By Michael Krepon
Source: Arms Control Wonk.
Let’s not argue about this: the three greatest films about the Bomb are John Frankenheimer’s Seven Days in May, Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove and Sidney Lumet’s Fail Safe. All three were released in 1964, when movie-goers were still trying to forget the Cuban missile crisis.
Previous posts have given kudos to Dr. Strangelove and Seven Days in May. Now it’s time to praise Fail Safe. One remedy repeatedly proposed to prevent accidental nuclear war is to reduce the alert status of nuclear weapon delivery vehicles. The counter-argument is that “de-alerting” is a technical fix that can’t solve what is essentially a political problem. The numbers of launch-ready U.S. and Russian warheads remain excessive. States with nuclear weapons use increased alert status (sometimes advertised in the clear)as a signaling device. I don’t see how de-alerting can prevent this, and it may make the problem marginally, but not significantly worse, at least in my view. I’ll also post about de-alerting in the context of Pakistan and India.