A interesting article on nuclear disarmament. 16 replies

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emonkies

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#1 9 years ago

IMHO this is a excellent article and commentary.

Why the Nobel Peace Prize Should Go to Nuclear Weapons - Yahoo! News

Why the Nobel Peace Prize Should Go to Nuclear Weapons

President Barack Obama's Nobel peace surprise was given "primarily for his work on and commitment to nuclear disarmament," according to Agot Valle, a Norwegian politician who served on the award committee. Valle told the Wall Street Journal that the stewards of the prize wanted to "support" Obama's goal, as expressed recently at the United Nations, "of a world without nuclear weapons."

It's tough to think of a goal more widely espoused than the dream of an H-bomb-free planet. Ronald Reagan and Jane Fonda, political opposites, came together on this one - in his second term, Reagan stunned his own advisers and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev by suggesting a treaty that would take nuclear arsenals down to "zero." (See pictures of President Obama's first eight months of diplomacy.)

As long as a nukeless world remains wishful thinking and pastoral rhetoric, we'll be all right. But if the Nobel committee truly cares about peace, they will think a little harder about actually trying to make it a reality. Open a history book and you'll see what the modern world looks like without nuclear weapons. It is horrible beyond description.

During the 31 years leading up to the first atomic bomb, the world without nuclear weapons engaged in two global wars resulting in the deaths of an estimated 78 million to 95 million people, uniformed and civilian. The world wars were the hideous expression of what happens when the human tendency toward conflict hooks up with the violent possibilities of the industrial age. The version of this story we are most familiar with today is the Nazi death machinery, and so we are often tempted to think that if Hitler had not happened, we would never have encountered assembly line murder. (See TIME's photo-essay "Fun with Photoshop: Obama's Other Awards")

The truth is that industrial killing was practiced by many nations in the old world without nuclear weapons. Soldiers were gassed and machine-gunned by the hundreds of thousands in the trenches of World War I, when Hitler was just another corporal in the Kaiser's army. By World War II, countries on both sides of the war used airplanes and artillery to rain death on battlefields as well as cities, until the number killed around the world was so huge the best estimates of the total number lost diverge by some 16 million souls. The dead numbered 62 million, or 78 million - somewhere in there.

So, when last we saw a world without nuclear weapons, human beings were killing each other with such feverish efficiency that they couldn't keep track of the victims to the nearest 15 million. Over three decades of industrialized war, the planet had averaged around three million dead per year. Why did that stop happening? (See the top 10 Obama-backlash moments.)

Is it because people no longer found reasons to fight? Hundreds if not thousands of wars, small and large, have been fought since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Is it because nations and tribes found a conscience regarding mass death? Clearly not - the slaughter in China during the Cultural Revolution, in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, in Rwanda between Hutu and Tutsi offer bloody proof. Is it the United Nations? Um, no. Is it globalism, and the web of commerce that increasingly connects the interests of the major powers? Yes, that certainly has an impact. But the global economy is a creation of the nuclear age. Major powers find ways to get along because the cost of armed conflict between them has become unthinkably high.

A world with nuclear weapons in it is a scary, scary place to think about. The industrialized world without nuclear weapons was a scary, scary place for real. But there is no way to un-ring the nuclear bell. The science and technology of nuclear weapons is widespread, and if nukes are outlawed someday, only outlaws will have nukes. (See TIME's Person of the Year: Barack Obama)

Instead of fantasies about a nuke-free planet where formerly bloodthirsty humans live together in peace, what the world needs is a safer, more stable nuclear umbrella. That probably means fewer nukes in fewer hands - when President Obama talks about strengthening the non-proliferation regime and stepping up efforts to secure loose nukes, he is on the right track. Nuclear weapons are only helpful if they are never used.

But zero weapons is a terrible idea. As bad as they are, nukes have been instrumental in reversing the long, seemingly inexorable trend in modernity toward deadlier and deadlier conflicts. If the Nobel committee wants someday to honor the force that has done the most over the past 60 years to end industrial-scale war, they will award a peace prize to the bomb.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#2 9 years ago

I think the author of that article isn't aware of how close we got to nuclear war during the Cold War. The casualties of a nuclear war would make the casualties of the world wars combined look insignificant.

Until now the nuclear deterrance worked because it was based on the assumption that people with nuclear weapons act rationally. Since countries like North Korea have nukes by now that assumption doesn't apply anymore and the risks could outweigh the benefit. And even if that problem didn't exist there is always the possibility of human or technical error causing a nuclear war.

