I Have a Dream: A Century Without Nuclear War

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by Jabbadabbado, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Well, who doesn't have that dream?

    SuperWatto pointed out in a recent post my narcissism in framing human events within the context of my own lifespan. Call it a weakness, but it reminded me that I may be lucky enough to live to see August 9, 2045 celebrated as 100 years without a nuclear weapon used in warfare.

    Mark Twain is reputed to have said that if history does not actually repeat itself, it does rhyme. I first began thinking about that in the context of the great recession and Galbraith's book on the 1929 crash and the Great Depression, and his speculation about how and why investment bubbles repeat. The crash of 2008 and the Great Recession rhymed with 1929 and the Depression, and Galbraith speculates that it's the inevitable result of the end of first living memory and then institutional memory of what happened, freeing people to make mistakes similar or identical to those made by their predecessors.

    Can that analogy be extended to all kinds of human behavior? What kinds of memory do we have as a wall against repetition and rhyming? The living memory of everyone who witnessed the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts will soon be gone. Institutional memory persists. Many countries have ongoing nuclear weapons programs and nuclear strategies. We still benefit from second generation living memory of the people who developed weapons programs and policies at the height of the cold war. We hope that Mutually Assured Destruction is self-explanatory enough not to require a live demonstration, yet the people who developed it all had living memory of Nagasaki.

    Beyond living memory and institutional memory comes cultural memory. The Japanese will likely retain a cultural memory of Nagasaki and Hiroshima for generations. If cultural memory fades there is still academic memory retained by historians, although we can be confident about how little historians can do to prevent history from rhyming. Finally, when all else is gone, raw archaeological evidence will likely persist.

    So, if detonating a nuclear device is like forming an investment bubble, then the human race is in serious trouble. The question would be: what can we do to artificially extend the memory of Nagasaki as a preventive measure? In terms of small steps, I'd say we should try to turn the 100th anniversary of Nagasaki, provided we don't get a nuclear war between now and then, into a global celebration of a century of nuclear peace, and then promote it as an international holiday, with everyone on the planet getting a day off work.

    Nothing promotes institutional and cultural memory like a day off work. That's why people remember July 4 as the day George Washington was crowned king of America, and this could potentially be bigger than Christmas and New Year's Day combined.

    I'm going to work on living long enough to celebrate this international holiday, and start thinking about ways to promote this as a global holiday with participation from every country on the planet.

    So, the point of this thread is:

    1. If anyone can think of any other great ways to prevent a nuclear war, please post them here, although I doubt you're going to come up with anything better than this.

    2. We have three decades to turn this into a global labor holiday with 100% participation. Where do we start?

  2. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    A worldwide 3d Special Edition release and mandatory school viewing of
    [image=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/1/18/Drstrangelove1sheet-.jpg/220px-Drstrangelove1sheet-.jpg]
  3. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    That's cheating. 3D is the universal solution to practically every problem.
  4. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    The only real way to do this would be the elimination of nuclear weapons from across the globe, which is not going to happen.

    This is a great idea, and a great post to start, but I fear that as a species, we lack the political will to do what is necessary to prevent such an occurrence without another nuclear detonation, which may very well lead to WWIII.

    I hope that I am wrong.

    On your second point, we can start with a viral internet campaign. It is the quickest and easiest way to reach out across the planet nowadays.

    Peace,

    V-03
  5. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
  6. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I'll start working on my YouTube video and Facebook page. If creating a Facebook Cause about it doesn't guarantee world peace in perpetuity, then perhaps nothing will.
  7. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Eh, I'm banking on a nuclear war myself. Otherwise, what else am I going to do with my thousands of dollars of "Mad Max" gear and stockpile of weapons that I collected because of the concerns you previously laid out in the resource management thread?
  8. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Meh, I've won and lost and partially regained a very small fortune in energy investments. Things would have been so much easier had I just bought Apple stock.
  9. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    That means you're a....a...1%!

    When can I come over and occupy..er... live in your spare bedroom?
  10. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Can that analogy be extended to all kinds of human behavior? What kinds of memory do we have as a wall against repetition and rhyming? The living memory of everyone who witnessed the Hiroshima and Nagasaki blasts will soon be gone. Institutional memory persists. Many countries have ongoing nuclear weapons programs and nuclear strategies. We still benefit from second generation living memory of the people who developed weapons programs and policies at the height of the cold war. We hope that Mutually Assured Destruction is self-explanatory enough not to require a live demonstration, yet the people who developed it all had living memory of Nagasaki.


    It's a bit of an urban legend that Stephen Hawking is so interested in space exploration because he sees nuclear war as impossible to avoid in the grand scheme.

    The odds seem to be stacked against time spent without nuclear warfare. Even WITH Nagasaki in living memory we still had the Cuban Missile crisis, in which nuclear war came very, very close.

