It was good to hear Mikhail Gorbachev given some air time to warn that current tensions and permanent war make the danger of nuclear weapons ”colossal.”

Nuclear weapons rarely make the news, so the danger is pushed back in many Americans’ consciousness. The result: Pentagon spending balloons and the Trump administration carries forward President Obama’s plan to modernize our nuclear forces.

Modernization may sound good and even inevitable; it is neither. In fact, it will set off a new arms race of smaller nuclear weapons that are, imagine, “more usable.” And smaller means reduced to Hiroshima- and Nagasaki-sized bombs that killed more than 200,000 people.

The price tag for this 30-year modernization is $1.2 trillion — and rising. We could pursue disarmament instead and spend some of that money on creating green-energy jobs to deal with climate change which, like radioactivity, respects no borders.

Any nuclear exchange would be a climate crisis of its own. As Gorbachev put it, “Nuclear weapons should be destroyed. This is to save ourselves and our planet.”

The 2020 elections offer a time to support candidates who see a new arms race as insanity, not security.

Anne Cassebaum


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