A world without nukes maybe an utopia, but limiting the number of nukes and preventing more countries from building or stocking up on them is still a realistic and worthwhile cause.




Commissar MercZ

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#3 9 years ago
MrFancypants;5034082I think the author of that article isn't aware of how close we got to nuclear war during the Cold War. The casualties of a nuclear war would make the casualties of the world wars combined look insignificant.

Much less all the conflict that broke out elsewhere. Sure the United States and other developed nations stayed "safe", but what about what the Vietnam War caused in Indochina? The civil wars in Africa? The violence in the Middle-East? The coup d'etats across Latin America? Where was the safety for those people? The Western world may have gotten relative peace, but violence simply got concentrated heavily across the Third World.

A world without nukes maybe an utopia, but limiting the number of nukes and preventing more countries from building or stocking up on them is still a realistic and worthwhile cause.

And I agree with this statement.

Maybe we can give the Nuclear Weapon the Congressional Medal of Honor or the Soviet Peace Prize, it did good for those respective nations.




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#4 9 years ago

MrFancypants;5034082I think the author of that article isn't aware of how close we got to nuclear war during the Cold War. The casualties of a nuclear war would make the casualties of the world wars combined look insignificant.

Until now the nuclear deterrance worked because it was based on the assumption that people with nuclear weapons act rationally. Since countries like North Korea have nukes by now that assumption doesn't apply anymore and the risks could outweigh the benefit. And even if that problem didn't exist there is always the possibility of human or technical error causing a nuclear war.[/QUOTE]

The casualties that would be taken by attacking a nuclear power is precisely why they work and why they are required. Look at Israel, and India & Pakistan for the most recent examples. As soon as they got their hands on nuclear weapons it became to expensive to attack them conventionally and the attacks on them became the same as against the west; terrorism.

The problem is when you get a country with fanatics at the helm who think god will protect them. That's scary.

MrFancypants;5034082 A world without nukes maybe an utopia, but limiting the number of nukes and preventing more countries from building or stocking up on them is still a realistic and worthwhile cause.

A world without nuclear weapons is a world where we will quickly kill more people than nuclear weapons have ever done or are ever likely to.

Really, as long as a country understands that using them will result in their complete annihilation I don't have a problem with them having nukes. It's inevitable that other nations will get them eventually anyway. [QUOTE=Commissar MercZ;5034086]Much less all the conflict that broke out elsewhere. Sure the United States and other developed nations stayed "safe", but what about what the Vietnam War caused in Indochina? The civil wars in Africa? The violence in the Middle-East? The coup d'etats across Latin America? Where was the safety for those people? The Western world may have gotten relative peace, but violence simply got concentrated heavily across the Third World.

And I agree with this statement.

Maybe we can give the Nuclear Weapon the Congressional Medal of Honor or the Soviet Peace Prize, it did good for those respective nations.

What the article is highlighting is that attacking a nuclear power is not worth it. The Arab nations in the middle east around Israel fought and lost three wars trying to wipe Israel out. Attacks suddenly came to a abrupt end when they picked up Atomic weapons.

It's true. Being prepared for war is the best way of preserving the peace.




Commissar MercZ

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#5 9 years ago
Freyr;5034345 Really, as long as a country understands that using them will result in their complete annihilation I don't have a problem with them having nukes. It's inevitable that other nations will get them eventually anyway. What the article is highlighting is that attacking a nuclear power is not worth it. The Arab nations in the middle east around Israel fought and lost three wars trying to wipe Israel out. Attacks suddenly came to a abrupt end when they picked up Atomic weapons.

The wars abruptly stopped because Egypt's antagonism fell during Sadat's reign, and Israel plugged in Golan Heights to keep Syria from moving in that approach. Iran's rise also helped to distract the Arab nations, as well as the Republican vs. Monarchical struggles that took place between the Arab states then.

Yes, the nukes prevented them from getting a future war, but it wasn't solely because of the nukes. Plenty of violence still occurred from within Israel until terrorist activity shifted to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Coming from a family of refugees and knowing many whose lives were ruined by war being perpetrated by these powers, I don't think the authors' assessment is accurate about the Nuclear Weapon's effects of deterrence and MAD. Sure, it stopped something like another world war, but there has been violence and genocide regardless. Peace for a few isn't world peace.




