I disagree with my friend Sid Drell about the implications of a world ostensibly without nuclear weapons. In such a world, the only countries with nuclear weapons would be Iran, North Korea, and the like. A treaty renouncing nuclear weapons would be a modern-day repeat of the folly of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand pact, the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War.

Such symbolic gestures are not harmless. The signatories of Kellogg-Briand included all the aggressors of the 1930s. Democracies are slow to recognize aggressor nations because their motives are incomprehensible to us. Our enemies arm before we realize their intent, and our defensive measures follow only after long delay. We listen to our Winston Churchills very late. As a wise Roman said: “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.’

Disarmed, we would face the threat of even a single nuclear weapon without the ability to deter it. In the age of the intercontinental ballistic missile, not even the oceans offer strategic depth.

An American renunciation of nuclear weapons would be followed by a rush to proliferation as a dozen or more regional powers, no longer protected by an implicit or explicit American guarantee, build their own nuclear forces. Such a world, in which a multitude of rivalries and enmities become nuclear confrontations, would certainly be more dangerous than the present one.