Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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The Sun owes an apology to David Krieger, Leslee Goodman, and our readers.
In our January 2013 issue we published an interview by Goodman titled “Indefensible: David Krieger on the Continuing Threat of Nuclear Weapons.” In it, Krieger is quoted as saying that the path to global security “can only be through unilateral nuclear disarmament.” He never said that. One of our editors made the error of inserting the word unilateral into Krieger’s statement. In foreign-policy circles, suggesting that one country abolish its nuclear arsenal while others maintain theirs is widely considered unrealistic and counterproductive. We thus misrepresented a central aspect of Krieger’s views.
The mistake didn’t get past Krieger, however. When we sent him the interview for a final review, he asked that we replace the word unilateral, which he’d never used, with total. We assured Krieger we would make that change. Then, regrettably, we neglected to do so.
I couldn’t be more chagrined at the careless way this was handled. In an effort to make amends, we’ve posted the full text of the corrected interview on our website. We are sending a reprinted version of the interview to hundreds of nuclear-disarmament activists, national-security experts, and others with whom Krieger has worked over the years. We’ll also provide copies for Krieger to distribute at upcoming conferences.
Accuracy matters to us. This is why each issue of the magazine is copy-edited, proofread, and fact-checked by multiple editors and proofreaders, and then scrutinized a final time before it goes to print. In this instance, the error got past all of us. (For the record, our veteran proofreader wasn’t available to work on this issue.) As The Sun’s editor and publisher, I bear ultimate responsibility for every word that appears in the magazine. I know what “unilateral nuclear disarmament” means but read right past it. I deeply regret my mistake.
Krieger was gracious and forgiving with us. I invited him to clarify his position for our readers, and he sent us the statement that appears below.
Editor and publisher
Raising awareness of the continuing threat of nuclear weapons has been my primary focus for three decades as cofounder and president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Neither I nor the foundation has ever called for unilateral nuclear disarmament. Thus, I was shocked to see myself quoted in The Sun as saying just that. What I said was “The path to security can only be through total nuclear disarmament.”
Why does it matter? Because to call for unilateral nuclear disarmament is to ask that one nation eliminate its arsenal, leaving itself vulnerable to other countries’ nuclear weapons. This is neither realistic nor politically feasible. It is also not sufficient. I do not ask any country to take such a risk. What I ask is for the countries of the world — particularly the nine that now have nuclear weapons — to engage in negotiations with the goal of total nuclear disarmament. I believe that the U.S. can lead the way, using its influence to bring other nations to the negotiating table, where together they might arrange for the phased, verifiable, irreversible, and transparent elimination of all nuclear weapons.
It is unlikely that the U.S. will initiate such negotiations, however, unless its citizenry demands it. We must awaken to the danger and organize to abolish nuclear weapons as though our very lives depend upon it — because they do. There are still some nineteen thousand nuclear weapons in the world, and the use of even a small number of them would have catastrophic consequences. Atmospheric scientists tell us that just one hundred Hiroshima-sized nuclear detonations in a war between India and Pakistan, for example, could lead to a global famine, causing hundreds of millions of deaths.
Unilateral nuclear disarmament is not what we seek at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. What we seek is a rational solution, and when it comes to nuclear weapons, the only rational number is zero. That means total nuclear disarmament. It is one of the overarching issues of our time, and your voice can make a difference. If you would like to play a role in securing a future free from the threat of nuclear annihilation, join us online at wagingpeace.org.