Why nuclear armament does not work

My previous article on the BJP and the nuclear tests of Pokhran has generated a bit of steam. If you propose that nuclear armament is the only option in terms of national security and world peace, I present several counter-arguments:

  • You equate peaceful diplomacy to weakness: Indeed, it is the exact opposite – negotiating a conflict is a sign of strength. Also, if you happen to believe that Nehru had failed in his diplomacy in the Indo-Chinese conflict with his Panch Sheel; it does not necessarily imply that armed conflict would have been a better option.
  • You have implicitly (and naively) assumed that nuclear armament on both sides excludes the possibility of conflict: There is a premise that in a nuclear arms race, if both nations have somewhat comparable nuclear arsenal, then they will not use them: since if one did, the opponent may respond with equal or even greater force. This premise, frequently called ‘Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)’ is sometimes itself used as an excuse for nuclear armament, thus somehow promoting peace between the nations.  The flaw in using this argument is overwhelmingly apparent – you cannot achieve peace and security by building weapons of mass destruction. All MAD does is to reduce the probability of nuclear conflict. Now, this might seem to be a good thing, but it isn’t. Consider a condom that does not let 90 percent of the spermatozoa through. Will you use it? It still lets the 10 percent through, enough to cause pregnancy – at the same time providing false hopes of security. It is the same situation here – MAD doesn’t exclude the possibility of conflict, it only reduces it. But 10 percent, in this case is a major fraction of the nuclear stockpile. Over a long time, the tiny possibility of nuclear conflict will manifest itself – and that is why I am against it.
  • You think nuclear armament is inevitable and provides security: It isn’t. It doesn’t.
  • You think I am anti-BJP: I am not. I should equally well have criticized the Congress for its 1974 Pokhran-I tests and the blunders in 1984.
  • All the proponents favouring nuclear testing also do not take one thing into account – it is perhaps the most provocative and peace destroying act in world diplomacy. Also, India is among the few countries who have not signed the NPT treaty. Sidetracking off the topic a little bit, Nitwit Nastik in a truly great blog post explained how easy it is for people to be fooled by their governments and to bring them in favour of fighting a war.  The following extract of a conversation between a psychologist and a captured Nazi captures the essence of the article:

    Goering (Nazi): Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?

    Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

    Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

    Goering: Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

    The last line by Goering is truly insightful, and tangentially relates to the discussions above.

    (Psst!! Nastik, if you are reading this, I hope you don’t mind me ripping off from your blog? I swear I won’t do it again!)

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    5 thoughts on “Why nuclear armament does not work

    1. Graffiti , Thanks for the compliment. Not a problem at all. As long as a blog is referenced and proper credit is given to the original poster, I don’t think anyone will object. So you can keep ripping me off as much as you want as long there is a refernce to my blog 🙂

      Btw, you made an interesting point about nuclear disarmament. I agree with your views. Btw, I am not sure who in their right mind would equate peaceful diplomacy to weakness (saddam probably would’ve 🙂 ) but hey I am sure there are enough nut jobs like him out there who will not rest till they see the world destroyed.

      1. oh, so you did read this? Thanks a lot nastik, you are simply too kind. But still, ripping stuff from a blog is pretty boring, so I won’t do it – even if u told me to. 🙂
        As for who would equate diplomacy to weakness, go check out the comments in the previous post. I was a bit caught off guard at first, but I should have expected it…:). Again, thanks for visiting.
        Lots of love,
        Arvee

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