Ronald Reagan, nuclear weapons, and the Cold War

George Weigel has a short article at First Things that discusses Reagan’s attitude toward both the USSR and nuclear weapons. The whole thing is worth reading, but I found Reagan’s attitude toward Hiroshima and Nagasaki especially noteworthy:

As for his nuclear abolitionism, Reagan, according to his arms control director, Ken Adelman, was appalled by the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and hated the idea that an American president could wreak immeasurably greater destruction. Thus Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, far from being the cockamamie “Stars Wars” scheme it was promptly dubbed by political adversaries and journalists stuck in the conventional thinking of the era, was the technological expression of the president’s moral conviction that nuclear weapons were a grave danger that ought to be taken off-the-board in international public life.

Long overdue update: Peter Leithart also posted about Ken Adelman’s take on Reagan here.



  1. He also pursued disarmament treaties which, in addition to offering to share missile defense, I think showed his dedication to the cause.

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