Averting Deforestation

The conclusion so far is that only temporary containment of states should be considered. The priority is the commitment to permanent containment of risks that endanger catastrophes. That priority is simpler in its clarity and focus. Chapter 9 goes to covert attempts to weaken adversary states as a more complex challenge at which states often succeed. Yet they succeed in a way that achieves ‘catastrophic success’: the covert meddling weaves a web that ultimately entangles its creator more than the intended victim—the state to be contained.

This chapter is focused on the most politically challenging form of risk containment, containing weapons systems. That risk may also be the most decisive challenge because we have already seen that a world at war weaves diplomatic tangles that make it difficult to collaborate effectively on climate change, on economic crisis prevention, and pandemic prevention. What is needed is highly variegated forms of risk containment that are responsive to historical flux and technological change.

Planting trees is the simplest imaginable method for containing war. It treats global deforestation as a well-understood root cause of climate crisis. ‘Restoration of trees remains among the most effective strategies for climate change mitigation’ (IPCC 2022). Moreover, this is a particularly urgent form of climate action because as the planet warms, the global capacity for canopy cover declines (IPCC 2022). It is generative of green economic growth through labor-intensive tree planting. Wealthy countries assisting other societies with R & D on excellence in mass tree planting programs, on avoiding the widespread corruption in their implementation, builds restorative relationships by putting green deposits in every country’s bank. It intervenes in complex systems in a simple way. By planting trees in regions of a country with the rainfall to sustain tree growth, warming of regions where rivers are running dry can be diminished. By planting green walls on buildings and trees in streets, urban usage of air conditioning can be tempered. Green cities are also cities with less depression and less crime (Donovan and Prestemon 2012; Lin et al. 2021) that might cascade to other forms of violence. Planting trees is not even geopolitically complicated. Trees are one challenge where major powers show a better example to the rest of the world, with China far and away the number one in net forestation since 1990. The United States, India, the United Kingdom, and France are all net improvers, though not as impressive as Spain and Italy (Conte 2021). Australia is among the overwhelming majority of countries that have failed to improve, or suffered a net decline, in the quantum of tree cover since 1990. Australia’s seemingly impressive carbon credits program that allows corporates to buy a right to pollute by paying farmers to plant trees has been rife with carbon fraud. Australia’s gaming of carbon credits has contributed to its deforestation shame. This threatens extinction for its beloved koala bears, just one of thousands of Australian species at risk (Morton 2022).

China is planting 88 billion trees along a 4,800-kilometer frontier (the Great Green Wall) to hold back the expansion of the Gobi Desert. A Nature article reveals this afforestation is building a renewed carbon sink in China that in the past has been underestimated. It now absorbs 45 percent of estimated annual Chinese anthropogenic emissions (Wang et al. 2020). These benefits are independently measured by satellites serving international teams of independent university researchers that count tree expansion and contraction, bypassing the need to rely on untrustworthy national and corporate carbon accounting.

Reforestation is a simple but important form of preventive peacemaking for an Africa afflicted by an expanding Sahara Desert and fighting fueled by famine and the politics of water, not just in iconic wars like Chad, Somalia, Sudan, and Ethiopia but right across sub-Saharan latitudes. On the Continent where deforestation, desertification, war, coups, Islamic State terrorism, and oppressive Wagner Corporation counter-terrorism are worst, an African-led Great Green Wall for Restoration and Peace is being planted at the southern extremity of the Sahara Desert.1

China led the world with a 40 percent increase in forest coverage between 1990 and 2020. The United States and India are the only other mega countries with net increases in forest coverage between 1990 and 2020, with 2.4 percent and 12.9 percent increases respectively, compared to a net global decrease in forests of 4.2 percent (Conte 2021). Russia, Canada, Australia, and particularly Brazil are the disappointing examples of mega countries that have failed to reduce their historic deforestation, or worsened it since 1990. Brazil’s President Lula is determined to reverse this and has already made a huge start on reducing deforestation of the Amazon basin with other Presidents of the Amazon region.

China and the United States have been smarter than lesser powers in realizing that afforestation is good for nurturing economies, for global citizenship, for preventing war, and forestalling ecosystem collapse. Unfortunately however, they have not been smart enough in their geopolitical imaginations to give each other applause for these accomplishments on a planet where opportunities are so rare for building restorative diplomacy. This means one of the great powers putting emotional deposits in the relational diplomacy bank of its great power competitor are so rare. The question of how to foster acknowledgment of earned redemption among great powers is further developed in the discussion of restorative diplomacy.

Oversimplification of even the simplest solutions is always a risk with the theme of this book. Great power cooperation on forestry R & D concerning these risks of oversimplification is imperative. Tree planting can improve carbon and water storage, reduce soil erosion, improve native biodiversity through increased landscape connectivity, calm the human spirit and prevent violence, provide food, wood, shade, and livelihoods for poor people. Yet when forestry fails to work restoratively, dialogically with all stakeholders and scientists, tree planting benefits can be lost. Much depends on the how and where of planting. ‘Planting trees in historic grasslands and savannas can harm native ecosystems’. (Holl and Brancalion 2020). The poverty reduction potential of tree planting is often lost in top-down programs imposed by central governments without consultation with local stakeholders. The effectiveness of Chinese tree planting has been compromised by top-down efficiency-driven reforestation with one or a few non-native species that produce lower biodiversity than native forests. When this kind of tree planting compensates for native deforestation, it can be a net environmental loss.2

One simple remedy in Australia has proved to be involving First Nations people from that particular locale in decisions on what kinds of reforestation are replacing ‘upside down country’ (after mining). After getting the reforestation mix right for that ecosystem, First Nations employment can be contracted for the actual replanting of their traditional lands. Later still First Nations people are increasingly contracted for traditional cool burning to further support those ecosystems and prevent Australia’s mega bushfires. Tree planting might seem simpler than peacebuilding, but it shares this imperative for a virtuous circle of local wisdom and action for global transformation.

There are many simple enough $100 bills like ecologically responsive tree planting sitting on pavements that nations can pick up by working cooperatively together. It is not the ambition of this book to list them all in a systematic or balanced way. It is merely to point out that they exist and are neglected. The ambition is to alert us to a more redemptive geopolitics for greatly expanding capabilities for picking up preventive opportunities. This book argues that central to simple solutions to complex catastrophes is great powers finding domains where they can genuinely give each other praise and work cooperatively to show certain kinds of leadership of which only they are capable for building a safe planet. The point has already been made that these simple opportunities exist with international collaboration on pandemic prevention, prevention of financial crises through better global architectures of banking and trade regulation, and prevention of pollution and ecological imbalances.

Second, the book’s ambition is to argue that such a redeemed geopolitics is possible for the most politically difficult challenges. The most fraught challenge is the containment of weapons systems. It cannot be fixed by any amount of economic innovation or scientific progress. This is the form of containment challenge that relates to the problem that is the only long-term rival to climate change as an extinction threat. We have seen that there are relationships that couple weapons of war to climate catastrophe. These relationships have been growing across the centuries since the invention of gunpowder. They accelerated in leaps: for example, deforestation with napalm and Agent Orange across much of Vietnam and Cambodia. Remember the images of blackened skies after the two invasions of Iraq exploded oil and gas wells to billow black/red clouds, blotting out the sun.

At geostrategically vital nodes of ‘great games’, there is a longer history of spikes of environmental devastation that became permanent. Most of us remember films about battles, particularly of the British Empire, in the Khyber Pass that connects Afghanistan to South Asia. Such battles have raged there since Alexander the Great conquered the pass. The landscape of the Khyber Pass is familiar to our cinematic eyes as treeless and barren. If we see images of the Khyber Pass from 170 years ago, however, it is covered with trees. Gunpowder deployed for strategic conquest rendered the Khyber Pass barren. Sometimes forests regrow after war; sometimes they never do. Weapons systems containment is a form of containment that almost everyone is pessimistic about because it runs up against a realist view of great power interests. This book challenges realism to contend that war prevention can save trees and trees and human love for them can help save us from wars, other forms of violence, and from depression and hopelessness.

Of course there are many things that must change about how humans use land. Agricultural sprawl is the biggest cause of habitat destruction and grazing animals are the largest cause of agriculture’s expanse. Diets must shift away from meat eating to reduce that agricultural sprawl. Agriculture is not keeping up with the global demand for food, especially since 2015, more especially since the Ukraine war reduced grain and fertilizer exports from Russia and Ukraine. The global hunger crisis is tightly coupled to the challenges of peace and ecological crisis.

This book promotes a fresh look, renewed optimism about the political possibilities. Change begins in the hands of social movement activism in societies that are not great powers, in societies that are mature enough to no longer be interested in being or becoming one of the world’s great powers, nor even a dominant power within some corner of the world. Most people in most countries think this way; they do not want their country to dominate or be ‘number 1’ in any sense beyond the fun of a sporting triumph. It is these earthlings who are unencumbered with such ambitions to make America, China, Russia, or Iran great again who are freer to lead the planet through social movement politics to a freedom undominated by cataclysms.

Odds of Armageddon

Science cannot judge whether the graver danger is climate change caused by carbon or nuclear winter cascaded by nuclear war.3 Depending on which forms of foolishness are managed less prudently, earthlings might frizzle or freeze toward extinction. Global warming is more certain and inexorable. In comparison, the probability of a nuclear war in any year is low. We cannot know how low, but it seems reasonable to suggest it is a bit lower than 1 percent. Even so, this means in the next two centuries it is much more likely to happen than not once we combine those low odds for each of two hundred years. Kaiho’s (2023) modeling suggests that, depending on the level of prevention achieved, global warming, pollution, and deforestation will cause between 2060–2080 CE the loss of 5–13 percent of the earth’s tetrapod species without a nuclear war, but up to 40–70 percent species loss with a nuclear war; 2–6 percent of marine species loss without a nuclear war, 25–50 percent marine species loss with a nuclear war. The key insight of this research is that animal populations more ravaged by global warming will more widely collapse to extinction after nuclear war.

