by Chris Bodenner
[He] makes perhaps the most damning arguments against its thesis himself. Toward the end of the article, having spent more than 2,000 words explaining how nukes protect us, Tepperman adds that a key problem with the “dreamy ideal” of disarmament is that it distracts us from the more important problem: “making the world we actually live in--the nuclear world--safer.” Given that his point was that nukes made us safe, it was a little jarring to read that it needs to be made safer, because that suggests there is some danger now. [...] Finally, after arguing that there’s little risk of nukes falling into the hands of terrorists, he then acknowledges that we ought to continue helping Russia and Pakistan to safeguard their arsenals and to secure “loose nukes.” (Wait, loose nukes?!) This, Tepperman assures us will help prevent the danger of an “accidental launch.” (Accidental launch?!)
Let's see one of Tepperman's passages in full:
Obama's idealistic campaign, so out of character for a pragmatic administration, may be unlikely to get far (past presidents have tried and failed). But it's not even clear he should make the effort. There are more important measures the U.S. government can and should take to make the real world safer, and these mustn't be ignored in the name of a dreamy ideal (a nuke-free planet) that's both unrealistic and possibly undesirable.
No one, least of all a US president, seriously thinks the world will ever be rid of nuclear weapons (unless, of course, all of them are launched - which kinda dampens the disarmament victory party). But just because something is a "dreamy ideal" doesn't mean we shouldn't "make the effort." An ideal is a type of goal, which in this case is worth pursuing because it will incrementally decrease the probability of a loose terrorist nuke or second - perhaps unlucky - Cuban Missile Crisis.
Also, "lowering nuclear proliferation to a manageable threat level" just doesn't quite have the same rhetorical flare flair as "rid the the world of nukes."
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