Rand Paul says that British Petroleum ought not be harshly judged over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, because “accidents happen.” Another fatal accident that he says “happened” was at Kentucky’s Dotiki Mine, often cited for safety violations. (Huffington Post, 5/21/10, byline Kimberly Freeman Brown). Paul has done the country a favor by voicing Libertarian beliefs so clearly. Libertarians prefer the rules of chance to rules of law. Oil drilling and coal mining ought not be the subject of safety regulations, they think, whether imposed to protect the employees, the public, or the environment.
Criticisms of nuclear disarmament efforts are analogous. Two former Defense Department officials now with the Hudson Institute, excoriate President Obama for championing the goal of Zero Nuclear, suggesting that enforcement of a Zero Nuclear regime would constitute world government (Douglas J. Feith and Abram N. Shulsky,WSJ, 5/21/10) Enforcement - here we go again - more rules and regulations. Better everyone stays armed and we pray that no accidents, like, say, nuclear war, will happen.
These folks are out of date. They have missed a couple of revolutions: the Industrial Revolution and the Technology Revolution. All right, they might say, maybe we need some speed limits, at least on city streets, and maybe a little food and drug testing, and possibly even a few criminal laws to discourage bank robbers and certainly, illegal immigrants. But, no one will misuse firearms, from pistols to ICBMs, unless an accident happens. Freedom from rules and regulations comes ahead of security.
Folks who think like this are winning elections, which means acquiring power, which in the nuclear age means endangering every one of us and centuries of human progress. What do our survival instincts prompt the rest of us to do - wait until the next presidential election then maybe go to the polls? We got a pretty good President last time, but clearly security, whether from war, terrorism, safety violations, or accidents, takes more than a President.