UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations is having a two-day all-star conference on the emerging challenges of nuclear weapons, organized by Wesley Clark. I don’t know nearly enough about international relations to get invited as a scholar, but UCLA’s media folks decided to invite me as a blogger. (!)
William Perry, Defense Secretary under Clinton and a certified Defense Intellectual Heavyweight, gave a very good, thoughtful opening talk.
Here’s the most interesting fact I learned: both the U.S. and Russia still have their thousands of nuclear warheads on “launch-on-warning” status, which means that a computer malfunction on either end could put us into Fail-Safe territory, with top officials having minutes in which to decide whether to respond to an apparent attack or risk losing their capacity to counter-attack. And Russia’s warning systems have been degrading ever since the Soviet system fell.
There! Doesn’t that make you feel secure?