What would a world without nuclear weapons look like? We already know.
I posted yesterday my assessment of President Obama's new nuclear-weapons posture.
But by announcing new limits on the use of nuclear weapons, Obama has in fact severely undercut their strategic deterrent. Any foreign power examining the new posture can only conclude that there are really no circumstances that Obama would order their use short of an actual atomic attack on the United States itself - and frankly, I am far from certain he would so order even then. If anything, Iran's government's statements since Obama announced the new posture show that Iran has dismissed our military threat to their nuclear program.But what would a world without nuclear weapons look like? I think that most of the "progressive" side of American politics thinks it would look like this:
The cause to be upheld is deterrence, not assurances of good will or self-assured feelings or moral superiority. The point of deterrence is to prevent nukes from being used by creating caution and uncertainty in the minds of potential enemies. This is done not by laying out specifics, but by the public policy that every president since Truman has followed - we have nukes, and we reserve the right to use them when we deem necessary. (This has not been our policy regarding chemical and bio weapons, by the way, which has been, respectively, "no first use" and "no use.")
I fear the world is now less secure, not because we still have nuclear weapons, but because our potential threats know it doesn't matter that we do. And this has in fact made their use, by someone and maybe the US, more likely.
But we already know what a nuclear-free world looks like.
It looks like this.
From the first world war to the second was only 20 years. World War II ended almost immediately after the first (and thankfully only) use of atomic weapons. It's been 65 years since the end of the second world war. There has been no third world war. I don't mean that the past six decades have been unicorns and rainbows, but can you imagine what a third world war might have been like even if fought with only conventional weapons?