Response To Archbishop Wester

Los Alamos

This is a response to Archbishop Wester’s recent letter to the Reporter on nuclear weapons.  After his previous pastoral letter, I had some e-mail exchanges with him.  I came away from that experience convinced that the Archbishop doesn’t have a clue how to eliminate nuclear weapons.  This latest letter validates those conclusions.  All he has is a bunch of platitudes, not solutions. 

I told the Archbishop that his proposals would at best make the world “safer” for conventional warfare and at worst would cause a nuclear war.  If the United States unilaterally disarms, Mr. Putin will view that as a sign of weakness and we will be annihilated.  If you could get an agreement for the simultaneous elimination of nuclear weapons (which isn’t going to happen since this is presently the only way that Mr. Putin can bully his neighbors given the incompetence of his army) there would be no limits on conventional warfare.   

Ukraine is a case in point.  If neither the US or Russia had nuclear weapons, we would presently be at war with Russia.  American citizens have seen the aggression and total brutality of the Russian army, and we wouldn’t tolerate it.  Right now, this is an isolated small-scale conventional war.  Putin sent 150,000 troops into Ukraine.  In World War II, Hitler sent 3,000,000 troops into Eastern Europe.  If you want to see what a large-scale conventional war would look like today, multiply the Ukrainian conflict by about a factor of 20.  70,000,000 to 85,000,000 people perished in WW II.  That’s not a very efficacious way to settle disputes.  The only thing that is preventing that kind of conflagration now is nuclear deterrence.  Neither Russia or the US wants to militarily engage each other directly because both are scared of what might happen.  It’s not a very pleasant situation, but that is reality. 

If the Archbishop wants to impact nuclear weapons policy, he needs to present workable solutions not platitudes.  Not doing so is irresponsible.  What is particularly reprehensible about his behavior is the way he is demonizing people who work at Los Alamos and Sandia.  He ought to be thanking them instead.  Without them and their predecessors, it is unlikely that any of us would be alive to be having this discussion.