Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Let's Close the Nuclear Umbrella

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Let's Close the Nuclear Umbrella

Article excerpt

WHEN the sun is shining brightly, the prudent person closes his umbrella and puts it aside.

It is time for the United States to close its nuclear umbrella and to develop a new strategy for the post-cold-war world. Nuclear devices hereafter should be used only to deter other nations from getting nuclear weapons or threatening to use them against the US or its allies. We can, and must, deal with other threats to our security by conventional means.

Since dropping two atomic bombs on Japan, the US has operated on the assumption that it needed to rely on the threat of the first use of nuclear weapons to meet its security commitments. Although many analysts doubted that this was the case, the threats that the American government saw itself facing were indeed formidable. Soviet military forces surrounded West Berlin and were poised to move toward the English Channel. The Sino-Soviet bloc threatened to attack our allies across a wide arc and with vast conventional forces. Communist ideology led the Kremlin to support movements throughout the world that were viewed as a threat to Western interests.

In the face of this challenge the US government came to rely on a nuclear strategy that included:

* Deployment of nuclear weapons at the front line from Europe to Korea;

* Deployment of nuclear weapons on many American ships at sea and with Air Force units throughout the world;

* A policy of refusing either to confirm or to deny the presence of nuclear weapons; and

* Reliance on the planned first use of nuclear weapons to deal with serious military threats, combined with opposition to arms-control agreements that were seen as diluting the credibility of the first-use threat.

In response to the end of the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Bush administration has gone far toward changing that policy. Now it needs to go the rest of the way if we are to deal effectively with the danger of nuclear proliferation and the remaining military threats to American security.

President Bush has ordered nuclear weapons off all ships at sea except ballistic-missile submarines and has withdrawn all ground-based weapons from overseas bases and all nuclear weapons from Korea. …

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