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Despite three major armed conflicts fought between nuclear powers by proxy, none thankfully have resulted in nuclear war. Deterrence works. What doesn't work, and a flaw that is growing exponentially with nuclear proliferation is failures in design, command and control. The incredible and incredibly frightening book "Command and Control" (see link at bottom), highlights several near catastrophic misses in the US nuclear arsenal. Now multiply by all nuclear states, the risks of accident are terrifying. The world would do well to open source safeguards so that even rogue states (eg. North Korea) can benefit from control and process that mitigate risk of unintended nuclear detonation.


  > so that even rogue states can benefit 
Dude, human factors like personality and mood quickly render safeguards moot, within the atmosphere of a despotic dictatorship.

Open source any amount of safety protocals, and pray that they get used, and you'll acquaint yourself with disappointment.

People who concoct nuclear programs are toying with suicide, and their level of interest in safety can be understood by their decision to weaponize such a thing to begin with.

Meanwhile, cap such a program with a lone psychotic emperor, prone to fits of cruel and unusual punishment, and see what he does on a bad day, as his body ages, and he grows crankier with every waking morning. Now surround him with an echo-chamber of eager-to-please, hawkish, testosterone-fueled military upstarts.

Sounds like a pretty cool video game plot.

Quite the opposite. Firstly, despotic regimes are by their nature control driven, one common characteristic of which is an inability to act without central directives from leadership. Iraq is a classic case. Despotic regimes persist for the purposes of preserving and enriching the despot, where even the intent to use nuclear arms in an age of deterrence is extremely counter-productive to that goal. North Korea, Russia and other nations demonstrate the futility of preventing proliferation. But there has been some success in educating fledgling nuclear states on safeguards (reportedly Pakistan). If you can't eliminate it, mitigate it as best you can and manage the risks.

I am dubious. Mostly, because preserving and enriching a despot means catering to their whims.

A despot's pet nuclear project is likely to have an authentic red button (provided in any variety of interfaces, telephone, mechanical lock and key, fingerprint authenticated, whatever). If one imagines themselves as a despot, the ego almost demands it.

Between the despot, The Button, and the operational weapons, there are many layers of human factors. Maybe the red button is a placebo, and the underlings, being less suicidal than their singular leader, would never permit the button to perform its dreaded task, but is that assured?

one common characteristic of which is an inability to act without central directives from leadership

Yes, very paralizing when there's a shortage of central directives. Not so much when the leadership is happy to show his initiative. What did you think of the innovation of executing high officials using a cannon?

Sounds like a trump presidency.

I'm no fan of Trump and I think its thankfully unlikely he'll be the US President. But if he is President there is this quote from Trump that suggests he has more self-awareness and emotional intelligence than his carefully crafted persona suggests.

"When I'm wounded, I go after people hard and I try to unwound myself."

If failed Presidents have had one thing in common its a failure to recognize their own limitations and failings before or after-the-fact. Again, no fan of the guy, but I think the scare-mongering is overblown.

I think you're being too charitable in your reading of that statement; that wasn't Trump acknowledging that he overreacts in an attempt to heal self-traumatization, but (in context) him justifying his behavior by saying that his actions are always in response to others' (unprovoked) attacks.

If you like, it seems a classic example of narcissistic rage: Trump invests so much psychological effort in maintaining his self-image, in the face of what appears to have been a childhood lacking normal parental social support, that any attempt to undermine that image is to him an existential threat that demands immediate and overwhelming aggression in response, until the targeted individual responds by agreeing to accept and thus reinforce what is a grandiose illusion.

Really, we haven't seen someone like this anywhere near the White House since late-stage Nixon (when Kissinger had firm control of the reins -- and, allegedly, had standing orders for military, DoD and State to ignore any orders from the President himself, particularly those regarding the nuclear codes). It's virtually impossible to predict his actions, because he's driven by an immediate need to assuage his sense of victimization.

Does the fact that Trump knows he's an insecure, vengeful dickhead really improve things that much?

I don't think the issue is whether Trump/Clinton will initiate a nuclear confrontation directly. The question is whether either of them have the qualities it takes to stand down if/when the US is attacked by an insignificant foe, rather than retaliating against someone with nukes.

Frankly, I don't think they are any different in that regard. Neither would be willing to accept the responsibility of being impeached/etc in order to avoid a larger confrontation. Second term Obama on the other hand probably would, I think he has changed in that regard. I say that because he seems to be doing a fine job of realizing that we can't solve the Syrian problem with more guns/bombs. See Libya, etc...

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