Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Disarmament

Regardless of its relative success or failure, the recent nuclear test by North Korea resulted in calls from all sides for that country to cease its nuclear armament program. The foundation for all of these calls is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The NPT, which is binding in international law on all nations, not just its signatories (see 1996 ICJ advisory opinion), requires that non-nuclear states not pursue the development of nuclear weapons. So, clearly, North Korea had no right to develop a bomb, let alone test one. It says so clearly in the NPT, which is binding, and must be respected...

Of course, what we aren't hearing are the cries that the NPT also says that the nuclear powers must disarm. That isn't very convenient, especially with the US Department of Energy working on developing a new generation of smaller and "more useable" nuclear weapons. Yes, the second pillar (article VI) of the NPT, right after non-proliferation, is disarmament. And the 1996 Internatinal Court of Justice advisory opinion also made it clear that this obligation to disarm--to conclude and enact agreements resulting in actual disarmament, not just to enter negotiations--is equally binding on all nations under international law.

Quite the sticky wicket. The US is equally in violation of international law by not disarming as North Korea is by creating a bomb and testing it. Funny, then, that we're only talking about enacting sanctions on North Korea. International law is normative, not rule-based. That means that it only has effect by the standards created for nations by the cumulative actions of others. So the UN or the US can say all they want that the North is in violation of international law. This is only true to the extent that such normative law exists, and because all other nuclear powers are flaunting their obligations under the NPT, it's words do not rise to become normative. Therefore there is no norm--and hence no law--for North Korea to violate. All talk to the contrary is just that. Likewise with Iran. I'm sure we will hear people discussing how Iran is violating international law as well. As soon as those same people point out how the US and France and China are similarly violating that law, then we're getting somewhere. Until then, talk talk talk.

What to do? That one is easy in my book. Disarm. Unilaterally. It's not like we can really use those nuclear weapons anyway. Ignoring for the moment the argument that none of our missiles could even get out of their silos without a month's notice, we stand to lose virtually nothing, and we stand to gain so much. Disarm unilaterally, gain the respect of the world, create a true normative environment to bring pressure on what will only then actually be "rogue" states to meet their own obligations. Obligations that in a normative system will only then really exist. Disarm unilaterally and gain the moral high ground. Or, continue with our hypocritical ways and see how far that gets us. For a change, it really is our choice.

45 comments:

Theo_musher said...

Yeah, thats a good idea. Unilateral disarmament. I bet the majority of the people in the world would agree, if it were put to a vote, which is why all these democracies are such shams.

I think some countries in Eurpoe are a lot closer to real democracies that have referendums on things like that.

This issue of nuclear weapons is the actually the only justification I see worthy of remaining politically engaged. It just hangs there over everybody's head. No matter what little side project you want to work on, nukes could end it for everybody.

Jeff Vail said...

Not that I'm so naive as to think that there is a chance in hell this will actually happen. As Theo's comment highlights, the real point here is that this is about power, not right and wrong. That isn't about to change, but who knows, maybe there is something in the old "speak truth to power" slogan. Or not.

Theo_musher said...

I wonder why this concept of "No Nukes" is so under the radar nowadays. In the eighties it was pretty big. My late Grandfather actually organized protests for a nuclear Freeze in the Syracuse New York area in the 80's. There were even documentaries about it on mainstream t.v.

Anonymous said...

Unilateral disarmament would only be effective, would only gain us something on the world scene, if all other countries jockeying for world power status were touched by our gesture and decided to follow suit. Are we really discussing the pros of such a move with the expectation that communist and Islamic supremacist despots who are willing to starve millions of people to death to realize the possession of nuclear weapons will be touched by our "moral high ground" in foolishly throwing away our most powerful defensive/offensive posture? Certainly I'm not the only one who sees the naivety in this expectation.

Since the only known defensive strategy against nuclear weapons is to possess nuclear weapons yourself, what then happens in a world full of enemies when you willfully give away the only defense that exists? The answer is quite obvious. Unilateral nuclear disarmament is functionally handing away our world power status and could only be seen as a good thing for those who harbor animosity toward the US to begin with. Don't get me wrong, I think world-wide nuclear disarmament is a good thing, but this is nothing more than an ideological pipe dream.

But in the real world, let's venture to say just about everyone disarms unilaterally. This could actually be worse than no one in the nuclear club disarming because it only takes one country who through deceit retains their nuclear weapons and presto, they become the new world power by virtue of military strength. You have now just paved the way for a world power military dictatorship.

The only consistent thing in International relations since recorded history is that someone, somewhere is attempting to gain supremacy on the world stage. Being the only nation on earth to possess nukes would be the skeleton key to such a status, and really, when is the last time humanity has been able to resist such temptation?

Vail makes a good point about countries that refuse to disarm being as much in violation as countries pursuing nuclear weaponry and I agree. But this agreement only works to cast doubt on the relevance of established international law. Perhaps we should stop appealing to it when no one takes it seriously.

-Smitty

EndlessGuides.com Editor said...

Reading this, I'm trying to think of a realistic scenario where the US would actually use a nuclear weapon. I'm drawing a blank. Anybody?

sventastic said...

Smitty -
I think it is important to assess the fundamental principles upon which your arguments rest.
In my interpretation, this could be reduced to fear.
Fear of being vaporized by someone else's nukes.
Although this is a healthy fear, there are many other fundamental principles that are both more powerful and sustainable, namely kindness and compassion (these being vaguely defined as skillful altruistic intention and action [not pacifism or being a push-over]).
To cite 2 examples of the implementation of these principles based in love rather than fear or hatred [the latter two unfortunately being par for the course in human history], in achieving overwhelming personal and social success, look at the non-violence movements of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Both employed active strategies of civil disobedience, speaking truth to power, and persevering in the face of daunting obstacles, including humiliating and degrading treatment and violence.
These are just 2 specific, culturally contextual examples that unequivocably raised the quality of life for tens (if not hundreds) of millions of human beings.
What has nuclear armament and arms races achieved? What benefits has "Mutually Assured Destruction" brought humanity and the world we inhabit?
Your arguments are ones based on a self-replicating system and fundamental principles that have historically been shown to be completly futile and self-destructive. Fear, hatred, and violence are a vicious cycle that merely perpetuates itself ad absurdum until stopped through the use of a more fundamental and powerful force, that of love.
Look at your own life.
Examine your experiences of fear and hatred, and the effects of your actions when acting upon them.
Then look at your experiences of love, kindness, and respect, and the effects of your actions based in them.
Notice a difference?
Now apply that to the world stage.
You may say that's naive; I say it's time for people, especially "statesmen" and "diplomats" to grow up, leave the sandbox and playground mentality behind, and open their eyes to how the world actually works.
It does not "work" in terms of evolution, based on self-destructive behavior. Nuclear weapons are by their nature self-destructive, especially with the amount of them we have now.
Please take an honest look at your motivating forces behind justifying strategies of violence.

sventastic said...

Howard Zinn: "I came to the conclusion that, given the technology of modern warfare, war is inevitably a war against children, against civilians. When you look at the ratio of civilian to military dead, it changes from 50-50 in World War II to 80-20 in Vietnam, maybe as high as 90-10 today… When you face that fact, war is now always a war against civilians, and so against children. No political goal can justify it, and so the great challenge before the human race in our time is to solve the problems of tyranny and aggression, and do it without war."

This all the moreso when discussing nuclear war.

Dan said...

Endlessguides.com Editor: "Even since mid-2000, while there had been talk of reducing nuclear weapons, the US has been in favor of developing a new low-yield nuclear weapon with earth-penetrating capability. This would appear not to be for the purpose of defense, but more for attack."
(source: http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ArmsControl/Nuclear.asp)

Of course, all modern are already nuclear, thanks to the widespread use of depleted uranium. People just don't realise the horrendous effects of depleted uranium.

As with many global issues like this, there's always a chance that someone might take the moral high ground and bring some sanity back into play. But it never happens. It's so depressing to never even glimpse a hope.

We will not stop building, loading and shooting until there's nothing left to shoot, or until there is no underlying infrastructure to support such weapons. My bet is on the infrastructure failing first.

Anonymous said...

sventastic,

While Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. will always be shining examples of the power of peace, what do you suppose would have happened to either under Soviet Stalinism, or Nazi Germany, or Fascist Italy, or Islamic Saudi Arabia? Lets not delude ourselves.

The issue of International military conquest is vastly a more dire situation than Indian treatment under the British or blacks' slavery in America though both were ugly moral blots on both countries. Nonetheless, neither of them killed more than a small fraction of those murdered in the struggle of nations and ideologies.

