Apocalypse Soon (By Former US Sect. of Defense Robert MacNamara)
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Foreign Policy Magazine May/June 2005 Issue
Posted: November 11th, 2006
It is time...for the United States to cease its Cold War-style reliance on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy tool. The risk of an accidental or inadvertent nuclear launch is unacceptably high. Much of the current US nuclear policy has been in place since before I was secretary of defense, and it has only grown more dangerous and diplomatically destructive in the intervening years. On any given day...the president is prepared to make a decision within 20 minutes that could launch one of the most devastating weapons in the world. To declare war requires an act of congress, but to launch a nuclear holocaust requires 20 minutes' deliberation by the president and his advisors. After leaving the Defense Department, I became president of the World Bank. During my 13-year tenure, from 1968 to 1981, I was prohibited...from commenting publicly on issues of US national security. [Afterwards] I decided to go public with some information that I knew would be controversial, but that I felt was needed to inject reality into these increasingly unreal discussions about ... nuclear weapons. To launch weapons against a nuclear-equipped opponent would be suicidal. To do so against a nonnuclear enemy would be militarily unnecessary, morally repugnant, and politically indefensible. The indefinite combination of human fallibility and nuclear weapons carries a very high risk of nuclear catastrophe. There is no way to reduce the risk to acceptable levels, other than to first eliminate the hair-trigger alert policy and later to eliminate or nearly eliminate nuclear weapons.