Once Again, Nuclear Disarmament: From Douglas MacArthur to George Kennan

Once Again, Nuclear Disarmament: From Douglas MacArthur to George Kennan

Perhaps there are some people in politics who might disagree with the Nobel Laureate and father of the Soviet H-bomb, Andrei D. Sakharov, when he writes in A Letter from Exile, “I feel that the questions of war and peace and disarmament are so crucial that they must be given absolute priority even in the most difficult circumstances.” Now that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao are no longer with us it’s hard to think of anyone, anywhere, who would disagree with Sakharov’s declaration that “nuclear war . . . is the greatest peril confronting the mod- ern world.”

That being so, and stepping away from the problem itself, just looking at it as though it were a work of art, one can’t help but be astonished that so little has been done to eliminate the danger of nuclear war. Thirty-six years ago the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and then a second one on Nagasaki. The city of Hiroshima reported that more than 200,000 died as a result of a single bomb. Terrain and the lesser size of Nagasaki reduced destruction there to 39,000 killed, 25,000 injured. Those bombs have been superseded, of course, by hydrogen bombs, which make the orig- inal A-bombs seem “puny” by comparison. President Carter reminded us that a single nuclear- armed submarine can fire missiles capable of destroying all the large and medium-sized cities of
the Soviet Union.

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