“Thermonuclear Monarchy” by Elaine Scarry, reviewed by Richard Rhodes, NYT is a lousy book review, as are most of the reviews of the NYT. A book review: “should focus on the book’s purpose, content, and authority. A critical book review is not a book report or a summary. It is a reaction paper in which strengths and weaknesses of the material are analyzed. It should include a statement of what the author has tried to do, evaluates how well (in the opinion of the reviewer) the author has succeeded, and presents evidence to support this evaluation.” But the review by Rhodes has, for example, no summary. It actually propagandizes the reviewers opinion instead of that of the author.
Rhodes is anti-war, as are most people at least in the abstract. Who really wants or likes war? But Rhodes wants to bring down America. He doesn’t come right out with it but hides it: “…a long series of efforts to think through the question of how to eliminate these terrible and useless weapons.” Nuclear weapons useless? Rubbish. Look at Nagasaki and the consequences. A five year long World War was finally stopped. By one nuclear bomb. Yes, one. The first one, -the Hiroshima bomb didn’t stop the war. The Japanese didn’t surrender. The one bomb that stopped the war was the Nagasaki bomb. Nuclear weapons can be very, very effective in preventing and ending war but they must be used either as deterrents or war enders. Just because Rhodes doesn’t get that doesn’t mean nuclear weapons are useless.
Can the use of nuclear weapons be stopped? Why should it be? The problems of war is not the weapons but the ideas that cause war. To stop war, stop the bad ideas. Can that be done? Sure. It was done between America and Japan who were enemies and who are now friends. That’s how good nuclear weapons can be.