    The difficulty is this: historically humans have engaged in war as a not-uncommon means of settling conflict. In fact, preponderance for war seems to be built into human society itself: we conduct society based on competition for resources, be they wealth, land and -- probably most war-assuring of all -- the means with which we find a mate.

    Look at it any way you like but whether you're male or female and the decision on who you have sex with is based on resource competition and not empathy and human emotion, how can violence and war NOT be the result as the losers take issue with the victors? Take this scenario and that there has been actually FOUR world wars at least and not two (Seven Years War and Napoleonic were fought all over the place), then it seems that the world is doomed when you take the long view. I think this is touched on in 'Fog of War' and several other works: nuclear weapons and human fallibility working in constant permutation over an infinite timeline is eventually going to result in a nuclear weapon being used.

    If there is any answer, it seems, it has been in economic integration. If war is a battle of us versus them, then "us" must be reduced to the singular 'I'. And the best way to do that is to blur the lines of tribes or nations as much as possible.

    So then, here's my proposal: blurring of the elites. Free Trade, for lack of a better word. Think about it: you hate those Russians. You want to nuke those Russians. Those Russians want to nuke you.

    But wait, comrade... don't you REMEMBER? You OWN land in Russia now!

    Yes, that's right. If there's a way to deter war, it's to give each side vested interest in the other. And the easiest way to do that is set up a system where the elites OWN **** in the very nation they're supposed to hate. Where they might go there regularly and do business.

    If the American president wants to make war on a nation but the most powerful company in America owns a lot of high-end real estate in Moscow, guess who's thinking twice about a nuclear strike.

    That's a very cynical way of avoiding nuclear conflict, but I think it has one of the best long-term chances of succeeding. True, it would mostly have to work in a general, unregulated way. But in concept I think it might work.
  11. FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
    star 5

    Make them watch Threads instead


    That should be enough to put anyone off
  12. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Yes. I second that.
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Gonk I think you're onto something in that previous post. In my view we've gone a really long way toward the creation of a stateless ultra wealthy class. Look at Rupert Murdoch. Yes, he got his U.S. citizenship in mid-career, but I think that only emphasizes the fundamentally stateless quality of him and his global media empire. A guy who owns tv stations in Moscow, Beijing, New York and Sao Paulo is going to bring his assets to bear against global thermonuclear war. If we're really going to save the species and its civilization, we need a small army of Rupert Murdochs.

    Global business brings people together. Normally, we would be outraged about toxic manufacturing practices and virtual slave labor in China. But since we love our iPads and iPhones so much, it makes us a bit more forgiving of the quirky cultural difference from us in the countries that make the products we adore.
  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Except the "you own land in Russia now" defense brings with a whole host of problems, most of which aren't even lost to history. I agree that an integrated world economy makes it less likely that nations, or alliances of nations, would become embroiled in a global war. It's a reality that is in development now. However, I think this effect is diminished the further concentrates themselves on the micro-macro continuum, although that idea may not be accurate depending on the scale. It's because wars themselves don't exist in isolation of policy, they exist to further it.

    If the American president wants to make war on a nation but the most powerful company in America owns a lot of high-end real estate in Moscow, guess who's thinking twice about a nuclear strike.

    But that beholden nature works both ways. lets say Apple, which contributes massive amounts of revenue to the US economy, is having labor problems in Malaysia. Or there are rumblings of a new government which has eyes on nationalizing Apple manufacturing centers. The reality is that Apple's economy is probably larger than Malaysia's. Should Apple have more of a say then? Would a country be more willing to go to war on the request of a large corporation? Or even the corporation itself? It's the stuff of science fiction. At the height of its empire, the British government would deploy troops and carry out military objectives precisely on the request of entities like the East India Company. While the East India Company was a hybrid (it was a private company with a public government charter), the company also had its own standing army made up of British troops and private mercenaries. So corporate influence might deter national conflict ala WWI or WWII, is such influence moving us into a forthcoming neo-colonial era? Instead of a nuclear war taking place between US and Russia, will historians in the future study the great Apple-Microsoft War of 2030? You know, that's the one where both corporations used low yield neutron bombs on each other's factories, and engaged in proxy fights to get trade concessions from the countries they operated in.




  15. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Ah. You're talking about the EU! Where once there were two eternally warring nations, there is now Merkozy.
    Well, if we survive the current ordeal, you may be proven right. For now, with all the wealthy Northern Europeans angry at all the lazy Southern Europeans, it looks more like Mr44 is right.
  16. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    Except the "you own land in Russia now" defense brings with a whole host of problems, most of which aren't even lost to history. I agree that an integrated world economy makes it less likely that nations, or alliances of nations, would become embroiled in a global war. It's a reality that is in development now. However, I think this effect is diminished the further concentrates themselves on the micro-macro continuum, although that idea may not be accurate depending on the scale. It's because wars themselves don't exist in isolation of policy, they exist to further it.

