We Were All Equal In The End

And as the windshield melts
My tears evaporate
Leaving only charcoal to defend.
Finally I understand the feelings of the few.
Ashes and diamonds
Foe and friend
We were all equal in the end.

– Pink Floyd, “Two Suns In The Sunset

Effects of a nuclear test, 1955, Nevada

Years ago, I swore that I’d never begin a blog post or an article with a quote from a song. Yet, here I am, quoting from the Pink Floyd song, “Two Suns in the Sunset”. There’s a reason I’ve been hooked on this song for several decades: it reminds me of the nightmares I used to have as a kid growing up during the Cold War. In my dreams, there’d be a sudden flash and a mushroom cloud on the horizon. then a horrifying silence in which I was gasping for breath.. and that was it. The world was gone, and I always woke up surprised to find that the world as I knew it was still there, and the men in power hadn’t decided to complete the deadly game of chess that they’d started in the late 1940s.

If you haven’t already guessed, this blog post is going to be partly personal, and partly about policy and history.

I’ll start with the personal stuff.
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Posted in Cold War History, General, Nuclear Terrorism, Nuclear Weapons, Personal, Proliferation | 5 Comments

And Now For Something Completely Different

Like I mentioned in a previous post, I’m doing Very Serious Wonky Blogging over at Arms Control Wonk now; I’ll do some of that here from time to time as well, but I also figured this blog would be a good place for some of the less serious stuff, and even some “meta” discussions. So, here goes: something different, still involving nukes, but with a dash of pop culture.

I’ve been on a Stephen King binge lately. Since I spend all day reading national security/arms control pieces, my nightly brain break is reading fiction. I just finished King’s Desperation, which was pretty good, and had that post-apocalyptic setting that some of his better books do. It wasn’t as good as The Stand in that respect, but it was still a good read.

Anyway, it has a larger dose of religion in it than some of his other books. It works really well with the story, regardless of whether or not you’re agnostic, atheist, or religious; it just works well with the general supernatural feel of things.

So, out of curiosity, I did a Google search on “Stephen King” and “religion”, which yielded a fascinating interview he did right before the 2008 election. King doesn’t hide his politics; he’s a Democrat, and mentioned in the interview that he and his family thought Sarah Palin was “Greg Stillson as a woman”. (Stillson is the bad guy in The Dead Zone — please watch this clip from the movie adaptation to get an idea of what I mean by “bad guy”.)

But there was one particularly chilling and noteworthy part of the interview that I’d like to share. The interviewer’s question is in boldface; King’s reply follows:

A personal question about the apocalypse. If you had to handicap which major catastrophe will take down human civilization in your lifetime, where would you put your money?

Nuclear weapons. No doubt about it. There are days when I get up and say, I cannot believe, I cannot fucking believe that it’s been more than 50 years since one of those things got popped on an actual population. There are too many out there. One will get away, or someone will make one from spare parts and put it in a knapsack or blow it in Bombay or New York or San Francisco.

Now, the nuke geeks will all get technical about whether or not you can get “spare parts” and build a bomb or put it in a knapsack, etc., but that’s not really the point, is it? The point is the bigger picture, which is that the world is a far more complex place now than it was during the Cold War, with more players in the nuke game, if you will. This is a post-9/11, A. Q. Khan world. Deterrence still plays a role, among (supposedly sane) state actors, but what about non-state actors who don’t really care if they live or die in an act of nuclear terrorism?

That is what we have to worry about.

Posted in Cold War History, General, Meta Discussions, Nuclear Weapons | 2 Comments

Blogging Update

I realize I haven’t posted anything here in a long time, so I figured I’d give all (ten? twenty?) readers of this site a brief update.

Although I intend to keep posting stuff here from time to time, the reason I’ve been neglecting the site is that I’m now a guest contributor at Arms Control Wonk. Their cool new format allows you to follow individual contributors. If you’re so inclined, click here for my RSS feed.

Keep the Plutonium Café in your bookmarks and RSS reader, because I do intend to keep posting here, just not as often as I had originally thought.

Now, it’s time to go read Richard Rhodes’ new book, Twilight of the Bombs. Have a good weekend!

Posted in General | 2 Comments