In what may be the most depressing article I’ve read since the epithets “Rocket Man” and “Dotard” entered the global lexicon, The Harvard Crimson reports that public approval of nuclear weapons use remains strong in the United States. In an appearance at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Stanford University nuclear expert Scott Sagan cited an August study that shows 60 percent of Americans supporting a decision to use atomic bombs that killed 100,000 Iranian civilians, if it meant that 20,000 American soldiers weren’t sacrificed in a ground attack on Iran, the Crimson reported. And almost 60 percent of those surveyed supported a nuclear air strike that killed two million Iranian civilians, if it meant 20,000 American soldiers didn’t have to lose their lives in an invasion.
When survey respondents were offered a third alternative—an “equally effective” diplomatic option—a glimmer of hope for humanity shone. But only a glimmer. “The good news is that just over 40 percent supports the diplomatic option,” the Crimson reported Sagan as saying. “The bad news is that 40 percent of the public still wants to drop [nuclear] bombs.”
Clearly, the news media—including the Bulletin—have been less than wholly successful in educating Americans about the overwhelming power of nuclear weapons and the civilization-ending threat that the use of even small number of them would pose. So we could use some help from our readers and viewers.
If you’re in a public-spirited frame of mind, please tell the 10,000 people closest to you (and every news reporter you know) about the almost indescribable horrors that would follow, if a standard Russian nuclear warhead exploded over New York City.
Then let them know about the mass suffering and worldwide social and economic consequences that would ensue, if a single terrorist nuclear bomb were set off in any major city in the world.
And finally, it’d be great if you could pass along at least cursory information about nuclear winter, and why use of a tiny fraction of the world’s nuclear arsenal would lower global temperatures, collapsing world agriculture and killing hundreds of millions—and probably billions—of people.
Thanks for the help. The United States, the world, and the world’s news media need it.