Nuclear Nightmares

Nuclear protest - Paul Hackett, Reuters.JPG

Rick Salutin is old enough to have adult memories of the Cold War nuclear terror—the constant, unremitting anxiety that one's city could be annihilated at any moment, alongside most of the other cities in the northern hemisphere. So it is admirable to see him writing sympathetically of the nuclear nightmares now afflicting the young. That said, Salutin's analysis of the current Korean crisis is an agonizing jumble of peacenik cant, far more likely to stoke apocalyptic anxiety than to allay it. Salutin blames Donald Trump, for example, for ratcheting up tensions with North Korea, but he doesn't bother to mention Kim Jong-Un. What's more, Salutin credits Trump with exposing the "bullshit" diplomatic architecture built after World War II to contain the use of nuclear weapons and their proliferation. It is a breathtaking dismissal. For what Salutin sardonically calls those "dazzling models of international relations" actually worked—not only to prevent Hiroshimas after 1945 but to stabilize the superpower standoff for two generations. Salutin heaps praise upon Jeremy Corbyn and other disarmament activists—apparently because he wants to believe, with them, that a world without nuclear weapons is achievable. He even derides British, French and Canadian leaders' refusal to sign disarmament petitions as "petulant, like they'd taken Trump lessons." Fine. But until the Corbynista utopia is ushered in, détente and deterrence are not merely the best guarantors of the security of NATO countries like Canada and the U.K.  They provide the best—and arguably the only—basis from which to navigate our global nuclear future.