If there’s one invention I wish were never invented, it would have to be the nuclear bomb. No, I’m not, like President Obama, going to quasi-apologize for America inventing them, or using them on Japan to end World War II. I simply wish they never were invented in the first place.
We can argue until the radioactive cows come home about “they’d have been invented anyway,” but history is history. America invented the atomic bomb, and then America invented the thermonuclear H-bomb.* The Russians and Chinese stole their bomb designs and secrets from America. The British and French got theirs from America. Israel too (although we may never know the whole story there).
Now that we and a bunch of other countries (including India, Pakistan and North Korea, and soon to be Iran) have these weapons, the question should be academic.
Nuclear weapons are bad. Any country that uses them must do so knowing that the gravest of consequences will follow–even if they are used in self-defense. Even if they are used in retaliation for being struck with nuclear weapons.
American policy therefore should never be to execute a first strike. But that’s not currently the case. President Obama affirmed “the fundamental role of U.S. nuclear weapons…to deter nuclear attack on the United States, our allies, and partners.” But in reference to the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, Obama remarked “Although we cannot adopt such a policy today, the new guidance re-iterates the intention to work towards that goal over time.”
Countries with a no-first-use nuclear policy are China, India, North Korea (as if we believe that), and Pakistan. Russia reserves the right to respond with nuclear weapons only “in case of aggression… when the very existence of the state is threatened,” as well as in response to use of WMD. Fair enough. But America is slightly leaning forward in our nuclear stance.
In deference to non-nuclear nations, the 2010 NPR also states:
To that end, the United States is now prepared to strengthen its long-standing “negative security assurance” by declaring that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.
The whole point of nuclear weapons is to not use them. It’s to guarantee, as much as humanly possible, that they not be used, and that anyone insane enough to use them will be swiftly destroyed.
But that’s not what Donald Trump thinks.
I’ve always thought about the issue of nuclear war; it’s a very important element in my thought process. It’s the ultimate, the ultimate catastrophe, the biggest problem this world has, and nobody’s focusing on the nuts and bolts of it. It’s a little like sickness. People don’t believe they’re going to get sick until they do. Nobody wants to talk about it. I believe the greatest of all stupidities is people’s believing it will never happen, because everybody knows how destructive it will be, so nobody uses weapons. What bullshit.
Cheese and sprinkles! Is he freaking kidding? Just in case, 26 years later, lest one think Trump might have changed his mind on this:
"Trump asked three times in an hour briefing, Why can't we use nuclear weapons?" https://t.co/YTAvBfdGe5
— Justin Miller (@justinjm1) August 3, 2016
Why can’t we use nuclear weapons? Because, Donald, in your second grade parlance, it’s bad. Very, very bad. It’s so bad it’s going through the floor.
So to review:
- Nuclear weapons are bad.
- They kill a lot of people, destroy a lot of property, and make places uninhabitable for ten thousand years.
- Human beings should not threaten other human beings with the utter destruction of their nations and homes, except as a deterrence against them doing it to us.
- Nobody insane enough to seriously consider threatening to use nuclear weapons as a first strike option should be allowed to control their use.
- Donald Trump doesn’t know any of this.
*If you want to learn about how America developed atomic weapons and thermonuclear weapons, read these two excellent books by historian Richard Rhodes: The Making of the Atomic Bomb, and Dark Sun: The Making Of The Hydrogen Bomb. Both books detail how America developed those devices, and the Soviets stole them from under our noses.