A Skeptic's Case for Nuclear Disarmament


Is it realistic or even wise to envision a world without nuclear weapons? More and more people seem to think so. Barack Obama is himself on board, having declared “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” But that is easier said than done. Michael O’Hanlon puts his own indelible stamp on this critical issue in A Skeptic’s Case for Nuclear Disarmament.Calls to “ban the bomb” are as old as the bomb itself, but the pace and organization have picked up greatly recently. The growing Global Zero movement, for example, wants to rid the world of nuclear weapons by 2030, with treaty negotiations to begin in 2019.Would this be prudent or even feasible in a world that remains dangerous, divided, and unpredictable? After all, America’s nuclear arsenal has been its military trump card since World War II. Pursuing zero prematurely or carelessly could alarm allies, leading them to consider building their own weapons—the opposite of the intended effect.O’Hanlon endorses nuclear disarmament, but with conditions. He clearly presents the dangers of nuclear weapons and the advantages of disarmament as a goal. He believes that even once an accord is in place, however, temporary suspension of restrictions may be necessary in response to urgent threats such as nuclear “cheating” or discovery of an advanced biological weapons program.“Even once we eliminate nuclear weapons, we will have to accept the fact that we may not have done so forever.” The genie is out of the bottle, so to take all nuclear options off the table forever strengthens the hand of those that either do not make that pledge or do not honor it. But dismantling existing bomb inventories, in recognition of their dangerous and destabilizing potential, should become our goal, as President Obama has rightly emphasized.
  • Brookings Institution Press; November 2010
  • ISBN: 9780815705086
  • Edition: 1
  • Read online
  • Title: A Skeptic's Case for Nuclear Disarmament
  • Author: Michael E. O'Hanlon
  • Imprint: Brookings Institution Press