Nemmerle Forum Mod

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#6 9 years ago

MrFancypants;5034082I think the author of that article isn't aware of how close we got to nuclear war during the Cold War. The casualties of a nuclear war would make the casualties of the world wars combined look insignificant. [/QUOTE]

I don't think we were ever close to a nuclear war. Ultimately a lot of people talked about it and blew smoke over it but the only wars fought were proxy wars, and when push came to shove everyone backed off very quickly.

MrFancypants;5034082Until now the nuclear deterrance worked because it was based on the assumption that people with nuclear weapons act rationally. Since countries like North Korea have nukes by now that assumption doesn't apply anymore and the risks could outweigh the benefit.[/QUOTE]

You think Kim Jong would start a nuclear war? He's spent the last few decades sitting on his country watching things tick over, what makes you think if he gets nukes he's suddenly going to start hitting everything in sight?

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034082] And even if that problem didn't exist there is always the possibility of human or technical error causing a nuclear war.

Such as? I mean I know it's possible to lose a nuke here and there but to start a full out nuclear war?

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034082]A world without nukes maybe an utopia, but limiting the number of nukes and preventing more countries from building or stocking up on them is still a realistic and worthwhile cause.

And then what are you going to do about biological and chemical weapons? Nukes are an interesting party piece, they're popular - but if you really want to make a mess of someone there are numerous other, arguably equally effective ways.




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#7 9 years ago

Freyr;5034345The casualties that would be taken by attacking a nuclear power is precisely why they work and why they are required. Look at Israel, and India & Pakistan for the most recent examples. As soon as they got their hands on nuclear weapons it became to expensive to attack them conventionally and the attacks on them became the same as against the west; terrorism.[/QUOTE] I understand the concept of mutual destruction but that doesn't change anything about the points I made in my last post - which you ignored.

The problem is when you get a country with fanatics at the helm who think god will protect them. That's scary.

I don't think you have to look very far to find fanatics like that. I can't remember the exact words, but I think Bush said that he was acting in God's name.

But fanatics are of course not the only danger. Escalation is another important factor when dealing with nuclear weapons. Look at the Cold War - due to a Soviet superiority in conventional weapons NATO planned to use tactical nuclear weapons in response to a conventional war. This would lead to the Russians using tactical nuclear weapons as well. NATO's tactical nukes were stationed close to areas with very high population density, so their nuclear attacks would have required retaliation against civilians. At this point launching an all-out preventive nuclear attack quickly becomes the only option left.

And conventional conflicts occur all the time, even when nukes exist. Look at India-Pakistan border conflicts which occured as recently as in the 1990s, at a time when both countries were well armed with nuclear weapons.

A world without nuclear weapons is a world where we will quickly kill more people than nuclear weapons have ever done or are ever likely to.

That may be your opinion, but I don't see any arguments that prove this.

If you look at how conventional wars are fought these days then the statement doesn't seem to make much sense. Wars are decided quickly by a relatively small number of high-tech weapons that are targeted mostly at military objectives. Look at Georgia, Iraq, the 6-day war and other conventional wars fought with modern weapons. Your statement also completly ignores the political situations that lead to war in the first place and that always depend on the balance of power between individual nations. With globalization and multi-national organizations like the NATO wars are less likely simply because most attacking countries would be quickly isolated.

Let's do that math. How many casualties did we see due to conventional wars since 1945? A couple of million perhaps. Now compare this to the casualties of an all out nuclear war that might even destroy humanity altogether. That's billions of casualties. You'd need thousands of years of conventional warfare at its present pace to reach that number. Even if you assign low probabilities to nuclear war, to which we got dangerously close at several occasions, you won't be able to prove your point.

[QUOTE=Nemmerle;5034386]I don't think we were ever close to a nuclear war. Ultimately a lot of people talked about it and blew smoke over it but the only wars fought were proxy wars, and when push came to shove everyone backed off very quickly.

Such as? I mean I know it's possible to lose a nuke here and there but to start a full out nuclear war?

All you need is a loud noise when everyone is nervously fingering the red button.

If you google a bit you can find some instances in which this allegedly happened, a Soviet submarine captain who wanted to fire his tactical nukes when he thought he was under attack, a malfunctioning early warning system during a major NATO exercise, unannounced missile tests. There are a lot of such reports, most of them probably exaggerated, but each still showing that Murphy's law also applies to the systems regulating nuclear weapons.

You think Kim Jong would start a nuclear war? He's spent the last few decades sitting on his country watching things tick over, what makes you think if he gets nukes he's suddenly going to start hitting everything in sight?