The 2022 Ukraine war was a game changer in pushing elites to ponder these odds, however incompetently. Early in the war, Peter Berezin, formerly of Goldman Sachs and an analyst of one of the most influential stock market research organizations, estimated that the probability of nuclear war in 2022 had grown to 10 percent. Presumably that became somewhat higher for 2023, given that in early 2023 the Ukraine war escalated to a more existential threat to President Putin. This was the estimate BCA Research suggested should be factored into investment risk models (New York Times 2022). Was that alarmist? Was the 10 percent estimate too high for 2022? I thought so, as did many wiser people than me, including Graham Allison of Harvard and former US strategic arms reduction negotiator Russia Rose Gottemoeller (who rated the probability at more than one percent but less than 10 in March 2022 (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 2022)). By October 2022, former US Defense Secretary and CIA Director Leon Panetta (2022) was writing, on the basis of inside knowledge of intelligence estimates: ‘Some intelligence analysts now believe that the probability of the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine has risen from 1–5 percent at the start of the war to 20–25 percent today’. Again this estimate seemed too high to me. In 2023, respected Russian former strategic advisor to President Putin and Honorary Chairman of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, Sergey Karaganov, hopefully presented this minority view:

During over seventy years of mutual deterrence, atomic weapons have saved the world. People just took this for granted. However, now we see that things have changed and the unthinkable in happening: the West is responsible for a major war in the underbelly of a major nuclear power… Lord God saw that a large part of humanity had gone mad, having started two world wars in a generation, and gave us these nuclear weapons, which are weapons of the apocalypse. He wanted them to be in the front of our minds, at all times, and to scare us. But now people have lost their fear… Official Western propaganda pumps the idea that the West can do anything it likes and Moscow will put up with it. (Karaganov 2023)

We will have to make nuclear deterrence a convincing argument again by lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons set unacceptably high, and by rapidly but prudently moving up the deterrence-escalation ladder… The enemy must know that we are ready to deliver a preemptive strike in retaliation for all of its current and past acts of aggression in order to prevent a slide into global thermonuclear war. (Karaganov in Cimbala and Korb 2023)

The most troubling risk is not such crisis risks but extremely low risks that persist every new day nuclear weapons exist. Yet it is a reasonable form of risk analytics to ask how much higher the risk had become when the Kremlin had fallen under rule by a cornered man, who may have felt that he had little to lose because the war had put him in personal danger of assassination or a coup when so many had been purged or demoted, a leader who was in a 2022 covid cocoon and a cocoon of fear and paranoia, sitting far away even at meetings with those who were his trusted advisors, a man who had thrown his country into a major invasion crisis and then threatened NATO with nuclear retaliation if they joined the fight. He surprised former President Obama who said he had never expected that Putin would ‘bet the farm’ on such a war. The nuclear threat may not have been empty. He said it was no bluff. Russia had recently trailed a nuclear missile launch (without a live warhead) of a warning nuclear explosion in the North Sea. That might have been presented as a counter-sanction, a preventive radiation spike to clear ships and aircraft plying trade across the Atlantic. We cannot begin to imagine the cornucopia of offensive options that enter fertile offensive minds of cronies of a leader determined to prove that he does not bluff. Like the US, China, Pakistan, India, and Russia have enough weapons to induce a nuclear winter that would cause all crops on the planet to fail after the direct loss of hundreds of millions of lives from explosions. Survivors would shiver in conditions of mass starvation and irradiation.

Does fear of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) deter such a man as the Vladimir Putin of 2024? Probably. Probably this time. One big problem, however, is that MAD is not a stable equilibrium. Putin did not launch a massive cyberwar against Ukraine in 2022 in the way he did in 2017, in the way that was expected as part of a campaign to totally crush Ukraine. Putin’s bombing campaigns were reckless and traumatic, yet targeted key infrastructure more and civilians less than his bombing campaigns in Syria and Chechnya. Or for that matter with the allied bombing campaigns of earlier wars in Indochina, Japan, and Germany.

Perhaps part of Putin’s reluctance to escalate early to MADD was a desire to use Ukraine’s cyber infrastructure after he took over the country, or at least large swathes of Ukraine. That did not seem to deter him from destroying other infrastructure, however. Perhaps most of this was in cities like Kyiv that he had no hopes of conquering by mid-2022. It seems likely Putin feared that if he waged all-out cyberwar against Ukraine, when Ukraine responded in kind, cyber-warriors from every NATO country might volunteer for the Ukraine cyber army to participate in totally shutting down the Russian economy (Svantesson 2022). That could be why he did not respond to US-led sanctions that depressed the Russian economy with all-out cyberwar against the West, nor by demolishing trans-Atlantic undersea cables. Unprecedented as Western sanctions were, what they delivered was still well short of a total shutdown of his economy. They did not turn off all Russia’s lights, all its screens, transactions in all its markets, and ground all its aircraft. Mutual Assured Digital Destruction would do that. The fact is that the US, China, and Russia fear that each of their great power adversaries may be close to the capability of delivering Mutual Assured Digital Destruction (MADD). This is not just about cyber hacking of ground computers, activation of cyber-timebombs hiding in deep infrastructures like electricity grids, air, rail, and road traffic control systems, and health system data bases, waiting to be exploded. This cyber-attack aspect of MADD could be combined with destruction of deep-sea cables through which almost all the financial transactions of the global economy travel. Finally, there is a space war against satellites (probably also by cyber-attacks on satellites).

What if Putin had responded in 2022 to the impact of the sanctions imposed by NATO states on his economy with a total cyberwar against NATO? It would have been a dangerous thing to do for a man who believes that NATO might have the superior capability to thrust his economy back to the dark ages. But imagine if well-meaning rogue hackers in the Ukraine cyber army, which The Economist believes to have 300,000 members worldwide (Steavenson 2022), managed to escalate cyberwar, perhaps by accident, to the point where Putin did launch total cyber warfare against NATO. Vigilante cyber-warriors have accomplished some significant hits such as taking down North Korea’s internet for 24 hours (Black 2022). Cyber warfare units do not launch attacks from computers in their own country. Attribution is mere guesswork of the kind: ‘OK, this looks like Country X because this is how Country X usually does things’. (Black 2022, 2). With such beliefs rife, false flag attacks can seed chaos.

Computers that controlled Iran’s nuclear plants ran on Windows. Russia had hacked backdoors to Windows and so could launch a devastating cyber-attack on Iran’s nuclear program and across Iran that looked like an American mega-attack. This problem demands scenario planning applied to space warfare, where it is ‘very difficult to identify the perpetrator of unfriendly or hostile actions conducted in space’ (Initiatives for Nuclear Disarmament 2021, 35). This is likely to become even more true as capabilities grow for launches of thousands of satellites and swarms of nanosatellites that create a more diffused ‘fog of war’. Putin should then be thinking that the more massive cyber retaliation will come from NATO. Together NATO likely would be more capable than Russia to totally accomplish assured digital destruction. In consideration of this, Putin might decide that the nuclear strike he actually threatened in 2022 was preferable to threatening even a MADD limited to Ukraine. Perhaps better to warn that at the first sign from his intelligence sources of NATO mobilizing assured digital destruction of Russian economy and society, Russia will launch a strategic nuclear strike.

On the one hand, one could draw the lesson from Ukraine that both Russia and the West were more reckless with their military power than expected. On the other hand, the war can be interpreted as revealing both sides as deeply afraid of even a small nuclear strike by the other, deeply afraid of full-scale conventional war between Russia and NATO, and even deeply afraid of all-out cyberwar. The complexly cascading character of risks in highly coupled contemporary conditions might mean that great powers have good reasons to be more easily deterred short of maximum violence than we might have thought.

Speed, Coupling, Endless Unbalancing of Equilibria: AI, MADD, Hypersonics

Will some new power that emerges during the next two centuries threaten the world with MADD that might cascade to MAD? Quite apart from an unintended escalation to MADD triggered by enthusiastic cyber amateurs of grand strategy, MAD is no longer in stable equilibrium in its own terms. Ever faster hypersonic weapons are one reason (Wong 2021). Weapons creatively retargeted and reengineered by AI is another driver that in future will disequilibrate the global balance of terror.

China is not rushing to fully close the huge chasm between it and both the United States and Russia in the number of nuclear missiles it can launch. A reason may be, as expressed by Han Guili of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, that ‘There is a Chinese saying, it takes 10 years to sharpen a sword’ and ‘We have spent 60 years sharpening two swords. And they are the best’. These swords relate to hypersonic technologies that Guili hopes will ‘put China about 20–30 years ahead of the West’ (Wong 2021, 349). Hoped for hypersonic swords may travel so fast, so furtively, that they destroy enemy offensive capabilities before anyone realizes who launched the hypersonic weapons against them. The theory is that in a world of many enemies, we are exposed to an incoming bullet from a hidden sniper hired by one of those enemies. This hypersonic bullet might only be stoppable by firing another bullet at the incoming bullet. Hypersonic missiles are a greater challenge than firing a bullet to stop a bullet because hypersonic weapons follow trajectories that are not only super-fast but also super-erratic, rather than linear in trajectory.

MAD may no longer be perceived to exist if a country believes it has hypersonic weapons that can win a nuclear war, however unwise belief in such a technologically temporary advantage might be (Wong 2021, 361). The tragedy of hypersonics and other next-generation weapons is that not only does China seem to be most advanced in their development. On one count China has conducted twenty times as many hypersonic tests as the United States (Wong 2021). It seems North Korea has a hypersonic weapons development program with significant Chinese assistance. North Korea hopes this will prove an ‘Assassin’s Mace’ that gives it a decisive first-strike advantage over an otherwise militarily superior adversary (Wong 2021). The United States is increasing its investment in hypersonics at a stupendous pace to catch up. Its budget for hypersonic weapons more than doubled between 2018 and 2019. By 2020 it had increased 20-fold, and by 2021, 30-fold compared to 2018 (Wong 2021, 356). Multiples of this size belie a pursuit of rebalancing that inevitably cascades to endless unbalancing of complex, nonlinear equilibria of capability.

