Nuclear terrorism and climate change

Graham Allison, who has for years been issuing graves warnings about the danger of nuclear terrorism, writes about last week’s nuclear security summit in Washington:

With all the immediate challenges demanding President Obama’s attention today, his choice to invest so much of his own mind-share and political capital in an issue seemingly so remote is remarkable.

We are accustomed to the triumph of the urgent over the important. In assembling the largest number of heads of foreign governments by an American president since FDR invited leaders to San Francisco to create the United Nations, this president demonstrated his ability to distinguish between the vivid and the vital.

The question remains: So what? How is the world different today? How will it be different a year from now?

To score this undertaking, it is necessary to assess performance on four dimensions. First, what is the single largest national security threat to the lives of American citizens? Far-fetched as it still appears to many, President Obama’s answer is unambiguous. As he said Monday: Nuclear terrorism is “the single biggest threat to U.S. security, short term, medium term and long term.”

Nuclear terrorism — a bigger threat to American security than climate change? Hardly.

The critical difference is that unlike the threat of nuclear terrorism, with climate change there will probably be no singlular event that will result in any particular political leader being called to task to explain how they could have allowed this unfolding calamity to happen.

So when it comes to the exercises in self-protection that consume a significant amount of time and energy for the world’s political leaders, the issue of nuclear terrorism is indeed more vexing than climate change. Obama’s attention to this issue does not — at least as far as I’m concerned — indicate his willingness to distinguish between the vivid and the vital.

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One thought on “Nuclear terrorism and climate change

  1. Eugen Ionid

    Americans are so self-centered that they think nothing of calling on the world’s leaders to stop whatever they’re doing and come to Obama’s “loose nukes” Tupperware Party, a conference to stop alleged Muslim terrorists from acquiring nuclear bombs. Both he and they are much too busy for another bio-stressful cross-time zones gathering to achieve ASBSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!! Implicit in this is the assumption that Wash DC security bureaucrats and their mercenary insti-corporate buddies are so smart and inventive that they alone can secure nukes while all others tend to keep’em “loose.” Much is said of Soviet loose nukes in Russia’s “near abroad.” And yet, the one thing that Chechens never acquired to get back at Russia with is “loose” nukes. Why? Maybe because there are no loose nukes– anywhere– just a lot of loose bureaucrats in Wash DC looking for some way to justify their inflated salaries as security “thinkers” and contracts for contractors’ buddy-buddy deals– not to speak of ever hungry for Federal grants academia….talking of “basil-out!” Ironically, top on this list of influence peddlers trying to force the USGov budget to Cold War level are Israel’s mad dogs, the neocons. These guys should be the objects of Teabagger rage, not Obama and certainly not American Jews. That crew of old-line Leninist shysters who are living it up on the mindless fear of others were the Wash DC influence peddling commandos in Cheney’s “kill all towelheads” campaign. WHAT MORE TO HUMILIATE OBAMA THAN THE ABSENCE OF THE ONLY NATION THAT EVER CAME NEAR (TRICE) TO NUKING ITS OPPONENTS BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WANT TO ADMIT IT HAS NUKES!$#%^##*&!!!

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