Too Little, Way Late, Mr. Kissinger

In 1958, Harvard Professor Henry Kissinger published Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. The book argued that people should relax about the use of those newfangled hydrogen bombs, which didn't necessarily spell doom for humanity, let alone vast continental powers like the United States and the Soviet Union. Because manageable, limited nuclear war was possible, the nuclear option should be kept on the table during crises, argued Herr Professor. In certain cases, the nuclear option was preferable to a prolonged conventional war.

As in, say, the latter stages of the Vietnam War. Nixon and Kissinger famously and seriously contemplated using nukes against North Vietnam; "madman theory" hype aside, they really did think about it.

But there was the same Henry Kissinger -- who, together with Edward Teller, was one of the inspirations for Dr. Strangelove -- arguing in the Wall Street Journal yesterday for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The essay -- entitled "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons" and co-authored with George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn -- lays out a commonsense and urgent plan for American leadership to stop and reverse proliferation, with the ultimate goal of complete abolition. Fifty years after writing a sanguine book about thermonuclear charges being detonated over cities, Kissinger is worried that things have gotten out of hand.


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