Already four countries have had clearly detected tests of hypersonic weapons—the United States, Russia, China, and India. Russia trialed theirs in 2022 against Ukrainian cities. North Korea will become the fifth hypersonic power. North Korea would not need to be correct in a belief that it could negate US first strike capability against all its missiles while the United States is hesitating about whether its retaliation should destroy North Korea or China. Full scale nuclear retaliation against China would destroy not only China but the United States as well. So the United States would cautiously ponder its retaliation target. A desperate or less than fully rational North Korean leadership does not need to be correct in its belief that it can prevail over such chaos with a sufficiently massive first strike; it simply needs to have that belief, to believe that North Korea can win because it is capable of being more ruthless, more ‘MAD’ than either its enemy, the United States, or its ally, China. Constantly let us remember President Kennedy’s counsel to avoid cornering anyone to the point where they perceive their choice as being between an existential threat or first use of a nuclear weapon.

No one comprehends the entire range of possible risks to destabilization of MAD. Hypersonic weapons just illustrates one. The more unknowable a new technology of mass destruction is, the more capable it is of delivering the surprise that unravels MAD. Perhaps there are innovative biological–chemical weapon cocktails that can be genetically engineered by AI to create another unraveling of offensive balance some time during the next century or two. R & D continues in reckless countries to that end. Killer robots are another possible existential threat from new technologies that could destabilize MAD equilibria. A middle power that feels threatened by China might develop the capability to invade China with tens of millions of swarming drones that are programmed to be unrecallable until they have destroyed all buildings where members of the Communist Party leadership hide. If Chinese intelligence suggests this middle power is planning such a mission, China might threaten that middle power with a terrifying preemptive option.

If the United States razed a rogue North Korea with nuclear weapons, this might cause millions of bordering Chinese lives to be lost as collateral damage. How China would position itself to deter such a risk is hard to assess. If killer robot development becomes so advanced in some states compared to others that they can wipe out security operatives and political leaders in ways that defensive robots of the state under attack cannot intercept, that state may be motivated to acquire nuclear weapons. Nuclear non-proliferation could be destabilized by fears of future swarms of a million killer robots.

The harder one thinks about the imponderability of scenarios where acceleration of technological innovation in weapons systems destabilize MAD, the clearer it becomes that the genuine alternative is for the planet to follow a simpler institutional path. This path is constant monitoring and mutual inspection of weapons programs, of militarized AI programs, and constant repairing of UN non-proliferation treaties and nuclear weapons reduction treaties as ships endlessly at sea. The ambition of this path to peace is total bans on all new and big technology threats as they emerge. Great universities are simple institutions that give birth to the new technologies that forebode planetary destruction. They can redeem themselves to become central to United Nations monitoring before they take off as emergent dangers of new technologies that threaten the planet.

Anything short of an international society that demands total bans on all new and big technology threats as they emerge means that we likely bequeath a world of terrible cataclysm to our descendants during the centuries ahead. We are better than that as university communities and as a species. We can have high hopes that simple institutions like great universities can animate international society to help us redeem the better angels of our nature.

The combination of advances led by universities in AI and hypersonic weapons that multiply speed and complexity illustrates the danger. Later I discuss the courageous way Russian Colonel Stanislav Petrov decided not to report five incoming US missiles that he did not find humanly plausible. He was right that it was a false positive; they were illusions from extraordinary reflections of the sun off clouds. Zachary Kallenbom (2022) points out that the Russian computer which was supposed to inform Petrov indicated ‘highest confidence’ that this was a hostile, surprise first strike. The world was lucky that the algorithmic did not rule over the human. Kallenbom worries that Russia has already taken steps toward algorithmic triggering of submarine nukes as a response to hypersonic speeds of contemporary warfare, and that the United States is considering this as well. Kallenbom’s concern is that extant AI is brittle and ‘easy to fool’:

A single pixel change is enough to convince an AI a stealth bomber is a dog. This implies that a well-resourced, apocalyptic terrorist organization like the Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo might attempt to trick an adversary’s system into starting a catalytic nuclear war. Both approaches can be done in quite subtle, difficult-to-detect ways: data poisoning may manipulate the training data that feeds the AI system, or unmanned systems or emitters could be used to trick an AI into believing a nuclear strike is incoming. (Kallenbom 2022, 4)

As the speed and complexity of warfare increases, the major powers are coming to rely more heavily on AI-empowered machines to sort through sensor data on enemy movements, calculate enemy intentions, and select optimal responses. This increases the danger that humans will cede key combat decision-making tasks to machines that lack a capacity to savor social and political context in their calculations. Such machines are vulnerable to hacking, spoofing,4 and other failures, possibly leading them to propose extreme military responses to ambiguous signals and thereby cause inadvertent escalation. With machines controlling actions on both sides, this danger could grow worse (Klare 2020a, 2020b). US Strategic Commanders say the United States deals with thousands of cyber-attacks every day. From time to time vigilante hackers are bound to get lucky when they roll the dice frequently. Private-sector nuclear warfare partners to the Pentagon are believed to be much more vulnerable than the state. This includes software contractors who subcontract aspects of development, who oversee long obscure histories of updates and patches to software and hardware used by many subcontractors, and the major private manufacturers of nuclear weapons technologies, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which are known to have been hacked consequentially (Wong 2021).

University researchers can say to both Washington and Beijing that if we don’t get the funding to develop the best killer robots, our enemies will. Unilateral withdrawal of one’s own university from the arms race, on the other hand, can act as a moral exemplar to all other universities, in the homelands of both our geostrategic friends and enemies. And by the way, as the atom bomb and drone technologies illustrated, if scientists on one side develop a new weapon, espionage by other powers quickly cracks the scientific secrets. US scientists who invented nuclear weapons and drones gave their countries a war fighting advantage that persisted for a number of years that could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Multilateral agreement among university scientists to spurn weapons innovation is an ethical path. But it follows from the foregoing that unilaterally doing so is still a good path, a useful steppingstone.

In the worst-case analysis of treaties failing to strengthen against warfare by swarms of killer drones, societies are still not defenseless after they surrender to threatened drone invasion. They can still say to the invaders, OK march in then, we won’t fight you, but nor will we cooperate with you. Then they can organize defense around well prepared, widely diffused excellence in civilian resistance that makes the society ungovernable. Nonviolent tactics can be sharpened to the point where the costs of governing an ungovernable country constantly suffering cyber-sabotage, physical sabotage, and industrial relations sabotage by its surviving ordinary citizens are extremely high. This cost gets even higher when combined with the costs of diplomatic sanctions of other countries incensed by the invasion. All of this in combination can be sufficiently high to make invasion of other countries bad economics that weakens any great power in a way not dissimilar to the way Indonesia was weakened by its invasion of East Timor. I draw from that case the lesson that totally nonviolent civilian resistance is probably inferior to an approach to rendering the society ungovernable primarily by nonviolent resistance, but perhaps combined with a small but decisively disruptive hit-and-run insurgency. It diverts small numbers of the resistance away from disruptive nonviolent campaigns on the streets of the major cities. Defended mountain refuges provide somewhere for brave young dissidents targeted by death squads to flee. Tiny units in mountain hideouts can launch drone attacks, then move to a new hideout. As Al Qaeda did in Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan, minimally violent defense planning can prepare by digging hideouts so deep into mountains that they can protect a target even as priceless to major powers as Osama bin Laden was for his years of insurgency.

It is strategically important to give brave dissidents hope that they can be brave. They might render themselves difficult to punish by retreating from the nonviolent democratic resistance to insurgency camps that enjoy high survivability. For the same reasons, the limited mountain insurgencies of ethnic armies training student insurgents fleeing from the cities of Myanmar today might also make more strategic sense than purist nonviolence. We can acknowledge highly limited but strategic insurgency against despots from the mountains by the democratic resistance, combined with purist nonviolence in the towns and cities as the main games of a strategy to render an invaded homeland ungovernable. Then a restorative international diplomacy can be mounted from an ethical high ground to attract support from other lands to heal our land. This was close to the thinking of Nelson Mandela in the final decades of his successful struggle against Apartheid in South Africa. We return later to these themes.

Redemption may lie in simple thinking about institutions like universities that disengage from the arms race. This simple thinking helps save us because the forces and technological developments that threaten extinctions are so unknowable, as MAD married to AI destabilizes equilibria of the past. It is better for individual scientists, individual universities, and individual countries to simply opt out of contributing to any arms race that might make this unknowable complexity even more complex and unfathomable. For the moment, sadly, our future is buried in the complex hearts of computer simulations of algorithmic war making more than in the simpler hearts of nonviolent resisters.

Lessons from the Past

When the Soviet Union militarily crushed uprisings for freedom in Hungary (1956) and Czechoslovakia (1968), NATO powers sat on their hands. These were wise decisions, but cruel. Ashamed as we were of our want of resolve to defend freedom at the time, better future prospects were delivered to Eastern Europe through the nonviolent transition that was given birth by the strategic patience advocated by Kennan and Bull. The decisions to keep our swords sheathed were right because, as we saw in the last chapter, in the medium term of history, containment of the Soviet Union did do its work. Freedom-lovers of Hungary and Czechoslovakia got their historical moment to nonviolently make their own slow food internal revolution for freedom without foreign firepower that destroyed their cities and traumatized a generation of children. There were other occasions during the past seven decades when Moscow mobilized its military muscle against weaker neighbors. In two of those wars, Afghanistan in 1979 and Ukraine in 2022, Moscow weakened its geopolitical clout in a major way as a consequence of the invasions. The Afghanistan invasion was significant in the disintegration and collapse of the Soviet Union during the 1980s. The invasion of Ukraine weakened Russia to the point where it may become a vassal of China, a great power that had overtaken it to become a dozen times its size as an economy.

