an autodidact meets a dilettante…

‘Rise above yourself and grasp the world’ Archimedes – attribution

Posts Tagged ‘mutually assured destruction

nuclear issues – the end of complacency? Vive la révolution des bonobos!

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So, Japan’s sense of itself as a mighty, controlling power, which had been corroding fast since its foolhardy attack on Pearl Harbour, was brought to an abrupt end in August 1945, the result of two atomic bombs, the only such weapons ever used against a human population.

Those explosions also set off two contradictory trends, which have persisted ever since; the proliferation of nuclear weapons at the behest of two ‘superpowers’, the USA and the Soviet Union (together with desperate attempts to acquire such weapons by wannabe superpowers), and a refrain of ‘never again’ by most members of the world community. This disastrous contradiction has persisted to this day, so that we’re now faced with the bizarre scenario of a worldwide anti-nuclear consensus, together with a total nuclear arsenal which could destroy the biosphere many times over. If ever any alien needed proof of the crooked timber of humanity, surely this scenario would be the first thing to point out.

It’s hard for a non-military person to make sense of the quantity and type of nuclear weaponry owned and deployed, if that’s the word, by the USA. But I’ll give it a go. Here’s the first thing I found:

As of 2021, American nuclear forces on land consist of 400 Minuteman III ICBMs spread among 450 operational launchers. Those in the seas consist of 14 nuclear-capable Ohio-class Trident submarines, nine in the Pacific and five in the Atlantic.

This doesn’t appear to tell us anything of the destructive power of these ICBMs. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, gets to the point quickly enough:

 Less than one percent of the nuclear weapons in the world could disrupt the global climate and threaten as many as two billion people with starvation in a nuclear famine. The thousands of nuclear weapons possessed by the US and Russia could bring about a nuclear winter, destroying the essential ecosystems on which all life depends.

So the first quote is from Wikipedia, I think, and clearly 400 isn’t thousands, but does it really matter when we know from experience that two bombs can bring a nation to its knees? Those bombs may have killed as many as 200,000 – the exact total will never be known – but even while the world was reeling from the shock, the USA was experimenting with more powerful hydrogen fusion bombs, and the Soviet Union was trying desperately to catch up. The situation today, I’ve read somewhere, is that Russia has slightly more bombs than the USA, but with these numbers, comparisons are meaningless, and odious.

We’ve lived with this situation for the whole of my 66-year lifespan. Presumably the leaders of the nuclear-armed countries feel that this situation, this stand-off of sorts, should continue ‘forever’, which reminds me of Mr Pudding’s recent remark that the regions of eastern Ukraine that he subjected to sham referenda were now  Russian ‘forever’, forgetting that Russia itself has only been a country for a mere few centuries – as has Australia, New Zealand, all the countries of North, South and Central America, most of Europe and Africa. It all makes this ‘forever’ talk sound pretty shallow to me.

The point I’m making is that we can’t rely on the ‘foreverness’ of the mutually assured destruction argument for possession of nuclear weaponry. After all, as the buffoon that the USA recently allowed to become its President allegedly said while in office – ‘What’s the point of having nuclear weapons if you don’t use them?’

Yes, true, in a sense. There’s no point in using them, so there’s no point in having them. We can surely do better than this, despite our crooked timber.

Again, I look to the women. Think of these two self-styled superpowers. The USA is on its 46th President. How many of them have been women. I suspect that country will only be brought to its senses when the number of female Presidents historically matches the number of males. That’s unlikely to happen in the next 500 years. Hopefully, though, before that happens, they will have ditched their abysmal Presidential system entirely. I hope, but I don’t expect. United Staters are way too worshipful of their Presidential monarchy to submit to a more collaborative and flexible political system. Again, the ascent of women is their best hope for political improvement.

As to Russia, it experienced some of its best days under their Empress Catherine II, which admittedly, isn’t saying much. The description ‘enlightened despotism’ Is often used to describe her reign, and she certainly compares well to her predecessors and those who followed her, but again that’s not saying much. She was the last female ruler of Russia, as her son Paul introduced the Pauline Laws in 1797, effectively preventing women from succeeding to the Tsardom. And of course we know how many women became leaders during the Soviet period.

Returning to the present, clearly Mr Pudding’s days are numbered, even if he survives his obscene Ukrainian venture. There is no clear system of succession, and I suspect that the scramble for power, post-Pudding, will be vicious. My hope, though, is that a more accommodating leadership will emerge – and indeed that will, I think, be more likely than the alternative, if only for pragmatic reasons. Relying solely on old Xi’s China for companionship is a more than risky proposition. Not much honour among thieves. Eventually, some time, one day, the Russian leadership will have to turn west, and start to moderate its thuggery. And then, maybe, the nuclear de-escalation, not to say disarmament, might begin. Yeah, and human bonobos will preside benignly, and playfully, over the earth.

References

Click to access RL33640.pdf

https://www.icanw.org

 A brief history of Afghanistan, by Shaista Wahab & Barry Youngerman, 2007

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Poland

 

 

Written by stewart henderson

October 8, 2022 at 6:16 pm