It has been two years since those four wrinkled handmaidens of the Military Industrial Complex—George Shultz, Sam Nunn, Henry Kissinger and William Perry—chose the unlikely venue of the Wall St. Journal op-ed page to suggest that humanity should embark on a quest to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world to none.
As in Zero.
Let's stipulate: these are not your typical love-beaded, peace-sign-flashing flower children, carrying "Ban the Bomb" signs through the Pentagon parking lot. Nor are they engaged in some late-life, symbolic, well-meaning-but-it-could-never-happen act of penance. They mean it.
In our age of suicide bombers, eager to cause mass civilian casualties, the old policies of deterrence, and mutually assured destruction, have been found lacking. Disarmament and strategic defense, the four suggest, may be a better way to go.
You can bet on it: with the U.S. and Russia scheduled to resume strategic arms limitation talks, with nuclear Pakistan looking a bit wobbly and Iran making progress on nuclear power, we'll be spending much of the next four years dusting off the old nuclear vernacular. And getting to Zero will be—stunningly—a part of the discussion.
Two of the four running dog peaceniks—Shultz and Nunn—showed up at the Center for Strategic & International Studies last night to report on their mission to a sell-out crowd of foreign policy mandarins. The Pentagon, the Hill and Embassy Row were well-represented.
Has the new Obama administration, swamped with immediate crises, given any hints about its own goals regarding nuclear arms?
Shultz, the spry, web-surfing Californian, had the answer. Check out the new White House web site, he told the crowd; where, in fact, Obama and Biden have embraced the goal of Zero.
"A world free of nuclear weapons. ... They are there ...that is the posture we are in," said Schulz. "A lot flows from that."
Would not that be an historic legacy for Audacious and his team?