Nuclear Deterrence Is A Fantasy

Each nuclear weapons state claims it has nuclear weapons so as to prevent it’s enemies from using their nukes, a strategy called deterrence. If you bomb me I will bomb you back, thus you will never bomb me, or so the reasoning goes. This scheme is often called “MAD”, short for mutually assured destruction.

In order for deterrence to be successful in preventing global nuclear war and the collapse of modern civilization, the MAD strategy will have to work successfully every single day for so long as these weapons exist. Given that there is currently no credible plan for global disarmament, or even much discussion of such a prospect, for the time being we are counting on the MAD deterrence plan to work every day forever.

Thousands of years of persistent human conflict and FUBAR screw ups would seem to prove beyond any doubt that achieving the perfect record of success that deterrence requires is a fantasy. It’s simply not rational to assume that we can keep such powerful weapons around forever and they will never be used.

Deterrence is based on the inaccurate idea that we can accurately detect when missiles have been launched, when in fact both America and Russia have mistakenly identified first strike attacks which were never actually ordered, which caused them to come within minutes of launching their own missiles in a retaliatory strike.

Deterrence is based on the wishful thinking fanciful notion that human beings can be counted on to be rational. The mass production of nuclear weapons proves that this idea is itself irrational.

In WWII all of Hitler’s generals knew that invading a country as large as the Soviet Union was madness, but Hitler’s ego was drunk on his previous victories so he didn’t listen. There will always be someone who thinks he is clever enough to outwit logic and facts.

And let us not forget that deterrence does nothing, nothing at all, to prevent nuclear weapons accidents. In fact, keeping weapons on hair trigger alert so as to maintain deterrence makes accidents more likely.

Deterrence is a game of Russian roulette. As we cling to our nuclear weapons, we keep pulling the trigger of the deterrence gun every day and getting away with it. And so we fall victim to the wishful thinking fantasy that the chamber of the nuclear weapons gun will always come up empty.

The reality is that deterrence is a short term, short sighted strategy whose ultimate outcome will be death. So long as we possess nuclear weapons we are drifting towards the day when they slip from our control.

The idea that nuclear deterrence can keep us safe will always be true, until the day that it isn’t.

Are We Worse Than Nazis?

Imagine that you worked 80 hour weeks for decades so that you could leave me, your child, a big inheritance. Then you died and I got the money.

And I blew it all in 3 weeks of boozing, gambling and hooking up with hookers in Las Vegas.

I could have done what you did and added more money to the pile and then passed it on to my kids. But nah, on with the partying!!

Isn’t this almost who we are?

My grandfather started working at age 11 when his father died, and he worked 80 hours a week his whole life as he raised four kids during the Depression. He had some modest success with his own small printing business and age 65 was in a position to retire.

But after six weeks of retirement he went back to work. He had no hobbies, and no idea of how to relax, not a clue, as nothing in his life had prepared him for that challenge.

It’s people like this, many millions of them, who built the modern civilization we now take for granted. We are the richest and most comfortable people ever to walk this Earth thanks to the great sacrifices of those who came before us. Endless centuries of humans couldn’t even dream of what we have.

And it all could be lost in an hour.

Somebody screws up, or something goes wrong, or somebody gets greedy or mad, the ICBM’s start flying, the nukes start falling, and before you know it all the miracles that we’ve been handed on a silver platter are gone.

Poof! Just like that. The miracle of modern civilization was here and….

Now it’s gone. Just like that.

And it’s not just us that are the losers. Centuries of our descendents might have also enjoyed the great gifts given to us by our ancestors, but sorry, that’s all over now too.

We know all this already. We’ve heard it all before. And it bores us. We rarely think about it. So we rarely talk about it. We pretty much never do anything about it. Because, hey, we’ve got a party to go to!!

Sure, we respect our parents, and we love our kids too. We sincerely believe that, we do.

But is that really true? Or is our love really a pile of phony BS with a sappy Halmark greeting card wallpapered over it?

Ok, so I suppose we aren’t really that evil. Probably just incurably stupid.

I feel better now, don’t you?

If the worse does happen, and on our present course it probably will, we’ll go down in history as the most hated generation in what’s left of human history.

They won’t be cursing the Nazis.

For centuries to come our descendants will be cursing us.

Oh never mind, hey, do you have any chips left? I think I’m gonna make one more run at the gaming tables!

