Like I mentioned in a previous post, I’m doing Very Serious Wonky Blogging over at Arms Control Wonk now; I’ll do some of that here from time to time as well, but I also figured this blog would be a good place for some of the less serious stuff, and even some “meta” discussions. So, here goes: something different, still involving nukes, but with a dash of pop culture.
I’ve been on a Stephen King binge lately. Since I spend all day reading national security/arms control pieces, my nightly brain break is reading fiction. I just finished King’s Desperation, which was pretty good, and had that post-apocalyptic setting that some of his better books do. It wasn’t as good as The Stand in that respect, but it was still a good read.
Anyway, it has a larger dose of religion in it than some of his other books. It works really well with the story, regardless of whether or not you’re agnostic, atheist, or religious; it just works well with the general supernatural feel of things.
So, out of curiosity, I did a Google search on “Stephen King” and “religion”, which yielded a fascinating interview he did right before the 2008 election. King doesn’t hide his politics; he’s a Democrat, and mentioned in the interview that he and his family thought Sarah Palin was “Greg Stillson as a woman”. (Stillson is the bad guy in The Dead Zone — please watch this clip from the movie adaptation to get an idea of what I mean by “bad guy”.)
But there was one particularly chilling and noteworthy part of the interview that I’d like to share. The interviewer’s question is in boldface; King’s reply follows:
A personal question about the apocalypse. If you had to handicap which major catastrophe will take down human civilization in your lifetime, where would you put your money?
Nuclear weapons. No doubt about it. There are days when I get up and say, I cannot believe, I cannot fucking believe that it’s been more than 50 years since one of those things got popped on an actual population. There are too many out there. One will get away, or someone will make one from spare parts and put it in a knapsack or blow it in Bombay or New York or San Francisco.
Now, the nuke geeks will all get technical about whether or not you can get “spare parts” and build a bomb or put it in a knapsack, etc., but that’s not really the point, is it? The point is the bigger picture, which is that the world is a far more complex place now than it was during the Cold War, with more players in the nuke game, if you will. This is a post-9/11, A. Q. Khan world. Deterrence still plays a role, among (supposedly sane) state actors, but what about non-state actors who don’t really care if they live or die in an act of nuclear terrorism?
That is what we have to worry about.