IG’s Peace Blog

Peace and its many aspects

Nukes and peace

I just wanted to share a few thoughts about nuclear weapons, since they have been in the news again (Iran, Russia, etc…).  However, I am not writing to critique any particular policy…just to offer a few observations.

First of all, nukes are really scary.  If you are not scared of nukes (sure there are other things to be scared of too…it’s not “either/or” of course) you should be.  I think its healthy to be scared of nukes.  Second, nukes are amazing. What do I mean?  Well, what is happening with a nuclear explosion?  Seems to me (and I got this off of a British TV mini series, the name of which escapes me) that a nuke is releasing the energy put in the creation at the big bang.   Of course, nuclear power is too, but in a more controlled way.  This is very primal…this is really getting to the heart of things…and we use this amazing force for weaponry?!  One might ask if this is a sign of a mature species.  One might wonder, if we haven’t had to be very lucky to have survived the nuclear age. You don’t think so?  Go read up on what we know now about the Cuban missile crisis (look at the section in this article called “Historical Notes”).  Just plain good luck and not great statesmanship got us through that one.  We didn’t know at the time that the Russian general on the ground had tactical/battlefield nuclear weapons and the authority to use them.  If Kennedy had chosen invasion rather than blockade…who knows what might have happened.

Some say nukes can’t be uninvented, so we just have to get used to them.  I’ve never understood this.  We have the ability to produce any number of vectors that could destroy life on the planet.  Does that mean they should be deployed and we should just get used to them?   Hmmmm…

OK…do you know how many nukes there were altogether during the Cold War?  Some tens of thousands/1  Do you know how many it would have taken to pretty much wipe out humanity (what with nuclear winter, and one thing or another) probably no more than a couple of hundred.  Why do you suppose there were so many?  Also remember that most of these were MIRVs (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) which means that a single missile might have about seven warheads…Again, one might question (as many have) whether rationality was really the order of the day…Hmmmm

So, are nukes compatible with positive peace?  I would say probably not, at least not over the long run.  Basically, nukes are about fear, distrust and the drive to dominate; none of which are compatible with stable peace.  So disarmament–not just of nukes, of course–has been correctly identified as a central part of building sustainable peace.  Also, btw, nukes and other sophisticated arms systems are very, very (not to say astronomically) expensive, and peace building efforts could certainly use the resources liberated by reducing arms expenditures.

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November 14, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] you refer back to an earlier post on this blog about nuclear weapons, you might feel inclined to say “yes, but…they still have enough […]

    Pingback by Good news, of sorts « IG’s Peace Blog | July 7, 2009 | Reply


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