The fear of willfully giving away our only defenses against other nuclear Communist, Islamic, [fill in your despot of choice here] is definitely a healthy one as you rightly point out.

So let us not forget the huge majority of the 100,000,000 people Communism has systematically exterminated, and the 6,000,000 Jews Nazism systematically exterminated, or the millions of Armenians Turkey systematically exterminated (the list goes endlessly on) were not even guilty of something so mild as "civil disobedience", yet they were murdered nonetheless, in regimes we are at odds with and often times at war with. When we give away the queen on our chessboard with hopes and wishes of everyone doing likewise, not only do we lose our ability to war against such evil, but we open ourselves up to experience it here.

There are many people today who would rejoice in seeing Americans be the victims of the next historic slaughter which is getting easier and easier in the nuclear age to commit. Giving away our *only* defensive strategy against such regimes with the hopes that hopelessly evil men will follow suit instead of take advantage is beyond naive.

First of all, there is nothing "loving" about disarming our nuclear arsenal. I'm sure our enemies would love what we did, but we just opened the gates for all sorts of unloving deeds against our own population. Which side of the fence are you looking at this from?

Second, possessing nuclear weapons and conducting our relations morally are not mutually exclusive items. The only pre-requisite for the moral high road is to act morally. In the meantime, our nuclear arsenal (while we don't need 10,000 warheads) is the only feasible defense known today against other nuclear arsenals. Unilaterally disarming to create a better world is a theoretical strategy ... retaining them to prevent attack is a tested, proven, functional one.

Your asking me what arms races have achieved leads me to believe you think me in favor of them. I'm not. I'm speaking of the situation as it stands today, not waxing philosophical about yesterday. I can't tell you what they've gained, but I can tell you what they do for us now, as I have done above.

-Smitty

Anonymous said...

sventastic,

You said, "Although this is a healthy fear, there are many other fundamental principles that are both more powerful and sustainable, namely kindness and compassion (these being vaguely defined as skillful altruistic intention and action [not pacifism or being a push-over])."

I've no problem with the USA conducting our relations with others in an altruistic manner, that would be absolutely fantastic if we could do that. The main problem with this sentence of yours I quoted is the "not pacifism or being a push-over". If we were to unilaterally trash our nuclear arsenal, we would have NO OTHER CHOICE than to be passive and to get pushed over by a regime that had one. How do you reconcile unilaterally disarming, but not allowing ourselves to be pushed over? The only say we have in not being pushed over by a nuclear armed regime is the fact we are one too! Come on.

-Smitty

Jason Godesky said...

Original post: OH, cap snap!

Smitty, it has little to do with being touched by a gesture and much more to do with the fact that for most of these powers, pursuing a nuclear weapon is really not something they'd be interested in except for one thing: we have so many of them, and we're fucking crazy. The only way to ensure the U.S. won't do some nasty things to you is if you also have a bomb. In a disarmed world, a nuclear device is too costly and simply doesn't have much of a benefit at all. The only good use of a nuclear weapon is intimidation: do as I say or I'll rain nuclear fire on you. Actually using it on any significant scale would obliterate you along with your enemy and every other state on earth, but as the United States illustrated at the end of World War II, a properly terrifying display of nuclear power can terrorize other countries into doing as you say. Basically, the fundamental allure of the nuke is to be the bully. What you're seeing now is a bunch of states tired of being bullied, who want to do the bullying for a while instead. It has nothing to do with touching gestures, and everything to do with removing the reason one would pursue such a costly goal.

Reading this, I'm trying to think of a realistic scenario where the US would actually use a nuclear weapon. I'm drawing a blank. Anybody?

Well, mounting evidence we used depleted uranium shells in Afghanistan, and of course, we're currently the only country on earth to ever actually drop a nuclear weapon as an attack, and when we did, whatever you think of its justificaton, they were two civilian targets. Makes sense, since nukes are useful pretty much just as city-killers.

But in hypothetical future situations, we'd readily use nukes on non-nuclear powers, or in retaliation to a nuclear attack. If North Korea managed to get one nuke together and made a hail mary at Seattle, I assume we'd nuke the whole country in about 40 minutes or less. Likewise, we'd probably have no problem dropping nuclear weapons on non-nuclear powers, assuming they didn't have any sufficiently close nuclear allies to retaliate on their behalf.

Anonymous said...

Godesky said, “Smitty, it has little to do with being touched by a gesture and much more to do with the fact that for most of these powers,

Actually, Vail’s point was specifically with touching others with a gesture, which is why he wrote, “Disarm unilaterally, gain the respect of the world”.

Godesky continues, “… pursuing a nuclear weapon is really not something they'd be interested in except for one thing: we have so many of them, and we're fucking crazy.”

It is disappointing to realize just how many people out there feel that the uniting features of human kind which are fear, greed, dominating others, are not at play, but that it is America which draws out the ugliness of otherwise saintly peoples. Long before 1776 there were empires and countries constantly in pursuit of the biggest, badest weapon they could find to exert dominance over others. Why you think this historic constant would be any different today is boggling.

Godesky continues, “It has nothing to do with touching gestures, and everything to do with removing the reason one would pursue such a costly goal.”

The goal of humanity, as history attests in 99.99999999% of case study examples is not equality, but superiority. Your assumption that Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists would be content with exerting their will via equal measures is unfounded. Humanity struggles for dominance, not equality. Always has, always will. That is unfortunate, but I’m not so naïve as to think this pattern will be altered by anything we do, good or bad.

-Smitty

sventastic said...

Smitty -
As individuals and as social groups we have the choice about whether we want to live in fear, or transcend it and live fearlessly.
If we do no longer want to consider ourselves victims, this means we must break the cycle of beliefs that we trap ourselves in.
Nuclear weapons are tools of fear. Their function is to deliver incomprehensible death and suffering.
As I said, and Jason as well, nuclear weapons are of a self-destructive nature (as in whoever uses them will be trounced in conventional or nonconventional manners for doing so).
Their production and maintenance are insane wastes of resources, and only serve to reinforce a negative cycle of fear and hatred (both in our own and in other countries and thus reciprocally against us for having them).

I am intrigued by your question about "Which side of the fence are you looking at this from?"

I am looking at this from a healthy distance away from the fence; from the perspective of confidence in human dignity and basic goodness that goes beyond the petty duality of "good guys vs. bad guys."

If you want to discuss this in terms of morality, then I disagree with your assertion. I think that the possession of nuclear weapons, though they are not inherently immoral in and of themselves, is only one of a threatening, or bullying, posture against others, which is not only immoral but unsustainable as well.
Again, this childish mentality is symptomatic of deeper psychological issues rooted in clinging to systems of fear, ignorance, hatred, and greed.
You are trying to play the role of the historical pragmatist, but unfortunately your stance is an ironically self-defeating one.
Very simply: violence begets violence. Policy and actions based in fear and hatred will only generate more fear and hatred in a vicious cycle.
The historical examples you cite: the Fascists, Communists, etc. were all hoist on their own petard of violence. You also paint the colonization of India as some walk in the park in an attempt to downplay the significance of the success of the nonviolence movement of Gandhi, which is grossly uninformed.
Violence may be the path of least resistence, hence its popularity. Since humans are so historically inured to patterns of fear and hatred and greed and therefore violence, in this deluded miasma it actually seems logical that the solution would only be more violence or the threat thereof.
This is incredibly futile and ultimately self-destructive reasoning, as history shows over and over again.
The only way to transcend fear is to go through it, and come out the other side. This, in fact, is the most courageous thing a human being can do. The result is fearlessness. Not a haughty pride or hubris based on mistaken perceptions of the primacy of power or aggression, but the ability to genuinely deal with situations skillfully and sustainably, which often means altruistically.
I again urge you to examine your own experience (since that is all any of us really has).
Look at the times you've acted on feelings of fear or hatred and what the results were.
Look at the times you've acted on feelings of love and respect and what the results were.
Perpetuating cycles of fear and hatred is incredibly stupid. In trying to eliminate our (perceived)enemies, we will only create more enemies.
It is only through patience and love that we can truly transcend aggression.
We do not have to live in fear, even if we do not possess nuclear weapons and others do. It is up to us.

Anonymous said...

