Blackadder’s Lair

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A Conservative Case Against Nuclear Weapons

The desire for the United States to abandon its nuclear weapons is one that is most often associated with the far left. Yet lately a number of fairly prominent conservatives appear to be reaching the same conclusion. Last year, for example, Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, William Perry, and Sam Nunn penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons”:

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) envisioned the end of all nuclear weapons. It provides (a) that states that did not possess nuclear weapons as of 1967 agree not to obtain them, and (b) that states that do possess them agree to divest themselves of these weapons over time. Every president of both parties since Richard Nixon has reaffirmed these treaty obligations, but non-nuclear weapon states have grown increasingly skeptical of the sincerity of the nuclear powers.

Reassertion of the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and practical measures toward achieving that goal would be, and would be perceived as, a bold initiative consistent with America’s moral heritage. The effort could have a profoundly positive impact on the security of future generations. Without the bold vision, the actions will not be perceived as fair or urgent. Without the actions, the vision will not be perceived as realistic or possible.

You can watch George Schultz lay out his case to National Review’s Peter Robinson here. George Weigel, in his recent book Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism, comes to a similar conclusion.

Of course, conservative antipathy to nuclear weapons is not entirely new. As Paul Lettow notes in his book, Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, at the core of Reagan’s foreign policy vision was his desire to end the threat of nuclear annihilation that had been hanging over the world since the 1960s. And in its early years, modern American conservatism had at best an uneasy relationship with the bomb. But that unease, unfortunately, has not been much in evidence in recent years, and if these latest rumblings prefigure some sort of trend in conservative thought, it will most certainly be a welcome one.


May 14, 2008 - Posted by | Nuclear Weapons, Politics

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