Nukes on the Loose: What Can Be Done?





Mr. Lambers is the author of the book Nuclear Weapons (2002).

A"secret and sudden" attack with nuclear weapons is the most horrific threat facing the United States today.  But nuclear fears are nothing new. They have been with us since World War II. A former Massachusetts Institute of Technology president, Dr. James Killian, became a key part of the fight to control nuclear weapons during the Cold War. His work holds much relevance to today's struggle against nuclear proliferation. 

Dr. Killian became Dwight Eisenhower's science advisor in 1957. Eisenhower considered Killian"an able and trusted advisor of top rank" according to former aide General Andrew Goodpaster. Killian's leadership was vital in formulating arms control policies to limit nuclear weapons.

In the late 1950's, nuclear fears were even greater than today.  The Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in a massive arms race. The United States"Net Evaluation Subcommittee" conducted studies to see how much damage Soviet atomic bombs could inflict on the United States. The results were ghastly.   There was also the fear of nuclear weapons spreading to more nations, a danger also ever-present in today's world. 

In a report to President Eisenhower, Dr. Killian wrote"trends in military technology emphasize the urgent importance of arms limitations." Chief among these arms control efforts was a nuclear test ban treaty. A treaty eliminating all nuclear tests was seen as a potential springboard to further agreements related to disarmament. But a test ban treaty was also seen as risky to national security.  It was feared the Soviets could" cheat" the treaty and conduct secret test explosions.

When the Eisenhower administration examined ways to achieve a test ban treaty, it was Dr. Killian who took a leadership role.  In 1958 Killian, along with the science advisory committee, recommended an in-depth study of nuclear test detection capabilities.  Eisenhower gave the green light and Killian helped assemble a group of elite scientists to conduct further research into detecting nuclear explosions. 

Killian and the scientists greatly increased the knowledge vital to any hopes of a test ban treaty.  Their groundwork helped set the stage for what became the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This treaty, signed in 1963 during the Kennedy administration, banned atmospheric, underwater and outer space nuclear explosions. Underground nuclear tests were allowed to continue under the treaty.  General Goodpaster says,"James Killian's was a role of foremost importance…" in achieving the Limited Test Ban Treaty. The treaty provided a key respite from the Cold War.

But Eisenhower, Kennedy and others had their sights set on a comprehensive test ban treaty banning all nuclear tests. A comprehensive test ban treaty has long been regarded as a major stepping stone toward nuclear disarmament worldwide. Today, such a treaty has not come to fruition. In its absence, the fear of new nuclear weapons and test explosions remain.

In 1959, Dr. Killian wrote of the dangers of developing new armaments. Increasing nuclear weapons technology"will steadily complicate our defense [and] augment instability." Killian furthered warned the" chances for error…and the consequences of [accidental war] become enormous."  Today, the United States is researching new nuclear weapons and may resume testing. Imagine the shockwave should the United States resume nuclear testing!  No international norm would exist against the testing and development of these weapons. New nuclear testing will encourage Russia and others to do the same. Failure to limit and lower nuclear stockpiles worldwide also increases the chances of terrorist theft of these weapons. The U.S. government might be wise to heed some of Dr. Killian's warnings of over forty years ago and pursue further arms limitations.

Dr. Killian was one of the unsung heroes of the Cold War. His efforts helped increase  nuclear security at a dangerous period in American history.  The country is now in another turbulent time, under the threat of nuclear weapons. We can only hope that officials like Killian are taking leadership on policies that will enhance nuclear security.  The people of the United States and the world are counting on it.


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Josh S Narins - 4/6/2004

I remember the thing that alarmed me in Bush's first budget was the dramatic cuts to funding for programs that work with the Russian nuclear arsenal/stockpiles.

The number one security issue in many people's minds, and the administration dramatically risks our safety. If a nuke escaped the regimen in this period, but gets used under a different President, whom do you think will get the blame?

Was the nuke-control system perfect before? Is it holey now? Probably no, and no, but this is the most important thing, and nobody mentions it.

At least Exxon/Mobil's profit was over 21 billion last year! Phew!


Name Removed at Poster's Request - 3/19/2004

Chris, you said, "I will not spend the time refuting your claim, but email me and I can send you many articles."

Please email me those articles at gadmthrawn@mindspring.com.


Oscar Chamberlain - 3/17/2004

The reasons for and the impact of trade agreements have a complex relationship with the growth of an international order.

The "shape" of these organizations indicate the influence of large-scale corporate interests, often at the expense of other international interests (e.g. human rights, environmental protection) as well as national sovereignty.

However, I think we would have seen an increasse in interntational agreements that encroach upon soveriegnty no matter whose interests had dominated the negotiations.

Rules follow trade. They have to for the security of the trade and to account for the strains created by exchanges in goods, people, and ideas. For those rules to have clout, to do more than simply be exhortations of good behavior, they have to breach sovereignty on a de facto level. (De jure sovereignty remains, as we retain the right to leave any of these organizations).

In short, they have to be postive law, or something close to it.

Now whether NAFTA and the WTO are good positive law is another question entirely. And their flaws may break them down. But I do think organizations of similar power are nearly inevitable, unless there is a serious and frightening breakdown in the world order.


Name Removed at Poster's Request - 3/17/2004

My apologies, Mr. Pettit, I did spot another claim I'd made in relation to those trade agreements: "Many Americans, including some on the political right, would have no problem with international agreements that restrict our foreign involvements, but don't want our ability to govern ourselves interfered with by paternalistic political and trade bureaucrats who much of the time won't be most focused on our best interests."

By "our best interests" I didn't mean the interests of the very rich and some affluent people in the U.S., but the people of the United States as a whole. Still disagree?


Name Removed at Poster's Request - 3/17/2004

"Josh - All of the treaties you mention (NAFTA, CAFTA, etc) are multi and bi lateral treaties dictated by the US. The world is coming together as a community to oppose the oppressive measures of these treaties. These treaties harm other nations much more than they harm the US, I can assure you. As this is a long note already, I will not spend the time refuting your claim,"...

Nothing you've written above contradicts my only claim on trade agreements: "Already U.S. sovereignty is being usurped to benefit the wealthy and few others in this country and overseas."

"...but email me and I can send you many articles."

I would but I don't have your email address.

"I have spent the past 5 years traveling through South America, Africa, and South East Asia teaching the exact opposite of what you stated for a variety of reasons. I would ask you to please do some research on the subject before defending sovereignty by employing those agreements and the WTO, an organisation dominated by US business interests and neo-liberal interests."

