Don’t ask, don’t tell – terrorism and the nuclear threat

With recent tragic events in Paris the world is once again reminded that there is no safe haven from the threat of terrorism.

In a nuclear world one can only imagine what the outcome would be if the perpetrators had nuclear materials. In a world with over 15,000 nuclear weapons the potential for such a scenario is very real.   

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Yet with the threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and materials, there has been no questioning of or statements by our presidential contenders on how to address and eliminate this threat to all of humanity.  As though there was a conspiracy of silence and a fear that one would somehow appear weak if advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  

Failing to address the existential threat posed by the continued existence of nuclear weapons while failing to deal with the causation of terrorism is ultimately a recipe for disaster.  

This is particularly true now after the Paris attacks, when like after 9/11, all the world has a sense of being Parisian.   As long as the ingredients for terrorism exist, no nation will be immune to the potential risk of terrorist attacks.  Now is the time for nations to come together.  The international leadership void that calls for a joining of efforts to address the causation allows the continued fermentation of the elements.  

As per the question of nuclear weapons and their very real and growing threat to human existence, no one is speaking to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and nuclear war. Probability theorists place the threat of nuclear war by design or accident conservatively at 1 percent per year with some as high as 2-3 percent. A child born today has an unlikely chance of reaching his or her 30th birthday without a nuclear war in their world.

Studies have now confirmed that a limited regional nuclear exchange using less than ½ of 1 percent of the global nuclear arsenals would have global implications ultimately killing up to 2 billion people on the planet from the resulting climate change and devastating effects on agricultural production in the years to follow. This scenario is a very real possibility with the ongoing tensions between the nuclear armed nations of India and Pakistan.   

With growing tensions in Ukraine and Syria and with the U.S. and Russia on opposing sides, either side unleashing only their nuclear weapons on hair trigger WITHOUT RETALIATION would result in massive devastation beyond that of the limited regional scenario, possibly ending human life on this planet.  

With such a threat we must demand a response from our future leader to tell us what their administration will do to achieve nuclear disarmament, or under what circumstances would they propose such a suicide mission? 

Yet who among the candidates for commander-in-chief, who is sworn to protect and serve the United States, has the courage to speak about this greatest threat to our country and indeed to humanity itself? And who in the media is willing to pose the questions about this grave threat?  Until we address this issue we will face the possibility in the words of Albert Einstein of  “unparalleled catastrophe” continuing to rely on luck as a defense strategy.

Dodge is a family physician practicing full time in Ventura, California. He serves on the National and Los Angeles boards of Physicians for Social Responsibility (www.psr.org,www.psr-la.org,).  He also serves on the board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org) and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions (www.c-p-r.net). He writes for PeaceVoice (www.PeaceVoice.info).