My point is just that this guy isn't reasonable. And without reasonable behavior the mutual destruction idea doesn't necessarily work out in our favour.

Maybe you are the sort of type who would give a weapon to another person and trust that person not to use it against you, but I doubt that many people would give a weapon to a mentally instabile person.

And then what are you going to do about biological and chemical weapons? Nukes are an interesting party piece, they're popular - but if you really want to make a mess of someone there are numerous other, arguably equally effective ways.

Arguably, chemical and biological weapons won't instantly stop your enemy from shooting back and are easier to protect against (I'd guess that most military installations have ABC protection). A nuclear first strike with short enough pre-warning times might do the trick though.




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#8 9 years ago

MrFancypants;5034398I understand the concept of mutual destruction but that doesn't change anything about the points I made in my last post - which you ignored.[/QUOTE]

No, I think I covered them.

You said that nuclear deterrence works on the basis that the other person is rational. I said that the problem is when you have fanatics with nukes that think god will protect them. (or by extension, think that when they die they will go to paradise!) The North Koreans aren't fanatics, they are communists.

They want to die no more than we do, everything they do makes sense to them.

MrFancypants;5034398

I don't think you have to look very far to find fanatics like that. I can't remember the exact words, but I think Bush said that he was acting in God's name.[/QUOTE]

You see my point?

MrFancypants;5034398But fanatics are of course not the only danger. Escalation is another important factor when dealing with nuclear weapons. Look at the Cold War - due to a Soviet superiority in conventional weapons NATO planned to use tactical nuclear weapons in response to a conventional war. This would lead to the Russians using tactical nuclear weapons as well. NATO's tactical nukes were stationed close to areas with very high population density, so their nuclear attacks would have required retaliation against civilians. At this point launching an all-out preventive nuclear attack quickly becomes the only option left.[/QUOTE] That's deterrence, and while mutually assured destruction is a stupid idea the simple truth is that it works.

Have you ever heard the saying that "If it's stupid but it works, it's not stupid." ?

MrFancypants;5034398 And conventional conflicts occur all the time, even when nukes exist. Look at India-Pakistan border conflicts which occured as recently as in the 1990s, at a time when both countries were well armed with nuclear weapons.[/QUOTE]

A border skirmish is not a conflict on the scale of WW1 or WW2.

MrFancypants;5034398 That may be your opinion, but I don't see any arguments that prove this. [/QUOTE]

Really. The atomic and nuclear strike on hiroshima and nagasaki were the 2nd and 3rd most destructive strikes of WW2. But doesn't that mean the most destructive strike was achieved using only conventional weapons?

MrFancypants;5034398 If you look at how conventional wars are fought these days then the statement doesn't seem to make much sense. Wars are decided quickly by a relatively small number of high-tech weapons that are targeted mostly at military objectives. Look at Georgia, Iraq, the 6-day war and other conventional wars fought with modern weapons. [/QUOTE]

Those relatively small number of high tech weapons targeted mostly at military objectives killed how many iraqi soldiers in the course of a week?

Allow me to spell it out. Without nuclear weapons large scale wars will become possible again. The logical result is large armies of a scale not seen since the development of nuclear weapons.

Yes, I know that our current armies are small. Look at the size of the professional armies in the UK and the US at the start of WW1 and WW2. When war breaks out, they tend to expand rather rapidly to the point where they number in the millions.

When two such armies clash, how many people do you think will die? How many more as more and more people are conscripted?

You know, after WW1 people thought that a war on that scale was simply impossible because they'd learnt from it. It took only twenty years for another war on that scale to break out. People are now saying that it's never going to happen again because they've learnt from it.

History repeats itself because nobody was listening the first time.

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034398] Your statement also completly ignores the political situations that lead to war in the first place and that always depend on the balance of power between individual nations. With globalization and multi-national organizations like the NATO wars are less likely simply because most attacking countries would be quickly isolated.

Your making our point.

The balance of power when both sides have nukes make it impossible to "win" a war without a cost that is literally unthinkable.

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034398] Let's do that math. How many casualties did we see due to conventional wars since 1945? A couple of million perhaps. Now compare this to the casualties of an all out nuclear war that might even destroy humanity altogether. That's billions of casualties. You'd need thousands of years of conventional warfare at its present pace to reach that number. Even if you assign low probabilities to nuclear war, to which we got dangerously close at several occasions, you won't be able to prove your point.

