Paul Nitze Succumbs to 'Nuclear Retirement Syndrome'

NEW YORK, NY -- Former National Security Advisor Paul Nitze has joined the long list of militarists who have publicly renounced 50 years of support for the nuclear weapons system. In what Robert Lifton calls the "Nuclear Retirement Syndrome," Nitze has now called for unilateral U.S. nuclear disarmament.

Nitze, who founded the weapons-friendly Committee on the Present Danger, was a life-long opponent of arms control. In 1979, he campaigned to defeat the Second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) saying, "To have the advantage at the utmost level of violence helps at every lesser level. ...the U.S. had the strategic edge because of our superiority at the strategic nuclear level. That edge has slipped away."

Although nothing about nuclear weapons themselves has changed since then, Nitze now writes, "There is no purpose to be gained through the use of our nuclear arsenal." Nitze, who promoted the building of thousands of new nuclear warheads during the 1980s, now declares: "I can think of no circumstances under which it would be wise for the United States to use nuclear weapons, even in retaliation for their prior use against us." In his astounding turn-around he concludes, "I see no compelling reason why we should not unilaterally get rid of our nuclear weapons."

*New York Times, op-ed, Oct. 28, 1999; Jerry Sanders, Peddlers of Crisis, South End Press, 1983, p.10.