Richard Rhodes: Is the Knowledge of Nukes Enough?

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rrRichard Rhodes is the go-to analyst of nuclear weapons for most of thirty years now ever since the publication of his acclaimed history of the Manhattan project and the mostly men and the science and the political emergency behind it. His first masterpiece was called The Making of the Atomic Bomb. He’s even written a play about the Reykjavík Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, perhaps the closest we’ve been so far to the total abolition of nuclear arms.


  • Potter

    This was a complement to the Elaine Scarry interview which left me feeling that her idealism was just that, not possible. Richard Rhodes was more helpful with his suggestion at the end. I feel that nuclear weapons have come to mean (or symbolize) achievement, power and, of course, deterrent. I just did not know how the nuclear powers, especially us, the US, would ever give them up entirely (or lead the march towards that even) and be satisfied with mere knowledge. Having nukes and being able to push the button, as “nutty” as it sounds, is, or was (or still is) is what MAD, mutually assured destruction, is all about. It’s an addictive drug for those in power. The downside does not register. And they are not going to give it up. My question is, doesn’t MAD work?
    I now buy the view of Reagan, thanks to you, softening my overall view of him, that he was bold and imaginative to reduce stockpiles together with Gorbachov. But reduction from that ridiculous level to what it is now (still overwhelming) is not as great an achievement as elimination would be. That is the tough one.
    Thank you for focussing on this.