64 years ago today, a new age was born. Warfare changed forever when America used a nuclear weapon for the first time in history. Three days later the second military use occurred. Fortunately, nobody has been crazy enough to unleash a third attack; however, thousands of deployed missiles still exist, ready at a moment’s notice. Fat Man and Little Boy – the only two nuclear weapons used in warfare – are, for all their power, incredibly small in comparison to the thermonuclear devices we have today.
Because of our fear of destroying the planet with all out nuclear war. Many countries signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement more than half a century ago. We often get upset with countries like North Korea and Iran who, although they are signitaries, appear to be disregarding the treaty. Certainly this is of concern, but there is a flip side to the treaty: countries which already possessed significant nuclear strength were supposed to make dramatic cuts. Countries like France and Britain have never bothered to uphold their end of the treaty. Russia and America did exactly the opposite and built-up like mad until the 70s.
Although, Presidents Carter and Reagan, made efforts to bring Russia to the negotiating table, I believe their basic idea of making gradual tit-for-tat cuts was a flawed approach. One major difficulty was that America was unable to cut types of weapons unless Russia also reciprocated. Another problem was that it was always adversarial. After Reagan, until W, we lost a lot of traction. Fortunately the younger Bush opted for an approach which I long hoped would appear.
Mutual Assured Destruction was our favorite method of deterrance. Conceptually it was effective although neurotic. The problem was that we forgot the fundamentals and it truly became MAD. Someone started thinking that we needed more weapons than our opponents, and the race was off.
W signed a treaty with Russia, but additionally he made unilateral cuts of thousands of warheads. My hope is that Obama might continue this approach. As long as we maintain a number substantial enough for deterrent purposes, we should be cutting excess weapons. The weapons are expensive and dangerous to construct, maintain, and deploy. China and Russia would love to cut theirs and easing their stress by cutting first will allow them that opportunity. Fear not, if they don’t make the cuts, there is no additional risk to us and they suffer the financial consequences. Please ask our President to uphold our end of the Non-Proliferation Agreement and promote a New Age.