Unilateral disarmament? Surely you can't be serious? Are we to suppose that if we were to simply disarm then the rest of the world would suddenly - idealistically! -
swoon over our moral turn and feel compelled to do the same?
I agree with Smitty. I shudder in so doing, because I too want to believe that life can be lived according to abstract moral principles...
But the concrete reality is that there are scores of religious fanatics bent on the destruction of those who are "others". Just last week it was revealed that al-
Zawahiri (?) has threatened to bring the fight to France (to France!?) because of their policy of refusing to let Muslim females wear headscarves in school.
I bring up this point because it
surely made me question my own views. It may very well be the case that groups like al-Qaida and such organized themselves around a
profound resentment of foreign forces on the sacred soil, in short, that the West in general and the U.S. in particular have aggrevated relations and may indeed have brought a lot of this trouble upon themselves. However, it does not follow that, even because of these histories of exploitation and so on, that we should simply refuse to face an undeniably existential threat by retreating behind moralistic slogans. Morals do not defend anyone. Morals do not grant us one iota of solace, not one glimmer of hope. Lay down your arms and hold up the cross and see how accomdating your fellow man will be!
It is not an issue of fear. It is an issue of survival. It is an issue of doing something versus doing nothing. Even if that involves obvious doublestandards.
But moralists, good christians through and through, would rather be fair than alive. I know my style is a bit gruff; let me put it another way. We can rest at ease knowing that our doublestandard is practical given that we can assume no moral equivalence between the dreaded "us" and "them" dichotomy. And when I say "them" I am referring only to the radical Islamists, not all muslims. Let "them" also include North Korea.
I can't bear writing any more. It is insane to be debating this. Yes, in an ideal world we would push for unilateral disarmament. It has a warm and fuzzy ring to it, to be sure. Very catchy. The phrase could easily force itself into popular discourse and probably gain a following. But the whole idea is pure folly. Yes, history shows that when one state builds its arms capabilities others feel compelled to follow suit. But the reverse has no historical precedent. What would we gain by unilateral reduction or
disarmament? Would you really trade strategic and tactical strength for the "moral high ground"? Militarily speaking, such a policy would foredoom us to certain destruction.
In summa: not unilateral disarmament, but nonproliferation
is the policy of first priority, even if that means military confrontation. To do nothing, to sit idly by as one by one other nations build their caches is to watch in Neroesque fashion the world head straight for total war. The only solution is to not allow any more nations, rogue or otherwise, develope a nuclear arsenal.

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Jeff Vail said...

The point of the post is not to advocate the actual political position of unilateral disarmament. It is to highlight the hypocrisy of the situation. As Theoy said in the very first comment, most people in the world want disarmament--and yet it doesn't happen. This is because democracies, despite their name, do not execute the will of the majority. This is to illustrate the hypocrisy of the calls that we are already hearing--and that we will increasingly hear--telling us that we need to act because North Korea and Iran are in violation of international law. It's probably beyond the attention span of the masses to explain the normative nature of such law, but you won't even hear people try. I have paid close attention to the nuclear proliferation discussions for the past several years, and I have never ONCE heard mention of Article VI, the ICJ's advisory opinion, or the Second Pillar of Disarmament.

It's easy to decry talk of unilateral disarmament as naive fantasy, but that, too, demonstrates a naive perspective that such action is black or white. Step 1: The US could cancel its DOE program to develop more "useable" bombs. Step 2: we could begin a graduated program of disarmament where we unilaterally take the first step--for example, reduce our inventory of nuclear weapons by 10% unilaterally, and then agree to match reductions by the other nuclear powers on a percentage, not and absolute basis. We can even act bi-laterally--because of the magic of percentages, we can agree to an infinite number of 10% reductions without completely disarming--and this is exactly the kind of program that could get the ball moving.

Sure, none of this is going to happen either, but let's not say that unilateral disarmament is prima facie naive. The liklihood that our present leadership will not actually follow a course of action should not be confused with an argument that such action is irrational, naive, or imprudent. To suggest that this I am arguing that we unilaterally disarm so that the rest of the world will suddenly "swoon" to our side is itself a naive misunderstanding of the power--and broad possibilities--of unilateral action in this matter.

Theo_musher said...

Well, I've been thinking about this some more. I think in oder for unilateral disarmament to be carried out it would take a combination of two things.

1. an actual global nuclear war

2. World government.

It would have to be a semi democratic world government composed of people who have all experienced the horror of nuclear war first hand. This would create the political will and popular support to do it, but it would have to be carried out by a powerful police state like world government.

sventastic said...

Anon -
First: The threat of a nuclear stockpile is effective only against other nation states. The examples you cite, decentralized terrorist groups and even North Korea (for which there is a dead-lock of conventional weapons that would equally assure its completely obliteration), are not dissuaded by America's thousands of ICBMs anyway.
Beginning to disarm unilaterally would not make the least difference to them, but would serve as an ameliorating factor on the stage of world politics.
Second: If we diverted a fraction of the cost of developing and maintaining our nuclear arsenal, I am confident that intelligence forces could track the enrichment and/or transport of fissile materials well enough to not allow extremeist groups to get a hold of one.
Also, other nuclear-capable countries that would be potential suppliers would probably be more forthcoming in taking a positive role in this situation if America showed an act of good will in beginning to unilaterally disarm our (thousands of) missiles.
Third: Violence only begets violence. Creating a smokescreen or covering everything with blankets on a moonless and starless night will not serve to illuminate anything. But having a simple candle will immediately dispell the darkness. Only the light can dispell darkness (light being love and darkness being fear and hatred).
This is not moral grandstanding, but a practical, pragmatic, and sustainable strategy for not exterminating all life on this planet.
Your suggestion serves only to maintain the insanse staus quo and further increase paranoia, bloodshed, and the growing possibility of nuclear annhilation.
My suggestion leads to the possibility of resolving differences peaceably and cultivates respect for human decency.
"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.... The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Strength to Love (1963)

Jason Godesky said...

It is disappointing to realize just how many people out there feel that the uniting features of human kind which are fear, greed, dominating others, are not at play, but that it is America which draws out the ugliness of otherwise saintly peoples.

And it's because of this violent nature that Homo sapiens went extinct shortly after its emergence.

Those aren't the "uniting features of human kind" at all; they're quite contrary to human nature. But they are the uniting features of all states, and that's something I'm well aware of. This hasn't anything to do with America being unique in its aspirations, but we are unique in our ability. No, I don't think there are any states out there of any superior moral quality than the United States, but a nuclear weapon doesn't even make sense in terms of "free, greed and dominating others" except as a means of keeping other nuclear powers at bay.

The goal of humanity, as history attests in 99.99999999% of case study examples is not equality, but superiority.

The ignorance of anthropology evident here is overwhelming. For 99.99999999% of humanity's history, there's absolutely no evidence of warfare whatsoever. The first such evidence emerges in the Neolithic, a mere 10,000 years ago, while humans have been around for two million years. Even if you want to limit it just to Homo sapiens, it's still less than 1/10 of our time on this planet.

Your assumption that Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists would be content with exerting their will via equal measures is unfounded.

Where did I say that? All I said is that they don't want nukes except to keep our nukes at bay. There are much more cost-efficient ways of exerting control than developing a nuclear weapon, methods that would be much preferred if it weren't so imperative to keep American aggression at bay. At this point in history, the only motivation for a nuclear weapons program is to deter the United States from a path of unilateral invasion.

Anonymous said...

My responses to sventastic and Godesky:

“As I said, and Jason as well, nuclear weapons are of a self-destructive nature (as in whoever uses them will be trounced in conventional or nonconventional manners for doing so). Their production and maintenance are insane wastes of resources, and only serve to reinforce a negative cycle of fear and hatred (both in our own and in other countries and thus reciprocally against us for having them).”

I’ll again point out that I am neither in disagreement that nuclear weapons are self-destructive, nor do I feel that maintaining them is a desired expenditure in resources. The issue is UNILATERALLY DISARMING. We are in the position we are in and the reality is what the reality is. Both being the case, UNILATERALLY DISARMING our nuclear arsenal is WORSE than the status-quo. However many negatives the nuclear arms race has created, it would take a global commitment to disarming that would have to happen more or less at the same time so no one nation is in possession of nuclear weapons when all others have already disarmed. The historic quest for human domination over other humans has prevented any such coordinated move toward peace and will continue to do so until humans become something not so human.

“I think that the possession of nuclear weapons, though they are not inherently immoral in and of themselves, is only one of a threatening, or bullying, posture against others, which is not only immoral but unsustainable as well.”

Possession of nuclear weapons is also the ONLY defensive strategy against other nuclear armed countries, thereby making the possession of them very sustainable.

“You are trying to play the role of the historical pragmatist, but unfortunately your stance is an ironically self-defeating one.”

