Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"Denuclearization": Let's Get Serious

Symbol of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)
(Why here?)

I commend to all the article by Jessica T. Matthews in the May 10, 2018, New York Review of Books, "Jaw-Jaw Better Than War-War."

The crux is found in these three sentences:

Former defense secretary William J. Perry, who has years of experience with arms control, including a failed effort in Pyongyang twenty years ago, believes that the very modest goal of a ban on further nuclear and missile tests and on the export of nuclear technology is all that can be hoped for. He argues that it would be impossible to verify even a freeze in the number of existing warheads, much less cuts. There is a stunning contrast between the modest goals that might be realistically achievable in North Korea and the stringent cuts and verification measures already in place and working under the Iran deal.

(The article is dated April 10 - before Trump de-certified the Iran Deal.)

Three thoughts on getting serious about denuclearization:

Serious analysis: It's important to advocate for broad goals; it's also important to participate in thinking about the details. How we as a species are going to "unlearn" nuclear weapons technology is a problem filled with devilish details.  (More to come on this subject . . . . )

Serious conversations: It's important to participate in conversations with all kinds of people. I'm particularly interested in the role of people like Matthews and Perry right now -- the kind of people who hold many views on security and international affairs that I don't agree with, but who do carry tremendous influence with respect to the task in front of us.

By the way, the expression "jaw jaw better than war war" -- a Harold Macmillan/Winston Churchill mashup -- expresses a kind of crude, patronizing attitude, the condescension of the warrior-reluctantly-turned-diplomat (there's an unspoken "I suppose" there . . . ) and perfectly encapsulates the idea that it's worth putting up with some attitude in order to get some dialog.

(More to come on this subject, too.)

Serious citizenship: Predictably, the daily ups and downs connected to the Korean Spring continue. There's an important role for ordinary citizens like you and me: to help the wide array of people we interact with day-to-day understand the larger arc of what's happening -- between the two parts of Korea, between the US and Korea, and with denuclearization broadly.

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