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Cassandra’s Conundrum

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In the previous issue of The National Interest, John Mueller argued that the threats from nuclear proliferation, nuclear terrorism and nuclear war are exaggerated. Joseph Cirincione responds.

FIRST, LET me agree with one of John Mueller’s main points: The dangers to our national security are very often hyped, and this alarmism produces undesirable consequences. And it is not just venal politicians and ideologues who participate in this threat exaggeration, but otherwise well-intentioned reporters and, yes, experts. This was pointed out to me not by a journalist, but by a man who pretends to be a journalist: Jon Stewart. Interviewing me on his Daily Show shortly after the hyped-up scare of Jose Padilla’s alleged “dirty bomb” plot in 2002, he asked about my role in the media coverage. “For a guy like you”, he said, “is this like when you see the weatherman and a hurricane is coming, and the weatherman never really gets to be at the top of the news, but in a hurricane, he is. And he’s got his big rain slicker on and saying, ‘It’s a devastating event!’”

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