REP. ROGERS: Excellent. Thank you. I want to go — I also want to mention I’ve had distributed to all of you a chart that was drafted and put together by Admiral Richard Mies. And it looks at the global fatalities from wars — major wars around the world — over the last 400 years. And you can see that approximately 2 percent of the world’s population was dying in these wars from 1600 to 1800. Then it fell down to about 1 percent. And then we saw, in the 1900s, World War I and World War II saw a spike. But right after that, with the advent of nuclear weapons, we see that for the last 50 years or so the percentage of global fatalities from war has dropped to about less than one-tenth of 1 percent.
My question is, wouldn’t this be hard objective, quantifiable data that in fact nuclear weapons do have a chilling effect on warfare as opposed to escalating the probability of major wars? And I’d open that up to anybody who wants to respond.
MR. BLAIR: On the face of it — but it’s just a correlation that you have to dig deeper into. I mean, I don’t think any of us here would want the whole world to go nuclear on the strength of that premise that nuclear weapons keep the peace. By that logic, we would have 198 countries with nuclear weapons. And it would be a much more dangerous world obviously. I mean, India and Pakistan today — would we prefer that they eliminate their nuclear weapons or keep them on the hope that they preserve the peace between the two countries? You know, as far as I’m concerned, I think we’re all better off the fewer nuclear weapons there are in any part of the world.
The above exchange between Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) and Bruce Blair, co-founder of Global Zero took place at a March 19 hearing of the House Strategic Forces Subcommittee on the requirements for a strong nuclear deterrent in the era of defense sequester.
For more on the facile claim that nuclear weapons have been the decisive causal factor in the absence of major war, see my January Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists column on the subject and this outstanding piece by James Doyle in the Jan/Feb version of Survival.