The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Nuclear weapons have always been a serious but seemingly insoluble problem: while they’re obviously dangerous, they are also, apparently, necessary. Ward Wilson's work argues that five central arguments promoting nuclear weapons are, in essence, myths. Specifically:
- that nuclear weapons necessarily shock and awe opponents, including Japan at the end of World War II
- that nuclear deterrence is reliable in a crisis
- that destruction wins wars
- that the bomb has kept the peace for sixty-five years
- and that we can’t put the nuclear genie back in the bottle
Drawing on new information and the latest historical research, Wilson poses a fundamental challenge to the arguments on which nuclear weapons policy is currently built, arriving at a surprising conclusion: nuclear weapons are enormously dangerous, but don’t appear to be terribly useful. Why, he asks, would we want to keep technology that’s dangerous but not very useful?