SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump

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Scorpion King: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump is a history of America’s corrosive affair with nuclear weapons, and the failed efforts to curb this radioactive ardor through arms control. The book’s title refers to the allusion by Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the American atomic bomb, to dueling scorpions when discussing the deadly nuclear rivalry between the US and Soviet Union, and signals the dangers inherent in the resumption of the perilous US drive for nuclear supremacy.

Providing a vivid and gripping A-Z history of America’s deceptive use of arms control as a means of actually furthering its quest for nuclear dominance, Ritter sheds light on a contradictory US agenda little understood by the lay reader, while providing sufficient detail and context to engage the specialist.

The Trump administration has pulled out of one landmark arms control treaty, the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, and is threatening to let another, the 2010 New START treaty, expire. The terrifying Cuban missile crisis of 1962 demonstrated the apocalyptic folly of nuclear arsenals operating without limitation, and led to reciprocal constraints that moderated the nuclear ambitions of both the US and Soviet Union Those constraints, for the most part, no longer exist. The next missile crisis could prove terminal for humanity.

“A comprehensive and illuminating account of America’s paralyzing infatuation with nuclear weapons.  This expanded edition of Scott Ritter’s 2010 book drives home the point made in the original:  The ominous threat of Doomsday persists, with U.S. policymakers unable to extricate themselves from the reckless pact with the devil made by their predecessors more than a half-century ago.”
ANDREW BACEVICH, President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft
“Scott Ritter’s Scorpion King is an important and necessary wake-up call. Nuclear weapons, in the quantities that now exist, are a threat to our very existence. They have no rational military use, yet we still cling to them, “modernize” them, and undermine the international agreements designed to keep them under control. This book should be required reading for political leaders, media pundits, and citizens who want to leave a future to our children and grandchildren.”JACK J. MATLOCK, JR,  author of Superpower Illusions: How Myths and False Ideologies Led America Astray

“In this urgently timely updating of his 2010 critique of US nuclear disarmament policy, Scott Ritter drives home America’s addiction to nuclear weapons and to an insane predilection for preemptive attack. From his titular allusion to Oppenheimer’s “two scorpions in a bottle”, to his closing discussion of a U.S. nuclear war game using a low yield warhead to target Russian troops while NATO carries out its biggest military exercise in years on Russia’s border, Ritter provides a compelling narrative depicting the suicidal mania that is American nuclear weapons policy. Scorpion King is must reading for all those who should be concerned about the danger of our nuclear weapons policies. That’s everyone.” DANIEL ELLSBERG, author of  The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Cold War Planner

“Wow! Scott Ritter has written an epic tale of the myriad opportunities the US has had to implement pathbreaking nuclear disarmament agreements, and how these opportunities, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, have been stopped, dropped or flopped. Ritter details how decades of failed attempts to break the U.S. addiction to nuclear weapons have led to a dead-end, trillion-dollar modernization plan to produce more “usable” nukes. But as Ritter so brilliantly argues, giving up is not an option. Read the book to understand why, and get inspired to take action.”MEDEA BENJAMIN, codirector, CODEPINK for Peace

 

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Description

“We may be likened to two scorpions in a bottle, each capable of killing the other, but only at the risk of his own life.”Robert Oppenheimer

Scorpion King: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump is a history of America’s corrosive affair with nuclear weapons, and the failed efforts to curb this radioactive ardor through arms control. The book’s title refers to the allusion by Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the American atomic bomb, to dueling scorpions when discussing the deadly nuclear rivalry between the US and Soviet Union, and signals the dangers inherent in the resumption of the perilous US drive for nuclear supremacy.

Providing a vivid and gripping A-Z history of America’s deceptive use of arms control as a means of actually furthering its quest for nuclear dominance, Ritter sheds light on a contradictory US agenda little understood by the lay reader, while providing sufficient detail and context to engage the specialist.

Originally published by Nation Books in 2010 under the title Dangerous Ground, this new version has been streamlined and significantly expanded to account for the failed arms control policies of the Obama administration, and the rejection of arms control as a policy during the first term of the Trump administration.

The Trump administration has pulled out of one landmark arms control treaty, the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty, and is threatening to let another, the 2010 New START treaty, expire. The terrifying Cuban missile crisis of 1962 demonstrated the apocalyptic folly of nuclear arsenals operating without limitation, and led to reciprocal constraints that moderated the nuclear ambitions of both the US and Soviet Union Those constraints, for the most part, no longer exist. The next missile crisis could prove terminal for humanity.

Scorpion King is a book that can, and should, occupy the shelves of academic libraries, diplomats and military professionals, as well as make the reading lists of concerned citizens, given the dangerous state of US and Russian relations, now hovering on the cusp of a new and increasingly hazardous nuclear arms race. It provides a road map showing how we collectively returned to the nuclear cliff edge, and shines light on the possibility of an exit from a seemingly endless dark tunnel.

Providing context for the forthcoming 2020 Review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Scorpion King is must reading for an imperiled world.

Book Details

Publication date

2020

Page count

501

Options

EBOOK – Epub and Kindle, Paperback

Author

Scott Ritter

Reviews

2 reviews for SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump

  1. MEDEA BENJAMIN, codirector, CODEPINK

    “Wow! Scott Ritter has written an epic tale of the myriad opportunities the US has had to implement pathbreaking nuclear disarmament agreements, and how these opportunities, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, have been stopped, dropped or flopped. Ritter details how decades of failed attempts to break the U.S. addiction to nuclear weapons have led to a dead-end, trillion-dollar modernization plan to produce more “usable” nukes. But as Ritter so brilliantly argues, giving up is not an option. Read the book to understand why, and get inspired to take action.”—MEDEA BENJAMIN, codirector, CODEPINK for Peace

  2. Moon of Alabama

    “…But then came the breakup of the Soviet Union. The U.S. felt no longer a need to restrict itself. Its ‘unilateral moment’ had begun. Since the 1990s it is again trying to gain an absolute nuclear supremacy. It encroached on Russia’s borders and it reintroduced anti-ballistic missile capabilities to make a nuclear first strike against Russia possible.

    The attempt failed when Russia in 2018, a decade after warning the U.S. to back off, introduced new weapons which can evade any attempt to counter them. The Obama administrations had failed to draw the right consequences from Russia’s warning. Under Trump more nuclear treaties were abolished and soon there will be none left. The world is today more in danger of a nuclear war than it ever was.

    As Ritter diagnoses:

    The United States is a nation addicted to nuclear weapons and the power and prestige, both real and illusory, that these weapons bring. Breaking this addiction will prove extremely difficult. This is especially true given the lack of having any real nuclear disarmament policy in place since the dawn of the nuclear age. The failure of the United States to formulate or to implement effective nuclear disarmament policy has placed America and the world on very dangerous ground. The longer America and the world continue to possess nuclear weapons, the greater the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used. The only way to prevent such a dire outcome is through abolition, and not the reduction of control, of all nuclear weapons.

    The book gives a detailed history of the nuclear decision processes of every U.S. administration since the dawn of the nuclear age. It digs into the motives of many of the involved persons. It documents how – throughout many administrations – the general nuclear policies were kept unchanged. The differences were only gradual.

    With 501 pages, including end notes, the Scorpion King takes more than one evening to fully comprehend. But I for one am grateful to have had the chance to read it page for page. Scott Ritter’s opus will now be THE work of reference to consult when I write about nuclear policies.” MOON OF ALABAMA

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