The Nuclear Arms & Disarmament thread

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by DarthBoba, Jan 16, 2012.

  1. DarthBoba Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 9
    This grew out of Jabba's morality of assassination thread and we think it deserves its own thread.

    First, here's the general history of nuclear arms agreements, starting with the 1963 US-Russia "hotline" agreement:

    Treaties, 1963 to present


    My basic stance is that while I think nuclear weapons are abhorrent and should be completely eliminated, I don't think it's very possible due to inter-country paranoia, as well as a number of these countries basically possessing nuclear weapons as a means to look impressive internally. It's notable that a number of countries with distinct security threats literally next door (South Korea and Japan are the main examples) have never had nuclear weapons programs even with countries that are outspoken enemies both next door and at least trying to possess nuclear weapons, while a number of countries with no distinctly threatening neighbors (South Africa is the best example) have had nuclear programs in the past. The difference is that countries like Japan and South Korea are relatively internal stable and don't feel a need to invest needlessly in weapons they'd probably never use anyway; countries like South Africa had serious internal issues and apparently felt possessing atomic arms would help that. Somehow :p

    However, I'd love it if we had an all-nations treaty that eliminated nuclear weapons from the planet. So, ideas please.
  2. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 8
    Well, it was stated in the other thread that the most "wholly noble" way forward would be for the US to disarm and then ask other countries to do so. This would be a tremendously moving and emotional act of faith by the US. Like most "wholly noble" plans, it's not at all feasible. The level of distrust between nations is too extreme for something like this to work and, frankly, I think some level of distrust is pragmatic and necessary. I don't think I'd be comfortable with such a utopian attempt at disarmament. I just doubt that, for instance, Iran has the kind of leadership that will be at all impressed with a stance of "I'm putting my gun down and now you do the same." Does that doubt make me part of the problem? Maybe so, but the question is also whether or not that doubt is legitimate or just paranoia? It's the MAD mindset: if we disarm, then no one else will have any incentive to follow suit. Is that wrong? I'm not sure it is. But if it isn't wrong, then how the hell to move forward?

    I'm going to use a crude analogy here. It would require something like a countdown: "I'm going to count to three and on three we'll all destroy our nuclear weapons at the exact same moment." Something like that. And that never works. There's always the guy who's like, "I think I'll just wait until three-and-a-half to make sure the others go through with it." So at three-and-a-half, no one has actually done it. Or what about the old paranoia of "I wonder if everyone else is actually bringing all their nukes to the 'We Destroy All Nukes On Three' party. I bet they're not; at any rate, I'd better keep at least a couple, just in case some of the others are keeping some of theirs." This is a crude analogy, founded on the assumption that nations act like children; but can you really quibble with that assumption? And this analogy gets to the essential mindset of distrust that shoots disarmament in the foot before it can even begin. For the record, I'm also for disarmament, but I'm for a lot of things that seem impossible to me: a world of total peace and harmony, society without poverty, all people having productive, happy lives, etc. I just don't know how we get past the distrust to actually accomplish anything.

  3. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    Rogue, your idea is not that different from what the old hippie Jon Anderson proposed thirty years ago.
    All we need is a paradigm shift. Didn't we get rid of slavery and serfdom? Mustard gas. Once people accept the idea that owning nukes is no better than throwing them, we're there. Of course, you won't get the whole world to recognize it at once. But what's stopping any country from starting it? Are we so certain MAD is actually a viable concept? It's never been proven. Maybe, when push comes to shove, people are better than that. You'll never know for sure. So why are we banking on the MAD concept, while it's so much more eh, destructive than disarmament?

    So, at the risk of quoting someone who's been over-quoted:
  4. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Since world war 2 it's been conventional weapons that have done all the damage. I would far rather see the U.S. retreat from the world's stage militarily: exit South Korea and western Europe, abandon all our bases outside the U.S. and our naval presence everywhere except patrolling U.S. borders, all while retaining a nuclear deterrent in the form of cruise missile and submarine launch capabilities, than see us give up our nuclear capabilities and maintain a massive global empire of bases.

    And stop worrying about proliferation. We cannot hope to prevent Iran or Saudi Arabia from acquiring nukes. Learn to live with it, and do nothing to provoke an arms race.

    Conventional military isolationism plus global nuclear deterrent would also allow us to eradicate our national debt and create a sustainable economic future that puts us on equal competitive footing with Europe and much of the rest of the world. Let's not be the ones spending ourselves broke on offensive military capabilities.
  5. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    That's.... off-topic.
    :oops:

    :p
  6. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    All we need is a paradigm shift. Didn't we get rid of slavery and serfdom? Mustard gas. Once people accept the idea that owning nukes is no better than throwing them, we're there. Of course, you won't get the whole world to recognize it at once. But what's stopping any country from starting it? Are we so certain MAD is actually a viable concept? It's never been proven. Maybe, when push comes to shove, people are better than that. You'll never know for sure. So why are we banking on the MAD concept, while it's so much more eh, destructive than disarmament?

    Except MAD, as a principle, has already shown to have prevented a nuclear war during the time when the world came closest it has ever been to such a war-The Cuban missile crisis. Imagine if "WE WILL BURY YOU" Khrushchev was the premiere of a Soviet Union that had nuclear weapons and the US didn't during that crisis? How much force would the Kennedy Doctrine have? Or conversely, imagine if the sum total of the nuclear weapons the Soviet Union had were represented by the missiles it was trying to deploy to Cuba, and the US had a massive advantage? Even as MAD worked on a macro scale, it also worked on a smaller scale, when missiles in Cuba were traded for missiles in Turkey, in a quid pro quo agreement that upheld such parity.

    Of course, all the real examples of MAD took place during the cold war, so your question of the world needing a paradigm shift is a valid one. How does the world make that happen though moving forward from the cold war reality? The harsh truth is that it takes force to initiate the shift itself. The current NPT framework was designed precisely to collectively take nations down the path of a nuclear free world. There are benefits to those who sign the treaty. However, there are no real consequences to those who violate it. Basically, to uphold the potential of the NPT, nations like North Korea and Iran would have to have their nuclear capabilities forcibly removed until they abide by the terms of the treaty. (in the case of NK, before it removed itself from such terms) Otherwise, the goals will never be reached. In essence, you can't have a policy that ignores proliferation, but then on the other hand, have an international framework that has the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.

  7. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Or, put another way, how important is nonproliferation? Is it important enough to enforce by means of conventional warfare? Or with nuclear warfare. The latter really seems to defeat the purpose, but so does the former if the endgoal of nonproliferation is to promote global peace.

    As Mr44 says, proliferation seems to further the goal of preventing nuclear warfare. So promoting more proliferation seems like a step toward more peace, even if it can't prevent conventional warfare.

    But I think nuclear proliferation can prevent conventional warfare between nuclear powers. The Soviet Union and the U.S.A. got along famously, did nothing worse than poke each other through proxy conflicts. Ultimately, China and the U.S. aren't going to war with each other either, at least so long as China continues steady development of its nuclear stockpile.
  8. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Or, put another way, how important is nonproliferation? Is it important enough to enforce by means of conventional warfare? Or with nuclear warfare. The latter really seems to defeat the purpose, but so does the former if the endgoal of nonproliferation is to promote global peace. As Mr44 says, proliferation seems to further the goal of preventing nuclear warfare. So promoting more proliferation seems like a step toward more peace, even if it can't prevent conventional warfare. But I think nuclear proliferation can prevent conventional warfare between nuclear powers. The Soviet Union and the U.S.A. got along famously, did nothing worse than poke each other through proxy conflicts.

    I just think it comes down to the reality that the international community can't pick and choose from both categories. As you asked, how important is nonproliferation? If that is the goal, then it might require conventional military input. Above, WATTO mentioned the examples of slavery/sefdom, and Mustard Gas. Except the paradigms pertaining to both examples weren't just eliminated on their own. Slavery in the US was changed through a massive 4 year civil war. Not being US-centric, the European idea of colonization was changed through revolt and revolution. Mustard Gas was eliminated after use during the Great War, WWI.

    If nonproliferation is the goal, then Iran should be being bombed right now. So should India and Pakistan...Israel.. North Korea... Not just by one country, but by a force comprised of all countries. (or their representatives, as all countries don't have the capability) Which is supposed to be the entire reason the UNSC exists. Once this is done, then the larger powers should then start dismantling their own weapons. But is total nonproliferation a wise goal? Do nuclear weapons not have their own benefits that can actually reduce overall conflict? Otherwise, how can it be that the cost of owning nuclear weapons is the same as using them?
  9. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2000
    star 5
    You guys build a convincing argument. Maybe we can wrap this up before page 2. I guess I've taken the pacifist position, so I'll try to think of some other reasons for disarmament that you guys can destroy.

    EDIT: my nick looks like a NATO mission when written like that.