Are you actually saying NAFTA, GATT and the WTO don't usurp U.S. sovereignty to any degree? Maybe what I'd read about the legal threats to the state of Vermont for its anti-Burma stance is wrong, as well as the potential threats to U.S. environmental and labor law. Anyway, if we can figure a way to get those articles to me, I'd be happy to read them.


mark safranski - 3/16/2004

The author appears to be an anarcho-Libertarian of the Murray Rothbard mold.


mark safranski - 3/16/2004

Hi Chris,

On Nations and Nation-states: I think we have seen, since WWII, mostly a large increase in *States* due to decolonization and to a lesser extent, the Soviet
collapse. Many of these states, as former European colonies, were not inherently viable for a variety of reasons, not least of which was that they were irrationally multinational and prone to ethnic conflict and disintegration.

In other cases, we have peoples who clearly constitute culturally distinct *Nations* - the Kurds, Palestinians, Shan, Basques, Chechens, Tamils to name a few- who lack a state. I think the number of nations has remained relatively stable - you can't generate a historical culture overnight- though the number of formal states will fluctuate, especially if we look at failed states honestly as a reduction in the total number as conditions of anarchy render them mere geographic experssions.

The successful new states are likely to be true nation-states like Ukraine that have a relatively dominant culturally homogenous majority group to give civil society some sense of identification and continuity. There will be some exceptions. Georgia both as a medieval kingdom and a post-Soviet republic has been prone to internal division that invites outside meddling but it's one of the more ancient nations in a cultural-historical sense. Haiti, certainly a nation-state, has never had good government except under the U.S. marines ( relatively speaking) and stable government only under the odious Duvaliers and a few 19th century despots. Most of the artificial states - like the Congo for example - I think are destined to collapse over the long term and eventually be replaced by smaller, more culturally homogenous and hopefuly viable nation-states.

I'll have to tackle constitutional liberalism vs. illiberal democracies a little later.

cheers !


mark safranski - 3/15/2004

Chris,

The interesting aspect of sovereignty is how aside from being a legal issue it ties into both reality ( a state's ability to control it's territory in a civil and militarily sense) and the concept of legitimacy. If you cannot exercise effective control you eventually cease being a sovereign, even if everyone else says you are. If your effective control is neither mandated by your own people nor recognized by other nations then your actions lack any claim to legality.

The Taliban government of Afghanistan was de facto sovereign but it lacked de jure legitimacy. While the Taliban enjoyed a brief honeymoon of rough, popular approval for executing the hated Najibullah and stamping out public pederasty, rape and the like it was soon lost through extremely harsh repression and cruelty. Only three foreign governments recognized the Taliban prior to 9/11 so their claim to be treated as Afghanistan's legitimate rulers in a legal sense were tenuous at best.

When the Taliban proved unwilling - and most likely unable given al Qaida's dominant financial and military partnership with the regime- to extradite al Qaida's leaders to the United States, the latter was well within it's self-defense rights to act under the UN charter and international law. No one seriously disputes that the magnitude of 9/11 represented an act of armed conflict, something NATO recognized when it invoked the mutual assistance clause of their charter.

The Sabotage Treaty, while a valid treaty, was mooted by the inability to secure any legitimate and substantive redress from a state actor that cooperated in the the attack by permitting al Qaida to base itself on Afghan territory. The Taliban was not a neutral party in 9-11 but an active co-belligerent.


chris l pettit - 3/15/2004

Hope everyone had a good weekend...and I am delighted to hear a little idealism on a Sunday..haha.

A very interesting conversation as well. I am wondering if, as Oscar stated, there is some sort of middle ground between my skepticism of sovereignty and positivism, and Mark's (please pardon me if I put words in your mouth that should not be there) defense of "black letter law." Both positions definitely have their merits. I would point out in defense of Mark's position the example of the Indian Supreme Court, which has issued some sweeping judgments that are legally and theoretically as sound and progressive as any in the world, but has seen the judgments fail to be implemented due to a combination of politics, corruption, and simple lack of resources...with the last being the biggest reason. A study of the South African Constitutional Court since the fall of apartheid shows the struggle of one of the most brilliant collections of jurists assembled, struggling to issue progressive judgments while dealing with the realities of international economics and scarcity of resources. That being said, do we really want to fall back on positivism and black letter law as a possible answer? Right now, that has lead us into a "might makes right" international community where the US gets to dictate what norms are worth keeping, who has to obey international law, and why the US is semmingly exempt from any legal norm that it does not want to follow, as "sovereign" of the international community.

Mark, you suggest that nation states have more stability than I think and I respect that, but just do not agree at this point in history. i may be a bit ahead of the curve (for better or worse), but it seems that nation-states slip further into obscurity on a daily basis, whether it be due to the blatant violation of sovereignty by another state, as the US, among many others is doing all over the globe right now (see Venezuela, Haiti, Equitorial Guinea, Georgia, Colombia...not all US). I would agree with you that an attitude of nation-hood as it were is much more stable than we think, but would definitely argue that the concept of the nation-state as it exists in international diplomacy and issues of sovereignty is much weaker than it once was and will continue to weaken as history progresses. I wonder if that is where my "line in the sand" lies. We may also be misunderstanding each others definitions of the nation-state.

I also noted that the issue of respect for the "rule of law" and "democracy" (although not those exact terms) came into play. I would not claim to defend despots and would state that all those guilty of violating human rights are to be held responsible. Alas, this is often what transpires when laws are dictated by sovereignty and positivism. The "winner" of a conflict gets to dictates the terms of the peace. One of the major problems with the UN and international system today is that claims regarding its framework as "victors justice" from WWII are largely justifiable. Is this the type of system we want in place? It may be beneficial for us as Americans, at least until the fall of American hegemony, but in what state does it leave the rest of the world...and us after our day in the sun in over?

The hot international trend of the last decade or so seems to be the rise in regional organisations, which calls for a massive sacrifice of sovereignty. In Africa, Asia, and Europe we have seen the rise of these regional bodies in response to the OAS in the Western hemisphere. States definitely keep their nation-hood and national identity, but subject themselves to a higher "rule of law" applicable to the community as opposed to narrowly defined self interests. I grant you that there have been difficulties, but this does not take away from the fact that the ideas are solid and unlikely to recess, and that there are more and more countries wanting to join as opposed to wanting to leave. This seems to dictate a shift towards an international community as opposed to nation-state interests. I am not so sure about the narrow reason of challenging or balancing US hegemony. TO be honest...this is simply not the impression I have gotten at any of the conferences or meetings I have attended on the subject or from any conversations I have had with a variety of diplomats and jurists. i will grant you that there are always going to be individuals out for their own self interest and trying to strengthen their narrow interests, but, as a whole, the attitude really does seem to be that of cooperation for a greater good. Mark, I must ashamedly admit that my first thought reading the comment was that it seemed to be something that someone raised and taught in American schools and influenced by American self-interest would state. I do not actually think that is what generated the comment and I apologise for the knee jerk reation. I do understand why those outside the US can point to certain individuals making such statements and see American arrogance and self-importance, especially when those individuals are people working towards a global community. Maybe this is a point where we will have to agree to disagree.

