Email this review


We are ""painting ourselves into a corner"" with nuclear weapons, said then American NATO forces chief, General Earle Wheeler, back in 1961; how were we to extricate ourselves? The question followed Zuckerman's presentation of a war frames paper before NATO brass. He concluded that since NATO and the USSR both had nuclear arms, their use in field warfare could only lead to disaster, escalation, and tho annihilation of millions. Twenty years later the arms race continues and NATO thinking remains the same: superweapons are at the ready should Warsaw Pact nations move aggressively into the West. Zuckerman, the distinguished English primatologist, has been a government scientific advisor officially and unofficially for decades. In this brief work he reviews how the world got into its present fix and what ways he sees of getting out of it. He advocates a comprehensive test ban and blames scientists, technicians, and intelligence forces--even more than the military--for the continual badgering for bigger bangs and advanced delivery systems. The idea that an anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) could work is another folly he pursues with a vengeance. Such a system would have to be 100 percent effective--clearly an impossibility. Yet both sides pour endless time and money into developing counterforce systems. The goals should be to eliminate research and development on nuclear weapons, give up ABM approaches, and reduce the nuclear arsenal--by specified stages (a step which might bolster non-proliferation in general). Zuckerman is ready to admit that none of what he suggests is easy or even likely. And he is realist enough to disparage any thoughts of unilateral disarmament for the UK, as some prominent figures propose. Overall Zuckerman's voice is brisk and coldly logical--making his differently angled work a fine supplement to Lewis A. Dunn's Controlling the Bomb (above).

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Viking