I prefer historic pragmatism to wishful futurism. Unfortunately, your stance is a self-surrendering one that doesn’t even have irony accompanying it because there would be no irony in surrendering your defense only to be overtaken by your enemy, precisely the situation that would be established should we unilaterally disarm.

“You also paint the colonization of India as some walk in the park in an attempt to downplay the significance of the success of the nonviolence movement of Gandhi, which is grossly uninformed.”

I can’t read what I wrote carefully for you, you have to do that yourself. Far from “painting the colonization of India as some walk in the park”, I called the British colonization of India an “ugly moral blot” on Britain. The fact remains, however, the well over 100,000,000 victims of the collective “isms” I detailed is a far more atrocious crime against humanity than what Gandhi overcame. I do not seek to downplay the significance of the non-violence movement because I am not pro-violence. I am simply being realistic in a way you are unable to counter because you know full well what would have happened to Gandhi and MLKJ in Saudi Arabia, the USSR, Nazi Germany, or Fascist Italy.

“The only way to transcend fear is to go through it, and come out the other side.”

This was done when President Kennedy took a stand and prevented the Soviet Union from delivering their missiles to Cuban launch pads. It will not be accomplished by relinquishing our only known defensive against nuclear despots in the hopes we can become the Gandhi of nations.

“The ignorance of anthropology evident here is overwhelming. For 99.99999999% of humanity's history, there's absolutely no evidence of warfare whatsoever.”

What a silly red herring to chase. I apologize I don’t carry degrees in every field in which I might comment, but not only does this have nothing to do with my main point which is unilateral disarmament will gain us nothing and expose us to much, but I refer generally to *recorded* history when I speak of history, much the same way the majority of traditional historians do, which is nothing if not a record of perpetual warfare. You obviously just like to argue at the expense of the point.

“Where did I say that? All I said is that they don't want nukes except to keep our nukes at bay.”

You didn’t have to say it, it is simply the logical conclusion of your point. If other nations are “only” pursuing nukes in response to American aggression, then American unilateral disarmament should prompt all other nuclear nations to likewise disarm which is a laughably ignorant expectation. Therefore, you assume that Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists would be content with exerting their will via equal measures. Sticks vs. sticks. Stones vs. stones. Get real.

“At this point in history, the only motivation for a nuclear weapons program is to deter the United States from a path of unilateral invasion.”

How slim a path are we talking here? The last 2 years? 5 years? Certainly American invasion played no role in France’s nuclear armament. Certainly American invasion played no role in the nuclear armament of arch enemies Pakistan and India. Certainly American invasion played no role in Britain’s nuclear armament. Certainly American invasion played no role in Israel’s nuclear armament. I guess you can manage to always be right to some degree so long as you confine your point to a brief fragment of history.

-Smitty

Jason Godesky said...

However many negatives the nuclear arms race has created, it would take a global commitment to disarming that would have to happen more or less at the same time so no one nation is in possession of nuclear weapons when all others have already disarmed.

So, something like the Non-Proliferation Treaty, only not a complete joke, primarily because we won't follow it? The only nations with nuclear weapons now are us (with the overwhelming majority of them) and our allies.

What a silly red herring to chase. I apologize I don’t carry degrees in every field in which I might comment, but not only does this have nothing to do with my main point which is unilateral disarmament will gain us nothing and expose us to much, but I refer generally to *recorded* history when I speak of history, much the same way the majority of traditional historians do, which is nothing if not a record of perpetual warfare. You obviously just like to argue at the expense of the point.

Not at all, this is the point, isn't it? You've taken a very limited dataset, only the most recent fraction of our time on this planet, and concluded from that sweeping conclusions about "human nature." I'd say you've pinned down the nature of states, but certainly not of humans.

You didn’t have to say it, it is simply the logical conclusion of your point. If other nations are “only” pursuing nukes in response to American aggression, then American unilateral disarmament should prompt all other nuclear nations to likewise disarm which is a laughably ignorant expectation. Therefore, you assume that Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists would be content with exerting their will via equal measures. Sticks vs. sticks. Stones vs. stones. Get real.

Well the first problem in your "logical conclusion" is that the "Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists" in question generally don't currently have nuclear weapons. Like North Korea or Iran, they may be pursuing a nuclear program at present, but they do not yet have those weapons. So it's not a matter of giving up weapons they already have, but stopping development of things they're after. And why are they after them? Because they're scared shitless of American invasion. If the U.S. were to actually comply with the agreements it's made, this cause would be removed, and rather than nuclear weapons, these "Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists" would be pouring their efforts into much higher-yield means of getting what they want. Nukes won't get them what they want, and they know that. They can't really use them. The only thing they're good for to "Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists" is to keep the U.S. from invading them. For "exerting their will" there are a lot more effective means, at much lower cost, that those resources could be going to, if they didn't need to worry about whether or not the U.S. would blast them with atomic fire. It has nothing to do with them being "nice," and everything to do with them not being complete idiots.

How slim a path are we talking here? The last 2 years? 5 years?

For the regions of the world we're talking about, something on the order of 50. Why do you think the USSR wanted nukes so badly? And the threat of American invasion did loom large in Pakistan and India's armament, at least according to Abdul Qadeer Khan, who's now shopping the technology to other countries in order to "level the playing field" with the U.S.

Anonymous said...

“So, something like the Non-Proliferation Treaty, only not a complete joke, primarily because we won't follow it? The only nations with nuclear weapons now are us (with the overwhelming majority of them) and our allies.”

Exactly. Why then is the NPT such a joke? The same reason UN resolutions and ICJ rulings are jokes. Nobody listens and no one enforces. Rulers and despots will do what rulers and despots want to do. Cancerous cells usually win even with other cells fighting them. How much quicker the death if the body doesn’t respond at all?

Not at all, this is the point, isn't it?

Not the main one (and it opened up too large a side-debate for being such a peripheral issue). The point is whether or not unilateral nuclear disarmament would work in any way toward paving the way toward a more peaceful world. Though you disagree with my 99.999999% number, surely you see the absurdity of having to refer to the Neolithic period, a “mere” 10,000 years ago, to find people that weren’t out to dominate others through military means.

“I'd say you've pinned down the nature of states, but certainly not of humans.”

Long before kids know anything of state rivalries, we need not teach them to lie, to cheat, to steal, to physically hurt others, to control others, etc. They do this on our own. They do this because they are human. Unless you believe that the negative qualities of states are so pervasive as to be absorbed into children who don’t yet know their names, thereby altering their “normal” behavior into something only a state can be attributed with creating. If that is the case nuclear disarmament should be in the backseat until states are abolished. I don’t like debating theoretic ideological purity because we will never realize it. Today, right now, in this world, in the situation we are in, we gain nothing by unilaterally disarming our nuclear arsenal, and only hurt ourselves by doing so.

“Well the first problem in your "logical conclusion" is that the "Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists" in question generally don't currently have nuclear weapons.”

Exercise a little foresight. You’re the same person who points out everyone is frantically attempting to secure nuclear weapons to keep America’s unilateral invasions at bay, while at the same time making me sound as though I’m jumping the gun by applying the logical conclusion to your argument because not everyone can strap a nuke on an ICBM TODAY.

“So it's not a matter of giving up weapons they already have, but stopping development of things they're after.”

For the most part, correct. And we can’t even do that.

“If the U.S. were to actually comply with the agreements it's made, this cause would be removed, and rather than nuclear weapons, these "Communist dictators and Islamic supremacists" would be pouring their efforts into much higher-yield means of getting what they want.”

Care to elaborate?

“Nukes won't get them what they want, and they know that. They can't really use them.”

Iran was offered collective goody bags of all sorts of great things if they would just stop pursuing their nuclear program. What do you mean it won’t get them what they want? North Korea was given all sorts of great things in the treaty they violated. What do you mean it won’t get them what they want? What is it you feel they want that they aren’t getting? Allegedly the argument goes people are securing nukes to ward off America’s aggression, and America only attacks countries that don’t have nukes, so it sounds like lots of people are getting what they want with nukes. And what do you mean they can’t really use them? Why would a country pursue a weapon it can not use, and why would America be deterred by a weapon that could not be used? The contradictions are forming a pile.

“For "exerting their will" there are a lot more effective means, at much lower cost, that those resources could be going to, if they didn't need to worry about whether or not the U.S. would blast them with atomic fire.”

Care to elaborate?

“And the threat of American invasion did loom large in Pakistan and India's armament, at least according to Abdul Qadeer Khan, who's now shopping the technology to other countries in order to "level the playing field" with the U.S.”

