Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What Richard Perle and Andrew Marshall think you should know about nuclear weapons

Stuck at home in a blizzard, I'm catching up with my DVR and found the following gem of an exchange that took place at the Hudson Institute on February 23, 2009 and was aired on C-Span 2's Book TV at 1:30 am on March 16, 2009.

The event celebrated the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center’s publication of Nuclear Heuristics: Selected Writings of Albert and Roberta Wohlstetter edited by Henry Sokolski and Robert Zarate (Strategic Studies Institute, January 2009) featuring discussion from Richard Perle and Andrew Marshall.

Henry Sokolski: do you have any thoughts, either of you, about what we should be encouraging in the way of education of young people who are interested in foreign affairs and military affairs or what we should be asking or demanding of the studies that are funded by the United States Government that deal with these topics? How shall I put it, let's leave Albert and Roberta out of it.

Richard Perle: My immediate reaction to that is that what we should be teaching is not the conclusions they arrived at or, for that matter, the substance of their research, but the tools, the methodology. I can't imagine a better way to bring a young student along than to give him the famous Base Study and invite him to reflect on the mode of analysis that is reflected in it. It was the rigor and discipline they brought to every issue they examined. Now, as it happens, many of those issues are still with us and I think they have a great deal to contribute in the way we think about those issues, but far more important is respect for their approach to the analysis of issues and there is much too little of that today in universities and government funded research programs.

Andrew Marshall: Well, I would certainly second that, I think in addition other things I've written suggest reading a lot of history. Clearly, one of the things you want people to understand is the uncertainty of things; how you really need to look at a variety of alternative futures. Any notion that you know what's going to happen is not going to work.