"To reduce the numerical surplus of nuclear weapons, from some 20,000 in the national arsenal to some 5,000 is laudable, but it does not confront the central challenge – which is to cross the threshold of minimal deterrence. Russia and the others will follow, but the lead can only come from the US."
So the Greens WANT the US to make the first move, and somehow trust Russia and China, let alone India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel to follow. Really?
Let's be clear what he is advocating is for global security to be ensured through conventional weapons, under UN auspices:
"So the twin challenge is to wean the US, and the world, off nuclear deterrence and replace it with a credible alternative means of securing global governance through conventional weaponry."
Now who would doubt the usage of nuclear weapons is truly horrible to imagine. It is why it is an effective deterrence.
While some may doubt it, nuclear weapons kept the peace in Europe from 1948 to 1989. The USSR knew if it rolled east it would face tactical nuclear weapons in response, and strategic weapons on its capitals. A horrible proposition, but the credibility had to be there for the deterrence. Better to threaten annihilation than to face war and totalitarian tyranny.
Similarly, Japan and South Korea were protected by nuclear weapons. North Korea has always wanted to take over South Korea by force, but the US nuclear umbrella has made it clear that Pyongyang would be flattened if it tried. The credibility of that threat has been critical to protecting South Korea.
Today the Korean situation is little better, with the USSR no longer shielding North Korea. However, elsewhere there remains instability and risk of conflict. One need only look at some of the other nuclear powers.
Russia is effectively a one party state with a strong military and substantial interest in expanding its sphere of influence back to some of what it once had. Who could seriously trust Putin and Medvedev to undertake arms control given how Russia has acted towards Ukraine?
China always claims peaceful intent, but whilst relations with Taiwan have warmed, China has never withdrawn the military option for "reunification". China also has border disputes with India, and in the South China Sea.
India and Pakistan will say "you first" to each other, and frankly until Kashmir can be solved and Pakistan is no longer a breeding ground for Islamist terror, neither will abandon nukes.
North Korea will abandon nukes when there is Korean reunification, on the South's terms.
Israel will abandon nukes when Arabs and Iran stop calling for its destruction and treat it as a trading partner and friend.
In this environment, why abandon nuclear deterrence? For Israel it has kept the peace on a large scale since the Yom Kippur War. For the Korean peninsula it has prevented a second Korean War, and elsewhere it makes Russia think how far it can push the West.
In such a world, it is immoral for the US, UK and France to abandon nuclear weapons, for they are the only relatively moral states to hold them, the only ones that can keep the dictatorial other two members of the UN Security Council honest (and any other states that acquire them).
For until aggressive dictatorships are wiped from the face of the earth, there will be governments that seek to be aggressive against their citizens and citizens of other nations. They will seek war, and some will seek weapons of mass destruction (treaties on chemical and biological weapons have not stopped the most egregiously aggressive states from having both - like North Korea, Syria, Russia and Libya). Sadly, only by holding similar firepower, and a clear willingness to use it if provoked, can we talk a language they not only understand, but have used their whole political career.
Any other belief is naive - as naive as anyone who trusts Putin, Kim Jong Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Or as evil as one who sees any of them as morally equivalent to any US President.