In The Nation, Elaine Scarry, a renowned scholar of literature and aesthetics, exposes the irrational and terrifying nuclear-weapons policy of the US, which possesses nearly half of the world's nuclear arsenal. She outlines not only the physical architecture that undergird's this policy, but also "the mental architecture that keeps the physical architecture in place," including "the erroneous belief that nuclear weapons cannot be unmade." Here's an excerpt from the piece:
Even more central to our discussion: The second feature of the nuclear arsenal is that this capacity for unthinkable levels of injury resides in the hands of a solitary person, or a small handful of persons, in the United States as well as in the other nuclear states. Nuclear weapons strategy in the United States is designed around “presidential first use,” an arrangement that enables one man, the president, to kill and maim many millions of people in a single afternoon.
The key features of nuclear architecture are, then, this unthinkably magnified level of injury at one end of the weapon and at the other end of the weapon, an unthinkably small number of men who determine our collective fate and the fate of the planet.
What remains to be seen is whether the people of our own country—and more generally the people of the earth—will permit these weapons and these arrangements for presidential first use to remain in place.
Image via history.com.