    In THEORY they exist to further it. But here's the funny thing about war: it ain't your *****, so to speak.

    The aforementioned film "Threads" is a good example of this. The film in no way takes a good look at the political situation, but it's clearly there. And war or threat of war is indeed being used in Cold War terms by the governments in question as seen by ourselves time and again. But once it is DONE and once the bombs have dropped, the entire situation is no longer in the hands of either side. Society crumbles and nature's cruelty rushes in to fill the gap. Within a generation language deteriorates, government fades and people start aging like crazy because life's become so difficult. Life itself carries less meaning as people don't want to get attached to people who might not be there tomorrow.

    Ten years after nuclear war, it seems a very silly and pointless question as to whose policy the brief war has furthered.

    The best real historical example of War getting out of hands of both sides is WWI. That was a conflict that mutated and flung social order to the wind on its own agenda: while the sides stayed (mostly) static, the real outcomes of the war were things that nobody predicted and the degree to which any side benefitted in the manner they were hoping is questionable. The British, Germans and French, for instance, looked upon the war with the expectation that when it ended everything would just look the same except they'd have more political clout. They were thinking the Franco-Prussian War. What they got was a world that was completely changed (or rather, a world that took the next to last step in a global change that had started circa 1776). War is rarely so clean, tidy and contained now, and is not seen in that way either. Even the victors will not often get the victory they wanted.


    But that beholden nature works both ways. lets say Apple, which contributes massive amounts of revenue to the US economy, is having labor problems in Malaysia. Or there are rumblings of a new government which has eyes on nationalizing Apple manufacturing centers. The reality is that Apple's economy is probably larger than Malaysia's. Should Apple have more of a say then? Would a country be more willing to go to war on the request of a large corporation? Or even the corporation itself? It's the stuff of science fiction. At the height of its empire, the British government would deploy troops and carry out military objectives precisely on the request of entities like the East India Company. While the East India Company was a hybrid (it was a private company with a public government charter), the company also had its own standing army made up of British troops and private mercenaries. So corporate influence might deter national conflict ala WWI or WWII, is such influence moving us into a forthcoming neo-colonial era? Instead of a nuclear war taking place between US and Russia, will historians in the future study the great Apple-Microsoft War of 2030? You know, that's the one where both corporations used low yield neutron bombs on each other's factories, and engaged in proxy fights to get trade concessions from the countries they operated in.

    The role of the East Indian Company is duly noted, and it was a truly odious situation -- the Opium Wars being the case in point I'm most familiar with.

    The easy thing to do would be to just turn the head and say 'that couldn't happen'. Instead, let's just take this to it's clear conclusion and say that comp
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    World War I is incredibly sobering. It's main revelation for me was the understanding that humans can create a destiny for themselves in advance and set it up so that it plays out almost automatically on its own with seemingly very little ability for humans to intervene and change course once the destiny machine is set in motion.

    It may turn out to be like that for humans and our nuclear weapons, or for humans and climate change, or for humans and resource depletion/overpopulation. We may have a destiny planned out for us that's already been set in motion, and on multiple fronts. Where are the intervention points where we can change our destiny for the better? Have we missed some of them? It's very Isaac Asimov Foundation trilogy way of looking at things.
  18. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    I'm not sure what you refer to when you refer to WWI in accordance with a "Destiny Machine" -- are you speaking with regards to the Schieffelin Plan and how the first phases of the war matched that very accordingly?

    If that's the point of comparison, then I can see the point. Others though, might point to the alliance system of the Triple Entente vs. the Triple Alliance, which wasn't quite as pre-written as it appeared, evidenced by the fact that one of the participants in the latter (Italy) wound up fighting for the opposite side. Really it was just a reflection of two basic emnities (France vs. Germany & Austria-Hungary vs. Serbia -- translated ultimately into Germany vs. Russia) where everyone else could have, with a little extra diplomacy, probably just as easily ought on the other side.

    Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that you might be right to a certain extent that it seems people play out scripts that were written years before... but maybe at the time those 'scripts' were written, they could have:

    A) Been written differently -- to the point just the opposite could have happened.

    B) Been executed in a manner completely at odds with the intent of the original authors. Or at least the aims achieved were not even thought of 'back in the day'.


    What were the authors of today's struggles? That's tough to say. Things like the matter of nuclear weapons could be said to have either a meaningless origin to today's concerns -- the question of German/Japanese dominance in the world and how to prevent it -- or a greater, deeper meaning -- the question of what the logical end was for the combination of the human tendency for armed struggle versus continuous scientific advancement. After all, if you take the long view wasn't it only a matter of time before some government somewhere said "build me a bomb SO BIG that my enemies will tremble at the merest thought"?