There is complex unpredictability in how such wars unfold. Who would have predicted that the United States would be defeated by both Vietnam and Afghanistan? Who would have predicted that after the United States seemed to stabilize a friendly new regime in Iraq that this regime would become so allied to Iran? We might not have predicted that Iran, but not the US, would put boots on the ground to defeat an Islamic State in Syria that had already conquered Iraq’s second city and huge swathes of its territory? Who would have thought that a bunch of prisoners in an American prison in Iraq, Camp Buccha, could have conceived a military adventure as bold and forlorn as Islamic State’s conquests toward building a new Caliphate?

My argument is that the time has come for the great powers—the United States, China, and Russia—to do better by their interests through engaging the kind of restorative diplomacy discussed in Chapter 8. I argue that any project of prevailing to dominate the world through war is forlorn in contemporary conditions of geostrategic complexity. In any case, what is the point of invading and occupying another country in today’s complexly coupled world? As Ukraine demonstrates, you have to destroy it to conquer it, then after you break it, you have to own the broken society if you are to benefit from the war. That is so expensive in blood, treasure, and diplomatic capital, as Russia found in Ukraine and the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq. Had Russia succeeded, it would have conquered a society that remained cut off from the circuits of world finance and world trade precisely because Russia had conquered it. Great powers better flourish when they remain fully coupled to trade and investment circuits of the global economy. China seems to be the contemporary great power most deeply persuaded of this conclusion. While it endlessly threatens that Taiwan must be reintegrated with China, since Chairman Mao’s military defeat during his attempted invasion of Taiwan in 1958, and the resultant Pentagon plan to end it even more quickly with US nuclear weapons (which was vetoed by President Eisenhower in 1958), China’s approach to Taiwan has been a sensible strategic patience over a long horizon.

It might be retorted that sometimes a great power might decide to invade a country to exploit its resource riches. Democratic Republic of Congo is militarily and economically weak, having spent many of the last 50 years with the lowest GDP per capita on the planet. It is a vast country with perhaps the planet’s richest unexploited mining resources, probably more than the continent of Australia, and 13 percent of the world’s capability for future hydroelectric development along the surging Congo River system, water resources for an overheating planet rivaled only by those of Brazil. So why would a great power not invade Congo without bothering to rebuild it as a state and society? After all, tiny Rwanda effectively did that in 1996. The reason is that it is cheaper for a great power like China to bribe the president and buy all the mining assets or hydropower assets it wants than it is to invade and hold it. And that is more or less what China has done with DRC this century (Braithwaite and D’Costa 2018, Part I), and it is more or less what the United States did from the 1960s to the 1990s when Congo’s President Mobutu was the strongest US ally in Africa. No African leader was more massively on the take from corrupt Western corporate largesse (Braithwaite and D’Costa 2018, Chapters 34). For China to have instead invaded DRC militarily and held it would have required half a million Chinese troops deployed to geopolitically obscure outposts across a landmass the size of Western Europe that is not a core Chinese interest. Nor of course could the United States have contemplated Congo as a worthwhile invasion target even at the height of the Cold War.

Great powers have an interest in talking to each other about making assurances against invasions more robust. One day the assurance they currently derive from a stable MAD will be technologically destabilized by the brilliant science their innovation systems deliver. A hedge against that is confidence-building by resuming strategic arms limitations negotiations and mutually agreeing to reductions in nuclear warheads. Even if this fails to move on to nuclear weapons abolition, it makes the world safer. That is because there are ways that a thousand nuclear weapons may have more than ten times the risk of a hundred. More nukes means more complex systems, multiplied prospects of accidental or unintended nuclear surety breaches. Fewer than a hundred are insufficient to cross tipping points to cause nuclear winter.

In sum, by committing to a rules-based international order that precludes a great power from ever again invading weak countries like DRC, great powers tie their hands against something that is not in their interests, and in a way that also ties the hands of great power adversaries. Hopefully it might also tie the hands of ‘an army with a state’ like Kagame ‘s Rwandan Patriotic Front against the kind of invasion it led with other states into DRC in 1996 and again in 1998, causing millions of lost lives in that cockpit war. Congo’s war also shut down the environmental promise of Congo hydropower because no banks would support the massive green investment needed in conditions of instability.

If great powers can agree to move their nuclear weapons further away from each other’s frontiers, they give each other more time to communicate about false alarms of incoming missiles. In a complex world, a common analytic mistake, and perhaps the deadliest kind of mistake, is to believe that WMD disarmament initiatives are pointless if they achieve only modest objectives like wider separations or reduced numbers. Great powers can thereby build the mutual confidence to move on to strengthen mutual destruction of biological and chemical weapons programs bolstered by robust rights for mutual inspection of suspect government and university laboratories. To build mutual trust, leaders must each make deposits in the emotional banks of leaders of their adversaries. They can then make withdrawals to secure their vital interests guaranteed by mutual respect and promise-keeping. This is a needed path for great powers to agree with each other to do the same thing with their killer robot and algorithmic warmaking programs, with eschewing launch on warning (launch as soon as incoming missiles are detected) and committing to no first use of nukes. Killer robot bans are urgent because that technology has already diffused to universities in second-rate powers.

President Biden needs to push on with the initiative he publicly announced to engage with Moscow and Beijing on ‘putting boundaries around’ how great powers deploy cyberwar. The next chapter will continue to discuss how this is exactly the kind of restorative diplomacy the world needs from its leaders. The ultimate objective is to abolish warfare between great powers by cyber means, by killer robots, by nuclear weapons, and by biological weapons, just as was achieved after World War I with chemical weapons. If the great power chemical warfare taboo could hold with adversaries as ruthless and warlike as Hitler, Stalin, and Churchill in a war crisis as existential as World War II, all these bans are mutually enforceable by today’s great powers, with their sharpened interests in sustaining the financial coupling that underwrites their great power status against emerging competitors.

The ‘One-Eyed Man’

A problem with this analysis is that in a world where all these weapons of mass destruction are banned, great powers may together build a lure of assurance that will tempt a newly rising power to acquire nuclear or biological weapons, or secretly create million-strong swarms of killer robots. The new power perhaps then demonstrates this new capability on some hapless country. It might then blackmail many countries to be its vassals. This is the adage that once nuclear or biological weapons have been invented, they cannot be uninvented. Hence, détente simply leaves the lure of making a new bomb—a $100 bill on the pavement waiting for an ambitious tyrant to pick up. ‘In the Valley of the blind, the one-eyed man will be king’.5 That is, once great powers are disarmed, to dominate the world, a tyrant will not bear the burden of building a stock of nuclear warheads at the scale of the contemporary great powers.

This is an argument to take seriously. It bumps up against the tightly coupled complexity of contemporary economic domination, however. If DRC is the target for a demonstration nuclear attack because of its mining riches and hydroelectric potential, the fact remains that the emerging power may not be wealthy enough to pay the cost of swallowing such a prickly and politically indigestible society. Nor may its ruling elite have the domestic staying power against peaceloving political forces within their own society (the situation that confronted US hawks in Vietnam and Iraq, and Russian and US hawks in succession in Afghanistan). Then what the rest of the world needs to do is make this rogue rising power pay the price for its war of aggression against DRC. The great powers, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly should be in prior agreement that all UN members will be immediately requested to honor treaty commitments to choke off all trade and all banking transactions with such an emergent nuclear power. All the satellites in space of the state that a one-eyed king pretender relies upon should be disabled, along with all the undersea and land cables it depends upon.

Would such unified action be enough to make a demonstration nuclear decimation of DRC a folly? Perhaps not, and if not, incoming conventional missiles from dozens of countries simultaneously could be threatened to destroy the pretender’s suspected missile, aircraft, and naval capabilities. It is not utopian nonsense to suggest that massively targeted conventional attack by states without nuclear weapons might silence nuclear weapon launches by a nuclear power. Paul Nitze was an impeccably credentialled senior hawk of the Reagan administration. He said the following, with Reagan’s support (Krepon 2021), in a high-profile speech on strategic arms reductions negotiations:

For the next ten years, we should seek a radical reduction in the number and power of existing and planned offensive and defensive nuclear arms, whether land-based, space-based, or otherwise. We should even now be looking forward to a period of transition, beginning possibly ten years from now, to effective non-nuclear defensive forces, including defenses against offensive nuclear arms. This period of transition should lead to the eventual elimination of nuclear arms, both offensive and defensive. A nuclear-free world is an ultimate objective to which we, the Soviet Union, and all other nations can agree. (Nitze 1985: 76–80)

Nitze, like Ronald Reagan and his Secretary of State George Shultz, believed that it would be possible for the United States to guard against cheating and breakout with ‘effective non-nuclear defenses’ (Krepon 2021). How much more possible might it be for all UN members to collectively commit to such non-nuclear defenses as a last resort? This would be after many less punitive responses had been attempted lower in a responsive enforcement pyramid for taming a state breaking out against agreed restraints on genocidal means to dominate others. Many neocons of the Reagan Administration did not believe this. Nor did many technocrats of deterrence who remained passionate about maximal deterrents. But Nitze and Reagan believed that a transition from Mutual Assured Destruction to ‘mutual assured security’ through ‘cooperative endeavor’ with old enemies could accomplish this (Nitze 1985, 76–80). Gorbachev and his inner circle of foreign policy advisors were, like Reagan, genuine abolitionists from the mid-1980s. Moscow’s circle of hawks moved quickly to punish Gorbachev for such heresy by removing him from office in a coup attempt at the decade’s end.

The extraordinary dialogue across international society on any historically unprecedented attempt at domination through nuclear genocide might also destabilize from within the rogue regime threatening nuclear attack, especially in a future world where citizens across the planet were educated to understand the remarkable accomplishment of an international law that formalizes the enduring WMD taboo.

