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R: Denuclearize

On the morning of July 16, 1945, a mushroom cloud rose up over the New Mexico Desert.  It was on that day that the first nuclear weapon was successfully detonated by scientists working on the Manhattan Project.  Even among these scientists who had spent the better part of the war working on it, the reactions were mixed.  Robert Oppenheimer famously quoted the Bhagavad Gita, remarking "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."  For the first time in human history, man had gained the power to destroy this earthly kingdom.  If he was alive today, Oppenheimer would see that just one American OHIO class sub can carry up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles.  In the years following the end of the war, the number of worldwide combat deaths plummeted.  Many people have suggested that this is in no way a coincidence, arguing that without the deterrent of nuclear weapons, a war between the United States and the USSR would have heated up. 

The Manhatten project was started, not out of a desire for worldwide destruction, but out of fear that this power would fall into the hands of evil.  We end up in what seems like a classic prisoner's dilemma, where our enemies having access to nuclear weapons seems to necessitate the existence of our own stockpile.  On the other hand, some choose to argue that in our increasingly globalized world, a denuclearization treaty could be successfully ratified and enforced.  The question becomes whether or not we trust our flawed world.  Is Mutual Agreed Destruction of our stockpiles feasible, or is Mutual Assured Destruction the best we can hope for?

Join us this Saturday, April 7th at 7:30 pm in the Berkeley Mendenhall Room to discuss all this and more!

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