BAN THE BOMB--Before Our Luck Runs Out.

AuthorHelfand, Ira


That is the assessment of William Perry, who served as Secretary of Defense under President Bill Clinton.

"The likelihood today of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than during the Cold War," Perry told an audience in Washington, D.C., early in the Trump Administration. "Today, inexplicably to me, we are recreating the geopolitical hostility of the Cold War and we are rebuilding the nuclear dangers of the Cold War. We are doing this without any serious public discussion, or any real understanding of the consequences of these actions: We are sleepwalking into a new Cold War, and there is a very real danger we will blunder into a nuclear war."

Perry expounded on this theme recently in a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-written with former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, who chaired the Armed Services Committee. The trio warned that the world "may soon be entrenched in a nuclear standoff more precarious, disorienting, and economically costly than the Cold War." They called for de-escalating tensions caused by Trumps "dysfunctional Russia policy" by building a framework for strategic stability and announcing a joint declaration affirming the senselessness of nuclear war.

This sense of heightened danger is shared by the experts who set the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight in January 2018 and reaffirmed that decision in January of this year.

"Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention," the group said. "These major threats--nuclear weapons and climate change--were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger."

Among the factors driving concern upward were President Trump's decision to unilaterally abandon the Iran nuclear deal and withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty while joining other nuclear-armed countries in sweeping programs of "nuclear modernization."

Yet despite these alarming developments, the imminent threat of nuclear war barely registers on most people's radar. In the early 1980s, the danger of nuclear war emerged as a matter of widespread public concern, with one survey finding that 76 percent of Americans believed nuclear war was "likely" within...

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