    Perhaps we are very lucky that events played out as they did. If nuclear arms had been discovered in 1905 rather than 1945, the results could very well have been a complete and outright disaster. In fact, coming in at the very end of the war and capping it in such a dramatic fashion might have wound up being the best way to present them to subsequent generations as a serious geopolitical taboo.

    Other challenges have many authors. Overpopulation and climate change are things that have their roots going back to probably the mid-1700s at least when the industrial revolution took off. And definitely those people making agricultural and manufacturing advancements didn't have the melting of the polar ice caps in mind while they were doing their work. I mean, it's hard enough for me to think of it when I do MY work, and it's an actual proven reality for me.
  19. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Yes, I was thinking more of the origins of the war and the launch phase, and I'd agree the script for our meeting with destiny when it comes to climate change and population overshoot and resource depletion was all written long ago.

    Environmental tipping points are of course a lot different from human dramas playing out at the geopolitical level, but they will feed into each other. A truly startling review of climate change models from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory suggests that the drought situation - on average - in the year 2100 will look like the worst year of the great U.S. dustbowl. We are well and truly screwed if this turns out to be the case. Almost all of Mexico will be virtually uninhabitable, or at least unfit for agricultural production of any kind.

    Obviously, this isn't real science, just liberal fear-mongering attempting to undermine our way of life and weaken us as a nation. Still anything close to the kind of near future this research suggests would add immeasurably to the natural pressure points on international relations.
  20. Gonk Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 8, 1998
    star 6
    What I'm getting out of this thread it seems to be the following:

    1) It is theoretically possible to maintain the immediate and near-future balance of power without the use of nuclear weapons being as much of a factor as they were in the Cold War, so long as society does not begin collapsing under its own weight.

    2) In the near to immediate future, it looks like society is going to collapse under its own weight.


    It seems in the end the challenges of today are turning into logistical concerns rather than political. Think of it: if we had the climate and population today of 1965, we could probably rest easier than any well-informed person has since January 1st, 1914. The end of the Cold War -- and maybe in its own way, the Arab Spring -- as well as economic integration has translated into a good amount of dialing back on international tensions that could have erupted into nuclear conflict. In 1989 we truly did enter the first era of geopolitical 'scrum' from since Napoleon went away in 1815 until Ferdinand got himself blasted in 1914.

    (scrum in this sense is me thinking of the chaos of a loose ball in rugby: most to all common threats are removed, and all set loyalties go back up in the air with as nations and their people feel progressively less obligated to other nations, and revert to total self-interest -- not that nations are all THAT altruistic otherwise, of course).

    But since today we have stumbled into a system where keeping the peace might be finally more profitable than making war, JUST as we finally get traction in that regard, we promptly enter a crisis of environmental and overpopulation logistics -- which could spiral into nuclear conflict if we're not careful since it's not like Mexicans would, for instance, just sit back nicely and die of thirst for us, please and thank-you.

    Well ok, maybe the Mexicans would because they wouldn't have a choice, but the Chinese will have environmental challenges of their own, and they will NOT do the same.

    It would seem that, at least for now, the best way to keep nukes gathering dust in the Indiana Jones warehouse like we have them now is to resolve these new questions before nations start pushing one another, and someone starts looking to them as a means of resolving the issue.
  21. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    That's Schlieffen. Von Schlieffen.

    I think DB envisions a Chinese-Russian conflict this century. I could picture a dispute between the EU and Russia, or else it's Russia and the EU against China. At any rate, there will be conflict over energy, and it will come to a head mid-century, that much I think is already written in stone.

    How cruel would that fate turn out to be if the world manages to celebrate its 100th year without nuclear war, but not its 101st.

  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Yes, I think Gonk's:

    nuclear weapons and human fallibility working in constant permutation over an infinite timeline is eventually going to result in a nuclear weapon being used.

    is a more or less complete answer. If this is the formula for nuclear war, then environmental pressures and resource constraints and competition for energy are all going to be independent variables.

    It definitely seems to mean that the first century without Atomkrieg will have been easier to celebrate than the second.
  23. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    Your third scenario is what I think could happen, if China and the EU manage to not successfully implement renewable energy by the time the oil runs out or becomes too expensive. This would have the natural effect of dragging in the USA & non-EU NATO partners because of NATO, and the obviousness that a Chinese invasion of Russia would involve attacks on Pacific nations as well.

    So hopefully I turn out to be wrong.
  24. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    This is rapidly turning out to be the bleakest thread ever. And it started off so hopefully!
  25. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    At least I'm fairly optimistic about that first century. I'd say the odds of a nuclear free hundred years are higher than my personal odds of making it alive to that mark, which aren't all that bad, just to reintroduce that narcissism element.