The rules of M.A.D. — all or nothing — gave us a false sense of safety during the Cold War. In an all-or-nothing world mired in a vast global political struggle, each side could attain relative normalcy. Normal life was disproportionate to the high stakes of the nuclear standoff — and we got used to it. All those layers of morality we built over that blinding apocalyptic core of immaculate annihilation could work a lot of miracles, providing that the promise of destruction was mutual, and total.
Weapons of mass destruction in the 9/11 era no longer represent the end of everything. The threshold to this brave new terror-nuke world is far lower than the threshold to M.A.D. Parity is no longer apparent. That makes catastrophe with a small ‘c’ far more likely to happen.
There's more to it than that, of course, but part of the point is that we at least seemed safer during the days of Mutually Assured Destruction, and in many ways we were safer.
An interesting argument, to be sure, and a complex one. I post it here because it makes me wonder:
Isn't this what Tom Tancredo was talking about when he said the "extremist" things he said?