Your point regarding lack of support of causes is also very well taken. however, how much of this stems from US cynicism and rejection of international standards. Indeed, the largest supporters of UN programs are, predictably, the Socialist states, specifically the Nordic states. The French, Germans, and most of the EU are actually highly active in UN contributions, just not in terms of programs normally recognised as important by US scholars. The humanitarian and refugee programs, along with nation building all have high concentrations of Europeans. The lowest contributers? The US, UK, Japan, and now Russia. Russia is led by an individual very similar in disrespect for anything other than self interest to GWB. Putin shows very little respect for human rights (see genocide in Chechnya) and international norms. That being said, the Russians do acknowledge global warming and will be parties to the Kyoto Treaty. The UK and Japan are lap dogs and heavily dependent on the US economically, respectively. I would state that many of the rejections of international treaties and norms that you see are reactionary policies designed to counter the US policies. I do not claim that this is right or allowable...indeed, it is not, and is an unacceptable practice. But given a choice of protecting oneself and ones people and being overrun economically and possibly militarily, I can see why governments choose the former. Maybe this supports your point that the international system is unrealistic, however, I see it as more evidence that, in order to truly get the international community to be a reality, the worlds only superpower needs to get on board or face such reactionary policies. This thought has a direct relevance concerning proliferation and I believe that it can be shown that proliferation has continued to take place and increase as the US has violated the NPT, refused to sign the CTBT, among other negative factors. US decisions that under positivism seem to increase US security are actually undermining it. The fact that the US dominates much of the discussion determining UN military action is actually a huge reasonwhy UN missions ( I presume that is what you were referring to) are very few and far between and why the UN is so ineffective in such matters. I would submit that the US actions have much more to do with willingness to contribute troops and whatnot than is widely perceived, at least inside the US.

Democracy - now that is a tough question. THere are some countries where democracy simply cannot work (Sri Lanka) and countries in which even a democratic government commits crimes against humanity and blatantly violates the rights and liberties of its citizens and the constitution (US, Russia, UK, among countless other). I would submit to you that, instead of democracy first, what would need to be strived towards is constitutional liberalism and protection of basic rights and liberties. Now, I know this goes against all of what we are taught in US schools, but there have been some brilliant works lately regarding illiberal democracies and countries such as Singapore where the government cannot exactly be called "democratic" but where the government does a reasonably (comparably) good job of protecting citizens and providing for their basic needs. In the US we concentrate solely on civil and political rights while ignoring economic, social and cultural rights that are widely acknowledged in the international community. We seem to favor democracy over everything...and this is simply a problematic position. If everyone was able to vote, their votes actually meant something, and everyone was actually represented instead of simply the top 5%, then I think the argument would have a bit more weight. Even then, our own US constitution guarantees certain "inalienable rights" that are universally acknowledged throughout the world. The fact that human rights instruments merely exist should signify that there are universal morals and norms that are accepted by all nations and peoples...regardless to whether they are adhered to or not. This alone should be enough to show that, simply because a "majority" wants something done, this is not enough to make it valid. hence the idea of constitutional liberalism or liberal constitutionalism, whatever you want to call it. The democratic aspect necessarily takes a back seat...or a supporting role in guaranteeing basic rights.

Mark, you state that Geneva, Refugees and others have universal validity. I would accept that they are universally accepted, but how many nations blatantly violate the Conventions (most notably the US, Israel, Russia, and Australia). The US and Australia, along with Italy, are notorious for their treatment of refugees adn violation of their rights as guaranteed under the Refugee Convention. We end up turning away all refugees who are not wealthy enough or do not support an agreeable political group opr objective. Our policy with Cuba and Haiti respectively is reprehensible. how does one enforce existing concerns without an international community and consensus that is willing to accept such norms. There must be authority recognised prior to a consensus being reached on any sort of enforcement mechanism to patrol those who violate the norm.

Any law can be overcome...all it takes is enough people or social movements. Thus the movement towards gay marriage or legalization of marijuana in the US and Europe. Simply because a law is enforceable through law enforcement does not make it right, moral, or actually enforceable. By a positivist argument, slavery would have continued to be legal (and was through separate but equal) for long after it became socially deplorable. There are reasons why the US has tended to lag behind in social progression throughout history...and positivism is one of the contributing factors.

Josh - All of the treaties you mention (NAFTA, CAFTA, etc) are multi and bi lateral treaties dictated by the US. The world is coming together as a community to oppose the oppressive measures of these treaties. These treaties harm other nations much more than they harm the US, I can assure you. As this is a long note already, I will not spend the time refuting your claim, but email me and I can send you many articles. I have spent the past 5 years traveling through South America, Africa, and South East Asia teaching the exact opposite of what you stated for a variety of reasons. I would ask you to please do some research on the subject before defending sovereignty by employing those agreements and the WTO, an organisation dominated by US business interests and neo-liberal interests.

Guys... it has been a great discussion and I look forward to many more...take care

CP


chris l pettit - 3/15/2004

this is a little something I thought about on my travels over the weekend...I will address your comments in just a sec

Mark, Oscar

Continuing on the whole idea of sovereignty and the “freedom” to do things independently…how do you measure where our sovereignty stops and another’s begins? Do we simply ignore other nations’ sovereignty as long as our self interest and “national security” is at stake (as seems to be our policy currently). If we champion sovereignty and the freedom to act independently, what can be a possible justification for violating other nations’ sovereignty, both militarily, (Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan, among countless others) and economically (basically the globe)? The case of Afghanistan is particularly intriguing because there was an international mechanism in place that would have sufficed to take care of the situation. The Montreal Sabotage Treaty was signed and ratified by both the US and Afghanistan (both Taliban and prior government) and required Afghanistan to turn over bin Laden and his cronies or face UN action, which certainly would have been granted by the Security Council. Why did the US government decide to skip this step and go directly to military action? I grant that the UN somewhat approved of the Afghanistan adventure, but still this is a question worth asking if we are discussing the sovereignty aspect of things. Is our sovereignty to be placed atop all others simply because we as Americans are concerned about it? Why? Does this policy not put us in a very precarious, possibly prejudicial position of considering ourselves to be more important and more worthy of protection and the right to sovereignty to those in other nations? At what point do we reach a level similar to that exhibited by the imperialists and despots of the world (British Empire, Nazi Germany, Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary, etc.) who also presumed that theirs was a noble cause above all others? I am not claiming that we have reached this level necessarily (although it is my belief that we have to some point), I just think it is worth examining. It seems to me where we are at is a “might makes right” level, where, since our military might dwarfs that of all others, we decide what is humanitarian and what is not, what is democratic and what is not, and what rules apply to others (but of course in the name of sovereignty and righteousness they do not apply to us…see Guantanamo Bay among countless other examples). The hypocrisy emanating from our current nuclear policy is bright line evidence of such a position…we decide who gets the weapon and why…and can restrict all others while we build more and newer nukes and further blur the line between conventional weapons and nuclear weapons, or other weapons of mass destruction. This seems to indicate an imperial position to me that ends in American hegemony. Jonathan Schell has a fantastic new piece in The Nation this week that speaks of exactly what we have been discussing. His test, Unconquerable World, is also a fantastic study in resistance to such policies.

