You know, sometimes I really admire Al Jazeera’s reporting. And other times to call out certain articles reminds me too much of picking on a small kid in gym class or the merciless vigilantism against Judith Griggs of “but honestly, Monica” fame. But honestly, readers, this article that’s three months old – “Nuclear weapons as instruments of peace: The support for nuclear weapons found among top scholars in the field is a warning sign of American cultural decadence” – has been in the limited queue of AB for a while, and it’s an itch that I feel like scratching.
The meat of UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk’s argument is:
What shocked me about the panel was not its claim that violence was declining and war was on the brink of disappearing, but the unqualified endorsement of nuclear weapons as deserving credit for keeping the peace during Cold War and beyond. Nuclear weapons were portrayed as if they were positive contributors to establish a peaceful and just world, provided that they do not fall into unwanted hands (which means “adversaries of the West”, or more colourfully phrased by George W Bush as “the axis of evil”) as a result of proliferation.
He refers to nonproliferation as a “ploy” (vice a full commitment to disarmament) and suggests that scholars are “captivated” and have “succumbed to the demons of nuclearism.” I mean, yeesh, what do you expect from al Jazeera, but still.
I was told once by a vice commander of a US nuclear base that “we use nuclear weapons every day.” And in fact, the current mode of their employment is in fact the way that we should hope to always use them: passively. They sit, they wait, but they never launch because they don’t have to. Obviously nuclear weapons have proven of limited use when it comes to conventional conflict (though note that there have been few truly interstate wars since Korea, and only a single one in the short twenty-first century: the Russo-Georgian War in 2008), but their very existence is an argument against using them.
Yes, let’s reduce numbers; yes, let’s try to prevent nations from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons; and yes, let’s eventually get rid of them worldwide. But don’t tell me that in the world we live in nuclear weapons don’t serve a stabilizing purpose.