Here’s the problem with leaving “the freedom factor” out of the formula for universal nuclear disarmament:
A. The democracies cannot give up all nuclear weapons until the dictatorships first give up theirs, and
B. Because dictatorships are too secretive to be trusted, the democracies cannot give up their nuclear weapons until there are no dictatorships left.
I believe President Obama will discover this soon. Until now, he’s thought too little about the virtue and power of freedom, but the hard and elegant truth will hit him.
Bombs away. How real is the secrecy of dictatorships?
Keep in mind that, 20 years after the Berlin Wall crumbled, we just found out that the semi-free Russians haven’t yet dismantled their Soviet-era Doomsday Device, the 1985 “Dead Hand” system, designed to launch nuclear missiles against the United States if it detects Russia has suffered an atomic attack.
Recall, too, that in a 2002 Havana conference on the Cuban missile crisis, the Russians revealed that they didn’t remove all of their nuclear weapons from Cuba by Nov. 9, 1962, as promised, but secretly kept some atomic warheads on the island until Nov. 20, 1962. No one here noticed.
Words and deeds. Add to that problem the lack of accountability or predictability among tyrants.
In 1991, the North Korean dictatorship signed, with South Korea, the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, promising not to produce or test nuclear weapons. Then North Korea simply went ahead and produced and tested nuclear weapons.
And in case you need another example, note that Iran, a Muslim theocratic dictatorship founded by an ayatollah who in the 1980s declared nuclear weapons “un-Islamic,” has been trying to build all the parts of an atom bomb since 1990. (Only today, we found out the Iranians have tried to keep their second uranium enrichment plant a secret.)
Liberty for security. In his Farewell Address, President George W. Bush summed it up well:
“In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad.”
If we want a world completely free of nuclear arms, we first need a world completely free.