While most of official Washington is atwitter about the grave risks of Obama's cultural elitism, witnesses before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs testified yesterday that that the likelihood of nuclear attack on a U.S. city continues to increase:
"I definitely conclude the threat is greater and is increasing every year with the march of technology," said Cham E. Dallas, director of the Institute for Health Management and Mass Destruction Defense at the University of Georgia.
This is indeed the case. As Matt Bunn, author of the Nuclear Threat Initiative's authoritative yearly rundown on nuclear proliferation, puts it, "I believe it's likely enough that it significantly reduces the life expectancy of everyone who lives and works in downtown Washington, D.C., or New York."
But why is this threat increasing? Nuclear arms have been around for over sixty years. So when Cham E. Dallas refers to "the march of technology," he doesn't mean that we're developing new types of nuclear weapons (wonks, hold your tongues)--he means that more states around the world have decided to pursue nuclear programs.
The increasing danger is chiefly political in nature, and thus by no means inevitable. U.S. policymakers could greatly reduce that threat, but as Peter Scoblic shows in his new book, U.S. vs. Them: How A Half Century Of Conservatism Has Undermined America's Security, which is being published tomorrow, they haven't done so because of ideology--specifically, the ideology of the movement founded by William F. Buckley, Jr. in the National Review.
Conservatives have long insisted that the only sensible way to approach the world is through the lens of apocalyptic moralism: a conviction that the world is divided into good versus evil, and us versus them. As Scoblic's book shows, that conviction leads them to steadfastly oppose cooperative solutions to international problems--even when those solutions are the only way to defend the United States.
In order to reduce the nuclear threat, we need to understand the role ideology plays in nonproliferation policy. And the best way to do that, as far as I can tell, is to read Scoblic's book.