Sunday, December 16, 2007

Reagan was a Nuke Abolitionist

One of the more compelling articles I have read recently is by Jonathan Schell in the December 24 edition of The Nation magazine. One reason it is so compelling is that he cites 80s history to argue that Reagan was in fact a strong proponent of total nuclear disarmament. He was not so when he first came to office, but by 1983 he had realized that nuclear deterrence was morally wrong. His announcement of the Star Wars initiative in that year was meant to make nukes strategically useless and so "pave the way for arms control measures to eliminate the weapons themselves."

Apparently his top officials were caught by surprise by this proposal, which included sharing the SDI technology with the Soviets.

At the Reykjavik summit in 1986, he and Gorbachev discussed the elimination of their entire arsenals. For a few days this dream hung in the air between the two men. In the end, disagreements over how SDI would be tested and shared scuttled the dream.

I grew up in the Reagan years, and supported him because my parents did. Since then, I have realized how he harmed the US in so many ways. But now I see there is more to the eye than what the Right chooses to emphasize: that he was a lion who conquered evil through force or the threat of force. And there is truth to that. He did rape central America because he feared, somehow, that Cubans could conquer the US from the south. But I am glad to find that this lion of the Right was in favor of nuclear disarmament, even as the current establisment, right and left, seems completely paralyzed and incognizant in the face of the danger of nuclear weapons to human survival.

The article is called, "The Old and New Shapes of Nuclear Danger."

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