For these and the other reasons we have discussed, I just have a big problem with the sovereignty aspect of things as it stands currently, especially when so much of the rest of the globe is ready and willing to do things on an international level and necessarily sacrifice a great deal of their sovereignty in the name of the good of humanity to do so. As an ending note, I really think that social groups (NGOs, IGOs) need to play a larger role in the international community to take the focus off the nation-state and put it on the global humanity aspect of the international community. Corporation could be involved in discussions, as could governments as well. As I have said before, the UN really does need to be reworked and I do not deny that at all. I just think that it is a better idea to rework it than to try and fall back on the nation state sovereignty position because we end up running into all the problems we have discussed this week.


CP


Oscar Chamberlain - 3/14/2004

Mark. Thank you for your reply.

In it you stated, "Natural Law theory is excellent for applying moral reasoning to judge state actions . . . . However when its advocates move from that critical position toward becoming the self-appointed representatives of an international Rousseauean " General Will " pronouncing new laws for the rest of us to follow, well then we have entered a very undemocratic arena where their claims to higher authority are supported by....nothing much."

That's a good point, but I think there is a lot of middle ground that got left out and that makes your distinction a bit muddier than it seems. (To be fair, you were more concerned about the extremes in your statement than the middle.)

The Declaration of Human Rghts and other international pronouncements of rights provide additional moral power to critics of oppression precisely because they contain a "whiff" of positive law within them. That whiff makes it easier for human rights proponents to use such statements as a sign of an existing (or at least developing) consensus on what the rights of individuals should be. By doing so, they can engage the support of more people for the expansion of those rights in positive law.

In an ideal but possible progression, one would see a back and forth between the development of rights of individual nations (positive law) and a growing international consensus on what those rights should be (natural law.)

I don't think that consensus would evolve into a Rousseauean dictatorship. However, I am indulging in idealism this Sunday morning, and on Monday, I would freely acknowledge that it would be one of many dangers to watch for in such a progression.


Oscar Chamberlain - 3/14/2004

Mark. Thank you for your reply.

In it you stated, "Natural Law theory is excellent for applying moral reasoning to judge state actions . . . . However when its advocates move from that critical position toward becoming the self-appointed representatives of an international Rousseauean " General Will " pronouncing new laws for the rest of us to follow, well then we have entered a very undemocratic arena where their claims to higher authority are supported by....nothing much."

That's a good point, but I think there is a lot of middle ground that got left out and that makes your distinction a bit muddier than it seems. (To be fair, you were more concerned about the extremes in your statement than the middle.)

The Declaration of Human Rghts and other international pronouncements of rights provide additional moral power to critics of oppression precisely because they contain a "whiff" of positive law within them. That whiff makes it easier for human rights proponents to use such statements as a sign of an existing (or at least developing) consensus on what the rights of individuals should be. By doing so, they can engage the support of more people for the expansion of those rights in positive law.

In an ideal but possible progression, one would see a back and forth between the development of rights of individual nations (positive law) and a growing international consensus on what those rights should be (natural law.)

I don't think that consensus would evolve into a Rousseauean dictatorship. However, I am indulging in idealism this Sunday morning, and on Monday, I would freely acknowledge that it would be one of many dangers to watch for in such a progression.


Name Removed at Poster's Request - 3/14/2004

"Doing so creates a lattice of legal inertia that prevents meaningful and timely response to breaches of the peace by these democratic states, thus encouraging by incentive the lawless states to engage in conflict. Basically, most of the democratic major powers - Japan, Canada, India, Germany and the EU except France and Britain - have opted out of meaningful enforcement chores. Peacekeeping yes, police power roles are mostly left to the Anglosphere to tackle. They do not need more inhibitions, they need active military partners."

One could easily argue that the situation in and around Iraq shows that the U.S. and Britain need more inhibitions on their military actions rather than less.

"Theoretical Objections: Natural Law theory is excellent for applying moral reasoning to judge state actions to prevent tyranny. However when its advocates move from that critical position toward becoming the self-appointed representatives of an international Rousseauean " General Will " pronouncing new laws for the rest of us to follow, well then we have entered a very undemocratic arena where their claims to higher authority are supported by....nothing much.

"To change the established system and retain legal authority you must act through that system. IL and transnational bodies are derivative not fundamental entities created by the delegation of power by nation-states in a contractual manner or by the acceptance of very longstanding precedents. IL advocates have no mandate to " sweep the board " and start inventing new rules as they please. They have no consent of the people whose lives they propose to affect and no intention of seeking democratic accountability as far as I can ascertain. If anything, organizations such as the EU are trying very hard to move such legislating beyond the power of popular oversight to check or amend."

Thank you, very well put. I'm on a number of gun rights lists and every so often someone posts documents from the U.N. that refer hostilely to citizen gun ownership and assert the need for individual states to "harmonize" their laws with one another under the benign guidance of the U.N. There is no need to do anything but post these documents to raise the hackles of everyone on the list, because these documents are typically so well-written and clear in their intent.

We are already feeling the joys of internationalization after the passage of NAFTA, GATT and our involvement with the World Trade Organization. Already U.S. sovereignty is being usurped to benefit the wealthy and few others in this country and overseas.

Many Americans, including some on the political right, would have no problem with international agreements that restrict our foreign involvements, but don't want our ability to govern ourselves interfered with by paternalistic political and trade bureaucrats who much of the time won't be most focused on our best interests.


mark safranski - 3/12/2004

Oscar, thank you. I think Chris has made a robust and spirited defense of his position. The questions he has raised are profound ones but I will try to focus on your question "What I cannot tell is if you support the current stance toward international law or if you wish it would change? " and perhaps in doing so answer some of Chris' points.

