Foreign Policy Blogs

The Four Horsemen Ride Again…

And they’re taking on the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence.  In their fourth collaboration, former secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, one-time Defense Secretary William Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga) wrote in an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal today that the role of nuclear weapons in deterrence should finally, nearly twenty years after the demise of the Cold War, come to a close.  The danger of continuing to rely on them to keep other countries at bay, with the spread of nuclear materials and technologies, and a larger number of nuclear states is simply too risky.  It is time, they say, to relegate Mutual Assured Destruction to the dustbin of history.

In their words, “nations should move forward together with a series of conceptual and practical steps toward deterrence that do not rely primarily on nuclear weapons or nuclear threats to maintain international peace and security.”

This latest treatise is a continuation of the campaign this auspicious bipartisan confab has waged to move the U.S. and the other possessors of nuclear weapons from a Cold War stance to one that more closely reflects today’s current geopolitical realities, realities which also can more easily give rise to the actual use of nuclear weapons.  Until now, the only country to use nuclear weapons in war was the United States against Japan during WWII.  However, the spread of nuclear technologies and materials has increased the likelihood that they will actually be used.

“The second step is the realization that continued reliance on nuclear weapons as the principal element for deterrence is encouraging, or at least excusing, the spread of these weapons…”

Secretaries Kissinger and Schultz were very much a part of the buildup of our nuclear weapons arsenal in the years before the demise of the Cold War.  But since 2007, they have acknowledged that times have changed. Let’s begin the draw down. New START continues that downward path.  But we clearly have a very long way to go.

For more, check out the full OpEd here:

Their previous OpEds can be found here:



Jodi Lieberman

Jodi Lieberman is a veteran of the arms control, nonproliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear safety trenches, having worked at the Departments of State, Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She has also served in an advisory capacity and as professional staff for several members of Congress in both the House and Senate as well as the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Jodi currently spends her time advocating for science issues and funding as the Senior Government Affairs Specialist at the American Physical Society. The views expressed in her posts are her views based on her professional experience but in way should be construed to represent those of her employer.

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