Bomb Scare

Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons

Joseph Cirincione
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/ciri13510
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  • Book Info
    Bomb Scare
    Book Description:

    Since their inception, nuclear weapons have multiplied at an alarming rate, leaving everyone from policymakers to concerned citizens wondering what it will take to slow, stop, or even reverse their spread. With clarity and expertise, Joseph Cirincione presents an even-handed look at the history of nuclear proliferation and an optimistic vision of its future, providing a comprehensive survey of the wide range of critical perspectives.

    Cirincione begins with the first atomic discoveries of the 1930s and covers the history of their growth all the way to current crisis with Iran. He unravels the science, strategy, and politics that have fueled the development of nuclear stockpiles and increased the chance of a nuclear terrorist attack. He also explains why many nations choose not to pursue nuclear weapons and pulls from this the outlines of a solution to the world's proliferation problem: a balance of force and diplomacy, enforcement and engagement that yields a steady decrease in these deadly arsenals.

    Though nuclear weapons have not been used in war since August 1945, there is no guarantee this good fortune will continue. A unique blend of history, theory, and security analysis, Bomb Scare is an engaging text that not only supplies the general reader and student with a clear understanding of this issue but also provides a set of tools policymakers and scholars can use to prevent the cataclysmic consequences of another nuclear attack.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50940-4
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Joseph Cirincione
  6. CHAPTER ONE Building the Bomb
    (pp. 1-13)

    Albert Einstein signed the letter. Years later he would regret it, calling it the one mistake he had made in his life. But in August 1939, Adolf Hitler’s armies already occupied Czechoslovakia and Austria and his fascist thugs were arresting Jews and political opponents throughout the Third Reich. Signing the letter seemed vital. His friends and fellow physicists, Leo Szilard and Eugene Wigner, had drafted the note he would now send to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    The scientists had seen their excitement over the recent breakthrough discoveries of the deepest secrets of the atom turn to fear as they realized...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Controlling the Bomb
    (pp. 14-20)

    Soon after using the bomb, President Harry Truman began wrestling with how to control it. “The hope of civilization,” he said in his message to Congress in October 1945, “lies in international arrangements looking, if possible, to the renunciation of the use and development of the atomic bomb.” In November 1945, Truman advanced the first government nonproliferation plan when he joined with British Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King to propose to the new United Nations that all atomic weapons be eliminated and that nuclear technology for peaceful purposes be shared under strict international controls, implemented...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Racing with the Bomb
    (pp. 21-46)

    After the 1948 coup in Czechoslovakia and the Berlin crisis that same year, President Truman ordered an increase in weapons production. By late 1949, the United States had more than 200 atomic bombs. When the Soviets tested their first fission bomb that November, Truman raised the stakes, accelerating a program to build the “Super,” or hydrogen bomb.¹ David Lilienthal, chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), wrote in his diary, “More and better bombs. Where will this lead … is diffcult to see. We keep saying, ‘We have no other course’; what we should say is ‘We are not...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Why States Want Nuclear Weapons—and Why They Don’t
    (pp. 47-83)

    Nuclear weapons are the most terrifying weapons ever created by humankind. They are unique in their destructive power and in their lack of direct military utility. Most national leaders repeatedly express their hope that these weapons will never be used.

    Why, then, do states devote enormous human and financial resources to develop these weapons? What are the principal desires and fears that drive these expensive, demanding programs? And why don’t more states have these weapons? What are the main barriers that prevent proliferation, and have these motivations, strategies and obstacles changed over time?

    Simply stated, the five main reasons that...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Today’s Nuclear World
    (pp. 84-109)

    Some say that the world is more dangerous now than it was during the Cold War. Most often these statements are made by political figures seeking to promote a new policy or by journalists eager to grab attention before anyone can flip the page or channel. But it is not true. Most military and political leaders of the past half century would likely have traded the threats of global war they faced for the challenges we face today. A moment’s relection is enough to help us realize that as serious as the current dangers are, they pale in comparison to...

  11. CHAPTER SIX The New U.S. Policy
    (pp. 110-124)

    Since 1945, American nonproliferation policies have relied on a combination of international agreements, alliance systems, and security commitments. In the jargon of international relations theorists, this means that for most of the nuclear age policies and programs have been based on a liberal internationalist view of the world, coupled with a realist understanding of national behavior and the importance of military force.

    Liberal internationalists believe that conflicts between states can be permanently reduced through international institutions and democratic alliances. This view, shared by most U.S. presidents in the twentieth century, provides an explanation for why democratic states do not go...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN The Good News About Proliferation
    (pp. 125-138)

    After wading through the history, theory, dangers, challenges and failures of proliferation policy, most readers could be excused for feeling a bit depressed. Don’t be. There is quite a bit of good news about the prospects for reducing the threats from nuclear weapons. Many experts and political officials substantially underestimated the success achieved by previous officials working with the formidable tools provided by the nonproliferation regime. While today’s threats are serious, wise policy choices in the past have contained and even eliminated similar threats. Prudent policy choices in the future can do the same. Most importantly, we have a pretty...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Nuclear Solutions
    (pp. 139-157)

    As we have seen in the previous chapter, nuclear force levels in the world are likely to decline steadily over the next decade and these reductions may well accelerate. As these numbers go down, it is likely that senior officials will be more willing to take weapons of hair-trigger alert, thus reducing the chance of accidental or unauthorized launch. The general movement of policy seems to be in that direction. There are three problems, however, that are more difficult to resolve. They require forging a consensus of expert opinion, focusing the attention of senior officials, securing the necessary funding, and,...

  14. AFTERWORD: The Shape of Things to Come
    (pp. 158-182)

    Significant developments in the proliferation of nuclear weapons took place in late 2006 and 2007, after this book was finalized for publication. This afterword, added for the paperback edition, surveys these events, both perilous and promising. Overall, the trends since the publication of the original edition confirm the basic concepts developed in the preceding pages:

    The proliferation of nuclear weapons is not inevitable.

    The spread of nuclear weapons increases the risks of catastrophe rather than providing security or stability.

    The current strategy focused on regime change as the cure for proliferation has failed to solve the core problems and has...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 183-208)
  16. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 209-218)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 219-232)