Is Nuclear War A Sure Thing?

Any notion that we can maintain arsenals of nuclear weapons, but never use those weapons, seems an excellent example of the amazing human talent for wishful thinking fantasy.

An article by Chris Hedges of the New York Times states the following:

Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history.

War has been a persistently consistent property of the human condition for thousands of years, perhaps since the invention of agriculture and the resulting accumulation of food which could be raided and stolen.

While it’s true that the invention of nuclear weapons has sobered and restrained the great powers since WWII, it seems an act of willful self delusion to assume that such self imposed limitations can endure forever.

But, but, complacent commentators complain, nuclear war would be totally irrational, self defeating, suicidal!

Yes, you’re right, that’s true of course.

And that’s just what German generals insisted to Hitler before he invaded the Soviet Union, that attacking a country as large as Russia would be irrational, insane. The generals were proven right, but Hitler didn’t listen because his exploding ego was out of control drunk on the sweet song of his previous victories. There will always be someone who thinks they are so much smarter than everyone else that they can defy reason and get away with it.

It was true then, and remains true today, it only takes a single irrational human being to kick over the status quo and take the world in to a new catastrophic war.

If nothing else, the mere existence of nuclear weapons, not to mention the fact that we are largely bored by them, is all the evidence we need to prove that as a species we are not rational enough to avoid a future war forever.

Once this longstanding reality of the human condition is seen with clear eyes we arrive at a ruthlessly simple choice. We say goodbye to nuclear weapons, or we say goodbye to modern civilization.

Maintaining stockpiles of nuclear weapons is like a game of Russian roulette. We can pull the trigger of the gun some number of times and maybe get away with it. But if we keep pulling the trigger, as we are doing with each passing day, sooner or later the chamber will be full, guaranteed.

The only way out of the inevitably fatal game is to put the gun down.