Sat Sep 17, 2016 | 10:33am EDT

Podcast: Why nuclear war looks inevitable

An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launches
during an operational test from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,
February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Kyla Gifford/U.S. Air Force Photo/Handout
via Reuters

By Jason Fields

Several developments have the potential to move the hands of the
nuclear doom clock closer to midnight.

A new U.S. nuclear policy has a chance of destabilizing the balance of
terror by creating a larger arsenal of smaller weapons.


Smaller weapons are more tempting to use. The argument for so-called
"tactical" nukes is that they would destroy a smaller area and create
less fallout, making them more "safe" to use than traditional
many-megaton bombs. And that could lead to temptation to use them.

Just as importantly, that could give other nuclear-armed powers the
impression that the U.S. would be more likely to use the weapons - a
dangerous spiral that could culminate with...the end of the world,

The United States is hardly the only nation adding stress to a system
that is always a hands-breadth from tragedy.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin has rattled the nuclear sabre, even
threatening to station missiles in annexed Crimea. Pakistan, another
nuclear-armed country, is a divided nation with government agencies
linked to Islamic extremism and a beef with India. India has a beef
with Pakistan and territorial disputes with China.

North Korea is a wildcard with an accelerating nuclear program that
may still be getting help from Pakistan - which denies it. Recent
tests by North Korea and China's lack of overt response has set U.S.
teeth on edge.


U.S.-led forces strike Syrian troops, prompting emergency U.N. meeting
Man who wounded eight in knife attack at Minnesota mall made
references to Allah: police

In the end, the basic question is whether humanity can have such
dangerous toys and not use them.

Incredible as it may seem, at the height of the Cold War the world
might actually have been safer, experts say. Neither the United States
nor the Soviet Union had a death wish, and those were clearly the

And, of course, nihilistic militants have no such qualms.

Peace Is Doable

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