November 17th, 2014
06:48 PM ET

What I'm reading: The nuclear gun is back on the table

By Fareed Zakaria

“My parents’ generation got grimly used to living in the shadow of the bomb. But for my generation, the very idea of nuclear warfare seems like something from science-fiction or even dark comedy, such as Dr Strangelove,” writes Gideon Rachman for the Financial Times. “But the world’s nuclear arsenals were not abolished after the cold war. Sadly, we may now be returning to an era in which the threat of nuclear warfare can no longer be treated as the stuff of science fiction.”


“The odds against a Chinese dialect ever gaining traction as an international language are formidable, for linguistic, economic, cultural, and political reasons,” writes Andres Martinez for TIME. “For starters, the language is just too hard for outsiders to attain fluency. Then there is the inconvenient fact that Mandarin doesn’t hold sway throughout all of China.”

“Indeed, resistance to any claim the Chinese language may have for global status may be strongest in the country’s own neighborhood, where nations are nervous about China’s intentions.”


“An age of constant invention naturally begets one of constant failure. The life span of an innovation, in fact, has never been shorter,” writes Adam Davidson for the New York Times. “An African hand ax from 285,000 years ago, for instance, was essentially identical to those made some 250,000 years later. The Sumerians believed that the hoe was invented by a godlike figure named Enlil a few thousand years before Jesus, but a similar tool was being used a thousand years after his death. During the Middle Ages, amid major advances in agriculture, warfare and building technology, the failure loop closed to less than a century. During the Enlightenment and early Industrial Revolution, it was reduced to about a lifetime. By the 20th century, it could be measured in decades. Today, it is best measured in years and, for some products, even less. (Schuetz receives tons of smartphones that are only a season or two old.)”

“The closure of the failure loop has sent uncomfortable ripples through the economy.”


“Traditionally, psychiatrists have cited family dynamics to explain the vicarious traumatization of the second generation. Children may absorb parents’ psychic burdens as much by osmosis as from stories,” writes Judith Shulevitz in the New Republic. “They infer unspeakable abuse and losses from parental anxiety or harshness of tone or clinginess – parents whose own families have been destroyed may be unwilling to let their children grow up and leave them. Parents may tell children that their problems amount to nothing compared with what they went through, which has a certain truth to it, but is crushing nonetheless. ‘Transgenerational transmission is when an older person unconsciously externalizes his traumatized self onto a developing child’s personality,’ in the words of psychiatrist and psychohistorian Vamik Volkan. ‘A child then becomes a reservoir for the unwanted, troublesome parts of an older generation.’ This, for decades, was the classic psychoanalytic formulation of the child-of-survivors syndrome.”

But researchers are increasingly painting a picture of a psychopathology so fundamental, so, well, biological, that efforts to talk it away can seem like trying to shoot guns into a continent, in Joseph Conrad’s unforgettable image from Heart of Darkness.



soundoff (64 Responses)
  1. Thomas

    Who gave Pakistan the bomb ?

    November 19, 2014 at 1:25 am |
  2. rupert


    November 19, 2014 at 4:58 am |
  3. chri§§y

    @ rupert ty. Ya know I hadnt thought about that but im sure gonna be now.

    November 19, 2014 at 6:22 am |
  4. Perry

    The same people who sold India the bombs.

    November 19, 2014 at 11:10 am |
  5. Blue Saffron☼

    Iin the most recent accident at a nuclear plant, more than 40 workers at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station in northern India were exposed to tritium radiation in June and July.

    India needs to be denuclearized. Americans cannot be a party to billions of people being at risk of exposure to radiation and live with their conscience as such.

    November 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
  6. chri§§y

    @ Blue Saffron...EVERY country needs to be denuclearized! God dont like ugly and humans have become quite ugly! And im quite certain we are ALL a huge disappointment to our creator!!!

    November 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
  7. Crockett

    Speak for yourself. My God is very happy with me. Ich Bin Ein Auslander.

    November 19, 2014 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Blue Saffron☼

    The recent J appanese Earthquake/Floods and the devastation of its Nuclear Installations have opened the eyes of the Americans with respect to the safety of the population and the alarming inability of the J appanese scientists to foresee and contain the damage. Our prayers are with them.

    The denuclearization of South Asia (Subcontinent) particularly India is imperative.

    November 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
    • Blue Saffron☼

      Quid pro quo transfer of nuclear technology by USA to third world countries such as India needs to be opposed on moral grounds. Billions of people live in that neighborhood and would be at risk from such catastrophes which I am sure the American people would not like to be a party to.

      November 19, 2014 at 5:19 pm |
  9. chri§§y

    Lol @ Blue Saffron...the US is more concerned with unregistered HUNTING rifles! And when did they pass a law that hunting rifles had to be registered anyway??? And if they did how can anyone just pick one up at their local hardware or Walmarts or Kmarts??? The things going on in DC lately is unbelievable! McCain today said the POTUS should just wait to see what the new Congress "might" do on immigration reform! WTH?? Theyve been bashing Obama for MONTHS for NOT doing something about immigration...and now he should WAIT to see what they MIGHT do??? Good grief! Losers!

    November 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm |
  10. Blue Saffron☼

    Apples and oranges. Hunting rifles and nuclear bombs. Never the twain shall meet. Let us denuclearize India and give them hunting rifles instead. After all billions are starving and could use some monkeys rather than cannibalize. Definitely should take them bombs away.

    November 19, 2014 at 11:48 pm |
  11. Teflon

    Why would a nation such as India that tries to deceive the world by saying it has peaceful intentions have the largest armed forces in the world and a hyper huge nuclear program. All this while the majority of its people are living in poverty.

    November 20, 2014 at 8:39 am |
  12. Cotton King


    November 20, 2014 at 8:42 am |
  13. Gri§§ly

    @ Teflon, Grizz. Ya know I hadnt thought about that but im sure gonna be now.

    November 20, 2014 at 8:45 am |
  14. chri§§y

    @grizz for sure you meant cotton king. Bombs away. India, here we come.

    November 20, 2014 at 9:14 am |
  15. chri§§y

    Not me @ 9:14.

    November 20, 2014 at 10:10 am |
  16. Thomasbus


    January 13, 2015 at 8:19 am |
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