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Weapons expert discusses future

Justin Tardiff | Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dr. David Kay informed President Bush in 2004 that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction.

On Monday night in McKenna Hall, the former director of the Iraq Survey Group gave a lecture titled “What is the Future of Non-Proliferation?” and expert advice on an international issue.

Kay discussed the strategy of non-proliferation that the United States and the Soviet Union adopted during the Cold War. The two countries discovered several of their respective allies were exploring nuclear weapons programs. The United States found the beginning of a program in Taiwan and persuaded the Taiwanese to halt the program by threatening to end U.S. protection of the country from China.

Argentina also began to explore a nuclear weapons program in the late 1960s.

“Who were the Argentineans planning to use weapons against?” Kay asked. “You lose a soccer game, so you nuke the Brazilians?”

Kay said the strategy included signing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and using aggressive intelligence against states believed to possess nuclear weapons programs.

Kay said the United States and the Soviet Union told their allies, “We will extend our umbrella of nuclear power for the price of you not proceeding with nuclear weapons.”

The initial U.S. security strategy was to keep people out of the Western Hemisphere, Kay said.

This started to change when the U.S. entered World War I. By the end of World War II, the United States had a different mindset, largely due to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. American policymakers realized that events in other parts of the world could impact the security of the United States.

The United States changed its new policy to build up “overmatching military power,” Kay said. “We want to be sure that no one can rationally conclude that they should attack us.”

Kay said the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks reinforced fear of a nuclear attack on American soil, a change since the Cold War.

“We have today groups of individuals that can actually contemplate their use,” he said.

During the 2004 presidential race, Kay said both President George Bush and former Democratic candidate John Kerry agreed the most important and dangerous national security problem facing the United States was nuclear proliferation.

Kay said the failure of the nation-state system complicates the threat of nuclear weapons today. He foresees more problems in the Middle East as the failed states of Yemen and Sudan continue to grow.

Kay categorizes at least 70 to 85 nation-states in the world today as failed. He predicts Mexico will soon become a failed state, as he sees corruption at every level and believes the United States does not devote sufficient resources to reverse the current course of Mexico towards failure.

“We are going to pay the price for that if we’re not careful,” Kay said.

Kay discussed the need for the establishment of norms to govern scientific conduct, improvement to national intelligence and the development in language capabilities of clandestine officers. He said it was unlikely that the world would go another 60 years without use of a nuclear weapon, and the United States must conduct a dialogue on how to confront this use.

Kay called universities “the incubators of ideas and social change” and said they were an ideal place to start this dialogue.