In Brief: Thoughts on National Security

Graham Allison, Ian Bremmer, Harlan Ullman and Derek Chollet.

Issue: Spring 2006

Nuclear Terrorism Report Card

In the first debate of the 2004 presidential campaign, the moderator asked the two candidates: "What is the single most serious threat to American national security?" Both answered: nuclear terrorism. Vice President Dick Cheney followed up, arguing that "the biggest threat we face now as a nation is the possibility of terrorists ending up in the middle of one of our cities with deadlier weapons than have ever been used against us--nuclear weapons--able to threaten the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans." Cheney concluded: "That's the ultimate threat. For us to have a strategy that is capable of defeating that threat, you've got to get your mind around that concept." (Emphasis mine.)

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