I have both theoretical and pragmatic objections to the position Chris has taken which I see as tending to exacerbate the problems that already plague International Law jurisprudence ( caveat: This is not the same as opposing all of his motives - a more peaceful, just, world. These I think are good things but I will take half a loaf on the ground over a full bakery in the Hague)

First the pragmatic objection: Nation-states have more durability than Chris imagines and they are likely to be around for quite some time. The current love of trans-national bodies and limiting sovereignty has much to do with national self-interest. It provides a " soft-power " balance to American dominance and keeps some states like Germany or Japan from resuming great power status. Change the recent dynamic, a rich and aggressive China or a new, threatening, Russia and you will see a more traditional outlook on IL come back in to vogue.

The Westphalian system came in to being when states were all more or less of the same kind both in form and source of legitimacy - absolutist and feudal dynastic monarchy. Differences mainly were in terms of degree which made the concept of state sovereignty a neat solution to the divisive issue of universal religious claims that sparked so much conflict.

Today the system is breaking down I would argue because in part I would argue because states differ radically in their form and many regimes lack any claim to legitimacy due to the spread of democratic norms and human rights. Regimes without consent of the governed - elections are not the only way to indicate consent but they are a readily measurable and regular way -also tend to be states that break the peace and torment their citizens.

Until there is a more level playing field in terms of states adhering to roughly similar norms ( and actually being real, functioning, states - as Chris points out many are not viable) it would be pointless and counterproductive to continue pushing the envelope of IL in the direction of unenforceable moral claims that would be applied only by law-abiding first world democracies.

Doing so creates a lattice of legal inertia that prevents meaningful and timely response to breaches of the peace by these democratic states, thus encouraging by incentive the lawless states to engage in conflict. Basically, most of the democratic major powers - Japan, Canada, India, Germany and the EU except France and Britain - have opted out of meaningful enforcement chores. Peacekeeping yes, police power roles are mostly left to the Anglosphere to tackle. They do not need more inhibitions, they need active military partners.

A far, far better use of scarce resources would be to concentrate on actual enforcement of the existing minimum standards of international conduct which already have universal acclaim among nations - Geneva, refugees, humanitarian assistance. I would think that alone would keep everyone sufficiently busy for some time and do the most good for alleviating suffering before embarking on new projects that only very rich and safe democracies can entertain for themselves. Actual enforcement of the already universal core would give stature and authority to the moral claims of IL and perhaps deter some future violations.

Theoretical Objections: Natural Law theory is excellent for applying moral reasoning to judge state actions to prevent tyranny. However when its advocates move from that critical position toward becoming the self-appointed representatives of an international Rousseauean " General Will " pronouncing new laws for the rest of us to follow, well then we have entered a very undemocratic arena where their claims to higher authority are supported by....nothing much.

To change the established system and retain legal authority you must act through that system. IL and transnational bodies are derivative not fundamental entities created by the delegation of power by nation-states in a contractual manner or by the acceptance of very longstanding precedents. IL advocates have no mandate to " sweep the board " and start inventing new rules as they please. They have no consent of the people whose lives they propose to affect and no intention of seeking democratic accountability as far as I can ascertain. If anything, organizations such as the EU are trying very hard to move such legislating beyond the power of popular oversight to check or amend.

In my Lockean view, such a program is inherently illegitimate, arbitrary and authoritarian and should be opposed, not because the current system is virtuous but because what is coming would likely be worse - in outcome if not intent.

In a nod to logical positivism, unenforceable but loudly proclaimed laws invite contempt and violation and discredit other laws that actual enjoy respect by virtue of enforcement. Laws in general succeed when compliance is given voluntarily by the main and violators are few - attempt to impose laws on states without their consent while eschewing enforcement and you can expect tyranny in form and anarchy in practice.


chris l pettit - 3/12/2004

Oscar and Mark

I found this on the anti-war.com website and thought it was pretty interesting. Mark...this goes directly to our email exchange about nationalism and internationalism. This writer has a similar take on nation state sovereignty as I do, but takes it in an entirely different direction, actually seeing international institutions as yet another step towards where he thinks we should end up. I do not agree with many of his conclusions, but he makes valid points and gives some fresh insight. THought you might be interested. One question that I hope you might agree with - does it strike you guys that his argument regarding the development of local communities is very similar to nationalism, except developed around cultures and familial structures? It seems to have many of the same problems of nation-state practise. Maybe I am looking at it wrong...help me out. here is the link:

http://www.antiwar.com/bock/

CP


chris l pettit - 3/12/2004

Oscar and Mark

Those scholars and activists I work with really try and stress peace education in schools and a realisation that globalization is truly making the world so small that one has to respect other nations and cultures if one does not want to be in a constant state of war similar to the one we currently find ourselves in. In the US, I think there is a need to move away from the nationalistic judeo-christianity that many positivists and conservatives subscribe to and towards those sentiments echoed by many Catholic and certain Protestant denominations that have been expressed eloquently by Pope John Paul II (actually not my favorite religious leader in any sense) that we should not look at the world in terms of East vs. West or Islam versus Christianity (or whatever else) but need to try and understand all cultures. This is why we are pushing so hard to try and get the judge's "Islamic Jurisprudence" text distributed more widely throughout the West. So many have such a poor understanding of Islamic culture and jurisprudence (as evidenced by many articles and comments on this site) that it breeds a culture that is more willing to turn inward to nationalism and "national security" than to turn outward and acknowledge that "national security" is truly a myth in our current globalised international community. The irony is that the world will only get smaller as globalization advances.

How to alter the nation state and sovereign mentality is such a difficult one, which is why my greatest fear is that it will take a global war or nuclear war to take the next step. I personally do not understand the nation-state mentality, the drawing of artificial and non-existent lines and proclaiming of artificial cultures. This is not to say that culturalism does not exist or is unimportant, I think we can distinguish culture from nationalism a lot of the time, and when one tries to turn nationalistic tendencies into culturalism, such as happens in the US at times and is happening currently, one begins to tread on very dangerous territory.

nationalism can be shown to be the root cause for many of the world's conflicts, whether that nationalism is connected to a culture or not. Trying to educate young people that, in this age of globalisation, nationalism is a fruitless exercise that produces more problems than it solves, and that the answer to the question of how to reach peace is through an integrated international community of cultures, ethnicities, religions, and societies is a very tough task, given the fact that primary and secondary education, and its teaching of history is very much controlled by the government. With the government being nationalistic and very influenced by the military complex, which needs conflict to make a profit, the history taught tends to be very pro-US and pro-nationalistic interventionism. Thus the attitude ingrained in our young people that the US never starts a war and only fights for peace.

