Nuclear Abolition: Not so Fast?

No matter where you stand on nuclear abolition, if it’s an issue you care about, you ought to read through Bruno Tertrais’ article (.pdf) in The Washington Quarterly, “The Illogic of Zero.” As the title indicates, it’s a critique of total nuclear disarmament, and some of it is ground that Thomas P.M. Barnett covered in his last couple WPR columns (especially here, but also here).

But in addition to offering a number of solid arguments against implementing “zero” as policy, Tertrais also offers a section full of substantive arguments against adopting it even as a vision. What also makes the article worth a read is the final section, which discusses some of the conditions that might make “zero” more achievable in the future.

I’ve interviewed Tertrais a few times, and he’s got a mind that’s 99 parts iron, with one part carbon thrown in for good measure. His thinking, like this article, is precise, orderly, logical and thorough. In some ways, the choice he presents, at least in the current global environment, is that between eliminating war and eliminating nuclear weapons. If you really do hope for the latter, it’s worth challenging your arguments against those raised by Tertrais. They might wind up dead, but if not, they’ll certainly emerge stronger.