerely grateful for your carrying it on to this point. It has encouraged me to think more seriously and carefully about these issues than I otherwise would have.

The logic of nuclear deterrence would at least seem to encourage the expansion of nuclear weapons to nation-states, since I take it to be one of your major arguments that nuclear weapons have been and can continue to be useful for preventing conventional war between states. But I agree that even such limited proliferation would be a bad thing for exactly the reasons you cite. More nuclear materials in the world makes it likely that they will fall into the hands of parties who are unbothered by restraints like scruples or survival. (Between the lines I gather that, for the same reason, you would be in favor of significant reductions in the world's nuclear arsenals.)

What I have a hard time envisioning is a workable non-proliferation policy that would also include the indefinite armament of current nuclear states. I take for granted (and again, I think the logic of MAD simply makes this logical) that in a world where any state has nuclear weapons, other states will attempt to arm. In that case, there are then two possibilities for non-proliferation: one is that such a policy would be nearly impossible to accomplish without countless conventional, preemptive wars to disarm "rogue states." That tactic would be counterproductive, diplomatically and strategically, for reasons I've already advanced, and it would also involve institutionalizing the very thing (aggressive, preemptive conventional wars) that nuclear weapons are alleged to prevent.

The other possibility for non-proliferation in a semi-nuclear world lies in the development of a trustworthy and extremely accurate international inspection regime that would identify proliferation programs and then use a variety of diplomatic means (some of which would undoubtedly be coercive, though without necessarily being military) to stop those programs. I think (as we're seeing with North Korea and Iran) that such a plan would founder again on the fact that non-nuclear states that feel threatened by nuclear ones will seek unremittingly to correct the nuclear imbalance, thus necessitating (from the point of view of nuclear states) a resort to the option of preemptive strikes. But the disarmament of nuclear states would do nothing to make an inspection regime less effective than it is now (and I think even the effectiveness of the one we already have is vastly underrated), and it would arguably reduce the incentive of non-nuclear states to arm.

Which is a long way of saying that my argument for abolition (which includes both disarmament and non-proliferation) depends not just on the premise that the use of nuclear weapons is never morally justifiable, but also that preventive conventional war is never (or at least very rarely) justifiable either.

Lee,

I share your sense that an absence of conflict not something to be sneezed at, but as I've said, I don't think a mere absence of conflict is such an unqualified good that it can be purchased at any cost -- particularly if there are ways to secure it that do not require maintaining an ability and advertising an intention to obliterate entire populations of innocent people.

I largely agree with Alan's point (quoted in my post) that after Hiroshima we will never be without the fear of nuclear war, whether we like that or not. So that means, to some extent at least, even the peace of a post-abolition world will be a "peace of terror," since we will still know that rearmament is possible and still have reason to be anxious about its becoming a reality. But as I've argued, I think that knowledge can serve as a deterrent to conflict (even, I think, "conventional" conflict) without being nearly as coercive or as detrimental to cooperation as a world armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons is and would be.

Also, even my proposal acknowledges that sanctions of various kinds will be needed to make a post-abolition world work, although in my wildest of dreams I would hope that habits of international cooperation would eventually (in the very long run) lessen the need even for those sanctions. Obviously abolishing nuclear weapons alone will not create a cooperative world; other seismic shifts in international relations will have to take place that will take arduous work and leaps of faith. But I do suspect that if abolition were to become a reality, the processes that would make it a reality would also prime the general engines of change that would reduce the mutual suspicions of our time and make such cooperative relations more possible. Abolition does not simply require international cooperation but would also further it, in other words. When Gandhi said "peace is its own reward," I think this is what he was getting at: not that peace leads to self-satisfaction, but that the result of working for peace is more and better peace. Peace is rewarded with peace, and successful cooperation with future cooperation.

David,

Thanks again for your trenchant comments, many of which make very persuasive points.

You write: "Extremely unlikely" is not the same as "impossible." And, in fact, I would suggest that there would be every incentive for countries that were weaker on a conventional military scale to undertake exactly such a secret program.

