The Awful New Arithmetic of the Atomic Bomb

by Roger Alford

I am blogging the UCLA nuclear threat conference over at Huffington Post. My first post on former Defense Secretary William Perry’s keynote address last night is available here. Here is an excerpt:

My impression after hearing Perry speak is that we must calculate the awful new arithmetic of the atomic bomb. The nuclear risk we face today is the exact opposite of the one President Eisenhower faced almost fifty years ago. At that time Eisenhower said, “Should an attack be launched against the United States, our reactions would be swift and resolute. But … for me to say that the retaliation capabilities of the United States are so great that such an aggressor’s land would be laid waste, … while fact, is not the true expression of the purpose and the hopes of the United States. To pause there would be to confirm the hopeless finality of a belief that two atomic colossi are doomed malevolently to eye each other indefinitely across a trembling world…. Surely no sane member of the human race could discover victory in such desolation.” The specter of nuclear terrorism today is that certain members of the human race seek victory in just such desolation.

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