Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Nuclear Free World: A Pipe Dream

Obama's recent proclamation that the world shall be free of nuclear weapons and the fawning of certain commentators makes me laugh.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't commit to reduce the nuclear capabilities that the major powers have. The power to incinerate the world several times over is a bit excessive. But my problem lies with the idea that we can or should 'eliminate' nuclear weapons altogether.

This is an issue where Obama is not 'listening to the science' as some would say. Nuclear weaponry are a valid science and cutting funding for more advanced nuclear weaponry is a naive move since I can guarantee you that other nations are in the process of making more technologically advanced weapons even as they cut back (if they are cutting back at all) overall numbers.

But beyond the 'science' hypocrisy Obama is showing, why is having a nuclear arsenel a good idea? If the USA was to destroy all its nuclear weapons wouldn't the rest of the world follow suit?

Of course not. Israel has dozens of nuclear devices and officially claims to have none. India and Pakistan both developed them long after non-proliferation discussions and nuclear disarmament began in the USA and Russia. Iran will still develop nuclear weapons not because Israel has them but because it is a powerful stick to hold over the heads of its enemies. Don't think this already happens?

North Korea uses its nuclear arsenel to blackmail the West with great success. The world knows that North Korea has nuclear weapons, and the world knows that its missiles can easily reach Japan (this is why the typically peace-loving Japanese people are in such a fright over North Korea's missile tests). It is also general knowledge that Tokyo, the largest city in the world with over 38 million people, is well within range of a potential nuclear missile. North Korea doesn't need to say one word about its nuclear arsenel or threaten to drop the bomb on Tokyo so bluntly, we all know they could do it.

Israel also uses its nuclear arsenel with great success in fending off threats to its national security. There was a time when practically every Arab nation was constantly seeking to destroy Israel and push its people into the sea, they fought war after war simply to survive (1949 Independence War, 1953 Suez Crisis, 1967 Seven-Day War, 1973 Yom Kippur War). It was only after it became known that Israel had nuclear weapons that other Arab nations decided to rely on paramilitary groups and non-government terrorists to attack Israel instead. It is widely undestood that if the Arab nations were to attempt to wipe out Israel that Israel would respond by dropping nuclear bombs on the offending nations' capitals and major cities.

Here is my nightmare scenario, should the USA eliminate its entire nuclear arsenel you can be guaranteed several things.

  1. Japan will look to develop the capability to use nuclear weapons to be able to respond should North Korea decide to drop a bomb on Tokyo.
  2. South Korea will examine its prospects similarly.
  3. China, should they choose not to eliminate their arsenel, will use their nuclear arsenel as a stick to keep the US out of China-Taiwan affairs. Once the US abandons Taiwan, it will have no choice but to capitulate.
  4. Iran will, if they are not already, proceed on their plans with more gusto than before.
  5. Enemies, or competitors of Iran, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt will look to nuclear armament as a response to Iranian actions.
  6. Any tinpot dictator in Africa looking to make a name for himself will develop and threaten to deploy a nuclear bomb in order to control his neighbours and exact concessions from the major powers.
Perhaps I'm wrong and with nuclear weapons gone the world will be all lollipops and sunshine, but I strongly doubt it.

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