Person of the Day

MARCH 6, 2007
SEN. DIANE FEINSTEIN Who responded this week to the Bush Administration’s awarding to the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories the contract to design a brand new H-bomb. In a historical moment when our thoughts are focused on getting nations to give up the idea of uranium enrichment and bomb-grade material acquisition that the thing to do is come up with . . . more nukes! Sen. Feinstein said: “the pursuit of new warheads could serve to encourage the very proliferation we are trying to prevent.” Here is Sam Nunn’s view (from The NY Times Magazine Feb. 25): It is very likely that North Korea's success in building weapons and Iran's steady progress toward that goal have only encouraged other nations to get into the nuclear game. But, Nunn believes, the United States, mired in Iraq and strained in its relations with former allies, has never had less leverage to counter them. Nunn says that the current Iraq war (which he also opposed) has distracted U.S. officials, undermined the credibility of any U.S. military threat it might bring to bear on North Korean or Iran and ''dealt a severe blow to the leadership credibility we need in the world.'' In this view, American credibility is an essential part of persuading other nations to stop or reverse their nuclear programs. One way to enhance American credibility, according to this line of thinking, is for the United States to decrease its own nuclear stockpile. Yet the Bush administration has not only not moved to significantly reduce that stockpile, it is also exploring new nuclear technologies (like bunker-buster mini-nukes). ''I think we have very badly failed to meet our responsibilities,'' Brent Scowcroft, George H. W. Bush's national security adviser and Nunn's friend, told Michael Crowley, reporter of this story. ''I think it is the sort of neoconish notion that it is our job to dominate the world and that the way you dominate it is by pushing ahead on new nuclear stuff.''