I saw Countdown to Zero opening night at Kendall Square Cinema, Cambridge, MA. A great opportunity for the already-convinced to get on the same page, and for doubters who still think of nuclear weapons as a useful part of the defensive arsenal to rethink.
Interesting emphasis on the centrality of nuclear material as opposed to hardware and technology. 90% of the Manhattan Project, it seems, was getting and preparing the material, not the bombs themselves. And this has not changed.
Nice to give leaders of the arms control movement a platform, but they offer no political strategy, i.e., strategy to get the power to change things. Their imaginations falter when it comes to political action other than persuading other leaders, their counterparts in national government. Leaders love talking to Presidents and Congress Members. But lobbying doesn’t do it, whether in the form of learned discussions or writing letters and marching. Sixty-five years and counting. Lobbying doesn’t do it.
For all the film’s rich content on the creation and the numbers and peril of the weapons, its scope is narrow, both as to history and solutions. Like most of the anti-nuke effort, it is clueless about solutions other than saying no to nukes. This makes sense if the film is understood simply as a collaboration with the President’s announced goal of Zero. Ultimately, though, a secure world requires an alternative way of doing things. Zero Weapons is like Peace. It is the absence of something rather than an alternative.
This weakness was most evident in the movie’s powerful review of the Iranian menace. I thought the only conclusion to be drawn was to attack Iran, not something I favor. Ditto re the huge dangers posed by Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
Granted there is only so much one motion picture can try to do. Still, the makers should have tried harder for some of the important background that one needs to be effective, including background on the history. The references to Hiroshima should have noted the doubts about our true motivations in dropping the first two bombs. The references to Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik should have noted that they failed because Reagan insisted that Star Wars was solely a peace effort rather than another chapter in the arms race (like missile defense today!)
Nuclear weapons are not going to be eradicated until the nations decide to prevent war. The question is whether the nations make that decision before or after nuclear weapons are used again. The passage of 65 years, not to mention the current missile defense race, prove that the nations will not substitute enforced law for war absent a political revolt by the targeted populations. The only imaginable staging area for a political revolt is the targeted cities and towns of the world, cooperating across national borders through a directly elected Security Congress of Municipalities. That would give the targeted populations the power to force nations to substitute enforced law for war.