A more nuclear world

Donald Trump has declared that the US military is locked and loaded ready to unleash the fire and fury on North Korea. Mr Trump, who has long shown an interest in the nuclear option, has the power (and in the last resort a power that can only be challenged by outright treason) to launch nuclear weapons. That’s a sentence that should give most people pause for a thought.

In January of this year, I wondered here about why more people aren’t worried about the nuclear threat and now a few more people are. The reality of nuclear war is unthinkable, so most people aren’t thinking about it. The consequences are unbelievably horrific so most people don’t believe it will happen,

At the same time experts think we’re edging closer to nuclear war and for what it’s worth, I think they’re right although probably not just yet.

Throughout the cold war despite the massive amount of nuclear warheads, nuclear war was avoided through the concept of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). The US & USSR would both be wiped in the event of either one launching nuclear weapons and the other retaliating and thus preventing either one from actually launching any.

While you should try to avoid situations of mutually assured destruction, they can promote good behaviour between parties. However, it only takes one party in a situation to start a massive chain reaction with usually catastrophic outcomes.

The concern is that MAD is not quite as stable right now for a number of reasons. Here’s a big one:

Both sides must act rationally (in short, all those with power must be able to act like adults and take the concept of MAD seriously.) A rogue leader with a great deal of power and a disregard for human life beyond their own would have the potential to start a nuclear war.

There’s a fair proportion of the world who believes that ‘a rogue leader with a great deal of power and a disregard for human life’ also happens to be President of the United States but be that as it may, Kim Jong-un is probably still the greater concern. But only just.

We’re in this kind of territory now.

You may want to read this brilliant bit of dialogue.

Sir Humphrey: “It’s a deterrent.”
Jim Hacker: “It’s a bluff. I probably wouldn’t use it.”
Sir Humphrey: “Yes, but they don’t know that you probably wouldn’t.”
Jim Hacker: “They probably do.”
Sir Humphrey: “Yes, they probably know that you probably wouldn’t. But they can’t certainly know.”
Jim Hacker: “They probably certainly know that I probably wouldn’t.”
Sir Humphrey: “Yes, but even though they probably certainly know that you probably wouldn’t, they don’t certainly know that, although you probably wouldn’t, there is no probability that you certainly would.” (via)

I certainly think that Christians should be vocally opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. I believe they are morally wrong because they make non-combatants targets on a massive and disproportionate scale. Warfare has always brutalized non-combatants from pillaging Vikings to the Blitz and the bombings of German cities or the napalming of Vietnamese villages yet the nuclear option levels cities and destroys everything and everyone. They are disproportionate, they are unnecessary and catastrophic.

However, the harsh reality is we’ve had them for 70 years and no-one is going to get rid of them any time soon. Instead slowly the numbers of nations with nuclear weapons has risen. About one new nation every ten years. So here’s my prediction on this latest crisis involving North Korea. It will not lead to war but it will lead to more nuclear weapons.

North Korea sees nuclear weapons as key to their survival and when it’s a matter of survival few things will deter them. The only conceivable way to stop North Korea from having the ability to fire a missile loaded with a nuclear warhead is to go to war. And soon.

In this game of nuclear chicken I think the US will blink first. Except they have Donald Trump as President and seconding guess that man is a fool’s errand. But I still think they’ll blink.

So North Korea will have a nuclear arsenal. Right now the security of nations in its range has been guaranteed by the US. South Korea and Japan have not developed a nuclear deterrent of their own because the US has one and has promised to use it on their behalf. Only they’ve just blinked over a red-line that they have promised will not be crossed.

It’s only inevitable then that voices in those countries will begin to make the claim that the US cannot be relied upon and so set their countries on the path towards their own (if not exactly independent) nuclear deterrent.

You might think not but then you’re not a neighbour to a nuclear armed Kim Jong-un.

My prediction is that by 2030 there will be three more nuclear armed nations: North & South Korea and Japan.

Photo by The Official CTBTO Photostream

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