Great powers would not cease being great powers without WMDs. It is wrong to believe that the use of the atomic bomb was vital to the Allies winning World War II, wrong even to think that it helped that war to end slightly more quickly.6 Good social science research instructs us that in no domain of human activity is maximum deterrent capability the key determinant of getting the outcomes wanted. Deterrence always has relevance as one policy tool in a regulatory mix, but it never works in the hands of policy actors who seek to maximize deterrence. It is the mix that works. That mix includes some capability to escalate deterrence. Surprisingly, regulatory mix to control crime does not work better with capital punishment as the ultimate deterrent. Business regulatory enforcement surprisingly does not work best in the hands of the regulatory agencies that impose the largest fines and the longest prison terms for corporate offenders. It works best with regulators who do what the next chapter calls restorative diplomacy, restorative business regulatory diplomacy, but diplomacy backed by the capability to responsively escalate networked sanctioning.

That suggests a way of thinking about the abolition of WMDs—throw away your electric chair, dismantle your Doomsday Machine. Focus instead on how many societies can network escalation of diplomacy together in ways that are legitimate under a rule of international law, then escalate deterrence through sanctions, then incapacitation (and a last resort of conventional militarily enforced disarmament of the pretender to world domination). Then the world could succeed in creating an era with low war deaths and lowered domination. This would be achieved by completely discarding WMDs and killer robots. It could be achieved with few threats, with great dollops of preventive diplomacy, restorative justice, and strategic ambiguity, but with certainty that international society will keep escalating networked pressure on any tyrant who threatens world domination with a WMD.

This is a lesson social science has taught us in so many spheres of life. Some generations ago, most Anglo-American families believed in the principle that if parents ‘spare the rod, they spoil the child’. The most expensive private schools believed in getting results through the rod’s sting, discipline reinforced by harnessing violence by senior children against younger children under a prefect system. From ancient times to the eighteenth or nineteenth-century slavery existed in every society. Their greatest philosophers believed that the institution of slavery was imperative for civilizational advancement. Slavery was an institution based on an unfree class of people dominated by the lash and the noose. Pre-modern philosophers and economists were simply wrong that slavery was a key to economic growth and to the ‘manifest destiny’ of a flourishing civilization of the superior race or religion. Unfree labor proved historically to be less productive than free labor uncoerced by the lash. Hangovers from this philosophy and economics of slavery persisted in twentieth and twenty-first-century industrial capitalism. We learnt from great art that ‘dark Satanic mills’ could approach the punitiveness of slavery, but would be surpassed in productivity when labor rights liberated workers from violence. Empowering employees, listening to them restoratively in a participatory dialogue of persuasion simply works better than coercion. Dickens more than any nineteenth-century writer educated us that punitive tyranny is something his every reader could do something about: ‘No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another…Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts’ (Dickens 2023).

In previous centuries, criminal lawyers and lawmakers believed that it was necessary to provide for capital punishment for a wide variety of crimes, the stocks, cruel forms of corporal punishment, and long terms of imprisonment for others. Again, the criminological evidence reveals all these beliefs to be false. Learning the same lesson has proved more methodologically difficult as an empirical discovery in international affairs where disciplining with violence is more sporadic. We have seen that it is a long time since China last invaded a country. When it last did, Vietnam was not ‘taught a lesson’ by the Chinese punishment. Vietnam has hardly become a pliant Chinese vassal. Aspiring Vietnamese politicians learn that the main qualification for success is to persuade the people of Vietnam that you will ‘stand up to China’ without being disrespectful, rude, or oblivious to China. The next chapter argues that this means being good at firm but fair restorative and responsive diplomacy with China. Here the point is simply made that historically violence has been seen as a solution to many problems that empirically across one domain after another has been shown by good social science not to work as well as minimizing resort to violence. Deterrence theorists of great nuclear powers are kings who believe they will perish without a guillotine.

The particular empirical claim made in this chapter and the last two is that offensive international violence, especially invasions, is uniquely counterproductive and only in very recent history have become stigmatized as criminal. Like ending slavery, ending capital punishment, and spurning punitive workplaces, and violent schools and families, this is a remarkable change accomplished by recent generations.

Terror and the Harm Principle for Restorative Universities

To all of this the disarmament cynics say, what about cyber-terrorists, terrorists who might in future swarm killer robots and nuclear and biological weapons? Sadly such risks will still be with us. They are with us regardless of whether or not the great powers disarm from WMDs and killer robots. Universities have some power to start subduing these risks.

Universities recognize that they hold keys to finding ways to conquer climate catastrophe. They also hold keys to destroying proliferation of killer robots. One way is by contributing to the conversation of which this book is a tiny part. Another is by refusing to build them and improve them. Universities have so far failed to recognize the strengths they have for turning these keys.

One reform is a simpler world of university research in which no one benefits from funding from corporations with an interest in expanding sales of weapons of war. A remedy is an academy in which no university is regarded as a great university when it is in bed with military-industrial complex contractors. An agreed total ban on research funded by weapons’ manufacturers by our universities is within the power of uprisings among activist university faculties and student bodies. A wiser younger generation of leaders would need to take over our universities to overrule the current embrace of the military-industrial complex by university leaders. When there are fewer defense research labs dotted across thousands of universities in two hundred countries, there will be fewer points of entry for terrorists to WMDs. Nuclear weapons are incapable of deterring nuclear terrorism. Cutting electricity and internet access to the terrorist cell and swarming huge numbers of police to surround and arrest them is the better enforcement strategy.

If all great powers work together on their mutual interests in suppressing new WMD threats, cooperation on terrorism detection and suppression will also be strengthened. Regrettably in the past great powers have jeopardized war by encouraging terrorists to attack enemies. The United States (with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan) successfully encouraged the mujahideen to terrorize the Soviets in Afghanistan. This sustained Al Qaeda and allowed the Taliban to come to power there in 1996. Russia jumped at the opportunity created by a Serbian terrorist group to spark World War I. The United Nations must finally become a crucible of restorative diplomacy in future that allows great powers to cooperate to end foolish past practices of sponsoring or exploiting terrorists. Serbia and Russia should instead have been working together on contrite restorative diplomacy, apologizing to Austria about their obligation to close down the Black Hand terrorist organization. The Taliban could likewise have been more contrite, more apologetic, more restorative about its obligations to close down Al Qaeda on its soil, in spite of the George Bush demands for revenge in 2001. Previous chapters discussed the successes of Indonesia in reducing many forms of violence, including terrorism. It confronted religious discrimination and terrorism rather restoratively, much less punitively and more successfully than other countries. It is reducing poverty, reducing state discrimination, as it strengthens checks and balances against domination in its society (Braithwaite et al. 2010a).

Regulating cyber hacking that could cascade to cyberwar is a wicked challenge. It is such a dangerous practice because it is so hard to detect which country the hacker is from, or represents, if any. A worrying danger resides in the risk of a criminal or terrorist hack being misinterpreted as a preemptive assault on a missile targeting system vital for the launch of WMDs. The only sure way to eliminate this existential risk is to eliminate WMDs. This is because eliminating cyber-attacks is for the moment impossible. One uncertainty is that perhaps quantum computing communications can create a completely different kind of security in cyberspace. That might be a long wait, especially for the rollout to protect all financial transactions in the world economy. Quantum computing might increase war risks by destabilizing MADD when one adversary has more formidable access to offensive and defensive cyberwar with quantum computing than its opponent. In particular, the side with the most sophisticated offensive cyber capabilities may be able to break through all the opponent’s cyber defenses in ways that cannot be reciprocated, destabilizing in a complex way what the world might have thought was a MADD equilibrium (Rosch-Grace and Straub 2022).

The abolitionism discussed here does not promise the abolition of nuclear terrorism and cyberterrorism. What it can do is greatly reduce the risks that they currently pose by truncating the physical destructiveness of war to which they might cascade. As former US Secretary of Defense William Perry and Tom Collina (2020, 22) put it: ‘There is only one way to win an arms race. Refuse to run’. International society can put in place an international architecture that prevents anyone from regrowing such a huge capability as could cause a nuclear winter and mass extinctions. For example, if a new nuclear player covertly emerged with the level of nuclear capability that North Korea currently has, that would not be enough to destroy vast ecosystems with a nuclear winter, and it is wildly implausible that a covert program could ever grow this large without being detected by existing nuclear intelligence capabilities. Through simple disarmament checks and balances, humans can prevent any underground nuclear program from acquiring a nuclear weapons program of a scale that can kill billions of humans with a Doomsday Machine, even if there can never be assurance against the rise of a tyrant who kills a million people. The planet has survived many such despots who murdered millions in the past and will suffer more of them in the future. Moreover, R & D on how to improve those checks and balances can be put in place to ensure that the rule of such a tyrant is short in the big picture of human civilizations that survive and renew.

Committing politically to anything short of that is a betrayal of our descendants. As Daniel Ellsberg (2017) argued, we will not shut down all mass murdering despots, but we can shut down all the Doomsday Machines that currently can shatter mother earth. Moreover, as a counterpoint to the theory of the one-eyed man, we must remember that most nuclear weapons states acquired the bomb because of fear of other states that had already done so. In the words of the Canberra Commission report: ‘So long as any state has nuclear weapons others will want them. So long as any state retains nuclear weapons they are bound one day to be used’(Evans 2022, 67). Or as former Cold War realists Henry Kissinger, William Perry, San Nunn, and George Schultz opined in 2007: in this century, ‘the risks associated with nuclear weapons possession far outweigh any security returns’(Evans 2022, 68).

Neocons believe and have persuaded presidents to believe that the power of today’s great powers depends on their monopolistic control of WMDs. It seems utterly unrealistic to think that they could ever be persuaded to voluntarily surrender that control. One reply is that this control does not deliver realistically sustainable power. Rather it ultimately delivers death to their sustained hegemony and their descendants through the handiwork of weaponry they create when imperfect deterrence doctrines ultimately fail to work. They would be fools to believe that nuclear deterrence will prove the first social science theory that never fails to work. Hence, the peace movement must build strategic patience. Universities can build strategic patience about their capability to create better architectures to monitor terror and provocations to terror and to develop institutions of peace.

