06 March 2015

Tried, tested and failed

Concluding a piece about the growing dangers arising from nuclear proliferation the Economist says:
But for now the best that can be achieved is to search for ways to restore effective deterrence, bear down on proliferation and get back to the dogged grind of arms-control negotiations between the main nuclear powers. The unkicked addiction, 'the Economist', dated 7 March
My question is twofold: who will do the searching and what incentives will they have to get it right? On present trends we can be pretty sure that responsibility for a nuclear exchange-free world will fall to nationalist politicians, corrupt bureaucrats (national or United Nations), well-meaning bureaucrats (same) or well-meaning, dedicated but underfunded people working for non-governmental organizations. The same people, in short, who have collectively brought us, let's be factual, to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.

It's not just the identity of these people that's the problem; it's also that they have little financial incentive to maintain nuclear peace. They are not paid according to performance. So they have little incentive to explore innovative ways of forestalling proliferation or use of nuclear weapons that might do a better job than the existing, tried tested and failed methods.

I can't suggest 'ways to restore effective deterrence' but I can suggest a way that would encourage others to find such ways, and reward those that are successful. We could issue bonds that become redeemable only after a sustained period - thirty years, say - of nuclear peace. It would be up to the resulting coalition of motivated bondholders to explore the best ways of taking all the steps necessary to bring about that goal. These would probably include measures that existing bodies, because of their status or their short time horizons, do undertake nowadays, including, for example, building trust between schoolchildren of all nationalities and religions. Approaches encouraged by such Conflict Reduction Bonds would be diverse, because one single approach will not work, and adaptive, because the most effective measures are likely to change with time.  For a longer essay click here, and for the application of the Social Policy Bond principle to the Middle East click here.

No comments: