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We need a nuclear war in order to stop nuclear war – discuss

August 10, 2017

Here’s an argument you’re unlikely to see in an opinion column in a mainstream media outlet anywhere in the world. You may see it out in the wilds of the internet, but I haven’t come across it yet.

It’s been seventy-two years since a nuclear weapon was last used against a human target. Most of the victims and witnesses of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are now dead. We rarely hear their voices. And if we do, most of us don’t listen, or comfort themselves with the thought that such horrors won’t happen again. Until now.

Those who believe in nuclear disarmament are many. Those who campaign for it are few and ineffective. It would be naïve to expect any power to disarm when countries like North Korea are building new arsenals.

It’s almost inevitable that at some stage there will be a nuclear detonation, either as an act of war or as a terrorist attack. There is too much scope for proliferation. There are too many opportunities for misunderstanding and too many chances of breakdowns in command and control systems.

If we assume that nuclear war in the future is inevitable, then it would be better that it happens on the smallest possible scale, even at the cost of a few million lives, rather than through the global apocalypse that would take place in a confrontation between the largest nuclear powers.

A limited nuclear conflagration would be sufficient to remind a current generations that the use of such weapons is unacceptable. It might conceivably generate sufficient revulsion that no nuclear power would contemplate their use for at least another seventy years.

If we have qualms about the deaths of millions, we should consider that in the last century our leaders were quite prepared to sacrifice tens of millions. The world rebuilds. The survivors remember, and then they die. Memories fade.

So, as a kind of immunity booster to prevent nuclear disinhibition, let’s take out North Korea. Or more specifically, Kim Jong Un’s weapons sites and his command and control infrastructure. Who knows? Perhaps  – despite Kim’s rhetoric – his military will crumble, much as Saddam Hussein’s army folded in the 1991 Gulf War.

Those who baulk at such an action on the grounds that human life is sacred are kidding themselves. Concern for the sanctity of life has not stopped us killing each other for all of recorded time. What matters is that the majority survive. If a minority has to be sacrificed for that end, then so be it.

If the action shatters the world economy, we will rebuild. We always have, after even the most catastrophic wars.

I don’t subscribe to this argument. It’s cold, callous and laden with risk. Its most fallacious assumption is that a small nuclear war would prevent a larger one. Indeed, a small one might be swiftly followed by a larger one, especially of one of the major powers perceives an existential threat. The taboo will have been broken.

As Donald Trump threatens North Korea with fire and fury, are there people around him who are advancing such calculations? Perhaps not using the exact logic I’ve described. But “destroy to rebuild” is a well known Bannonite concept, though those who promote it are more concerned about the future of America than that of the rest of the world.

And is he listening to them? Hopefully not.

But I wouldn’t rule out that at some stage someone with their finger on the nuclear button will go through a similar thought process, and God forbid that there is nobody around with the power to stop them.

From → Politics, USA

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