BY NOW all discussion about the Problem of how to avert a nuclear catastrophe has been pretty clearly polarized into two opposite positions- usually known as deterrence and disarmament, but more fairly and accurately characterized, I think, by the terms “stabilization” and “abolition.” Those whom I call “stabilizers” stress the positive role that the nuclear armaments themselves have played in preserving peace in spite of the prevailing high political tension: which is to say, governments refrain from going to war because the destructiveness of weapons renders the image of war too abhorrent. The “abolitionists,” however, see no adequate assurance of continued peace in all this. Nuclear armaments, according to them, are a threat to peace. They can trigger war in various ways-through accident, through the spread of nuclear weapons among the reckless and the irresponsible, or through some technological advance enabling a power to strike without having to fear retaliation. As long as the weapons exist, nuclear war becomes more likely every day, and such a war must clearly result in the destruction of civilization. The danger can be averted only by the total abolition of nuclear weapons.
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