Keeping The Genie In The Bottle
Proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons is becoming the most serious challenge facing the world today. Two conflicts escalating dangerously illustrate the point.
India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir for fifty years. They secretly acquired nuclear weapons in the 1970s and '80s, and according to intelligence experts, they came close to a nuclear exchange in 1990, and another in the summer of 1999. In 1998, both tested nuclear explosions.
Since Pakistan's military coup in October, the new government has taken a hard line on Kashmir, calling it a "nuclear flashpoint" and promising to increase support for Kashmiri rebels. The recent hijacking of an Indian airliner by Kashmiri separatists did not help much.
Russia has become a "loose cannon" on the world stage. Since October, Russia has escalated the military conflict against rebels in Chechnya. When Western nations demanded a ceasefire, Russia responded by firing an ICBM 3,400 miles, and its missile chief said, "Russia, for objective reasons, is forced to lower the threshold for using nuclear weapons."
The West backed down and simply urged Russia to open peace talks. The war threatens to spread to neighboring Georgia. In the midst of these tensions, top Russian military personnel are sitting in Colorado with top U.S. military personnel, watching early warning systems together to ensure that Y2K bugs don't create false alarms.
The threat of nuclear, biological and chemical war will have to be addressed long after January 1. This is another way in which Y2K is not a one-time event, but a demonstration of the need for a new set of answers to a new set of questions.