AQ Khan is a Muslim who wants to see Islam dominate the world. The leveling of the playing field he speaks of, though I didn’t see the quote you refer to, would deal not with fear of an American invasion, but with having the same hardware (at least) as the countries of the world (headed by America) so as to be able to realize the Caliphate he and millions of his co-religionists long for, or at least realize it more easily or with a greater chance of success than without nuclear weapons.

-Smitty

Jason Godesky said...

Exactly. Why then is the NPT such a joke? The same reason UN resolutions and ICJ rulings are jokes. Nobody listens and no one enforces.

Well, the U.S. ignores it, and since we usually account for the bulk of what's under discussion, it becomes moot. When the U.S., the source of the majority of the world's carbon emissions, ignores the Kyoto Treaty, what use is it if everyone else follows it? When the U.S., who owns the vast majority of the world's nuclear weapons, ignores the non-proliferation treaty, it's suicidal to be the only person who follows it while the madman in the White House is developing new nuclear weapons and plotting how to invade you.

...surely you see the absurdity of having to refer to the Neolithic period, a “mere” 10,000 years ago, to find people that weren’t out to dominate others through military means.

Or any non-state actor right now, like the !Kung. But there's nothing absurd about it--it underlines how odd states and their behavior are.

Long before kids know anything of state rivalries, we need not teach them to lie, to cheat, to steal, to physically hurt others, to control others, etc. They do this on our own. They do this because they are human.

No, they very much do need to be taught that. You've never heard about children's honesty? In most contexts, lying, cheating, stealing, hurting others, controlling others and all the rest don't get you anything. Except in complex, state-level, hierarchical societies that account for far less than 1% of the human experience.

Exercise a little foresight. You’re the same person who points out everyone is frantically attempting to secure nuclear weapons to keep America’s unilateral invasions at bay, while at the same time making me sound as though I’m jumping the gun by applying the logical conclusion to your argument because not everyone can strap a nuke on an ICBM TODAY.

Nuclear development is very expensive, but at the same time almost entirely useless for any military application such dictators would want to undertake. It's really, really dumb to develop a nuclear weapon to "exert your will"--unless you're doing it out of fear of another nuclear power. Only in that context does it make any sense. So yes, you're jumping the gun--a lot.

Care to elaborate?

Tanks, conventional weapons, missiles, all of these things can, unlike nuclear weapons, actually be used to "exert their will," and they're all much, much cheaper to get, both in terms of plain money and international pressure. For the price of a nuclear program, you can buy all the weapons you need--weapons you can actually use--to actually exert your will. For the same price, you can get a nuclear program and develop a missile or two that sits in their silos, and serves only to preserve your existence against the threat of American belligerence. Dictators who want to exert their will would love to spend their resources on anything but a nuclear program, because nuclear programs are incredibly expensive, and get them nothing but basic preservation.

Iran was offered collective goody bags of all sorts of great things if they would just stop pursuing their nuclear program. What do you mean it won’t get them what they want?

Doesn't really matter when the U.S. is on both your western and eastern borders, and rattling its atomic saber. What does it matter when you're going to be shortly thereafter invaded?

North Korea was given all sorts of great things in the treaty they violated.

Well, as I understand it, those "great things" were promised some fiften years ago, on a ten-year timeline. The more recent nuclear program was renewed when the ten years lapsed, and the U.S. never made a move to deliver any of the promised hydroelectric plants.

Allegedly the argument goes people are securing nukes to ward off America’s aggression, and America only attacks countries that don’t have nukes, so it sounds like lots of people are getting what they want with nukes.

I'm not counting "not being wiped out" under the "want" category, so much as basic preservation. What they want I assume to be "exerting their wills," conquest, terror, that kind of thing. Things much more easily, and cheaply, achieved with conventional weapons.

And what do you mean they can’t really use them? Why would a country pursue a weapon it can not use, and why would America be deterred by a weapon that could not be used?

You have nuclear weapons just to have them, not to actually use them. There's no contradiction here. That's the nature of nuclear weapons: you develop them so you can say you have them, so you can scare people. You don't use them.

AQ Khan is a Muslim who wants to see Islam dominate the world.

Err, I believe Khan is more of a nationalist type than religious. He's been shopping it around to plenty of non-Muslims, too. Not all Muslims are "Islamic supremacists," just like not all Christians are Dominionists.

Anonymous said...

Godesky,

Any further response to your post would be irrelevant to the original article.

The fact remains that despite anthropology, human nature, statehood, "isms", the UN, non-compliance, or anything else mentioned so far, the only deterrent against nuclear war is mutually assured destruction.

It is a crappy boat to be in especially with everyone scrambling to get nukes. We can look forward to either peace through nuclear fear or nuclear destruction.

All the proposals for how we could begin unilateral disarmament cautiously would only work if everyone agreed to play nice. Perhaps this discussion could be revived once people start playing nice. Until then, the only recognized deterrent against nukes is possessing nukes. Though we certainly don't need 10,000 as I've already stated, unilateral disarmament in such light is suicide.

-Smitty

Jason Godesky said...

It seems to me that there's only one party here with such sway as to matter: namely, us. Our overwhelming arsenal has left behind the era of mutually assured destruction, opening up into a new paradigm of nuclear relations: the United States, and people who are hoping the United States won't attack them. In this post-Cold War world, the ball is entirely in our court.

sventastic said...

Smitty -
First, please reread my response to Anon with regard to some good reasons why unilateral disarmament is a practical and sustainable strategy.
This argument we're having can basically be boiled down to discussing whether "might makes right."
In my opinion, might does not make right.
Your clinging to the primacy of preserving the "security" of a status-quo American lifestyle, one desperately lacking in dignity or respect, is as short-sighted as it is simple-minded.
I would rather die from cancer with some cogency, decency and self-respect than spend the rest of my (limited) days frantically trying to preserve my life by means of ultimately self-destructive behavior.
You seem to forget that we all die. This is as natural as it is inevitable. How we do this is actually quite important.
Think about the nuclear situation in this way: America is a tough-guy walking down the street with a .38 at his side. He sees some other dude whom he disagrees with and may have even gotten into an argument with, and feels both defensive and beligerant. America swaggers over to the dude, roughly pushes him to an alley wall, and holds the gun to his head, telling him not to make any stupid moves. The other man's hands are in his pockets, and he may well have a knife or even a handgun in there. What is America supposed to do, keep the gun to the man's head up against the wall in the alley indefinitely?
This is not a sustainable, nor a positive, situation to be in, for either party. If America lowers the gun, honestly apologizes and genuinely assures the man he's going to back away and even throw the gun away, and even gives the guy a few dollars, this seems to be better than just stubbornly and tensely standing there while both get tired, hungry, and more paranoid and pissed off.

You describe childish behavior, blind actions based on motivations of ignorance, greed, fear, anger. That's exactly what it is, childish behavior. The same can be said about American international policy. Other countries dotake the NPT, UN, and ICJ seriously, and our blatant and beligerant disregard of them merely serves to ironically undermine our collective safety (much like your own arguments justifying attempted permanent intimidation, bullying, and justification of reinforcing patterns of fear and hatred).
Lastly, put all of this in the contex of Collapse.
If you have not yet, please read Jeff's (and others') excellent articles on this impending paradigm shift.
Within this context, there will be no functional national governments left to deal with the nuclear situation, both internationally and in trying to keep their domestically stored missiles and nuclear reactors from melting down. Hell, Russia can't even do this now, even before a global collapse.
Wouldn't it be better to start down the road of disarmament before it's too late?
American unilateral disarmament is the key to helping insure the future of life on this planet. This is not a sign of weakness, nor is it an open invitation to be attacked. Trying to perpetually hold a gun to the world's head will only insure more attacks against us. We must relinquish this childish and self-destructive behavior in order to survive.
You may prefer to live a life of fear and delusional hatred, where security is of utmost importance, no matter what the cost.
I disagree. In trying to intimidate or destroy your enemies, you only serve to create more and more of them. In such a cycle, you can never defeat all your enemies. But what you can do is defeat the clinging to fear and hatred within yourself, and then you will no longer have any external foes, but people you care about. Only through altruism can there be true peace. Then you can truly live life in freedom, no matter what happens.
And yes, hurricanes and the human disasters that follow them, and other calamities, including insane killings, happen. That's life. What we can do to minimize the likelihood or negative impact of these situations is to be prepared and deal with them when they and their after effects arise with love and compassion. This is not sustainably accomplished through threat of violence and intimidation, but through care, respect, and generosity. Unilateral disarmament, both personally in each one of us, and internationally, is a crucial part of this.

