Nuclear disarmament proves to be difficult topic

In the final lecture of Linfield’s Faculty Lecture Series, Patrick Cottrell, associate professor of political science, discussed the complexities of nuclear disarmament.

His lecture began with the question: What would it take to achieve a world without nuclear weapons?

He discussed the Global Zero movement, an international effort to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide.

This task is anything but simple. He showed a Google simulation of the effects of a nuclear bomb if one were to be dropped in Portland. The casualties would reach as far as McMinnville.

Cottrell said that the first step toward elimination of all nuclear weapons is to change the way that people think about them.

He used the example of the successful International Campaign to Ban Land Mines as a potential model for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

He explained that at one time, land mines were accepted as a necessity of war, but when awareness of their tragic consequences spread, people’s attitudes changed. This change in public attitude eventually led to policy shifts.

Public attitude is part of the problem, because people do not take the danger of nuclear war seriously. Cottrell referred to the quote, “The day after a nuclear attack, what would we wish we had done? Why aren’t we doing that now?”

The potential for nuclear war is not with the superpowers, but rather the dangers of terrorists using the weapons or accidental detonation.

He then described the conflict between the need for a solution to global warming and the pollution of fossil fuels, which nuclear technology can solve, and the desire to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

“I thought the lecture was very relevant considering the fact that North Korea just set off a rocket. Even though this was a failed attempt, the attention of the international community has now been focused on the uprising of nuclear capabilities in many countries,” freshman Kayla Anderson said “In the lecture, ideas were brought up about why countries decide to work on their nuclear programs. These same ideas will certainly be visited now in response to North Korea.”

The Global Zero movement is growing and pursuing this complex and difficult task with many world leaders and President Obama’s support.

The Global Zero website quotes Obama’s endorsement. “I want each of you to know that Global Zero continues to have a partner in my Administration and that we will never waiver in pursuit of a world free of nuclear weapons,” Obama said.

Cottrell concluded with audience questions and said that it’s scary because we have created a weapon that can literally destroy humanity.

“The real challenge is that once it’s created, you can’t undo it,” Cottrell said.

Samantha Nixon/
Staff writer



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