Tom Schelling died yesterday at age 95. Serious people argue that by arguing behind the scenes for his Nobel-Prize-winning idea of a focal point that there be no first use of nuclear weapons he was more responsible than anybody else for the fact that we did not have a nuclear war during the Cold War, a period during which on several occasions we came much closer than most people realized. Unfortunately it seems that with his death we seem to have moved into an era in which his old norm has broken down, and people ranging from some around the current president of Russia as well as his great fan, the president-elect of the Untied States, have taken to talking loosely about such use of nuclear weapons. This is the greatest single worry I have about the near future, and I suspect that it was shared by the late Thomas C. Schelling.
I attach a link here to a post I made about him and this issue at much greater length back in August. At that time I announced that he would be making a speech at James Madison University on September 14. I believe he wanted to make that speech, and confirmed that he would a few weeks before it, only to have his wife send me a message a few hours later stating that he would be unable to due to health reasons. Clearly those health reasons were serious, and I deeply regret his passing. He was a kind and humble as well as very wise man, for all his brilliance. The world will miss him.