A Benefit Of The Coronavirus

As I write this in mid-March of 2020 America, Europe and other parts of the world are going in to lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

This could get really weird. Did you know that the 1918 pandemic of a century ago killed more people than WWI and WWII combined? Hopefully we are not headed for a repeat.

So how could there possibly be a benefit to the coronavirus, and what’s it got to do with nuclear weapons?

A Psychological Revolution

One of the many things that’s changing right now is a deepening realization among the broad public that big bad things that shake the foundations of modern civilization really can happen.

Ok, sure, so everybody presumably already knew that, or so they will say. But there are different levels of knowing, and the coronavirus is taking us to a deeper level. And that could be a good thing, a very good thing.

Different Levels Of Knowing

As example of different levels of knowing, imagine that I read in the paper that crime is up 18% in the county where I live. I read that headline, frown a bit, skip the article, turn the page, and head for the sports section. I have the information, but I’m still complacent.

Now imagine that the headline reads that crime is up 18% in my neighborhood. Now I’ll do more than frown and turn the page, I’ll read the article.

Next, imagine that my neighbor’s house gets broken in to. I’m really starting to pay attention now, and am doing more than reading, I’m talking to the neighbors and maybe calling the police to see what’s going on.

Finally, imagine that my house gets broken in to. Now I’m FREAKING OUT!!! and spending lots of money on security upgrades.

Crime has finally become real to me, and as a result I’ve made the leap from abstractions to action.

This little story illustrates how a shallow understanding of some information can be transformed in to a deeper understanding. First my knowledge of the crime rate was a pure abstraction, so it had little impact upon my behavior. But as the crime came closer to me it became more real, and my knowledge was translated in to real world action.

Chaos Becoming Real

Pretty much everyone has known about nuclear weapons their entire adult life. But this knowing typically has no impact upon our behavior because we experience nuclear weapons and the chaos they can generate as merely an idea, a fact, an abstraction held at a safe distance. We know about nukes, but the knowing is a shallow experience which is easily discarded.

And so we set nuclear weapons aside. Yawn, nukes are boring…

What the coronavirus is doing is bringing our knowledge about the possibility of global chaos to a deeper level. For the first time in most of our lives our relationship with chaos is becoming more real. Before coronavirus we intellectually knew global chaos was possible, but we didn’t really believe it emotionally. Now we’re starting to believe it, because we can see it happening.

The Coronavirus Just Might Makes Us Smart

We typically ignore discussion of nuclear weapons, even in a presidential campaign, a remarkable act of mass stupidity, because our relationship with these weapons of mass destruction is a shallow intellectual understanding. We experience nukes as abstractions, words in a book or on a web page. They aren’t real to us emotionally, so we do nothing about them.

The coronavirus pandemic has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, except that it is making the fragility of modern civilization more real to us.

Sooner or later the pandemic will pass, and there’s at least some chance that we will bring our new deeper understanding of society’s perilous fragility to other existential threats like nuclear weapons. If that should happen, we could then say that the coronavirus crisis has come with an important benefit. Our young species just might start getting a little bit smart.

The pandemic tragedy is already underway, it’s too late to prevent it now. But it’s not too late to prevent a nuclear tragedy, if only we will allow ourselves to see, in a deeper more emotional way, how real the danger truly is.

Yes, sadly, nuclear chaos really can happen too, just like pandemic chaos. For those brave enough to be smart, here’s a video that shows the impact of a nuclear detonation on a city.

Or, check this section of the site which shows the impact of a nuclear explosion on each of America’s 50 largest cities. If you’re really brave, find your city and face the horror.

The good news? It’s not too late to get smart about nukes. Facing the horror, and allowing it to be real not just in our minds, but also in our hearts, is the first step.

We could be smart. We could be sane. We could survive.

Maybe the coronavirus will teach us how?

I Am Indisputably The Leading Nuclear Disarmament Expert In The World!!

Well, ok, ok, so I suppose there’s at least some small chance that the claim made in the title of this article could just possibly, maybe, not be totally fully accurate. In fact, actually, the claim is beyond absurd, a total lie, a ridiculous notion, and fake news too.

But I’m going to keep bellowing such arrogant nonsense, until one of you expert people inform me of where I can find commentary on the question that’s been chasing me around my mind for weeks now.

Won’t the major nuclear powers all have to disarm together, at the same time?

Click here for an expansion of this question.