What we can do, dear peacemakers, is build a global civil society and university systems that enliven WMD taboos, and tame the institutions that grow the complexity of their devastating power and their unpredictably destabilizing strategic flux. Michael Krepon (2021, 18) makes the point that if we can reach 100 years since Hiroshima without ever using nuclear weapons in war again, the shamefulness of their use will be normatively embedded, in our custom, our civility, our science. If we reach 100 years since the last nuclear weapon test explosion since the three decades of infamous environmental and human health devastation from 2000 tests after the first at Los Alamos, the testing taboo should be deeply embedded. If we survive one hundred years since the last use of chemical or biological weapons in war, its shamefulness will be quite profoundly embedded. It will be a hard normative hurdle for any leader to cross while looking his citizens in the eye. Extended duration of norm compliance can ultimately render norm violation unthinkable by almost anyone in almost any context. Yet only almost, so this is an insufficient safeguard on its own. When the Israeli leadership feared it may face an existential threat from Arab armies in the Yom Kippur war, its military commander prepared to use nuclear weapons, notwithstanding pressure against this from the United States. That seemingly existential threat was effectively resisted by conventional means. States that are not US allies, but that are stigmatized by the United States as rogue states, may be less susceptible to the US pressure against first use applied to this Israeli case.

Krepon’s (2021, 22) hopeful provocation is that ‘the hardest part of establishing these norms is behind us’. Westerners might have an unusually low opinion of Vladimir Putin, but do we genuinely believe that he would lightly don the mantle of historical infamy from being the first leader to murder genocidally with nuclear weapons since Nagasaki? In World War II, even Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo were reluctant to brook the infamy of being the first to use chemical weapons in less than quarter of a century since their previous use in a world war.

The 2023 film Oppenheimer portrays President Truman as dismissive of Oppenheimer when he lamented the blood on this hands. Krepon (2021, 36) argues that in fact Truman was troubled by the thought that if Oppenheimer had blood on his hands, Truman was bathed in it after he rejected pleas from the physicists to do a demonstration explosion off the Japanese coast rather than Hiroshima. Krepon cites as tangible evidence of this that when Truman rejected submissions to him that the use of nuclear weapons in 1950 would be a ‘war winning’ strategy, he rejected the option with the words that the bomb ‘should not be used on innocent men, women and children who have nothing whatsoever to do with this military aggression. That happens when it is used’ (cited in Krepon 2021, 36).

Persuading India and Pakistan

If the great powers reached genuine agreement for progressive abolition of WMDs, it is most unlikely that the middle powers of Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan would not support them. Their civil societies would insist that they join in the virtue of the greater powers. The most difficult challenge would be India. India is a long-term pretender to becoming a great power. It has already tested hypersonic missiles for its nuclear warheads. India already has one of the world’s most massive armies, has cyber offense capabilities to balance China, and an economy growing bountifully. The path to persuading India to join the regime of disarmament would be to give it the democratic power it believes in by giving it the seat it deserves on the UN Security Council.

An additional pathway would be for China and the United States to first persuade Pakistan to commit to destroying all its nuclear weapons, with China agreeing to keep Pakistan under its nuclear umbrella until China and India mutually agree to nuclear disarmament in concert with the other great powers. In reciprocation, India could agree to become more flexible on negotiating more genuine autonomy, human rights, and peace for Kashmir, which has always been the deep source of India-Pakistan conflict. It is hard for India to become a great power without living in a peaceful region with neighbors who flourish through trade with India. Peace in Kashmir and an end to nuclear confrontations with Pakistan are preconditions to that and for India to get that seat on the Security Council it will deserve. Because it is decades since the nuclear non-proliferation regime had a disarmament triumph, the regime is at risk of unraveling unless it has a new one. Pakistan would be a more consequential one for making the world safer than any of the previous decisions to abandon nuclear weapons programs by Libya, Iraq, South Africa, Myanmar, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Argentina, and Brazil. The brightest recent glimmer of hope has been the brilliant US diplomacy that persuaded South Korea not to acquire nuclear weapons when polls have shown 77 percent of its electorate to want this to counter North Korea’s nuclear threat.

Track II diplomacy, perhaps sponsored by Chinese and US universities working together, is needed to begin to persuade China to take the lead in such persuasion of Pakistan. The diplomacy would need to suggest to the United States that it is in its interests to support China in the endeavor. It would have to persuade India to build confidence by initiating a new Kashmir peace process, and to persuade Pakistan that joint assurances from China and the United States are better protection against invasion by India than nuclear missiles. This is the kind of noble and difficult endeavor the non-proliferation regime needs.

Scaling Up Regional Dynamics of Disarmament

A beautiful thing about disarmament politics is that reducing numbers of nuclear weapons, increasing the distance between them, rejecting their first use of them, eschewing launch on warning, ‘verifiably ending the production of fissile materials intended for use in nuclear weapons’ in President Obama’s words, might prevent nuclear wars without full disarmament. Just fixing settings for absurd accident risks by having great powers and second-tier nuclear powers abandon the idea of thousands of weapons on hair-trigger alert would leave a safer world to our children. So would mutually agreed surprise inspections to verify that nukes are on ‘de-alert’. Likewise, regional security communities can impel a practical politics of disarmament. Small steps can be designed that immediately help make us that bit safer, even though we remain in grave danger until larger change is accomplished.

A sad thing about the Russia-Ukraine war is that while the most culpable war criminal was Vladimir Putin, significant power to prevent this war had long been within the reach of a peaceful Western alliance that declined to grasp it. Successive US Presidents failed the deep listening with the grievances of Putin and his predecessors. Barack Obama’s biographical writing and interviews describe how he had to put up with Putin’s ravings about his grievances on NATO expansion East before they could get down to the real work of their meetings. Grievances that lead to war are definitely matters presidents are paid to listen to deeply and responsively. Valuing human dignity through restorative diplomacy means listening even when you think someone is irritating, lecturing. When we switch off to what we perceive as a rave, we can miss the fissures forming that later become violent crevices.

I make a distinction here between accession to the European Union, which is a door that might have been open to any European society, a distinction between EU accession and accession to NATO as a military alliance organized around the idea of containing Russia. The European Union has been a profoundly important institution for constituting a remarkable continental peace among its members for the past 77 years. Part of this was Austria eventually becoming a democratic member of the EU, but on the understanding that it would not join NATO. It would be a neutral buffer adjoining the old Iron Curtain, devoid of NATO bases and missiles aimed at Russia. At the time of the onset of the 2022 Ukraine war, five European states were EU members but not NATO members and there were eight European states that were members of NATO but not of the EU.

In the aftermath of the 2022 Ukraine War, Europe and North America could take a long time to retreat from the drawn daggers of their NATO-versus-Russia mentality. The North Atlantic plus Russia is less than 15 percent of the world’s population, however. Societies of the rest of the planet can avert NATOization. The half of the world population that is Asian have contemporary regional collaborations such as the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) with 680 million people. It is a contemporary adaptation to lessons of world wars that cascaded from militarized alliances in Europe. ASEAN involves a politics not of military alliance but of cooperation among disparate societies. ASEAN is committed to sustaining healed relationships with countries they waged war against in the past—China, the United States, Japan, the European Union, and other Asian powers. Even though ASEAN embraces the most wartorn region of the world during a twentieth century in which all ASEANs were invaded, today they see invasion risks by their neighbors as low compared to risks of being pushed into the kind of wars their neighbor Australia joined in Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, and Korea. The ASEAN judgment is that invasion risks are lower than risks from being bound into a violently cascading great power contest. One reason that judgment makes sense to ASEANs is that they have a strong nuclear weapons-free zone (the Treaty of Bangkok). This means they do not crave a military alliance to defend against any southern neighbor that dominates through nuclear threat. ASEANs were given confidence with forming a nuclear-weapons free zone because before they ratified it, the other significant military power in their region, Australia, ratified the South Pacific nuclear-weapons-free zone Treaty of Rarotonga.

A suite of nuclear-weapons-free zones was established by 1996 to cover all the southern hemisphere and much of the most southern part of the northern hemisphere, all of Latin America as far north as the US-Mexico border, all Africa to the Mediterranean. More than 100 countries signed these nuclear-weapons-free treaties. Let us aspire to expand them to cover the planet. If a Mutual Assured Destruction conflict cascades in the northern hemisphere, survivability prospects will be poor for humans from North America across the North Atlantic to North Asia, but perhaps apart from Australia, the southern hemisphere may not take a nuclear strike. Nuclear winter and mass famine might be more muted to the point where most Southern Hemisphere humans survive to rebuild human civilizations. This accomplishment, if indeed it becomes a possibility as northern weapons grow in power and numbers, depends on making the southern nuclear-weapons-free zones hold. ASEAN diplomacy treads more softly on calling out despotism and human rights abuses than genuine democrats would wish, but it nevertheless provides northern strategic thinking with food for thought. Their alternative helps their region to flourish to be progressively less afflicted with violence and poverty.

The peoples of the South can say to one another that if they remain committed to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons treaties, this might lay steppingstones for the North to join them. It can also allow them to argue to Northern states that Southern societies have possibilities for surviving a great power nuclear war that Northerners will not survive. The South can argue that it does not want to rely on nuclear deterrence that only works until it fails catastrophically. Nuclear winter, mass famine, and radiation might be more muted in the Southern hemisphere to the point where most, at least many, Southern humans survive to rebuild renewed and peaceful human civilizations.7 The Southern objective could be to simply stay out of any nuclear fight.