A couple of things about positivism and government. First...in analysing positivist doctrine and basing the rule of law on enforcement, one effectively removes the judiciary from the equation, except to be a rubber stamp of government policy. The power structure is tilted to the legislature and executive, who have the power to make and enforce laws. The judicial branch then becomes the weakest branch of government. But most of the major progresses in our society have been made through social movements and judicial decisions overturning immoral laws and causing changes to be made in our way of governance. How does one square this with the theory of positivism and enforcement. I think it is quite clear that the Bush administration has realised this, thus the massive effort to appoint ideologues to the federal bench. That way, there is support in the judiciary for the theory that law needs enforcement and has to answer to the sovereign. If the sovereign is supposed to be the public...this denies the reality that voting really has no effect and the public has no democratic control outside of social movements and pleas to the judiciary. As Emma Goldman put it "If voting changed anything, they would make it illegal." There is a lot of truth in this statement. Therefore, the sovereign turns out to be whoever is in power, which means the top 5% of Americans who can actually afford the thousands of dollars it takes to run for office. Thus, if positivism claims, as it does in the US, that the sovereign that we are answering to is the people of the US, this turns out to be an apparation or misperception, some would say a blatant lie.

How do we counter such positions and movements outside of a complete change in our current political system? The only way that we can think of is through fostering a greater understanding of world cultures and international law at a basic educational level instead of a heavily nationalistic curriculum. Is our ability ot go at it ourselves really a "freedom" that we want at this point? As everything has a historical and cultural significance, when the US was fighting to free itself from the British Empire, the freedom to go at it alone may have meant the freedom to be part of the international community and be an independent state, as international law at the time was still considered an utopian dream. As we have developed historically, it seems that we must reassess where we stand in terms of the international community, technology, culture, and the like, and consider whether, by contnuing to assert this "freedom" we are not becoming that which we originally separated from. There are those, myself included, that would state that by continuing to insist on resorting to this "freedom" we are only fulfilling the saying that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Has not the cry of nationalism changed from one of independence to one of empire? And does it now harm us more than it helps? And not only us, but the rest of humanity and the international community that we were so keen to join after our separation from the UK...what is the effect of our nationalistic tendencies on their prospects?

As usual, I hope this post is not too long or sounds too preachy...Oscar I have tried to answer your question as best I can...I know I tend to meander a bit, but I see everything as being intricately tied together and there is so much to consider that one can go on for days on the topic. Just thinking last night as I was researching, I came up with so much stuff i wanted to say about Mark's last post to try and clarify, and that just opened up more questions...haha. I do want to thank you gentlemen for a nice discussion. I am unfortunately (for the discussion), fortunately (for my exploring) heading off up the west coast of Sri Lanka this weekend so i will be out of touch, but look forward to reading comments on Monday and responding. As I am 11 hours ahead of you guys, i will be able to post before HNN posts the new stuff on your Monday. have a good weekend

CP


Oscar Chamberlain - 3/11/2004

Chris, Mark

A wonderful exchange between the two of you: both frank and respectful. I'm still digesting much of it. To aid in my digestion, a thought and a question for each of you.

Chris, you give a fine argument for why the United States should accept international law (and its natural law assumptions) as an important part of our legal and political culture. On the whole, I agree. I think further globalization requires an expansion of binding international law, or the ideal of a further integrated world will stagnate. In fact, I think current policy is intended to discourage commerce in people (as opposed to products)

However, I can understand the reluctance of our politicians to push for a limitation of our sovereignty. America's freedom to act (or not act) has been at the core of our nationalism. That freedom helped to define it. While the American appreciation of international organizations has grown, Americans still revert to the old vision of nationalism in crisis. And it is crisis this is likely to bring us into an "adversarial" situation with institutions such as the UN or the World Court (were we to join).

Most politicians assume that most Americans would want an assertion of sovereignty in such a case. What arguments would you use, with average Americans and with politicians, to begin to change that?

Mark, I am inclined to agree with your assessment of international law. Like it or not, it does not have the force of positive law in the United States, nor do opinions such as that of Judge Weeramantry's bear the same weight.

What I cannot tell is if you support the current stance toward international law or if you wish it would change? I would love to hear more about your ideals in this matter, especially in the light of Chris's (and my) assumption that globalization as a positive force requires such a change.


chris l pettit - 3/11/2004

Mark...

My friend, you have hit the nail on the head when it comes to the international law theory, and legal theory at its core. The struggle basically comes down to legal psotivism vs. natural law...or alternatively, authority (natural law) vs. enforceability (positivism). If you are interested, there are several authors and theorists worth reading. Besides Judge Weeramantry, the foremost authority and proponent of authoritarian law (natural law) would be a former Harvard professor named Lon Fuller. There are several authors of legal positivism I would recommend, John Austin and HLA Hart are the two most eloquent. The Hart v. Fuller debates are well documented and very well known in legal circles. Fuller even revised his text on natural law to respond to hart's criticisms. Of course the "middle position", which is actually a totally different third position, would be legal realism, mostly drawn from utilitarianism, propounded by Oliver Wendall Holmes, among others. The US is a decidedly positivist state, while much of the rest of the world (with the arguable exception of Europe) is actually much more inclined to take either a realist or natural law perspective.

On a personal note...yes, the answer drives me nuts, but I am used to it. Many people, inside the US particularly, have never been exposed to a realist or natural law system, and have been raised primarily on a diet of "enforceablility is the only way law functions properly." I am driven more nuts when I hear it from US lawyers...one of the reasons I could not stand law school...no alternative legal theories presented.

As for the applicability of international law...you see the resistence of the US to giving international law any teeth in the controversy surrounding the ICC. Most of the rest of the world is absolutely in favor of the Rome Statute, which attempts to pacify those positivist thinkers by providing enforceability. Unfortunately, the US is so concerned with individual sovereignty (which is highly contradictory in a globalised world) that it opposes such an institution. It is almost a "have your cake and eat it too" syndrome. Positivists in the US want to apply the US enforcement policies to the rest of the world, acknowleging that it is a global society, without having to answer to other legal systems, cultural norms, or the like. Judge Weeramantry and I are of the opinion that it is because so much of international law is mistakenly perceived to have been generated by Western and particularly US thought, when in reality, IL stems from all of the cultural systems of the world. A key text currently valid on the topic is Judge Weeramantry's "Islamic Jurisprudence" which debunks a number of myths re: Islamic Law and its foundations, as well as provides historical evidence that Grotius actually drew heavily from Islamic jurisprudence to write his famous founding international law treatise during the Thrity Years War.

I would ask what legal system does not ultimately draw its core rules and validations from a human system of values and morals...usually, but not always stemming from a religious basis. One of the reasons civil disobedience is so widely accepted is because an individual or society has the right to disobey an immoral law if it violates a core cultural value. Howard Zinn has one of the best legal texts I have ever read on just that topic..."True Democracy, True Dissent" I believe is the name. If you want to be turned off to positivism real quick I urge you to read it...haha. The subheading is "7 fallacies on the rules of law and order" Zinn basically takes apart Judge Fortas' (Supreme COurt) statement on the "rule of law" that is the foundation for much of legitimization claims of legal positivists.