Bad argument. Your taking the current level of fighting and saying that in the absence of atomic/nuclear weapons it would remain the same, ignoring that the past sixty years haven't seen a major power attack each other in anything other than low intensity proxy warfare.

Shall we examine the sixty years before the invention and stockpiling of nukes?

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034398] All you need is a loud noise when everyone is nervously fingering the red button.

If you google a bit you can find some instances in which this allegedly happened, a Soviet submarine captain who wanted to fire his tactical nukes when he thought he was under attack, a malfunctioning early warning system during a major NATO exercise, unannounced missile tests. There are a lot of such reports, most of them probably exaggerated, but each still showing that Murphy's law also applies to the systems regulating nuclear weapons.

And the fact that we are discussing this kind of proves deterance works. Personally, as someone who'd likely be dead in some completely pointless war without nuclear weapons I'm quite happy with them existing.

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034398] My point is just that this guy isn't reasonable. And without reasonable behavior the mutual destruction idea doesn't necessarily work out in our favour.

I'm not overly worried about Iran getting nukes, given that he's said he's going to remove Isreal from the map do you really think that Isreal won't do a repeat of their last reactor raid?

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034398] Maybe you are the sort of type who would give a weapon to another person and trust that person not to use it against you, but I doubt that many people would give a weapon to a mentally instabile person.

Uh, no. However, we aren't giving countries these weapons. They are developing them themselves. What gives you the right to use force to prevent them from having weapons you already have?

You just sound a little imperialistic.

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034398] Arguably, chemical and biological weapons won't instantly stop your enemy from shooting back and are easier to protect against (I'd guess that most military installations have ABC protection). A nuclear first strike with short enough pre-warning times might do the trick though.

It's NBC these days. It's impossible to protect against a nuclear strike. Even the US command centre, buried under a mountain can't survive a direct strike from a nuke. We don't have deflector shields.

Biological weapons? How can you protect against being hit with a weaponised version of smallpox or worse. Chemical weapons like nerve gas can be protected against to some degree, but you really think that everybody in the military is going to survive a strike from it?

Especially given that the ideal strike for a biological weapon is delivered by infecting a large trade exhibition, football match or whatever. By the time they figure it out when the incubation period ends weeks or months later millions are dying and more are infected and spreading the disease without knowing it. By comparison chemical and biological weapons make nukes look like completely honorable and respectable weapons, yet which do you want to ditch?




emonkies

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#9 9 years ago

The author of the article agrees by all means to reduce the stockpile.

But certain people, not just Obama have tossed around the number of zero warheads, a nuclear weapon free world. That is unrealistic and dangerous. As said in the article, "The nuclear genie is out of the bottle, it can be resealed".

I think what the author meant was that in their own perverted way nuclear weapons due to their own horrific damage and the consequences entailed, have caused a peace of their own.

The various military industrial complexes in the various countries around the world do produce lots of weapons but that is almost a release valve to vent off our destructive nature versus a no nuke modern technology fragfest.

We saw how much death and destruction was brought about by modern weapons in WW2, imagine a world with more advanced and deadlier and more efficient killing machines let loose on the world because they no longer have to fear getting nuked.




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#10 9 years ago

MrFancypants;5034398All you need is a loud noise when everyone is nervously fingering the red button.

If you google a bit you can find some instances in which this allegedly happened, a Soviet submarine captain who wanted to fire his tactical nukes when he thought he was under attack, a malfunctioning early warning system during a major NATO exercise, unannounced missile tests. There are a lot of such reports, most of them probably exaggerated, but each still showing that Murphy's law also applies to the systems regulating nuclear weapons.[/QUOTE]

Exactly, there are a lot of such reports and no-one has ever started a nuclear war over them.

MrFancypants;5034398My point is just that this guy isn't reasonable. And without reasonable behavior the mutual destruction idea doesn't necessarily work out in our favour.

Maybe you are the sort of type who would give a weapon to another person and trust that person not to use it against you, but I doubt that many people would give a weapon to a mentally instabile person.

What evidence do you have that he isn't reasonable?

[QUOTE=MrFancypants;5034398]Arguably, chemical and biological weapons won't instantly stop your enemy from shooting back and are easier to protect against (I'd guess that most military installations have ABC protection). A nuclear first strike with short enough pre-warning times might do the trick though.

You won't stop someone from shooting back by nuking them, that's what a second strike option is for.




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