Northern nuclear deterrence conceit over MAD was not apparent when Thomas Schelling received a Nobel Prize for his game theoretic foundations of the doctrine. He modestly expressed surprise that a ‘taboo’ on recurrence of Hiroshima had been held for 60 years, pondering whether it was a ‘stunning achievement’ or ‘stunning good fortune’ (Schelling 2005). MAD was a simple theory of a simpler world of effectively two nuclear powers with a Doomsday Machine, yet committed to arms reduction. Today the theory must prove relevant to a complex of arms escalations among the old confrontation between Russia and NATO, plus NATO versus China, NATO, South Korea and Japan versus North Korea, China versus India, India versus Pakistan, Israel versus Muslim states that hire Pakistan’s mobile nuclear weapons, or terrorist groups that steal WMDs (especially the newer mobile tactical ones). The complexity of the geometry that has emerged is even more complex than these seven dyads, plus cascades of violence from them. ‘[Dyadic] rivalries are embedded in two interlocking triangular competitions, where the United States, Russia, and China jockey for position in one, while China, India, and Pakistan compete in the second’ (Krepon 2021, 15). Guardrails are broken, hotlines are off the hook, for all seven dyads. Stabilization is sidelined by populist provocations across all seven dyads and Krepon’s three triads. ‘Triangular competitions do not lend themselves to numerical limitations that are inherently hard to stabilize when two states act in concert against the third’ (Krepton 2021, 15). Indeed, it always simplified to conceive NATO as unified on nuclear strategy. We can conceive of a Margaret Thatcher using British nuclear weapons (for example had her Argentinian war gone badly) in ways that would have been strongly disapproved by Ronald Reagan. She dispatched two British ships to the Falklands with nukes on board. France insists that its nukes are not to defend NATO, but France. More than that, simpleminded maximalism made deterrence theorists ‘captives to their brainpower. They didn’t dwell on accidents, screw-ups, and irrational acts because to acknowledge the centrality of these factors would turn their sturdy theorems into sandcastles’ (Krepon 2021, 54). The simple enough alternative to simpleminded deterrence axioms is institutions with sturdy institutional pillars reinforced by steel that is tempered so it can sway and adapt accountably. I would say adapt to imperatives of contextually nuanced restorative and responsive theory (Braithwaite 2002).

A state like Australia seems likely to remain tightly coupled to its current position as a NATO ally of the far South with ever-growing bases integrated into US strategies for nuclear targeting. Australia could thereby position itself as the best option of a faraway nuclear target that risks the least loss of life to the US homeland should China or Russia seek to retaliate against perceived US aggression in a way that might not trigger escalation to nuclear winter in the North. This is a kind of inverted scenario to one gamed in Washington that responded to Russian tactical nuclear weapon use against NATO troops with a limited nuclear strike not against Russia, but against a Russian ally, namely Belarus.8 The rest of the South has an interest in keeping nuclear strikes away from the Southern hemisphere by diplomacy to persuade Australia to greater prudence in its currently unbridled commitment to a US alliance that could take Australia into Northern wars for which it, and the South generally, have an interest in remaining on the sidelines.9

When a MAD conflict cascades in the Northern hemisphere, we have seen that survivability might remain possible for most Southern hemisphere humans to rebuild human civilizations. If this accomplishment is possible, it depends on Southern nuclear weapons-free zones holding and expanding. In this imagined future of sprouts of Ubuntu spreading North, democracies in South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile might become great powers! Today in the North there are no Mikhail Gorbachevs willing to trash binary deterrence orthodoxies as too simple for planetary survival, nor Ronald Reagans or John F. Kennedys, prepared to embrace GRIT with adversaries. After Armaggedon, there could be many of them among survivor states of the South. Preparedness for this, or at least discussion of it among Southern utopians, is somewhat more existential than a pandemic preparedness plan.

ASEAN diplomacy treads more softly on calling out despotism and human rights abuses than we Western rights advocates desire. It nevertheless provides Northern strategic thinking with food for thought and an alternative that should stimulate their imaginations. ASEAN has helped members to flourish to be progressively less afflicted with violence and poverty and to progressively democratize, though with tragic reversals (Cambodia, Myanmar). This accomplishment has similar dynamics to the wider accomplishments of European struggles for freedom across the past 77 years, but without the European-style lock-ins to military alliances that George Washington and a century and a half of his successors hoped America would shun.

Leadership by Universities for Doomsday Machine Defection

The amount of strategic patience required for the peacebuilding accomplishments just described is huge. Two steps forward, one step back, is the best hope. The planet does not start from scratch, however. Steps forward have advanced formidably already. Only four states continue to decline to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, though Pakistan, India, and Israel are dangerous holdouts from its disciplines. In the 2017 UN vote on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear members, 122 members voted in favor, one against, and 69 did not vote (including all nuclear weapons states, most NATO members, and all close defense partners of the great powers). Strategic patience is inherently not conclusionary. It must go to opening peacemaking imaginations to next steps toward dismantling Doomsday Machines piece by piece.

The next chapter describes some moves that a strategically patient peace movement can persuade strategically patient peacemaking states to follow. They involve disrupting the confidence that hawks and neocons enjoy among great powers and their publics when they indulge production and innovation with WMDs. Universities can take subversive steps toward dismantling Doomsday Machines that are the focus in this chapter. They must develop tactics to persuade the brightest scientists to defect from dangerous collaborations with the military-industrial complex. What universities in signatory states to anti-WMD treaties can do is invite scientists from universities in WMD states to prestigious visiting appointments at their universities. During their visiting appointment, signatory states might promise them lucrative grants to advance their science without dependence upon weapons corporations and national security states.

More than that, with relevant scientists, anti-WMD signatory states should seek to persuade WMD scientists to blow the whistle on dangerous WMD research programs their homeland corporations have been funding them to advance. Their government will allege this is treason. They will seek to use their extradition laws to drag dissident scientists into their clutches in the way that the United States sought with Julian Assange even as a foreign journalist blowing the whistle on US war crimes. And with Edward Snowden. Then the attorney-general of the anti-WMD treaty state can advise the scientist that these extradition laws do not apply. This is because under our law, and under the law of other treaty states, any disclosure to advance compliance with international law in the form of the treaty banning nuclear weapons, or the international treaty on biological weapons, possibly future treaties on killer robots, will void obligations to honor extradition requests. There will be no extraditions concerning those disclosures that advance compliance with international law.

This extradition point may seem an obscure matter of legal interpretation. It may seem an odd way to conclude this chapter. It is a centerpiece of a sustainable peace reform project. This is because, in the absence of WMD whistleblowers, we cannot discover what new dangers are being created for the planet.10 The world could not have discovered that Israel had innovative nuclear weapons capability, including toward neutron bomb production (that the great powers had abandoned) until an insider from the Dimona Negev Nuclear Research Center, Mordechai Vanunu, blew the whistle to the Western press in 1986. It is of crucial importance to make WMD innovation more transparent to the global peace movement and to offer solid legal protections to secure whistleblowers in a safe, strong country from spending a life vilified, imprisoned for alleged treason when their sacrifice upholds the transparent rule of international law.

WMD Whistleblowers, Super-Intelligence, Super-Deterrence

The first imperative of social movement politics is boldness in speaking truth to power. When it comes to a matter like the politics of extradition for disclosing alleged national secrets, courage can be required. The sacrifice of citizens like Edward Snowden to show how our freedom is at risk at the hands of our own states, and that war crime is at risk of being hidden, deserve special admiration.

The title of this chapter, ‘Containing deadly systems’, seems to suggest it is highly focused on disarmament. Instead, its purpose has been to show that in a complex world there is a menu of simple ways to contribute to containing weapons and risks. It includes national extradition and human rights law reforms that grant recognition of a right to break the law of other nations in order to advance compliance with international law and the rule of law in the state where the alleged traitor resides. It includes the transformation of the independent character of universities and the capture of universities by national security states and the military-industrial complex. It includes the transformation of social movement politics to advance those ends. It means the continuation of the kind of Nobel Prize winning work of the NGOs that advanced treaties against land mines, small arms, nuclear weapons, chemical, and biological weapons and hopefully killer robots in future.

A case has been made for regional international organizations like the EU and ASEAN that build regional peace through what I conceive as regional restorative diplomacy. When global nuclear disarmament is failing, a patchwork of such regional organizations can cover most of the planet with nuclear-weapons-free treaties. Leadership here will continue to be led from the South and move North, reversing the dominant directional trajectory of world history, resisting NATOization beyond the North Atlantic, resisting the mentalities of empire and colonialism that still infect Russia, Iran, Turkish neo-Ottomanism, China, Japan, the United States, Britain, and other former European empires to some degree. Those Northern vices must not be allowed to cast their shadows into the future to destroy the entire planet, even if it destroys most of it. I have made a case against military alliances like NATO that commit a large axis of states to a large war as a replication of tragedies of past centuries of European hegemony that evolved beyond George Washington’s worst fears toward becoming world wars, wars of planetary near-destruction.

I have made a case to dismantle the G-7 as a grouping dominated by one great power that discusses profound matters of containment of environmental crisis, pandemics, and threats to peace in ways that exclude and denigrate the other great powers, Russia and China. The G-20 is the more promising architecture that international society might support for building consensus among the largest and wealthiest states, now enriched by the promising decision to make the African Union a G-20 member. In a world where climate crisis cascades to war, the ways of containing war include something as simple as planting trees. Every state, every one of us, embracing our youngest children into the task, can do that.

Nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, hypersonic missiles to unstoppably deliver them, killer robots, weapons of space war such as signal-jamming satellites and anti-satellite missiles, and cyberwar cannot be uninvented. None of them can be prevented from afflicting our planet with great future suffering. All of them, however, can be contained in the way chemical weapons have been imperfectly contained for more than a century since the Somme. Even ruthless leaders in an existential struggle, none bloodier and more existential than the struggle Hitler and Stalin’s armies fought, could be contained from using them. The record is not perfect. The West should remain ashamed about how weakly it acted when Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds in the 1980s, and when Syria dropped chemical barrel bombs on civilians. Even so, nothing approaching the scale of chemical weapons use at the Somme has recurred. Likewise, the world is unlikely to prevent some bad state or terrorist actor from first use of a nuclear weapon one day. As with nuclear weapons, however, we can contain that risk to historical infrequency and greatly moderated impact. We can ratchet down the number of countries that have nuclear weapons and the scale of all extant nuclear arsenals to the point where if all states launch all their nuclear weapons against each other, they do not unleash a Doomsday Machine that ends human civilizations.

