A number of nuclear weapons issues (renewing the non-proliferation treaty, curbing global proliferation, spending vast sums on making and maintaining nukes) are becoming hotter. We can't seem to escape their lethal embrace.
Why haven't we rid humankind of nuclear weapons? These are the weapons that can end the grand evolutionary experiment (or God's handiwork, if you like) that we call humanity. We conceived of them, devoted human and material and financial resources to research and invent and build and use them, and they are clearly impossible without the human mind and human hands. We have constructed a massive species-suicide arsenal, still threatening humankind with almost 24,000 of these weapons, and not only refuse to give it up, we are proliferating it. Why? There are many reasons, including the following, all of which need to be addressed.
- The decision to develop nukes was entirely secret, arrogating this existential threat to a tiny priesthood in one country -- replicated more or less in every nation which has acquired these blasphemous things.
This problem is self explanatory and so patently anti-democratic that it is simply necessary to continue to point it out. Nothing conceived in such opacity can be good for democracy. In every approximation of global democracy (polls, petitions, UN General Assembly resolutions), the people of planet Earth have said they do not want these weapons.
- Nukes were seen as inevitable by scientists, as possibly about to be invented by a truly evil regime -- Germany under the Nazis -- and as a weapon to use to destroy evil.
In fact, nuclear weapons themselves are evil, period. They cannot be used for good purposes. Summoning evil into the world to fight evil is still evil and, with weapons that are so permanently toxic, so indiscriminate in their annihilatory capacity, and so costly in every way, the permanent evil of building these omnicidal weapons outranks all transitory evils they are meant to destroy. About all regimes we can say, This too will pass. We cannot say that about nuclear waste, which will be poisonous to life on Earth for geologic time spans. Not so incidentally, the Nazis were nowhere near inventing nukes.
- Nukes have a spun aura of bringing an end to war and keeping the peace in the aftermath.
First, historians have shown that the US broke Japanese codes and knew they were ready for a conditional surrender many months before the actual unconditional surrender. The war was prolonged, not shortened, because Truman wanted to use these frightening new bombs to prove to the Soviets that we were just crazy enough to do such things. Second, nukes are good for relatively rational chickenhawks, such as the thugs who ran the competing U.S.-S.U. empires for 45 years. Indeed, though the two empires never battled directly, they supplied weaponry, training and ideology to proxies who went to war all over the world -- often in wars that never would have erupted without the two suppliers of the means for war. Except for Hungary in 1956, every single war during the Cold War was fought on the soil of peoples of color. Nukes were only tested and used against people of color. They are the ultimate racist weapon.
- Any nation that has nuclear weapons has invested enormously in them, has achieved them, and is commensurately loathe to give them up.
Also, any nation with nukes is then a nuclear target. If nuclear war breaks out, no one is going to target New Zealand, a nation that is serious about keeping out nukes. Costa Rica is on exactly nobody's target list. Bhutan will not be nuked. The smartest security move is to get rid of your nukes, our nukes, any nation's nukes, unilaterally and as soon as technically feasible.
- Any nation without the Bomb desires it either for offensive or defensive (deterrent) threat power.
The Canberra Commission noted this. It is a powerful incentive for the nuclear weapons nations to move toward abolition immediately. Maintaining a nuclear-free world will be vastly easier than maintaining a world with only a handful of nuclear weapons nations.
- Since nuclear weapons are technically difficult to develop, the nations with them clearly are clever.
The nations with nukes are clever and those without them are wise. This is a long, tough process. Better start right now.