By Graham Allison
Yesterday was a dark day for the United States. When Richard Lugar lost the Republican primary election, not only did Indiana lose its senator of 38 years, but the nation was deprived of one of its greatest champions of bipartisan leadership on issues of war and peace.
Orwell wisely observed that we sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. But we are also able to enjoy the benefits of peace and civilization because far-sighted leaders take actions that prevent acts of terrible violence that would otherwise make our lives poor, nasty, brutish, and short. A prime example would be terrorists exploding a nuclear bomb in one of our cities. Read more
By Graham Allison
If we had known then what we know now, would we choose war again?
In the real world, foreign policy-making often requires hard choices, sometimes between bad and worse. After the fact, even the most objective analysts have difficulty determining what might have been. Understandably, those who chose A rather than Z are not likely to be analytically objective in defending their views. In the case of significant choices, they are fighting to shape a narrative that enhances their personal reputations, even their place in the history books, as well as fighting ongoing policy debates in which these choices are ammunition. Read more
By Graham Allison
This week’s announcement that North Korea has become the chair of the UN Conference on Disarmament should become the peg for euthanizing this body, giving it the burial it deserves, and getting real about the current state of global nuclear disorder.
The international community’s acceptance of this absurdity is appropriately incomprehensible to observers who take nuclear dangers seriously. Supporters of multilateral initiatives and the establishment of international organizations to address international challenges that states cannot possibly solve by acting alone should also take this as an occasion for reflecting about what UN efforts such as the Conference on Disarmament contribute, or fail to contribute, to international problem-solving. In three decades, what meaningful actions has this body taken to reduce nuclear dangers? Read more
We asked nuclear policy experts in Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs to summarize in one paragraph the achievements in the year since President Obama convened a summit on nuclear security on April 12-13, 2010. And we asked for a second paragraph on what needs to be done in the year before the follow-up summit planned for Seoul, South Korea.
Here are their replies:
Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Since last April’s historic Global Nuclear Security Summit, there have been a series of positive steps towards preventing what President Obama called the “single biggest threat to U.S. security, short-term, medium-term, and long-term”: nuclear terrorism. From the elimination of more than half of Ukraine’s highly enriched uranium (HEU) stockpile to the safeguarding of more than 800 bombs’ worth of fissile material in Kazakhstan, states have made significant down payments on the president’s objective to secure the world’s most vulnerable fissile material by 2014. While these achievements should be celebrated, this is no time for a victory lap. We have only reached the end of the first quarter in a race against time to ensure the world’s most dangerous materials do not fall in the deadliest hands. Read more