Our arguments both depend on possibilities, likely or not, and neither of us can guarantee the non-actualization of some pretty frightening scenarios. If a state could obtain and deploy nuclear weapons now in absolute secrecy, then the risk of that happening is just as high without abolition as with it, and I don't see how the incentive of conventionally weak states to do so would be appreciably increased by abolition. (On the other hand, I think the ability of conventionally weak states to launch a super-secret nuclear program without getting caught is particularly low, so that those most likely to undertake a secret program are probably least likely to succeed.)

As long as we're talking of unlikely (but not impossible) scenarios, though, I also want to reiterate that the danger of accidental launches factors heavily in the favor of abolition, and the logic of MAD by definition doesn't take such accidents into account, since it presumes that the only cause of a strike would be a rational and deliberate decision by a head of state. Non-human events and unintentional actions cannot be deterred. At the very least, that fact is a weighty point in favor of taking nuclear weapons off of hair-trigger alert. To be sure, removing them from such alert introduces a window of time between decision and launch that a more reckless enemy could exploit. But (to repeat an earlier argument) if we are willing to introduce even that window, then why not open the window further by incrementally disarming and dismantling the weapons altogether? As long as there are other enemies on hair-trigger alert (or non-state enemies who are walking around with dirty bombs and are thus nearly impossible to target anyway), the nuclear state does not make itself more vulnerable than it already is by increasing the time that it takes to deploy and launch its weapons. Since we are already accepting monumental and irrational risks by taking our weapons off of hair-trigger alert, both by opening a window of opportunity to others and by decreasing the credibility of our threats, a serious and effective policy of nuclear deterrence would require keeping our fingers very close to the trigger -- a requirement that would, to come back to the beginning of the paragraph, make accidental launches far too likely to be acceptable. If we are going to step away from the brink at all, we might as well bite the bullet and disarm.

In re-reading my first comment, which I wrote quickly, I can see how some of the statements I made were a little tart, not to say rude. I apologize, for instance, if I implied that you have a basic preference for an international order based on coercion. I don't mean to say that, and I understand (as I said in my preface to this comment) your reasons for skepticism about my proposals.

I'm not persuaded, though (to make a final point) that abolishing nuclear weapons by itself would increase the likelihood of "a conventional war that killed millions if not tens of millions of people." There are other deterrents to conventional war than simply nuclear weapons (I can sense that we're not going to be able to settle our counterfactual debate about the Cold War, and in truth, you are more informed about the period than I am, but I still question whether it is certain that the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. would have fought a war without the bomb; wouldn't the 36 million deaths that you project to be a given, or the fact that one state had just lost millions of soldiers in a debilitating war, have had any deterrent power on either actor?). More generally, and to recycle some of the points I made in my reply to Lee, whether or not wars happen depends on far more than the presence or absence of nuclear weapons, and my argument takes for granted other important policy changes -- too numerous to spell out in this already ridiculously long comment -- that would seek to cultivate more cooperative and less coercive means of resolving international conflicts.

As for Herman Kahn, I agree that he's hardly an ally of mine. (Although I could suggest, perversely and Kubrick-like, that the abolitionist could see Kahn's arguments as a kind of reductio ad absurdum.) Incidentally, last summer I remember reading an excellent piece on Kahn by Louis Menand in the New Yorker, and now I see that it is online. It also looks like "Sovietologist" is starting a blog on these subjects, which I'll look forward to reading.

Thanks again the comments, and for indulging my well-known weakness for waxing loquacious. (See, I did it again!)

Posted by Blogger Caleb on 4/27/2006 06:56:00 PM : Permalink  

Caleb--

No indulgence necessary. It's always a pleasure to have a useful conversation about topics such as this.

If a state could obtain and deploy nuclear weapons now in absolute secrecy, then the risk of that happening is just as high without abolition as with it, and I don't see how the incentive of conventionally weak states to do so would be appreciably increased by abolition.

Sure, but the scenario that I posited was not just that they developed them in absolute secrecy but that the country then used them for nuclear blackmail. That's the critical step, and the one that is impossible now because of the assured retaliation. Ergo, the incentive is much less.

