Charles Krauthammer is his usual

Charles Krauthammer is his usual cheerful self today.

Last year, President Bush’s axis-of-evil speech was met with eye-rolling disdain by the sophisticates. One year later, the warning has been vindicated in all its parts. Even the United Nations says Iraq must be disarmed. The International Atomic Energy Agency has just (politely) declared North Korea a nuclear outlaw. Iran has announced plans to mine uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel; we have recently discovered two secret Iranian nuclear complexes. . . .

This planet has been around for 4 billion years, intelligent life for perhaps 200,000, weapons of mass destruction for less than 100. A hundred–in the eye of the universe, less than a blink. And yet we already find ourselves on the brink. What are the odds that our species will manage to contain this awful knowledge without self-destruction–not for a billion years or a million or even a thousand, but just through the lifetime of our children?

Those are the stakes today. Before our eyes, in a flash, politics has gone cosmic. The question before us is very large and very simple: Can–and will–the civilized part of humanity disarm the barbarians who would use the ultimate knowledge for the ultimate destruction? Within months, we will have a good idea whether the answer is yes or no.

Wow. Maybe just a bit overly gloomy, but he has a point. I’m thinking the answer is, yes, we will do something about it but, no, we can’t stop it entirely. I think it’s a matter of time before a terrorist group or rogue state uses a radiological device. I also think we’ll survive it just fine. The chances of apocalypse ended with the Cold War and, really, with the Cuban Missile Crisis. No dangerous actor will ever have the power the Soviets had again, absent some quantum leap in the state of technology.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.