Last Wednesday, January 4 marked the five year anniversary of the landmark Wall Street Journal op-ed, “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons:”
Reassertion of the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and practical measures toward achieving that goal would be, and would be perceived as, a bold initiative consistent with America’s moral heritage. The effort could have a profoundly positive impact on the security of future generations. Without the bold vision, the actions will not be perceived as fair or urgent. Without the actions, the vision will not be perceived as realistic or possible.
We endorse setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the actions required to achieve that goal, beginning with the measures outlined above.
The bi-partisan authors of these words, referred to in arms control circles as “The Four Horsemen,” are not traditional peace activists or long-time nuclear abolitionists. Instead, their identity as realists, hawks, and Cold War warriors is what lent such weight to the argument for nuclear zero:
Mr. Shultz, a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, was secretary of state from 1982 to 1989. Mr. Perry was secretary of defense from 1994 to 1997. Mr. Kissinger, chairman of Kissinger Associates, was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. Mr. Nunn is former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The desire to rid the world of nuclear bombs is nearly as old as the weapons themselves. What was new about this particular call was not simply the sketch of concrete steps that could be taken at the beginning of such a journey, but the gravitas of the messengers. In the abstract it seems almost silly to think that such ideas cannot inhabit a respected space in the relevant conversation without a blessing from above, but at the same time these “wise men” provided the rhetorical room for such a conversation to expand from a minority view to a wide-ranging debate across the foreign policy, international security, and defense worlds.
What does this have to do with homeland security? There is the obvious impact that comes with a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons that includes a reduced risk of nuclear terrorism, accidental launch, and war with all it’s worldwide implications. However, reference to this particular anniversary in other venues made me both appreciate the potential coercive power of such an opinion piece and made me wonder if there had been anythings similar in the homeland security sphere. If not, as I suspect, what could have a comparable effect?
Stephen Flynn and the idea of “resilience” is the only candidate that springs to mind. Yet it introduced a new concept, one which in my opinion has been twisted into various shapes to fit various needs and definitions. The Four Horsemen did not conjure a “world without nuclear weapons” out of nothingness, but instead by lending their voices to a relatively marginalized idea shifted the terms of conversation and analysis on which nuclear policy is grounded. Perhaps a true paradigm shift.
Are there possible candidates, authors and topics, in what is considered “homeland security” that could result in such a radical shift?