Rethinking Deterrence

On the anniversary of Hiroshima, it is time to rethink nuclear deterrence.


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On August 6th, 1945, the first of two nuclear weapons ever used in warfare detonated above the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Today, 72 years later, the legacy of Hiroshima is now more important than ever before.

I have had the distinct privilege of participating in Hiroshima’s annual Peace Ceremony memorializing the event. At 8:15am on August 6th, 1999, I watched a flock of doves released into the sky above “ground zero” in Hiroshima. In the background stood the haunting silhouette of the Peace Dome – one of the few structures to survive the explosion.

I will never forget.

A woman looks out at the Peace Dome in Hiroshima, Japan.
“The Peace Dome in Hiroshima” by Michael Helmer (Public Domain Photo)

How quickly we forget the horrors of war. In the United States, despite more than a decade of conflict following the attacks of September 11th, there seems to be a growing indifference about the use of nuclear weapons. In a poll conducted in August 2016, 18% of respondents thought it would be acceptable to use nuclear weapons even if the United States had not suffered a nuclear attack. Another 16% had not formulated an opinion.

My opinion is that nuclear weapons should be permanently abolished and relegated to the pages of history. However, the energy science behind nuclear fusion should continue to be actively researched and explored, with the goal of developing a clean, abundant power source in the future.

A Thought-Provoking Film

In March of 2000, a few months after I returned from Japan, a low-budget film was released (spoiler alert) about a future American president who decides to drop a 1-megaton device (almost 100x larger than Hiroshima) on Baghdad to “deter” China. It has eerie parallels to today, including a “Real American” voter who thinks it would be a good idea. Here’s the trailer:

Dangerous Deterrence

At a time when tribal tensions are heating up around the world, it is imperative to recognize that nuclear deterrence is not a viable strategy. Despite President Trump’s statements that he would be highly unlikely to use them, the fact remains that the U.S. is still dangerously dependent upon nuclear weapons to deter aggression.

We must recognize that we are all part of a common humanity on this “Pale Blue Dot” of ours and strive to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle.

Our great grandchildren will thank us.

 For my latest thoughts on saving the planet, follow me on twitter @shawnpmitchell.


2 responses to “Rethinking Deterrence”

  1. It is amazing to see how we are slipping back, devolving into an abyss of saber rattling and war mongering. Great post, very timely.
    Wishing you a great summer ~

    1. Thank you Randall! Great to hear from you. Despite the headlines, all is well here with Tricia and me. Hope your summer is proving to be the best yet! Cheers!

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