by Stansfield Turner ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1997
A thoughtful series of proposals for reducing the excessive inventories of nuclear weapons still held by the US and Russia nearly a decade after the Cold War's end. Drawing on his own experiences as a senior military commander and director of the CIA during the Carter administration, Admiral Turner (Terror and Democracy, 1991) first examines the Strangelovian assumptions employed to justify the sizable stockpiles of warheads still held by the major powers: Moscow controls over 20,000, while Washington has more than 15,000 at its disposal. Although this latter total represents a substantial decline from peak of approximately 32,500 reached in 1967, the author documents the appalling extent to which these costly and dangerous arsenals are still heavily redundant in terms of deterrence. Overkill apart, he notes, bloated reserves increase the risk of proliferation and aggravate the problems posed by the ongoing deterioration of a cash-strapped Russia's military plant. Having estimated just how few nuclear weapons are needed to ensure national security (and conceding that disarmament is an unrealistic possibility any time soon), Turner makes some arresting suggestions. His centerpiece initiative encompasses three principal elements: a strategic escrow program (which, inter alia, would put all warheads in internationally supervised storage at some distance from their launchers); a no-first-strike pledge (confirmed by treaty); and incremental improvements in defense against atomic attack as well as inspection technology. He goes on to urge that elected civilian officials reassert their control over the military on nuclear matters; the author also recommends establishment of a Presidential Council for Nuclear Security and an organized effort to enlist the public's support for sizable cutbacks in America's stores of doomsday ordnance. An informed and informative contribution to a debate of vital importance to all mankind.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997
Page Count: 176
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997
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