The world got a little darker, much more dangerous and took several steps toward the end when the US decided to withdraw from the INF treaty with Russia. Pompeo and Trump are certainly no different than any other “dynamic duo” bent on fiery salvation. Presidents seem to fall in love with the beastly power of nuclear weapons. Sooner or later they all fall to siren’s call of usable nuclear weapons.
Jimmy Carter came into office with a mandate of wrestling the atomic arsenal under control. In the end, he implemented PD-59, an option to exercise “limited strategic employment options”. It created a dream scenario where the use of nuclear weapons makes some sense. It was a fool’s paradise where governments stop short of wholesale destruction.
Barack Obama won a Nobel Prize for his speech on international cooperation and peace, a world free of nuclear weapons. But, even Mr. Obama ended up spending 1.2 trillion dollars on renovating the nuclear arsenal.
I highlighted these two, not because I think they are bad men or bad presidents, but precisely the opposite. I thought they were a hope, a chance to step back from the abyss and say, this doesn’t make any sense. Let’s not kill everybody.
This administration never offered that kind promise. It was belligerent at the inauguration. A big American bully at the UN.
Now, we walk away from treaties. We stop honoring commitments. We are going to show the world how an arms race is won. Nobody wins an arms race.
When the arms race involves nuclear weapons everybody loses. If we have enough power to destroy the world and they have twice as much does it really matter? If the Russians want to spend money, a lot of money building weapons it can’t use does that mean we have to play along?
It shouldn’t have to be said. The only use for nuclear weapons is as a deterrent. And if a country has enough to kill everybody there is probably no need for any more. The number is a constant, independent of other factors. It is a simple idea.
But, it seems too complicated for our elected officials. Which is terrifying.
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