Anonymous said...

sventastic,

Rather than this duck-duck-goose game of philosophy on what would happen if we unilaterally disarm where the absolute best you can offer is the following wishful musing:

"Also, other nuclear-capable countries that would be potential suppliers would probably be more forthcoming in taking a positive role in this situation if America showed an act of good will in beginning to unilaterally disarm our (thousands of) missiles."

... perhaps it would be better for you to cite some examples in history to illustrate your point. You've already mentioned MLKJ and Gandhi, but as I've noted and you've not disputed once, both would have been murdered in many other nations. Neither case applied to what we are discussing even on a micro/macro level because their success ultimately depended on the oppressors' choosing to respond to their "light" and "love" rather than snuffing them out with an iron bar whack to the brain stem (ala the Khmer Rouge).

North Korea, since they are dominating the news, has callously let millions of Koreans starve to death as they pursue nuclear weapons at all costs. This does not sound like a regime that would be very receptive to "love", "light", "candles", flashlights, etc.

Since your MLKJ and Gandhi examples require at least a basic level of receptiveness to their moral appeal, what examples do you have where no reception to morality is required?

If you are going to attempt to reason that there is no one on earth who is unreceptive to morals, we are simply living on different planets. Otherwise, please give me a couple examples of your philosophy in action.

And by the way, your attempt to portray my opinion that we should not disarm because MAD remains the only identifiable deterrent against incoming nuclear attack as "hate" is a complete straw man. I do not "hate" Russians but do recognize they can destroy us with nuclear weapons. I do not "hate" Persians but do recognize their leadership would love to make us an example. I also do not prefer MAD as a tactic. Failing any other identifiable deterrent, however, besides your as yet unfounded philosophy of “Peace, man”, preference is not a luxury.

-Smitty

sventastic said...

Unilateral disarmament is neither placating to those who threaten us nor inviting them to attack us.
In my suggestions about how to skillfully disarm, not only would our action be one of goodwill and ispire others to follow suit, but the reallocation of funds to detecting and eliminating enrichment activities could be done in a conventional manner.
Among other, the Dalai Lama is an excellent example of a man who not only practices but embodies non-violence and loving-kindness.
Your concession of:
It is a crappy boat to be in especially with everyone scrambling to get nukes. We can look forward to either peace through nuclear fear or nuclear destruction.

is a depressingly paranoid prognosis of humanity and the future of the world.
America holding a gun to the world's head is not a sustainable option in international relations. Indeed, it only exacerbates the ill-will that folks harbor against us. If we minimize, and actually eliminate the negative actions and intimidation we force on others, we will actually be making ourselves safer.
I am amazed by what I perceive in your arguments to be a willingness to sacrifice all life on the planet (your second of two outcomes) in order to somehow try and preserve American nuclear hegemony and our "way of life." In such a system, your "crappy boat" seems to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
People do not have to be victims. It is a choice we make about how to deal with situations we experience. Even if we are struck without any apparent reason, we can react in a mature, measured, skillful, and healing manner. Shit happens, that's natural. How we deal with it and move on with the rest of our lives, skillfully or childishly, is up to us.
(Futiley) trying to perpetuate a threataning posture is not sustainable. In my street-fight example, don't you think America will have to pee at some point? Or eat? Or pass-out? Especially given the economic and social Collapse we face, there is no way we can even keep the stance you suggest.
As I said in my first post, I am not equating your position only with hate but mainly with fear.
The world is not out to get us. There are many who seek to hurt Americans, but the American government has done much evil in the world to create this situation.
Isn't it about time we take action to reverse this self-destructive course? The only way to do so is to try and heal the wounds we have created. Unilateral disarmament in one major way to do this.

Anonymous said...

Sventastic said: “Among other, the Dalai Lama is an excellent example of a man who not only practices but embodies non-violence and loving-kindness.”

All you’ve done here is named another peaceful individual, but what I asked for is an example or two on an International scale of aggression being averted by the peaceful actions of another. You could make your case by showing how Hitler’s Germany decided against invading Poland after the peaceful, generous actions of Chamberlain touched his heart. Or perhaps how the Russian masses were spared when they opted against violent rebellion against Stalin.

Sventastic said: “America holding a gun to the world's head is not a sustainable option in international relations. Indeed, it only exacerbates the ill-will that folks harbor against us. If we minimize, and actually eliminate the negative actions and intimidation we force on others, we will actually be making ourselves safer.”

The line you draw between our refusal to unilaterally disarm and our holding a gun against the world’s head is crooked. Our meddling in every nation that we perceive might cast a shadow on our global interests is what exacerbates ill-will against us, not the fact we possess the only recognized defensive tactic against nuclear invasion. If America could strike a balance between retaining nuclear weapons and getting out of everyone’s business, the ill-will you refer to would rapidly diminish because the ability of a nation to defend itself should only generate ill-will toward those seeking to do it harm in the first place.

Sventastic said: “I am amazed by what I perceive in your arguments to be a willingness to sacrifice all life on the planet (your second of two outcomes) in order to somehow try and preserve American nuclear hegemony and our "way of life."

How else can I help you understand that my facing the cold reality of our situation today is not the same as my “willingness to sacrifice all life on the planet”? What we face today has nothing whatever to do with what I am willing to see happen; the second of my two outcomes is simply a potential reality. I am not willing to see a loved one suffer with and die of cancer, but the cold reality is that people suffer with and die of cancer. Get it? Happy thoughts and “peace man” don’t work with cancer cells, they also don’t work with malicious dictators. I am also not interested in American nuclear hegemony, as the concept of “hegemony” on nuclear Earth is irrelevant in the first place. Once we possess the capability to completely destroy the earth once, what purpose does the capability (and therefore hegemonic competition) to destroy it twice serve? I’ve already written that we don’t need 10,000 warheads, but we also shouldn’t unilaterally disarm either.

Sventastic said: “People do not have to be victims. It is a choice we make about how to deal with situations we experience. “

Define victim. Is a victim someone who gets their brains splattered across the sidewalk for being Jewish or Arab, or is a victim only a victim when they have enough time to “deal with the situation” being experienced in a non-victim-like manner before they die? I guess the Jews who walked unescorted into the gas chambers to deprive the Waffen SS of their sick pleasure of seeing people in absolute terror before they die shouldn’t be counted as “victims” of Nazism because they dealt with their inevitable demise in a “mature, measured, skillful, and healing manner”. Give me a break.

Sventastic said: “Even if we are struck without any apparent reason, we can react in a mature, measured, skillful, and healing manner. Shit happens, that's natural. How we deal with it and move on with the rest of our lives, skillfully or childishly, is up to us.”

But we sure as hell couldn’t react with nukes could we? In fact, after being struck by a nuclear nation, any response at all would seem rather impotent considering all they have to do is launch another warhead at us. Are we going to respond with a few hundred cruise missiles in the meantime while our country is being decimated by a nuclear storm? Perhaps you could describe what a ““mature, measured, skillful, and healing manner” response would look like after being struck in an assumedly unjustified nuclear first-strike? Remember, we have no nuclear weapons because we followed your advice to disarm, and we are dealing with a dictator (most likely) who was concerned enough about things to launch an unjustified nuclear war in the first place. This should be interesting.

Sventastic said: “In my street-fight example, don't you think America will have to pee at some point? Or eat? Or pass-out?”

I don’t think your street-fight example accurately represents the dynamics of International nuclear mutually assured destruction, so responding to it would work against reality as I see it and have explained it.

Sventastic: “As I said in my first post, I am not equating your position only with hate but mainly with fear.”

Then perhaps constantly using the word “hate” in an attempt to make me out to be a national supremacist was uncalled for … which is why I brought it up in the first place.

Sventastic said: “The world is not out to get us.”

That is true to a major degree, but bringing up reality again, though the world is not out to get just us, the world is out to be gotten. The very nature of states requires their defense against violations of sovereignty, or on the flipside you can’t seem to see coming, victimhood however an aggressive despot saw to it.

Sventastic said: “Isn't it about time we take action to reverse this self-destructive course? The only way to do so is to try and heal the wounds we have created. Unilateral disarmament in one major way to do this.”

Refer to my above comments, our not meddling in other’s affairs would do exponentially more to heal any wounds that just handing over our primary deterrent against aggression without so much as a shot going off.

-Smitty

sventastic said...

