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The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe
By Graham Allison
Reviewed by Thomas B. Newman, PSR Board member
Graham Allison's "Nuclear Terrorism" is the scariest book I have read in a long time. The first 2/3 of the book is a carefully documented and extremely readable demolition of all the myths that might comfort us about why nuclear terrorism is unlikely. It is so well done and so important that before I had finished the copy I borrowed from the library, I bought two more online, including one to send my congressman. Allison has done a great service by calling attention to this urgent problem.
Unfortunately, the last third of the book is disappointing. Rather than call for the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons, Allison's "solutions" will perpetuate the status quo, with current nuclear powers retaining their nuclear oligopoly. This not only violates Article VI of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (and hence the U.S. Constitution), it sends a message that we believe the use or the threat of use of nuclear weapons is morally acceptable and militarily useful. This wrong message undermines efforts to prevent proliferation to other countries. In fact, the U.S. would be a big winner if nuclear weapons were abolished. As Bernard Lown, co-founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) wrote in 1996:
"One can puzzle with dismay that the industrialized nations are not leading the pack in the quest for nuclear abolition...Their long-range security is categorically undermined by the spread of nuclearism. Nuclear weapons afford them scant advantage as they already command awesome military establishments capable of projecting their might speedily to the remote corners of the earth." (From the forward to the book "Crude Nuclear Weapons Proliferation and the Terrorist Threat," available free on the IPPNW website.)
In order to galvanize the population of the world to work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe, we need a goal and a message capable of inspiring people. Allison does a great job of sounding the alarm, but IPPNW's goal and message are more inspirational.
Purchase this book from Amazon.com
Zero Is the Only Option
In March 2010, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and PSR docs Vic Sidel and Ira Helfand published a major new briefing paper on the global climate and health effects of nuclear war. Zero is the only option was produced for the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Read more »
Steps to Safety (for General Audiences)
PowerPoint presentation on how nuclear weapons put the United States at risk today--and how we can reduce and eventually eliminate the danger posed by the thousands of nuclear weapons still stockpiled in nuclear arsenals, the tons of nuclear bomb making material vulnerable to theft by extremists, and the specter of more nations potentially seeking nuclear weapons. Read more »
PSR Reports Fall 2010
Inside this issue: the Environmental Health Policy Institute; New START victory; coal ash health threats; and 2009 Financial Statement. Read more »
In the Spotlight
December 3, 2013
Climate Change: Impacts on Public Health
Open to the public, this dinner program highlights the relationship between climate change and health, and provides ideas for mitigation. Featuring keynote speakers Dr. George Luber and Meredith Jagger.