Nuclear Weapons for All?


John Wright


I wrote some time ago in Chapter 3 of the book, Destiny, that India and Pakistan were foolish in their pursuit of nuclear weapons. This was based on the overall stupidity of risking all human life in an escalating "little countries" war, and based on the obsolescence of missile delivery systems opposite strategic laser weapons available from satellite and ground installations. The hot topics of the moment now re nuclear weapons are the announcement by North Korea that it now has an active nuclear weapons program, and that the USA is prepared to eliminate pending nuclear weapons capability in Iraq. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the USA and any USA allies are facing a very large problem globally, if our intent is to deny other nations the "privilege" of having their own nuclear weapons.

On one hand, I could argue that all nations have the right to arm themselves with weapons of mass destruction, for that capability and the absurdity of its use was what finally brought the USA and the former Soviet Union to rational thinking and behavior re use of nuclear weapons in any escalating conflict. On the other hand, we become petrified with fear when we realize that a much larger number of smaller nations may not demonstrate the maturity, the sense of global responsibility or general political intelligence essential to refrain from using nuclear weapons.

If we stand back and look at this problem objectively, we come to realize that restraint is not common in world history. The odds of a future nuclear war go up considerably as more nations possess those weapons. It appears that we have few choices if we want to control that potentially disastrous situation, given that populations are increasing almost everywhere, and perceived need will eventually drive decisions to attack, based on imbalance between needs of the people and natural resources. We have never lacked opportunists as heads-of-state.

Peace-lovers have long argued for global military disarmament spanning all types of weapons. Unfortunately, our propensity to expand populations and meet the needs of the people is a more fundamental problem that makes the arguments of the peace lovers obviously impractical. We have always competed for desirable land and other natural resources, and nothing in our present or probable future that would change that competition is evident. We don’t even hear any discussion of the collision between expanding populations and limited resources in the media or the United Nations or any political platform. What is wrong with this picture?

I remember a time when India, while overpopulated relative to food resources, was not in any sense a military presence. Technology and the flow of time change that which was, and those of us who harbor outdated ideas about freezing national dominance to that which was comfortable some earlier time in history are due for a nasty jolt. Nothing stays the same for very long anywhere. Yesterday’s heroes and villains are nothing but memories, and the course of the world has changed massively in the past fifty years. Whether we look at India or any other developing nation makes no difference. World order has evolved and is evolving very quickly and strongly relative to even twenty years ago, and in terms of population the USA is an ever-smaller slice of the whole.

Our determination to control world events, based on moral high ground, which is absurd, or on military might or economic power is not respected by the other nations. Our proclamations relative to the illegality of activities like stem cell research are, on a global basis, laughable. We do not hold the cards to control world evolution. All we have, temporarily, are some military strength and some economic power. The UN, which appears nearly as neutered as the old League of Nations, wields no significant power, as it is financially strapped and not chartered or empowered to build a large military force and use it. As usual, it is excessive nationalism that undermines any efforts to build a global force, and we are as guilty as any other nation of causing that weakness.

The reality of terrorism now affecting the USA is a certain sign that our domination efforts in the Middle East are not and have not been appreciated. It will be most interesting to see how we respond to this problem moving forward in time. Will we adopt the position of Israel and counterattack each time we are attacked, or will we attempt a major military initiative to strip smaller nations of military weapons of mass destruction? If we choose the latter course, what exactly will we do with North Korea? The implications are ominous and our resources are not unlimited. Having Great Britain as our only announced ally doesn’t really help.

It seems that the USA is finally faced with the reality of its limitations. Will we slide gracefully into becoming just another nation or will we decide to duke it out? I don’t see any positive support from other NATO allies, Russia or any other powerful nations, though we may add Australia and Canada to the list of our active supporters in the wake of the Bali bombing.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves: What are our long-term objectives? TV shows aside, nobody likes police forces, especially when they are external to one’s own region or country. Do we continue to have the vision that we will control the world economically and/or militarily? What I find ironic is that the very success of democracy and capitalism elsewhere diminishes us as those who followed our lead became powerful and now have developed strong opinions that do not match ours on any number of topics. I am reminded of the scenario where a parent must finally relinquish control over a child as a direct result of making that child self-sufficient.

Nuclear weapons for all? That is not a question, it is a forecast. You have very little time left to change that outcome. How will you do it?