Smitty -
A few more people who are good examples of living non-violence are Thich Nhat Hanh and Sulak Sivaraksa, a Vietnamese monk and a Thai monk.
Some more examples of the success of non-violence in action: peaceful revolutions and transition of power (not perfect by any means, as any mass movement involves collections of individuals, but exemplary and unprecedented in their success in lack of loss of life): Philippines, South Africa, dissolution of the Soviet empire.
I think that the American nuclear arsenal is tantamount to holding a gun to the world's head, and it is this big stick, along with the rest of our insane military forces, that underwrites our international policy. It is of no other use than to intimate or incinerate others, as you yourself have said.
I think you might be surprised at the instances of perseverent positive thinking and optimism that have brought many cancer patients to remission. This is equally applicable to international policy. "Peace man" might actually just work if you and enough people really, genuinely want and mean it, and are willing to persevere for it.
Unilaterally disarming our nuclear arsenal does not preclude a systematic strategy of conventional security or, even better, an altruistic international policy that encourages other countries to genuinely support us rather than want to harm us.
In my opinion, you have not adequately addressed my suggestion of how the diversion of funds from developing/maintaining our nuclear arsenal could be used to hunt down enrichment activities and eliminate them in a conventional manner, either through international sanctions or even the tactical use of force.
Victimhood: he who has his brains splattered on the sidewalk cannot consider himself one way or another. Those who do survive harsh treatment or abuse have choices to make about how they will live the rest of their lives. I'm not saying it's okay to be an asshole to someone; quite the opposite.
My entire stance is one grounded in universal respect for human decency and basic goodness.
Rather, when one encounters unfavorable circumstances (getting a paper cut or being lead to a gas chamber) one has a choice about how to respond to the choicelessness of finding oneself in these situations.
In the face of inevitable hardship and death, whether imminently on the way to the gas-chamber or 50 years from now due to natural causes, I can choose to genuinely conduct myself with dignity and respect.
I was not alluding to you specifically as a hateful person, and I apologize for the perceived implication, but rather that those who also hold the views and arguments you have been using here about the primacy of power and justification of the use of violence and intimidation tend to indulge in their patterns of hatred, which, as I repeatedly say, are fundamentally motivated by fear.
As I said in my introduction of it, the street-fight example is reductionist, but I think it reflects American international policies of belligerence and intimidation rather well. Of course it is more complicated than that, and of course, as I wrote at the end of my last post, the American government has done much evil in the world to create this situation.
Isn't it about time we take action to reverse this self-destructive course? The only way to do so is to try and heal the wounds we have created.

Unilateral nuclear disarmament would be a huge and significant step in repairing our reputation and healing the many wounds we have inflicted on others.
Finally, I think we have fairly different takes on the nature of the human condition. I would say the fundemental nature of humanity and the world is that of basic goodness; that the absolute lowest common denominator is inherent, non-dual dignity and joy (even in the midst of the gas-chamber), which could be called sugatagarbha.
We do not have to be victims or prisoners of fear. Even if someone splatters our brains across the sidewalk or leads us to a gas-chamber, or sets off a nuke in our city, we have a choice about how to deal with the situation.
Violence is a self-replicating cycle that perpetuates itself unless halted by a stronger, more sustainable force, that of love. You might not think that as a good consolation for the poor people who suffer in a camp or from a terrorist attack, but actually, if they have truly realized this, then they do not necessarily suffer. Sure it sucks, but, "get real," grow up. Childish responses are fine for children, but that's what's gotten us into this mess. It's time for all of us to grow up.
Upon observing someone getting their foot cut off, you might shake your head and say, "poor devil." But, if you learn that the unfortunate person had gangrene and was about to die unless his foot was amputed, you might have a different interpretation of what you observed.
At first, getting rid of all our nukes might seem like a bad idea. But when others do the same, and the threat of global annhilation is reduced and eventually eliminated, you might have a different interpretation.
Doesn't it make more sense that we will be safer if we minimize our belligerence? You said so yourself. Unilateral nuclear disarmament would be a key and major factor in this, among other strategic altruistic actions.

Anonymous said...

Some more examples of the success of non-violence in action: peaceful revolutions and transition of power

Well which ones? That’s sort of the whole question.

Philippines

What about the Philippines? You just mentioned the name of a chain of islands, hardly what I asked for.

South Africa

I assume you are referring to the end of South African apartheid. This was hardly an example of non-violence in action, neither is it an example of peaceful gestures inspiring change. Ever hear of the African National Congress? Or the countless bloody riots and protests aimed at the racists in power? The white minority rulers perpetuating apartheid did not dismantle the racist system because the majority blacks reacted with calm, collected, and peaceful measures. Nothing could be further from the truth. In addition to the terrorism of the African National Congress and the daily violence by common citizens, International pressure was clinching down on them as well. South Africa was banned from the Olympics, heavy economic sanctions were applied by a number of countries (headed by the USA), and perhaps most significantly, the whites were running low on numbers. It was simply becoming unfeasible for such a small population of people to control such a large population of citizens. All these facts fly in the face of your misguided idea that peace changed the hearts of the racist whites.

dissolution of the Soviet empire

What and who’s peaceful act are you referring to that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union? The collapse of the Soviet Union doesn’t have a single attributable event. It was a rather complex series of events all cumulating this ultimate effect. I think the reason you speak in such vague and unspecific terms is because you have no specific example to illustrate your case.

I think that the American nuclear arsenal is tantamount to holding a gun to the world's head

Well I don’t. We’ll just have to disagree.

It is of no other use than to intimate or incinerate others, as you yourself have said.

This is the purpose of every weapon, not just nukes. Perhaps we should unilaterally disarm ourselves of sticks and stones as well.

I think you might be surprised at the instances of perseverent positive thinking and optimism that have brought many cancer patients to remission.

I wouldn’t describe it as “surprise”. I’m well aware of the power of the mind in reversing terminal conditions. I’m also well aware that compared to those who succumb to the disease, those who “happy thoughts” their way out of it are so few and far between, you wouldn’t see their slice on the pie chart.

Unilaterally disarming our nuclear arsenal does not preclude a systematic strategy of conventional security

Conventional security facing unconventional nuclear destruction is no match. It just isn’t. If you don’t understand that already I don’t know how else to explain it to you.

In my opinion, you have not adequately addressed my suggestion of how the diversion of funds from developing/maintaining our nuclear arsenal could be used to hunt down enrichment activities and eliminate them in a conventional manner, either through international sanctions or even the tactical use of force.

This doesn’t sound very altruistic of you Sventastic. Are you actually suggesting that we disarm our nukes to give us justification for our worldwide policing action of rooting out and destroying everyone else’s nukes as well? I must have misjudged you, I thought this was the sort of thing you were against.

Rather, when one encounters unfavorable circumstances (getting a paper cut or being lead to a gas chamber) one has a choice about how to respond to the choicelessness of finding oneself in these situations.
In the face of inevitable hardship and death, whether imminently on the way to the gas-chamber or 50 years from now due to natural causes, I can choose to genuinely conduct myself with dignity and respect.


Comforting words to the tortured dead, I’m sure.

Finally, I think we have fairly different takes on the nature of the human condition. I would say the fundemental nature of humanity and the world is that of basic goodness

We absolutely have different takes on the nature of humanity. Considering the dismal history of an unending buffet of slaughter, racism, brutality, contempt, hatred, deception, and spite, I would say mine is more correct than yours, which we haven’t seen in operation for more than 2 days in a row in any given spot on earth.

Doesn't it make more sense that we will be safer if we minimize our belligerence? You said so yourself.

I know what I said. But you are trying to speak for me here in drawing a connection between maintaining the only recognizable defensive option against other nuclear armed nations and belligerence. As I’ve already stated, that line is crooked and I am running out of ways of explaining why.

-Smitty

sventastic said...

