In summary, a “world without nuclear weapons” would be a world in which the United States, Russia, Israel, China, and half a dozen or a dozen other countries would have hair-trigger mobilization plans to rebuild nuclear weapons and mobilize or commandeer delivery systems, and would have prepared targets to preempt other nations’ nuclear facilities, all in a high-alert status, with practice drills and secure emergency communications. Every crisis would be a nuclear crisis, any war could become a nuclear war. The urge to preempt would dominate; whoever gets the first few weapons will coerce or preempt. It would be a nervous world.
–Thomas Schelling. Quite so, and for all of my respect for Ronald Reagan, I winced whenever he expressed the hope that we would have a world without nuclear weapons. And I wince whenever Barack Obama repeats that hope. It’s a nice sentiment, and it sure picks up the votes, but it makes for a lousy security strategy.