There are serious problems with communications in a society when mainstream media sources, such as the Washington Post, will publish articles touting nuclear weapons as instruments of peace and ignore serious rebuttals. The Post recently published an op-ed, “Nuclear weapons are the U.S.’s instruments of peace,” by Robert Spalding, a Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. The title really speaks for itself. The article can be read here.
I sent a response to the Washington Post in the form of a letter to the editor, but it was not published by them. My letter, which is under their 200-word limit, sought to point out some of the fallacies in Mr. Spalding’s op-ed. Here it is:
“Robert Spalding’s enchantment with nuclear weapons would keep the US prepared to refight the Cold War for decades. But nuclear weapons do not make the U.S. more secure. Rather, they make us targets, and they spur nuclear proliferation. A major nuclear war would destroy civilization and possibly all complex life on the planet. A regional nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan using 50 Hiroshima-size nuclear weapons each on the other side’s cities would put enough soot into the stratosphere to block warming sunlight, shorten growing seasons, cause crop failures and result in a billion deaths worldwide.
“Nuclear deterrence is not foolproof because we humans, despite our best efforts, are fallible, as convincingly demonstrated at Fukushima. Spalding is dead wrong. It is not only through strength that peace can be obtained; it is also through diplomacy, cooperation, international law and a generosity of spirit in our foreign policy. Nuclear weapons are illegal, immoral and ultimately uncontrollable. They are a path not to peace, but to catastrophe. In our own interests, the US should lead in negotiating their elimination from the planet.”
Nuclear weapons place at risk everyone we love and everything we treasure. They have no place in a civilized society, and US leaders should be doing all they can to fulfill our obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue negotiations for their total elimination from the planet. But this will not happen if the mainstream media provides a one-sided view that “nuclear weapons are the U.S.’s instruments of peace.” They are hardly that, and our continued reliance upon them will encourage nuclear proliferation and eventually result in nuclear war by accident or design.
David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.