I’ve been asking this question on every expert nuke site I visit, and waiting for one of the many experts on Twitter to at least mention this issue.

Nada. Nothing. Nobody home. Total silence. I can’t seem to find any expert or activist who is wondering aloud how we will get all the nuclear weapons states to disarm together, in unison, as one, at the same time.

What nuclear weapons state is going to disarm while it’s rivals retain an arsenal???

I’m sure somebody somewhere must have addressed this question in some detail. So if someone could please just tell me where I can find such an analysis I’ll be grateful and appreciative for your assistance.

I might even stop bellowing. Well, for a few minutes anyway.

Look, seriously, no kidding, I am indeed a nuclear weapons newbie. But I’m not a newbie when it comes to the Net and I know, from an embarrassing amount of experience, how this game works.

In order to get the attention of the male egos which tend to dominate such topics, I need to stand on a chair and yell something like, “My thingie is bigger than your thingie, nana nana na na!

And then some other male ego will stop what they’re doing long enough to smack me down and put me back in my place where I belong, below them on the penis pecking order totem pole.

Ok, good plan, I’m ready, let’s do it!

However, until one of you expert folks can direct me to your article where you address this question…

Won’t the major powers all have to disarm together, at the same time?

… By the powers vested in me by myself, I hereby formally retain my glorious self installed title as the indisputable leading nuclear disarmament expert in the world, by far, bar none, nobody else even comes close, including especially you.

Ok real experts, it’s your turn. Do your thing! Smack me down and shut me up! Show us your article!

Thank you!

BREAKING NEWS: Nuclear Weapons Are Depressing

After spending some time intently focused on nuclear weapons, my ground breaking research has made an amazing discovery.

Nuclear weapons are depressing!

Seriously though, is this really true? Is it nuclear weapons that are depressing, or something else?

Nukes Are Wonderful!

As example, imagine that a giant asteroid was headed for Earth and we succeeded in diverting it with nuclear weapons launched in to space. In such a case, nuclear weapons wouldn’t be depressing, they’d be a very much appreciated civilization saving tool, right?

As example, imagine that a fleet of alien spaceships were about to invade and eat us and we turned them back with nuclear weapons. In such a case, nuclear weapons wouldn’t be depressing, they’d be our savior!

So, it seems nuclear weapons are not automatically depressing in and of themselves. I suppose they may conceivably have some constructive use in some situation. They are after all just mechanical objects with no evil intent.

We Have Met The Enemy And He Is…. Uh oh!

It seems that what’s depressing is not so much nuclear weapons, but their creators. You know, the human condition.

What kind of creature creates a huge gun, sticks that gun in it’s own mouth, and then becomes bored with the gun and largely forgets about it? Only the human creature can accomplish such a remarkable feat of self defeating absurdity.

I read recently that over 99% of all species ever to live on Earth have gone extinct. When any species fails to successfully adapt to it’s environment Mother Nature says, “Ok, time’s up, you’re outta here.”

What must Mother Nature be thinking about us these days? Is our time about up? Are we soon to be outta here?

From the perspective of the evolutionary bottom line, is our ability to develop more and more knowledge at an ever faster pace an asset, or ultimately a fatal liability?

From the perspective of a humanist and activist, it’s hard not to be depressed by the possibility that we may fail to control nuclear weapons before they destroy us. It seems almost essential to the activist experience that we feel at least some of this pain.

From a broader more philosophical perspective, should I be depressed that everything that has a beginning also has an end, and that there’s really no chance that human beings will escape this formula? Wouldn’t it be rational to make peace with that which can not be changed?

Finding The Right Balance

Perhaps sustaining nuclear weapons activism in one’s life requires a careful blend of both humanist attachment and philosophical detachment.

If we are to be activists we have to have some level of attachment to the notion that the human species should continue to survive.

And if we are to be activists we may also need to preserve a degree of philosophical detachment, so that we don’t become emotionally exhausted and depressed, and then give up to escape that pain.

As is so often true in life, it’s probably not attachment or detachment that is the issue, but rather the balance between the two.

What Are The Experts Missing?

Here’s an arrogant little post from a nuclear weapons newbie exploring the questions that have arisen in my mind as I explore the realm of nuclear weapons activism.

Please note that I am definitely not a nuclear weapons expert, or anything close, and thus all of the following could be entirely wrong. I do have activist experience on other subjects. Please feel free to contact me to debate any of the following, as additional perspectives are sincerely welcomed.

