Thanks for including in your January issue the comprehensive and informed article by Jay Davis on technical and policy issues for nuclear weapon reductions. It was particularly refreshing to see him debunk the Cold War myth that there were "viable war-fighting theories for [nuclear weapons targeted on nuclear weapons]." Few individuals from the weapons complex have ever acknowledged the "pretense," as Davis put it. Indeed, the grizzly fact was that, as Davis cites, "deterrence is in the end established by targeting cities and populations."

Regrettably, two of the "Gang of Four" that Davis admires — Henry Kissinger and George Schultz — were a major part of that horrifying pretense that supported Cold War nuclear fighting. It’s quite unlikely that "the climate for arms control" has now been meaningfully changed by their conversion to the "concept" of a "world without nuclear weapons." On the contrary, a goal of global zero distracts from the more meaningful and achievable concept of gradual and mutual reductions in nuclear armaments. Kissinger and Schultz’s belated conversion to the cause of global zero is another pretense that needs to be debunked, or simply ignored.

Although Davis recognizes a multiplicity of public and political constituencies affecting nuclear-weapons reductions — such as the Executive Branch, Congress, and military services — he does not mention the vigorous, long-standing self-promotional role that the weapons laboratories engage in for retaining nuclear arsenals.

For a more comprehensive treatment of prospects for nuclear-arms reductions, as well as a thorough history and assessment of the nuclear arms race, I modestly recommend my trilogy of volumes on these matters, which are available in print or electronically [1].

[1] A. DeVolpi, Nuclear Insights: The Cold War Legacy (DeVolpi, Inc., 2009-2011).

Alexander DeVolpi (Fellow, APS) Oceanside, CA

These contributions have not been peer-refereed. They represent solely the view(s) of the author(s) and not necessarily the view of APS.