Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 22, 1999
Nuclear age just won't go away
You would think with all the hype about the knowledge-based economy that the information age would have pushed the nuclear age in the dungeon where it belongs. But not so.
The information on how to build a bomb is of course no longer a secret. Any clever high-school student could possibly fabricate something, given the raw materials, that would explode with a satisfactory bang.
Third World countries like Pakistan and India just built a reasonable facsimile which shows you that there is still a residue of faith in the power of mega-destruction and that information on how to alleviate poverty just doesn't quite cut it in terms of national priorities.
The Western nations who admonished these Asian upstarts tend to agree. After all, the permanent seats on the Security Council are based on nuclear capability. There's power for you.
It has also long been known that those in possession of nuclear weapons can use conventional weapons (a modest misnomer for today's sophisticated arsenals) with unchallenged impunity. Who is going to stop Russia in Chechnya or who seems to care about the daily bombing by the U.S. and Britain in Iraq?
The latter isn't even newsworthy anymore. The pilots have run out of "military targets" and recently mistook a flock of sheep and shepherds for a suspicious-looking convoy.
The justification for all this wanton destruction is that the enemy might have plans to get a bomb or two of their own. Israel is on our side, so they need some beefed-up firing power, just in case our interests in the region are not protected.
To allow others to get their hands on the technology would severely jeopardize our corporate liberties and consumer democracy. After all it is a grave responsibility to have superior methods to annihilate people, just as a deterrent mind you - a way to keep global peace.
For instance it has allowed China to hang on to Tibet, Russia to punish breakaway states, and NATO to save Yugoslavia from itself.
Since Hiroshima it has allowed the U.S. to bomb China (1945-46), Korea and China (1950-53), Guatemala (1954), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-60), Guatemala again (1960), Vietnam (1961-73), Congo (1964), Laos (1964-70), Peru (1965), Guatemala once more (1967-69), Cambodia (1969-70), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), El Salvador and Nicaragua (1980s), Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99 and ongoing), Sudan (1998), Afghanistan (1998) and Yugoslavia (1999).
Sometimes the U.S. acted alone, sometimes with the help of some friends, including Canada.
As you can see, the bomb is a useful tool to keep the peace. It is no wonder then that Senator Jesse Helms, like Horatio on the bridge, almost single-handedly blocked the ratification of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, thereby nullifying almost 40 years of bipartisan effort.
Mind you, there was a plan B, just in case the peaceniks, such as the U.S. bishops, would have their way. The Stockpile Stewardship and Management program allows the U.S. to continue computer simulated nuclear tests and upgrade its present missiles in silos and Tridents (like those in Nanoose Bay).
The World Court ruled in 1996 that the use or threat of nuclear weapons is contrary to international humanitarian law. The Vatican has called the bombs "morally offensive, their cost alone kills the poor by causing them to starve."
As for conventional weapons, 320 tons of depleted uranium litters the desert from bullets fired in the 1991 Gulf War. The calculations for Yugoslavia are not yet complete.
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