Apr 18th 2010

Scorecard for the Nuclear Summit

by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni served as a Senior Advisor to the Carter White House; taught at Columbia University, Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, and is a University Professor at The George Washington University. He served as the President of the American Sociological Association, and he founded the Communitarian Network. A study by Richard Posner ranked him among the top 100 American intellectuals. He is the author of numerous op-eds and his voice is frequently heard in the media. He is the author of several books, including The Active Society, Genetic Fix, The Moral Dimension, The New Golden Rule, and My Brother’s Keeper. His latest book Security First: For a Muscular, Moral Foreign Policy was published by Yale University Press in the Spring of 2007. His regular blog is Amitai Etzioni Notes.

In 2007 I joined with several others who spent many years studying nuclear arms to form a mini consensus of the opinion that the greatest threat to our security, that of our allies, and the world, was the combination of terrorists and nukes. To quote, "The White House, Congress, and the media have focused heavily on the so-called Axis of Evil when dealing with WMD in general and nukes in particular. Since the introduction of this term, attention has been focused on three rogue states: North Korea, Iran, and Saddam's Iraq. The 2003 invasion of Iraq, justified initially to prevent Iraq from using or acquiring further WMD, sharpened this focus. As I see it, the combination of terrorism and nuclear weapons poses a graver threat to international security" : (Security First, P220). The White House, President Obama's newly released Nuclear Posture Review, and this week's summit have shifted the focus from strategic weapons left over from the days of the Cold War (at the center of attention until and including last week) to where it belongs: to terrorists getting their hands on nukes or the materials from which they can be made.

To evaluate the outcomes of the summit, here are the hotspots that should be covered, but are not necessarily the ones that will be addressed:

1. One of the most likely places terrorists are may get what they would consider their dream ticket -- and hence our nightmare -- is Russia. Russia has somewhere between 3,000 and 15,000 (estimates vary) small tactical nuclear bombs. These are much less well guarded than the strategic big bombs. Moreover they are positioned much closer to Russia's borders -- including those with Muslim republics -- than most of the strategic ones. No treaty covers them. So far there is no sign that these arms will be even discussed during the summit.

2. Next is Pakistan. It has an unstable government and strong anti-American insurgency groups which find allies in some of the nation's forces, especially the notorious ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence). The Pakistani government has rejected many American efforts to help it to better guard these arms, fearing that the United States may grab them if the Taliban and their allies take over. Let's see what the summit will do about this major challenge.

In reaction to a very unwise American policy to expand India's nuclear program, Pakistan in effect is expanding its own. So far there is no indication that this thorny issue will be faced during the summit.

3. The third source of trouble is the considerable amounts of plutonium, highly enriched uranium, and radioactive waste that lie around in many parts of the world, from Chile to South Africa. This is the area in which we are making good progress. The U.S. does underwrite a global drive to neutralize these materials one way or another. President Obama wisely calls for accelerating this process. It is likely to get much attention during the summit, which is like focusing on low lying fruit. They deserved to be harvested as long as progress here does not deflect attention from those much harder to reach.

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Jun 19th 2021
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Jun 12th 2021
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May 18th 2021
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May 16th 2021
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May 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: .... "He transformed a transitioning market economy into a stable statist project that rests on an alliance of his inner circle," ..... "He transformed Russia from a respected member of the international community into a rogue state" .... ". He energized NATO by providing it with the adversary it lacked after the end of the cold war," ..... "He befriended hopelessly corrupt, dysfunctional, and unstable dictatorships..." ..... "He forged a quasi-alliance with China, thereby enhancing Russia’s dependence on the one country that might have reason to appropriate those Russian territories inhabited by Chinese."
May 15th 2021
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May 13th 2021
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May 7th 2021
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May 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human history, ancient and contemporary, is replete with instances of genocide – that is, the effort to eradicate a people, erase their history, denigrate their culture, and destroy their physical presence. Many of these atrocities have been recognized by the victims and other nations who support them. But, with the notable exception of the German acknowledgment of the Holocaust, rarely have the perpetrators of these crimes accepted responsibility and offer recompense "
May 2nd 2021
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May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Sammy Roth at the LA Times/ Boiling Point Newsletter reports that California’s main power grid was powered for several hours last Saturday by 90% renewables. For just four seconds that day, the grid, which covers 4/5s of the state, reached 94.5% generation by green energy. California is the world’s fifth largest economy. The main grid does not cover Los Angeles County. On the other hand, these figures do not include the electricity generated by the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which is not counted as renewable but which is also very low-carbon."
Apr 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "It is no accident that there has been an economic divergence in Central and Eastern Europe. Those countries that have joined the European Union have improved their economic governance, and GDP has begun to converge with Western Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, Hungary, Poland, and Romania grew at an annual average rate of 3.9%, 4.1%, and 4.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, Belarus and Ukraine experienced minimal growth during this period, and Russia’s economy expanded at an average annual rate of just 0.7%. Though Russia had a higher per capita GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) than Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey as recently as 2009, all of these countries have since overtaken it. Russians today are shocked to learn that they are worse off than Romanians and Turks. Among EU member states, only Bulgaria is still poorer than Russia. With its close proximity to the EU single market, Russia could have had higher growth if it had pursued sound economic policies. Instead,..... "
Apr 22nd 2021
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Apr 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "The new report on 2020 by the International Renewable Energy Agency reveals that the world’s renewable energy generation capacity increased by an astonishing 10.3% in 2020 despite the global economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic." .... "In 2020, the global net increase in renewables was 261 gigawatts (GW). That is the nameplate capacity of some 300 nuclear power plants! There are actually only 440 nuclear power plants in the whole world, with a generation capacity of 390 gigwatts. So let’s just underline this point. The world put in 2/3s as much renewable energy in one year as is produced by all the existing nuclear plants!"
Apr 16th 2021
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