Nukewatch Quarterly Fall 2014
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — James Doyle worked for 17 years as a political scientist studying nonproliferation at the Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) in New Mexico — the military’s premier nuclear weapons design center. But last winter, Doyle’s 27-page article, “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?” was published in Survival: Global Politics and Strategy. As reported by Science, Doyle produced his scholarly review in his free time and made sure to have it vetted by one of the lab’s classified information specialists.
Nevertheless, members of Congress suggested Doyle had leaked secrets, LANL officials declared the article “classified” (although it’s still on Survival’s website), and, after he complained of intimidation and harassment, Doyle was laid off this August.
Doyle’s paper rehashes well-known evidence that “nuclear deterrence” theory is historically dubious and dangerously bogus, as well as newer information about the effects of using nuclear weapons. For example, a “limited exchange of nuclear weapons against urban areas could trigger or accelerate global climatic catastrophe…, leading to the deaths of millions.” The article makes the commonplace observation that with the world facing multiple, urgent threats — pollution, resource depletion, climate change, over-population, disease pandemics, financial crises and natural disasters — eliminating nuclear weapons would improve the chances of successfully addressing the other threats.
Yet Doyle’s analysis was so unassailable (i.e. “Nuclear weapons are useless for confronting and resolving” modern conflicts, and “a powerful taboo against nuclear use has emerged … based on … a deep moral revulsion to the indiscriminate destruction that nuclear weapons would bring”), that the weapons lobby felt burned. To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, they couldn’t handle the truth.
— Jeffrey Mervis, Science, Aug. 15, 2014; Survival: Global Politics and Strategy, Vol. 55, No. 1, Feb./Mar. 2013