At the very least, that fact is a weighty point in favor of taking nuclear weapons off of hair-trigger alert. To be sure, removing them from such alert introduces a window of time between decision and launch that a more reckless enemy could exploit. But (to repeat an earlier argument) if we are willing to introduce even that window, then why not open the window further by incrementally disarming and dismantling the weapons altogether?

The accidential launch is definitely a worrying scenario, and, in fact, American nuclear weapons are off the hair-trigger alert they were in during the Cold War. But that reduction in readiness is possible because of the fact that bombers and SLBMs guarantee a response to any attack, because they can ride out an attack and launch afterwards. Abolishing nuclear weapons altogether would lose that guarantee and make us vulnerable.

serious and effective policy of nuclear deterrence would require keeping our fingers very close to the trigger

It really doesn't, I promise. The critical factor about a return strike is not that it has to be quick, but that it has to be guaranteed. A hypothetical Cold War scenario would be a Soviet first strike taking out American ICBMs and the Soviet Union then being devastated in return by an American second strike comprised of submarine launched ballistic missiles, ordered by either the President or by the command general aloft in "Looking Glass." Whether that strike comes in an hour or several days does not matter. What matters is that it would come, and the Soviets would know that ahead of time.

There are other deterrents to conventional war than simply nuclear weapons (I can sense that we're not going to be able to settle our counterfactual debate about the Cold War, and in truth, you are more informed about the period than I am, but I still question whether it is certain that the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. would have fought a war without the bomb; wouldn't the 36 million deaths that you project to be a given, or the fact that one state had just lost millions of soldiers in a debilitating war, have had any deterrent power on either actor?).

I suspect that it should have a deterrent effect, but to bring up Alan Allport's point from earlier: the tens of millions of casualties of World War I deterred the European nations from starting another global war for all of twenty years.

whether or not wars happen depends on far more than the presence or absence of nuclear weapons, and my argument takes for granted other important policy changes -- too numerous to spell out in this already ridiculously long comment -- that would seek to cultivate more cooperative and less coercive means of resolving international conflicts.

My sense is that we should be careful about advocating policies which require postulating as a foundation of fundamental and universal policy changes on the part of a wide range of national actors.

As to Herman Kahn, I'm not sure his arguments are entirely convincing, but he deserves credit for trying to make some kind of rational sense of the Alice in Wonderland world of nuclear strategy. There's a reason why that plane was codenamed "Looking Glass."

Posted by Anonymous David Silbey on 4/27/2006 07:53:00 PM : Permalink  

I didn't mean my comment as a slight against anyone, and I hope it wasn't taken as one. I was mainly emphasizing the historical value of Kahn's work, and I have been frustrated by the level of ignorance expressed in the blogosphere recently on these topics. (But not here- this has been one of the most-informed and resonable discussions I've seen, which is why I've decided to butt in.) I'm actually torn between your positions- like Caleb I believe that nuclear weapons are morally reprehensible and deserve to be abolished, but I do not believe that it is realistic to expect this to happen. I brought up Kahn because of what he wrote in 1962- that nuclear proliferation would make nuclear strategy and deterrence vastly more complicated, and that the framework of thought that he helped create would no longer be adequate to describe it. The development of the new nuclear powers since the end of the Cold War has onerous implications for the future, especially if the trend continues. Hence the temptation to use military force to prevent proliferation. But it's a Catch-22- the more force established powers use to squelch proliferation, the more attractive nuclear weapons will be to emerging powers. I personally am very pessimistic, as I do not see any realistic solution to these issues materializing. We may just have to accept a world where proliferation has made nuclear wars a continuing possibility. Any suggestions on how to forestall this eventuality would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Blogger Sovietologist on 4/27/2006 09:40:00 PM : Permalink  

But it's a Catch-22- the more force established powers use to squelch proliferation, the more attractive nuclear weapons will be to emerging powers

I wanted to highlight this, because it's such a critical point. I would argue that the main lesson for Iran of American foreign policy for the last four years--especially with regards to India, Pakistan, Iraq, and North Korea--is that they (Iran) need to acquire the bomb as quickly as possible. Countries with the bomb--N. Korea, et a--are negotiated with. Countries without--Iraq--are invaded.

Posted by Anonymous David Silbey on 4/28/2006 06:58:00 AM : Permalink  

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