If you look around the globe, one of the incredible aspects of international legal culture is how widely respected, outside of the US, regional bodies are. The OAS, European Court of Human Rights, OAU (now AU), and Asian regional courts are all widely respected and their decisions are adhered to. The US has been widely ridiculed for its refusal to accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ in the Nicaragua (contras) case where we were found guilty for crimes against humanity and subsequently had to veto the UN resolution sanctioning us for it (the only country ever to do so). If anything, I would say that the problems with international law and its acceptence stem largely from the usage of the nation-state system within the UN and the lopsided inbalance in favor of the nuclear states with vetos in the security council. The recent Israeli case about the apartheid wall will be a key case in the jurisprudence of international law because the Israeli government, knowing that it has no legal argument and is in blatant violation of international law, is counting on a US veto in the Security Council, or heavy handed "diplomacy" to ensure that it does not get that far. I totally agree that the UN and international legal system is very screwed up and needs to change, but I am not sure it hinges entirely on enforceability vs. authority, but also on the current struggles and failures of the nation-state system.

Judge Weeramanty and I are working with the ICRC to try and introduce Peace Education into schools in the US because we think that, for international law to truly succeed, it must retain its authoritarian nature and not succumb to enforcement mechanisms, except in certain situations like the ICC. So few in the US and the world have actual knowledge of the history and jurisprudence of international law, and thus less respect for it. In his Universalising International Law text, the judge actually traces historically the path of international law from Grotius forward (which I am sure you can do as well if you like to validate through a Google search). When Grotius started out through WWI, international law was seen as it still is in the US, as an idealistic system that was meant for utopians and dreamers. It took a major war (30 yrs. war) to even get the ideas started. It then took another major war for the idea of international law to get more credibility and begin to be implemented after WWI, partially due to Wilsonian statecraft (also derided and marginalised in US history). After the 2nd World War, which was arguably (as you probably well know) an extension of the first, international law became a viable instrument and a true reality. Now, through globalisation and the lapse into ineffectiveness and unreasonableness of nation-state sovereignty (an arguable point, but hard to argue against without taking an imperial position), it seems as though international law is ready to move into the pre-eminent position, where humanity realises that it is a single species, and that everyday actions effect not only those around you, but those around the globe as well. The unfortunate thing is...as in so many instances in human history, for the first two big steps to be taken, major wars and loss of life had to happen. I wonder if that is what it will take for international law to get the authoritative repspect it deserves.

Re-reading this, I should apologise if it comes across as preachy, I do no mean it to be so...just trying to explain where I come from and how those scholars who I work with conceive of international law and its historical and moral basis. I guess it remains to be seen what happens. As I said at the start of this overly long note...you hit the nail on the head as to the main debate taking place right now over international law...how it ends is anybody's guess. I think that the idea of an American hegemony, as every other empire building experience, has a limited shelf life. It may take a nuclear war to bring humanity together as one. Hopefully, it will not. I am very confident that deterrence will not halt proliferation, and will not protect us or anyone else from a nuclear attack or nuclear war, especially one perpetrated by a fringe terrorist group not associated with any nation state.

Sorry for the length of the letter...send me an email if you want the article...i would be glad to send it to you.

CP


mark safranski - 3/10/2004

Chris,

Thanks, I will check out the dissent though this make take a while to digest - I appreciate the time investment that your response entailed. I'd also be interested in your article as well.

Since you are an International Lawyer, what I'm about to say will probably drive you nuts as it has a number of IL scholars I've come across on H-Diplo. I'd be interested in your response though.

The problem with International Law at root - and I think IL has many beneficient aspects - is that it isn't comparable to positive law as legislated by states. The term " law " itself is cognitively misleading to anyone raised in societies where laws passed by jurisdictional authorities are actually enforceable with reasonable expectations of consistency of application.

Instead, IL is a set of customary practices and agreements among sovereign equals that exist in a binding sense only to the degree which those sovereigns willingly accept such restrictions. There is no universal sovereign legislature or impartial enforcement authority for IL and acceptance of ICJ jurisdiction is a sovereign prerogative. (I would also note, that obtaining the legitimacy of democratic consent, for IL provisions,is also not a factor in a meaningful or direct sense )

One could almost think of IL as a series of concentric circles with the innermost circle containing points of universal acclaim and agreement ( diplomatic immunity for example) radiating outward first to such covenants to which most states respect ( Geneva), at least nominally and with differing interpretations to nebulously written and generally unenforced declarations of rights. And lastly to legal-moral arguments by interested parties, usually IL activists from NGO's that are novel interpretations of more solid precedents or outrageous special pleading claims of a single nation-state that no one takes seriously.

The ICJ ruling on the illegality of nuclear weapons isn't nothing but it's not everything either because the Court is not empowered to legislate what can only be contracted between sovereign states. National defense is the core of sovereign power and in any event the ICJ has no authority to usurp a core function which ultimately rests in the hands of the citizens of said states. At most, the ICJ ruling is an opinion with limited claim around which a future consensus can be built.

International Law can have a lot of starting points - the ICJ, the UNSC,multilateral conventions, transnational organizations of states - but to attain effectiveness and some degree of legitimacy any point of IL must be backed by a large majority of sovereign-states, particularly the interested parties ( a major difference with positive law where all parties are under the law of the sovereign). This takes a great deal of time. Genocide, for example was always a monumental crime in the sense of natural law or morality but it took from the time of the Armenian genocide by the Turks in 1915 to the Kosovo War for the concept of humanitarian military intervention to be considered legally justifiable under IL( and not by all states yet either). And this fifty years after the Genocide Convention !

To give excessive emphasis to highly technical, textual, expressions of legal theory in IL is to miss the substance.

http://www.zenpundit.blogspot.com


chris l pettit - 3/10/2004

Even the psychological arguments for deterrence are somewhat erroneous.