In writing this post I hope to contribute a view from the general public. If this nuclear weapons nube has these questions, others may as well, and it would be helpful to the disarmament cause for experts to have a reply at the ready.

Ok, here we go with some inconvenient whining….

Trump Bashing

On Twitter at least, there seems to be a fairly consistent pattern of partisan political sniping against Trump by nuclear weapons activists and experts. This doesn’t offend me personally, as I’m a Bernie Sanders voter with no love for Trump.

However, it does trouble me a bit that disarmament experts may not grasp that if America is ever to get rid of it’s nukes Trump voters will have to be largely on board with such a huge decision. It doesn’t make sense to me to be jamming our finger in their eye on a regular basis for no better reason than it makes our fingers feel good.

There doesn’t seem to be a substantial difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to nuclear disarmament. Both sides typically ignore the subject, and when they do engage neither party seems particularly effective. Perhaps this should be admitted more often?

Before someone shouts “Iran Deal!” let us please keep in mind that was a deal with a bunch of religious fanatic clerical dictators who routinely shoot their own citizens down in the streets.

Yes, we don’t like Trump, me too. But I like murderous power tripping psychopaths even less. Some balance to such conversations please.

All Or Nothing?

So far at least, I’ve not read any expert or activist commentary which expresses the understanding that it’s extremely unlikely any of the big nuclear weapon states will unilaterally disarm. We all know how that worked out for Ukraine. First they disarmed, and then they got invaded.

As best I can tell, either all the nuclear states disarm, at the same time, or none of them will. I’d like to read more from the experts on this.

Until I find such commentary I’m stuck having to question whether the experts are really experts, a disconcerting experience I’d be happy to soon lose.

Anybody Home?

So far at least, I’ve found nuclear weapons activist websites to be largely unresponsive to emails from the public. The same pattern exists on Twitter. This is of course only an anecdotal report, a first impression, and hardly a scientific survey.

After 25 years of working online I’ve learned that if you want to sell anything to anybody it would probably be wise to be willing to talk to your prospects.

Ok, yes, such response is time consuming, and replying to general public emails is not a job for the experts. So how about rounding up a couple of free college student interns to answer incoming emails? Pretty much any reply to incoming emails would be better than no reply. Even an automated reply explaining why a real person can’t reply would be better than nothing.

Where’s The Community?

How does a new nuclear weapons activist meet and chat with other nuclear weapons activists? I have no idea.

If I have no idea, there must be some number of other folks out there who also can’t figure out how to become part of the nuclear activist community. But they probably aren’t inconvenient loud mouthed bloviators like me, and so they just quietly vanish, never to be seen again.

Sure, there’s Twitter, and I’m following every nuclear weapons anybody there that I can find. However, Twitter is not really a community for nuclear weapons activists, but rather a kinda cheesy device for blasting little slogans at one’s followers.

A real community with real conversations might take the form of an online discussion forum. I keep asking if there is any interest in such a site, and offering to set one up, and so far, no reply from anybody. So I guess that’s the answer.

So for example, all of the above might be wrong, and if I were to join an online forum full of nuclear weapons activists I might learn why it’s all wrong. That would be good! But until then…

I guess I’m stuck writing articles about what the experts may be missing.

Retired Russian And American Experts Should Negotiate A Disarmament Treaty Now

We’d all like the American and Russian governments to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. But at least for the moment, that’s not happening.

Could this be the next best thing?

What if retired out of office diplomats, politicians and technical experts from both America and Russia sat down to negotiate a disarmament treaty they think might work?

Retired officials know the issues involved in depth, and are largely liberated from concerns about their careers and the next election etc. The freedom from such constraints might allow a degree of cooperative creativity that could break new ground.

Of course whatever agreement such retired officials might reach would not be binding, as such experts are no longer in power.

But if high ranking former government officials from both countries were to succeed in reaching an agreement that would at least demonstrate that a full disarmament treaty is theoretically possible.

If nothing else, such an effort would be interesting to reporters and help keep the subject of nuclear weapons in the news and on the minds of the general public in both countries.

I’m sure this is not an original idea and that conversations of this nature are likely already underway somewhere. But if a regular citizen such as myself is not aware of such discussions, then conversations of this type need a much higher public profile.

If you’re knowledgeable about such things, please write an article on the subject and drop me a note to let me know where it is. Thank you!