Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World
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Tad Daley writes, in his new book, " Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World," that he would like his book to have the impact of "Common Sense," "Uncle Tom's Cabin," or "The Jungle." Yeah, buddy, what author wouldn't? But Daley has a unique argument for the moral necessity of sharing his goal and promoting either his book or others like it: our only alternative is the annihilation of all life on earth.
By the time you've read this book, you will in fact be persuaded that if others do not grasp its central points, not just tyranny or slavery or unsafe workplaces will continue, but all trace of humanity and every other life form in the world will be eliminated.
One of those central points is this: we can either eliminate all nuclear weapons or we can watch them proliferate. There's no middle way. We can either have no nuclear weapons states, or we can have many. This is not a moral or a logical point, but a practical observation backed up with enough specifics to convince you of its certainty. As long as some states have nuclear weapons others will desire them, and the more that have them the more easily they will spread to others still. The number of nuclear states has jumped from six to nine since the end of the Cold War, and more are likely.
A second central point is that if nuclear weapons continue to exist, there will very likely be a nuclear catastrophe, and the more the weapons have proliferated, the sooner it will come. Once Daley recounts some of the incidents (there have been hundreds) that have nearly destroyed our world through accident, confusion, misunderstanding, and extremely irrational machismo, you will be amazed that you are currently alive and that anyone else is. And then you'll want to eliminate the chance of such a tragedy playing out in the future, not increase it to the point of near certainty, which is what proliferation does. And when you add in the quite real and increasing possibility of non-state terrorists acquiring and using nuclear weapons, the danger grows dramatically -- and is only increased by the policies of nuclear states that react to terrorism in ways that seem designed to recruit more terrorists.
The danger is increased again, and dramatically so, by the Bush-Obama era policy of nuclear first-strike against non-nuclear states, which encourages Iran to seek nuclear weapons as a deterrent, and which violates the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as of course does our failure to work for multilateral (not just bi-lateral) disarmament and elimination (not just reduction).
Daley is also persuasive that possessing nuclear weapons does absolutely nothing to keep us safe, so that there is really no trade-off involved in eliminating them. They do not deter terrorist attacks by non-state actors in any way. Nor do they add an iota to our military's ability to deter nations from attacking us, given the United States' ability to destroy anything anywhere at any time with non-nuclear weapons. They also don't win wars, and the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China have all lost wars against non-nuclear powers while possessing nukes. Nor, in the event of global nuclear war, can any outrageous quantity of weaponry protect the United States in any way from apocalypse.
However, the calculation looks very different for a smaller nation. North Korea has acquired nuclear weapons and put an end to bellicosity from the United States. Iran has not acquired nukes, and is under steady threat. Nukes mean protection to a smaller nation. But the seemingly rational decision to become a nuclear state only increases the likelihood of a coup, or civil war, or mechanical error, or fit of rage somewhere in the world putting an end to us all.