During the Cold War, we relied on the doctrine of "mutually assured destruction." We believed that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union would launch an attack because it would produce massive and destructive retaliation. But the world has changed, and we are in a high-risk era when the presence of nuclear weapons raises the stakes for global conflict, accidents and terrorism.
As it seeks to modernize its nuclear arsenal, the United States faces a big choice, one which Barack Obama should ponder before his upcoming Hiroshima speech. Should we spend a trillion dollars to replace each of our thousands of nuclear warheads with a more sophisticated substitute attached to a more lethal delivery system?
The cause of global nuclear disarmament, once a dream with geopolitical cred, may wind up entombed in eternal apathy. As Carroll put it: "Nuclear abolition itself is being abolished." But I refuse to believe that. What I do believe is that change of such magnitude simply cannot emerge from the actions of top-down leadership.