That is, step by step, those who fear the ‘one-eyed man’ who would be king can retain a nuclear deterrent in their mix of tools for containing WMD threats if they must, but the rest of us can demand that they scale those weapons down to a level that any strategist can view as credible second-strike deterrence without guaranteeing escalation to Doomsday. Step 1 is for Russia and the United States to scale its nuclear arsenals down to the level of China’s. Step 2 is for China, Russia, and the United States to scale their arsenals down to the levels of France, the UK, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea. Step 3 is for some of the nine to abandon their WMD programs in the way Libya, Myanmar, South Africa, Argentina, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Brazil have done, and for the rest of the nine to embrace tit-for-tat further WMD reductions. Hopefully, at the last minute, Iran will be persuaded to join the abolitionists. Then reckless strategists who said to me in Turkiye and Azerbaijan that if Iran gets nuclear weapons, the safest world will become one where all states have nuclear weapons! Step-by-step movement beyond Step 3 might keep nearly all of our descendants safe from WMDs. The thinking here is similar to the way former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Abe (2022) described the two-step approach of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament on what to do about a step backwards of a breakaway state declaring it has acquired nuclear weapons when other states are abandoning their nuclear arsenals.

The Commission has a program of R & D to sharpen international understanding of the conditions for moving from minimization to elimination in terms of geopolitical conditions, verification conditions, enforcement conditions, fuel cycle management conditions, and personnel oversight conditions (Evans and Kawaguchi 2009). The radical edge of my book is about how to manage that final stage after minimization is achieved. It includes a new international law doctrine for ‘super-intelligence’ and networked ‘super-deterrence’ of WMD acquisition. The first leg of this doctrine is that any state whose intelligence uncovered evidence of a new WMD acquisition would have a legal obligation to share this, through the United Nations, with the world’s intelligence agencies. This would create unprecedented conditions for collaboration among normally adversarial intelligence agencies in order to test the probity of the intelligence.

States that are allies of the alleged WMD state or enemies of the reporting state would have maximum incentive to contest their intelligence. This contest would create robust conditions for disproving false positives. Once any contestation by rival intelligence had an opportunity to disprove it, all states would have a legal obligation to support conventional attacks on the WMD facility, missile, and other delivery capabilities (e.g., submarine bases), by any and all UN members as a last resort. On this, it is telling that at a time of enormous momentum in NATO for step-by-step progress toward nuclear abolition during the first two years of the Obama Administration, Russia refused to fully embrace the abolitionist promise of that time because it feared superior US conventional capacity. US conventional arms might hit all Russia’s key installations. That would hand the deterrence advantage to NATO in a world without nuclear weapons (Gormley 2011). Such has been the progress in the devastating capabilities of conventional weapons. Hence, it is not a fictional possibility that a large coalition of many conventional armies could dominate a rogue nuclear power. This last resort is invoked only if diplomacy fails and fails again and again to persuade voluntary dismantling of the WMDs. This would be hard for opportunist nuclear weapon states to defend against because they would have no idea which state, in which form, at what time, would attempt to strike. The intelligence sharing would mean they would suspect it was coming and would evacuate most or all staff from relevant facilities, so the loss of life, especially of their most brilliant scientists, might not be large. It would be super-deterrence because all states would have a duty to attack, or be allied to attacks. That would allow for optimized and maximally indeterminate offensive deterrence capability informed by super-intelligence capability of a kind not seen in previous world history.

This idea may literally be ‘overkill’. It is advanced only as an agenda item for debate in order to frustrate those who say that a nuclear ‘one-eyed man’ would rule the world. Biblical authority notwithstanding, it is ablest folly to believe that cooperation among a group of blind women could not contain rule by a one-eyed man! A lesson of real deterrence from the history of lesser tyrannies than global domination is that swarms of the weak can defeat the concentrated power of the strong with the right kind of catalysis. That is a lesson of Rudé’s The Crowd in History (Ko Ko and Braithwaite 2020). A counter is that if cynics are right that deterrence by concentrated power is the only doctrine that counts in circumstances of exception, then super-intelligence combined with super-deterrence of the most advanced conventional kind could always beat a nascent WMD program, even if it could not deter the maximalist WMD capabilities that the great powers currently possess. Indeed this would be such a massive, unprecedentedly diffused strategic ambiguity that it would never have to be used. This is the ‘benign big gun’ facet of responsive regulatory theory (Ayres and Braithwaite 1992). This is why the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament is right that transparent arms reductions to great power minimalism is needed first. The novel legal doctrine of super-deterrence of WMDs could be further proofed against false positives by providing for compensation of a massive international scale if an attacked state were able to prove to the International Court of Justice that what it developed was not a WMD program.

It is important to return to my conclusion on the pathway to international agreement on guardrails against cyberwar that President Biden advocates. The path to preventing escalation to Mutual Assured Digital Destruction is to dismantle Mutual Assured Nuclear Destruction. Until MAD of the nuclear kind is dismantled, prospects for preventing MADD are dim.


  1. 1.

    A simple solution to the densest complex of catastrophe on the planet is to donate to the African ‘Great Green Wall for Restoration & Peace’, one of the UN Environment Program’s ten Award Winning Pioneering Programs to Restore the Natural World. In your country, you will find on the internet tax deductible ways to donate. The ten countries of the Sahel and the twenty countries to their immediate South are more afflicted by wars, coups, Islamic State and the predations of the Wagner Corporation than any region. Desertification spreading South is a reason. As the region with most poverty, investment in the labour intensive business of tree planting and maintenance has massive employment-creation, food-growing and water-preservation impact. The Chinese Great Green Wall has already planted 66 billion of its planned 88 billion trees, yet is only half way to completion. In contrast, Africa’s Great Green Wall for Restoration and Peace is only 4 per cent complete and suffers higher mortality of planted trees to hold back the Sahara compared to China’s Gobi desert.

  2. 2.

    ‘Upside down country’ is an expression of the Dja Dja Warrung people of Victoria who have been actively involved in steering and providing the labor for reforestation projects, especially after gold mining. A problem that concerns them is mass planting of the cheapest available native trees rather than the tree mix native to that country (Atkinson and Humann 2017).

  3. 3.

    Nuclear winter is a likely result of pulverized cities rising in the atmosphere above rainclouds, so that rain does not bring the soot back to earth in a short space of time. It therefore blacks out the sun for months or years. The modelling predicts below-freezing temperatures during summer across much of the Northern Hemisphere. This implies mass famine. The military-industrial complex sponsors seemingly expert commentary and social media messaging to the effect that the nuclear winter modelling exaggerates the risks of nuclear winter. The best and more recent science suggests, however, that it is reckless to dismiss the probability of protracted nuclear winter as low (Coupe et al. 2019; Robock 2010, 2011; Turco et al. 1990).

  4. 4.

    Spoofing generates, for example, early warning systems to generate false readings of missile launches.

  5. 5.

    This was a proverb popularized by the Catholic Church through the writing of Desiderius Erasmus (1509). It was an Erasmus interpretive gloss on Matthew 15:14. It is widely invoked in nuclear strategy discourse.

  6. 6.

    This thinking about nuclear deterrence and regulatory mix as a generally better approach than maximum deterrence is a recurrent theme in my writing. The best general account can be found in Braithwaite (2022, Chapter 10).

  7. 7.

    New Zealand might be one of the better places to live after a nuclear war, though modelling suggests that after a major nuclear war and a severe case of nuclear winter even New Zealand agriculture would suffer a 58 per cent reduction in food production (Wilson et al. 2022).

  8. 8.

    Here is a brief description of that game played by the Obama National Security Council (NSC) as described by Kaplan (2020, Chapter 11). The scenario was that Russia invaded a Baltic country. NATO fought back so competently that there was panic in Russia’s retreat, firing a low-yield nuclear weapon at advancing NATO troops. The NSC gamed what to do next at two levels—first the NSC Deputies—mainly generals. They were persuaded by a submission of Vice President Biden’s national security advisor that the first use of nuclear weapons since 1945 would be a world defining moment. As such, it was an opportunity to rally the whole world against Russia by restricting the US response to conventional combat and diplomacy. In the long run, the generals reluctantly accepted that NATO could ultimately win by conventional means without running the risk of escalation of tit-for-tat to nuclear winter. A month later, the NSC Principals—cabinet secretaries and military chiefs, chaired by Susan Rice, gamed the same scenario. Ash Carter, supported by Anthony Blinken and others, led with the view that prevailed: deterrence depended on always responding to a nuclear strike against NATO with a nuclear strike. US credibility depended on this. The principals decided against a nuclear strike in the border regions of the Baltic state where Russian troops were retreating into Russia because that would kill too many civilians of a NATO ally. They also finally decided against retaliating against the Russian homeland with a tactical weapon because that would almost certainly lead to Russian retaliation against the US homeland. They decided on a nuclear strike against a Russian ally, Belarus, which was not involved in this conflict. This reveals the problematic complexities of uncertainty from being a close great power ally during nuclear escalation. Australia and the South Pacific might beware that, as with rising oceans from climate change, Northerners are more concerned about their security than your existential risks, even if you are their ally.

  9. 9.

    Part of the pitch to Australia is that had it been a more prudent US ally in the past, it would have done the United States a favor by contesting the claims of its neocons. Had Australia argued with the United States in 2001, 2002, and 2005 that it should have responded positively to Taliban offers of peace negotiations, it would have done the United States a favor (see Chapter 6, footnote 2). With the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Australia could have served US interests by arguing that the invasion was a mistake. Australia would have served the United States well by arguing that the African Union leaders negotiating peaceful transition in Libya in 2011 were on a better path than a liberation war for regime change. With the Vietnam War, Australia did serve US interests by pulling out early, arguing that the United States also should end the war, but it would have better served US interests by doing that even earlier.

  10. 10.

    We learn here from the corporate crime literature. This lesson is that insider knowledge of law breaking is the enforcement ingredient in shortest supply. This is why more than just whistleblower protection laws are needed. Laws that actively reward corporate whistleblowers with a share of the penalties imposed in corporate crime cases have made a real difference to US corporate crime enforcement through the way the US False Claims Act and kindred statutes reward whistleblowers who risk their careers (Braithwaite 2022).