The Radical Naïveté of Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is trying to reinvent, or rehabilitate, himself. And he’s doing it by trying to whip up reflexive anger across his party’s base. Without citing one single point of Pres. Obama’s policy or one single piece of historical evidence, he has classed Obama’s call for a world free of nuclear weapons as “a dangerous fantasy”. He is situating himself firmly in the camp of make-believe “values conservatives” whose world view is actually an adolescent reading of Machiavelli (and a fantasy already proven to be dangerous).

Values, if those who camp along this stretch of the ideological spectrum have any allegiance to them, must always come after and be subsumed by a regime of dark and cynical manipulations. To what end? To prove that one is dark and cynical enough to be feared. This is the adolescent part of their understanding of Machiavelli — whose philosophy we will not treat in detail here. They claim to know how to be better than the brutes, thugs and villains, by imitating them.

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Against the Good Nukes / Bad Nukes Fallacy, or: David Frum’s Prophecy Problem

David Frum likes to think he knows what he’s talking about, but here’s the main reason he so often does not: he tends to link ideological assumptions with cynical bad-faith arguments about geo-politics. He mixes willing naïveté with the radical pretense of cynical omniscience. Frum would have us commit to the dangerous gamble that is selective non-proliferation, because he can’t think a better way.

When David Frum writes about why the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is not only “impossible” but also “dangerous”, he does so with two major obstacles to credibility: 1. he is arguing for the policies of an administration in which he served; 2. he is arguing that he can prove a negative (claiming to know what will never come to pass, what can never be expected from comprehensive global negotiations, the development of surveillance and inspections technologies, the enticements of a truly global regime of denuclearization).

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Eliminating All Nuclear Weapons More Realistic than Selective Non-proliferation

Because there’s something in it for everybody. The current global nuclear weapons-control regime operates on a dangerously untenable false premise: that only ‘responsible’ nations can or should be allowed to make and maintain arsenals of nuclear warheads. At first blush, it may seem highly rational: only those who will behave responsibly should have the most dangerous weapons; but, then, upon further examination, who is qualified to make that judgment?

Probably not one nation not specifically seeking to expand the “nuclear club” to include itself would entrust to an autonomous international body the adjudication of who is responsible enough to have the right to add more nuclear weapons to the global stockpile. Certainly, the US tends to oppose allowing any external body to judge its own level of inherent responsibility or sovereign rights. And international law, at present, forbids the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

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