The Weekly Winston: Nuclear Deterrence Edition, with Iran Postscript

As we contemplate the specter of a reckless North Korea and a fanatical and suicidal Iran both bent on acquiring and using nuclear weapons, the old schemes of deterrence lose their valence.  While Churchill thought the deterrence of mutual assured destruction between the superpowers would work (peace would be “the sturdy child of terror”), he was less optimistic about proliferation, as seen in this comment from 1946:

In these present days we dwell strangely and precariously under the shield and protection of the atomic bomb.  The atomic bomb is still only in the hands of a State and nation [the U.S.] which we know will never use it except in the cause of right and freedom.  But it may well be that in a few years this awful agency of destruction will be widespread and the catastrophe following from its use by several warring nations will not only bring to an end all that we call civilization but may possibly disintegrate the globe itself.

About Iran, Churchill wrote in 1920:

It is a very melancholy thing to contemplate the possibility of an ancient capital of a monarchy like that of Persia being engulfed in the tide of barbarism, and a culture which, though primitive in many respects, is nevertheless ancient. . .

At the time Churchill was worried about the possibility of Communist revolution.  Doubtless he’d think what has befallen it today is much worse.


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