Op-Ed: How the nuclear weapons taboo is fading — and why it matters
The debate on whether we need more nuclear weapons is reaching a boiling point over who is leading the push to remove the “nuclear taboo.”
As the world’s nuclear arsenals continue to grow, the debate over nuclear weapons has reached a new level. In the United States, for example, anti-nuclear activists are fighting for more nuclear power and more nuclear weapons. And in Europe, the discussion over how to deal with nuclear threats and ensure our own defense is dominated by the “ban” or “ban and freeze” movement. The nuclear lobby is also challenging the nuclear taboo.
In this new nuclear age, there is no shortage of ideas on how to better prepare for, and prevent, nuclear attack. On the other hand, the nuclear taboo is eroding, leaving the nation vulnerable to nuclear attack. When the “ban” or “ban and freeze” movement reaches critical mass in a few years, it will be hard to reverse.
A few years ago I witnessed one of the most important developments in nuclear politics: the rise of the nuclear taboo. Before then, there was no shortage of nuclear politics. There was no nuclear taboo, and the nuclear issue was a highly politicized hot potato.
As the debate on if we need more nuclear weapons has reached a boiling point over who is leading the push to remove the “nuclear taboo,” we are witnessing one of the most important developments in nuclear politics: the rise of the nuclear taboo.
In my view, in the United States, the nuclear taboo is eroding, leaving the nation vulnerable to nuclear attack. Today, even a nuclear attack on the US could potentially have devastating consequences, given that our nuclear arsenal is large and its use is highly unlikely.
But when I look back at American nuclear politics, I see that nuclear weapons have been more central to the nuclear debates than they are today, and they were central to nuclear politics in the 1950s and 1960s.
I saw the nuclear taboo eroding in