The scholar and author, Ward Wilson, came to the United Nations on Wednesday, 20 February to launch his new book, “5 Myths about Nuclear Weapons,” and lay out his arguments that nuclear weapons are costly and dangerous, and as weapons, they serve practically no purpose.
Before an audience of diplomats, UN staff, scholars and representatives of NGOs, Mr. Wilson provided arguments debunking nuclear weapons as having a useful military purpose. He also raised important points about their presumed deterrent capability, and questioned the premise that the nuclear genie cannot be put back in the bottle.
The book launch was opened by Virginia Gamba, Director and Deputy to the High Representative in the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs who welcomed the assembled guests and speakers. In her opening remarks Ms. Gamba encouraged Mr. Wilson to also consider “the myths about nuclear disarmament. These include the fallacious claims that it is utopian, impractical, dangerous, premature, and at best viewed as a distant goal, to be pursued only after World Peace is achieved.”
Moderated by Thomas Markram, Director of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Branch in the Office for Disarmament Affairs, guest speakers also included Christine Wing, Senior Research Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University; William Eliason, Colonel, USAF (Retired), Director of the National Defense University Press; and Ray Acheson, Director of Reaching Critical Will.
Wilson states that, “This book challenges conventional thinking about nuclear weapons. It raises questions about fundamental issues. You may find that you don’t agree with all of the objections raised here. That would not be surprising. People don’t usually agree completely on anything having to do with fundamental issues, much less challenges to long-established ideas. But I hope you will come away with the conviction that there are unaddressed problems in the thinking about nuclear weapons, problems that matter. I hope you will feel that some sort of reexamination and rethinking of those ideas is needed.”
Ward Wilson is a graduate of the American University in Washington, D.C. and is a departmental guest of the Program on Science and Global Security of Princeton University. He has been published in International Security, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Nonproliferation Review, the Chicago Tribune, Dissent and elsewhere.