Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wittner on Abolition

Peace historian Lawrence Wittner has written a piece in response to the letter published in the WSJ on nuclear abolition. As he points out:

One would find this position remarkable were it not for the fact that most people around the world already agree with it. Polls over the last decade have found overwhelming support for a nuclear-free world. Asked if Britain "should help to negotiate a global treaty to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons," 87 percent of Britons responded affirmatively. Queried as to whether all nuclear weapons should be eliminated, 78 percent of Japanese agreed. When Germans were asked if the nuclear weapons states should "start getting rid of their own nuclear weapons as soon as possible," 87 percent backed the idea. Asked if the nuclear weapons states should abolish their weapons, 61 percent of Russians expressed approval. Even the citizens of supposedly nationalistic Third World nations have shown a strong aversion to nuclear weapons. Asked if their country should produce nuclear bombs, 63 percent of Indians said "No."

I feel this misses the point, however. My own understanding is that the nuclear arms complexes of both the United States and Russia are extremely capable of resisting outside pressure. For another example, look to Britain- despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Britons endorse the idea of abolishing nuclear weapons, as attested by Wittner's own numbers, Parliament voted last year to replace Britain's Trident submarine fleet. It doesn't matter if the masses and (former) policymakers agree on a nuclear weapons-free world; all that matters is if the tiny cabals that decide such matters could be made to change their minds on this issue, and that seems extremely unlikely.

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