As an international lawyer, I do understand that a dissenting opinion is not a binding one, however, if you look at the nuclear weapons judgment, the majority voted for the general illegality of nuclear weapons, and stated that if the use of nuclear weapons was illegal, the threat of usage would also be illegal. Therefore, the threat of nuclear weapons, except in circumstances of "extreme self defense" is illegal. THerefore, threatening the use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances other than when nukes are on the way to strike your cities, is illegal. There is a huge difference between retaliation (our current deterrence system) and self defense (what the ICJ ruled) in international law. Judge Weeramantry's dissenting opinion was more of a concurring opinion in the sense that he elaborated on the majority decision (200 pages worth) and his only point of dissent was that he (along with two other dissenters) thought that there should have been a decision of total illegality. The reason for this was because, carefully analysed, the ICJ majority actually created a loophole that truly does not exist. What I mean by this is that the majority could find no instance in which they would find the use or threat of nuclear weapons legal, but they did not rule out that such a possibility could exist at some point in the future, but none that had been presented or envisioned fit the bill, due to the destructiveness of the weaponry and its fit into international law. So, the loophole is more of an apparition than anything else, although, as one can ascertain, it has allowed the nuclear states to, forgive the pun, shoot their nukes right through it. If you want to count the votes in the case, you had 10 judges voting for at least the general illegality with the narrow exception of "extreme self defense", which was even stated to be illegal in ever sense currently imaginable and presentable (which is to say all current arguments for treat and usage were illegal). 3 judges were in favor of legality (US, Russia and France)...no big surprise there...all nuclear states. And 1 judge (UK) who ruled that the ICJ would have to undertake a study of jurisdictional ramifications before accepting jurisdiction in the case (a very complicated jurisprudence argument that is widely discredited at this point, including in her own writings). It can also be argued that, from her writings and subsequent articles on the case, she would have sided with the majority for general illegality, but that is a non-sequiter so i choose to count her as an external vote neither for nor against the legal question raised.

I am sorry this is long guys...and if I were to go into the psychological refutations it would be even longer. MAD has been discredited in many reputable sources since Bush made his infamous statement that "nuclear war is winnable" during the 1980 election campaign. That started the whole process of debunking the myth that is deterrence. It is also easy to see by studying history since 1950 that deterrence on the whole has been entirely unsuccessful, at least in terms of proliferation issues. The fact that there has not been a nuclear war is a positive one, but that has not stopped the world from unleashing horrors with conventional weapons, so how much of a deterrent is it really?

The argument put forth that the reduction to say 500 or so is still inherently threatening usage, even if this fact is not directly stated. Even you admit that the object of having any weapons is to try and make it too costly for enemies to attack. You must also examine this position in light of the fact that the most likely scenario we now face is a nuclear weapon set off by a radical extremeist group unlikely to be swayed by the deterrence argument of MAD, so how useful is it really? My recent article fully develops these ideas.

Judge Weeramantry's texts on the topic are: "Nuclear Weapons and Scientific Responsibility", "Justice Without Frontiers, Protecting Human Rights in the Age of Technology", "Universalising International Law", "Human Rights and Scientific and Technological Development", as well as his dissenting opinion in the ICJ case.

The dissenting opinion can be found here:
http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/icj/text/iunan_ijudgment_19960708_Dissenting_Weeramantry.htm

Please take the time to read at least parts of the opinion, especially the text on deterrence and MAD, for they have great histrical as well as legal significance. I would submit that Judge Weeramantry is one of the top five jurists of the past century and encourage you to try and look at the text if you have time.

others besides Moxley and Weeramantry worth reading are the analyses by Prof. Richard Falk and attorney Peter Weiss, head of the LCNP (US branch of IALANA) You can find the articles at LCNP.org or ialana.org

sorry this is so long and pardon anything in my tone that reflects anything but respect for your positions. i have just found the deterrence position to be highly fallible, mostly due to misperceptions about the law and history, as well as misinformation about the actual psychological effects of the policy. i hope Judge Weeramantry's opinion...or even the advisory opinion might shed a bit more light on the topic than I am able to. Also, if you would like my article on the topic, drop me a line at yodaizkool@aol.com

CP


mark safranski - 3/9/2004

I'm inclined to agree with your guess Oscar - the specific number doesn't matter so much as that the ratio between the US/Russia and the next level of nuclear states be lopsided enough to make the prospect of using nukes or trying to quickly close the gap, daunting in terms of cost


mark safranski - 3/9/2004

"Your argument for deterrence is simply incorrect. Please read Judge CG Weeramantry's dissenting judgment in the Nuclear Weapons advisory opinion, along with a couple of texts he has written since re: nuclear weapons (I am at a loss for the titles at the moment...will get them to you) for a comprehensive reasoning of why the theory of deterrence is utterly devoid of any truth."

While I would be interested to read Judge Weeramantry's theory, I hasten to point out that a dissenting opinion on an advisory document is neither a factual refutation of my argument nor a determinant voice of international law.

Deterrence is both a simple psychological calculus applicable for a variety of contexts as well as a theory of how to best prevent a nuclear exchange, most notably as the doctrine of MAD. Many commentators, including Ronald Reagan, took issue with the morality of mutually assured destruction as a strategy but as it existed for decades, proving it a violation of international law is somewhat of a tall order.

http://www.zenpundit.blogspot.com


Oscar Chamberlain - 3/9/2004

The question of what level of nuclear weapons would be safest is a difficult one. Like Mark Safranski, I think we cannot go to zero without, at some point, increasing the danger of war.

However, our apparent past unwillingness to make significant cuts and the current Administration's desire to develop new types of nuclear weapons, have encouraged factions in other nations to argue for obaining or expanding a nuclear arsenal.

My personal guess, nothing more, is that we could drop to around 500, use our example (and clout) to encourage others to eschew such weapons, reduce the overall threat of nuclear war, and still be pretty darn secure.


chris l pettit - 3/9/2004

Your argument for deterrence is simply incorrect. Please read Judge CG Weeramantry's dissenting judgment in the Nuclear Weapons advisory opinion, along with a couple of texts he has written since re: nuclear weapons (I am at a loss for the titles at the moment...will get them to you) for a comprehensive reasoning of why the theory of deterrence is utterly devoid of any truth. In addition, deterrence under current treaties, international customary law, and the ICJ judgment is illegal (again, see judge Weeramantry's dissent and subsequent texts). Professor Charles Moxley has also written an extensive piece on the subject utilising the Armed Forces own manuals. If you are interested, I just completed an extensive article that was also presented at the last International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) meeting. I would be glad to email it to you as it has not been posted on the web yet.

In addition, although one can point to bi-lateral agreements with the Russians, the US has egrigiously violated most existing non proliferation treaties, most prominently the NPT. It is sort of the "one step forward...ten steps back" syndrome. The govt. can point to new agreements and gloss over the violation of the old ones.

CP


mark safranski - 3/9/2004

The Bush and Putin administrations have negotiated and signed further nuclear arms control agreements though much needs to be done about securing former Soviet nuclear sites that hold decaying weapons and material.

In terms of reductions of nuclear arms, at a certain point, further cuts in Russian and American nuclear arsenals would be destabilizing vis-a-vis minor nuclear powers. The overwhelming capacity for American ( or Russian) retaliation is a factor in deterring states like China, Pakistan, India, North Korea from outright use of NBC weaponry.

To bring the United States into parity with other nuclear powers may well be likely to * increase* the likelihood of the * use* of nuclear weapons by degrading the potential costs.

http://www.zenpundit.blogspot.com

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