Fishy Tales

13 May 2005

Who Watches the Watchmen?

It's painfully ironic to me that, over the course of my life, direct fear of a nuclear holocaust appears to have dissipated while the actual risk of a nuclear holocaust has increased, especially so in recent years. Why? Because many years after the Cold War the mightiest nation in the world can't take its finger off the nuclear trigger; and given its current level of fear, the finger is increasingly twitchy.

The whole situation seems so bizarre as to be beyond belief. On any given day, as we go about our business, the president is prepared to make a decision within 20 minutes that could launch one of the most devastating weapons in the world. To declare war requires an act of congress, but to launch a nuclear holocaust requires 20 minutes’ deliberation by the president and his advisors. But that is what we have lived with for 40 years. With very few changes, this system remains largely intact..

This from an article on foreignpolicy.com by ex US Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, kindly linked from Cursor .

Note also that given the advanced technology of current nuclear weapons (and Mr McNamara graphically reminds us of their efficacy) , a "holocaust" need only require the detonation of one or two devices.

And again it starts to look like a case of dubious and selective law and morality for the US to call for the disarmament of countries like Iran and North Korea:

The Bush administration’s nuclear program, alongside its refusal to ratify the CTBT [Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty], will be viewed, with reason, by many nations as equivalent to a U.S. break from the treaty. It says to the nonnuclear weapons nations, “We, with the strongest conventional military force in the world, require nuclear weapons in perpetuity, but you, facing potentially well-armed opponents, are never to be allowed even one nuclear weapon.”

But any country - even a so-called rogue state - isn't the real enemy these days, is it? That's Global Terrorism.

In which case who exactly are all of these thousands of nuclear weapons meant to be deterring from attacking the US?

Search me, guv.

But I think it's time to re-read Protect and Survive.

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