Skip to Navigation
Skip to Content

Support PSR!

Make a difference in the challenge to confront global warming and prevent nuclear war and the development and use of nuclear weapons.

Donate Now »

Take Action

Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, Physicians for Social Responsibility works to protect humanity from the gravest threats to health and survival. Right now, you can make a difference by registering your comments on the EPA's new Clean Power rule to limit carbon from existing coal-burning power plants. Just click the button to get started.

What is the true ultimate nightmare ?

Posted by Thomas B. Newman, MD, MPH on December 7, 2010

PSR Board Member Thomas B. Newman responds to an Op Ed by Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, "The Irrelevance of New Start"

According to Charles Krauthammer, (Washington Post, 11/25/10)  "A world without nukes would be the ultimate nightmare."  Didn't he feel ridiculous writing this?  Hello! A nuclear war would be the ultimate nightmare.

 

First, a world without nuclear weapons would be just that, not a world in which nuclear weapons still exist.  Unlike other types of weapons, international control of nuclear weapons is feasible because of the difficulty creating fissile material.  This is why we need a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. 

 

Second, Krauthammer seems naïvely to believe that our nuclear weapons will deter rogues, radicals and psychopaths. Wouldn't it be better to keep nuclear weapons out of their hands in the first place?  The only way this can happen is by delegitimizing these hideous weapons and strengthening international treaties such as the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. 

Krauthammer argues against arms control treaties because, "the problem is never the weapon, it is the regime controlling the weapon."  To him, a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia is "inconceivable." This ignores the vast literature on the risk of accidental nuclear war  -- see e.g. an article in the New England Journal of Medicine: Accidental Nuclear War — A Post–Cold War Assessment.

He writes, "…that's why no one worries about British nukes and everyone worries about Iranian nukes."  Perhaps no one in the US worries about British nukes.  But perhaps people in Iran do worry about them, or about US and Israeli nukes and conventional weapons.  
Rather than trying to perpetuate an unsustainable world of nuclear haves and have-nots, thoughtful strategists from both parties and the vast majority of the world's population believe we would be safer in a world free of nuclear weapons. The New Start treaty is a small step in the right direction.

 

Thomas B. Newman, MD, MPH
Board Member, Physicians for Social Responsibility

 

 

 

Comments

Leave your comment

Name
Comment
Enter this word: Change

Action Alerts

More action alerts»

Resources

In the Spotlight

  • July 17, 2014
    Our Best Opportunity to Cut Climate Change
    We need you to take action now! Tell the EPA that its proposed rule to cut carbon pollution from power plants Is vitally important and on the right track – but can be strengthened.