In Memoriam: Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009)

By Christopher Paine

With the recent passing of Edward Moore Kennedy, the arms control community has lost its longest-serving and most stalwart champion in the U.S. Senate. Although he sponsored and supported numerous arms control efforts, including the nuclear freeze resolution, that influenced U.S. policy, the Massachusetts Democrat never fancied himself a nuclear arms control “expert.” The dehumanizing arms control lexicon of force exchange ratios, throw weights, and strategic stability held no appeal for him. He left mastery of this arcane discipline to others, recognizing it for what it was—at best a temporary mechanism for containing the frightening risks and soaring costs of the nuclear arms race, at worst a lulling deception that ignored the mounting dangers of the world’s nuclear predicament. Kennedy knew full well that the nuclear strategists and weapons scientists did not have the answers and that it was the task of political leaders to find a way to bridge the Cold War divide and set the world on a saner path toward nuclear disarmament.

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