Witches, ghosts and goblins haunt the stories and movies that we watch this time of week. However, if you truly want to be afraid, it’s worth remembering that terrifying weapons with the power to destroy our planet haunt humankind every day.
Today, there are an estimated 17,000+ nuclear weapons in the world, each of which is larger than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in seconds. Pakistan and India continue to develop and grow their nuclear arsenals, while North Korea may be preparing a new nuclear explosive test.
Meanwhile, some in Congress are failing to allow breathing room for diplomacy with Iran, which is our best hope to prevent a war that would make Iraq seem like a skirmish – a truly horrifying outcome. Recent research by the Center found the current sanctions regime to be effective and a need for Congressional patience in allowing their leverage to take hold.
But like all great Halloween stories, there is some hope to be had. In 2009, the number of nuclear weapons that could instantly be targeted at a U.S. or Russian city was reduced by the thousands. “The Center continues to educate Congress and the general public about opportunities to ensure national security while eliminating overly dangerous, extremely expensive and outdated weapons systems,” said executive director, John Isaacs. Yet the number that could be instantly targeted at the U.S. remains at 1,550 which is more haunting than The Conjuring.
In our modern time, it is not only countries with nuclear weapons that should be concerning but also the potential for a terrorist organization to gain access to these weapons and materials.
As in any great horror movie, the hero must act to prevent terrible things from happening. To do that, the U.S. in 2004 launched the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which has successfully rid ten countries of their dangerous nuclear materials. However, like Death’s scythe, budget cuts have come to target the program, slashing millions from one of the most effective nuclear non-proliferation programs in decades.
While effective programs come under the pendulum in Edgar Allen Poe’s imaginary pit, billions are wasted every year on defense programs that do not enhance national security.
As Center chairman and former president of National Defense University, Lt. General (USA ret.) Robert Gard argues in an OpEd for The Hill, “Many years of pouring money from federal coffers into unnecessary defense programs has not increased security. It has, rather, contributed significantly to our federal deficit and retarded the current economic recovery; and we must not permit the military-industrial-Congressional complex to continue pushing us down this path.”
So, tonight as you watch Dracula, Frankenstein or Jason, it is important to remember that some scary things cannot be packed up and put in the attic until next year.