Smitty -

There is such a thing as a skillful, tactical, and genuine positively intentioned use of force when necessary. As I wrote above, I do not advocate pacifism or being a pushover.
It is possible to be altruistic while using genuine, positively intentioned force; "tough love."
This is differentiated from the violence based in hatred and fear we've been discussing, that I would say is the root of this nuclear dilemma we face.
Let me reiterate: Force motivated by selfishness, fear, hatred, greed, etc. is different from force motivated by an honest intention to stop people from hurting others and themselves, to help others or produce a sustainable or positive result.
Thus, I believe my suggestion to hunt down and eliminating enrichment activities is not only a good idea if truly altruistically intentioned and carried out, but also one that would be augmented by our unilateral disarmament.
Belligerent violence seems to be par for the course for humanity, but it need not be.
If one encounters a bully hurting innocent people, it would be good to stop him, while respecting his innate dignity and goodness, and trying to make a more positive situation in general.
This can be applied to America, the biggest belligerent bully on the planet, armed with an arsenal of nuclear weapons you have admitted is aburdly too big.
Wouldn't it be great if instead of using violence against the bully if you could reason with him or inspire him through your or others' examples that being belligerent isn't such a good idea, and the effects of which will eventually come back to haunt him.
Wouldn't it be better to get the bully to put down his big stick, by his own choice, and make friends with those whom he previously attacked?
For an example of this, please reference the story of Angulimala, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angulimala
who was a mass-murderer who found true redemption through non-violence.
Finally, despite the negativity in the world today, it is up to us how we live our lives and respond to it and each other. Wouldn't it be better to act positively in the world rather than reinforcing negative patterns?
Hatred, fear, and the violence they spawn produce only more suffering, hatred, fear, and violence in the world. We must individually disarm ourselves of our addiction to these negative patterns, and then apply ourselves to making the world a better place.

Anonymous said...

Thus, I believe my suggestion to hunt down and eliminating enrichment activities is not only a good idea if truly altruistically intentioned and carried out, but also one that would be augmented by our unilateral disarmament.


First of all, I stand by my opinion that it is not our nuclear arsenal that causes the anti-American sentiment around the world, but our interfering in everyone's business. You haven't shown how this is not the case, and if you listen to "why they hate us" the subject of our nuclear missiles is never even mentioned. It is always our meddling, interfering, and playing the role of world police that pisses everyone off.

Given that is the case, whether or not we unilaterally disarm to set the precedent for our expectations and enforcement that everyone do the same, we would nonetheless continue in the role of international meddling as we run seek and destroy missions on dozens of countries around the world to prevent them from acquiring nuclear capability. Sventastic, your suggestion would have us in more conflict around the world than we are now in. Therefore, the hostility would not cease, it would increase because on top of our meddling, we also have the stench of self-righteousness about us (look how good we are in disarming, so you'd better to ... or else). Your proposal is a two-edged sword, both sides of which are negative.

Secondly, your model of enforcement is completely backward. You do not FIRST disarm and THEN attempt to enforce. To be effective you must retain the option of force to establish your will (in this case the noble goal of worldwide nuclear abandonment) and then unilaterally disarm to avoid hypocrisy. Giving up nuclear weapons and then demanding a nuclear equipped nation give theirs up or else is essentially using a stern voice to demand the grizzly bear hand over the fish. It doesn't work. This is why in the Wild Wild West, the law enforcement used the very weapons they demanded not be carried by everyday citizens in their endeavor to establish a peaceful town. Had they first gotten rid of their Winchesters and then gone about disarming the cowboys, how do you suppose that would have turned out?

Let's try a role playing game. You represent America right after they unilaterally disarm. I'll represent a "North Korea-like" nation. You have demanded I disarm my nukes just as you have done. My response to you: "Make me." What happens now?

-Smitty

sventastic said...

"When we try to practice compassion without the view of egolessness, or emptiness, we are often not really helping because we ourselves are so confused. Our own lack of clarity only produces further confusion. If we have an idea that we think will help someone, it is usually based on our own interpretation of what we think they require or want. We are not looking at their situation from their point of view. Instead of giving them what they truly need, we give them what we think they need. There is a difference between the two. Furthermore, we have value judgments about how they should accept our help, and so we "help" them further by imposing conditions and guidelines.

The heart of compassion and loving-kindness that is free from ego clinging allows us to see the suffering of others from their own perspective. We can see beyond our own ideas and beliefs. We can see what they need from their point of view, and we can apply our own wisdom at the same time. With this more open and clear view, we can see more realistically what will meet their actual needs and be truly beneficial."
-Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

We agree that America's general belligerence is the source of international ill-will towards us. Our massive nuclear arsenal is a inherent part of this threat/resentment situation.
My suggestion of reallocation of funds to search for and eliminate enrichment activities and attempts to acquire nuclear weapons was actually intended to be executed by an international body, like the UN. I explicity suggested this try to be accomplished through diplomatic means, such as sanctions, if possible. If not, then tactical use of internationally sanctioned and legal force if necessary.
My main point is that unilateral disarmament on America's part could be implemented in concert with diplomatic relations with other nulcear countries to do the same. For instance, we could disarm into parity with the nuclear capabilities of other states in an act of good-will, and then we could all systematically disarm (as the NPT already mandates).
Our initial step is key, and would go a very long way in inspiring others to not only do the same, but also start to heal the many deep wounds we have inflicted on others.
Those states that do not agree with this process will be subject to international sanctions, etc. And if they persist, internationally sanctioned force.
It is not America "going it alone," as we have done over and over again to disastrous effects.
It is international cooperation and coordination, the roots of genuine altruism, that will solve this problem in lieu of nuclear holocaust.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see. So your enforcement plan depends upon universal vision and international cooperation. The teeth in your strategy will be initial sanctions followed up by force if necessary. Heh.

I don't have the time required to illustrate how many times this has been the goal and how many times this has failed. If insanity can be defined as attempting the same tactics over and over again but expecting different results, your plan is insane.

And I can also see that your responses fail to answer more of my points than they address. Such as the role playing game I initiated that you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole (to name one among several). That’s probably because you know that when I, as the “North Korea-like” nation that is being threatened to disarm my nukes with sanctions and international force, threaten to decimate the closest ally of yours in range of my weapons, your international cooperation (if you could even muster any in the first place) would quickly fall apart as no one wants to be responsible for an off the hinge dictator wiping out a few hundred thousand people in response to your aggression. The world today doesn’t have the stomach for such responsibility.

Nuclear disarmament suddenly doesn’t seem so important when the functional action required to enforce it serves as the reason one actually goes off. Good luck with your ideology Sventastic. The world hasn’t seen it in action so far, and nothing points to us realizing it in the future. That’s the problem with ideology. It can only be achieved in a vacuum, divorced from the day to day nature of human beings.

-Smitty

Anonymous said...

Case in point to my comments above:

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20061102/D8L4REOO1.html

Russia and China refuse to back sanctions against Iran. The key reason in the article being "Both Russia and China, which have strong commercial ties to Tehran ..."

When it comes down to it, real world-wide agreement is as elusive as finding the end of a rainbow.

-Smitty

sventastic said...

Please re-read the above quote from Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche.
This is my fundamental strategy, and not an idealistic one, but a very practical and ultimately sustainable one.
One more example from history about successful non-violence in action: the peaceful conversion of Mongolia from Communism to democracy in 1990. Mongolia, the home of Genghis Khan, where the Communist regime massacred a proportionate number of innocent people as Stalin's Russia.
So, to your role-playing game:
First off: America and the international community would need to discern if the "rogue-state" actually has a nuke or is just bluffing.
Assuming it does, America (the target) would make efforts to try and defend itself and its allies from delivery of the weapon. In the NK instance, it is doubtful that they have the missile capability to fling a warhead across the Pacific at the US, but could strike Japan.
This is the main point:
Interception. The Strategic Defense Initiative is problematic for the United States at present because we have the biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons, and having a viable ballistic missile defense only makes us more belligerent to the international community. If we engaged in unilateral disarmament, then we would no long have this impediment, and would be more free to develop defensive capabilities against a first-strike.
Second: Based on reliable intelligence on those countries that have both the missile technology and nuclear capability, we would act diplomatically with their governments to minimize animosity between us.
This would implement the strategy I've referenced above, taking into consideration the actual and long-term needs of the players involved, not simply greed-based, short-sighted, or selfish opportunistic strategic goals (please see Jeff's article on the US and NK).
In your roleplaying situation, I will assume this has failed.
Back to interception:
I would be most concerned about a terrorist or special forces group infiltrating the target country with a nuclear device. This is different from a country launching a nuclear missile, and requires a different defense.
The transportation of any fissile material is fairly easily detectable, especially the kinds and amounts that I assume you are talking about. These would also be in fairly small amounts, because any rogue-state or terrorist group that attempted to get such materials would be exposing themselves to international scrutiny (if not overtly, then from intelligence forces).
As a unilaterally (nuclear weapons) disarmed US, I would depend on the goodwill and negotiations created from that activity to work with other governments to track these important activities. This would not be done in a naive manner, but rather based on actual mutual benefit in terms of incentives and respect.
Knowing that this is imperfect, I would also reinvest in my own intelligence forces and specific technologies to detect and eliminate such threats.
Mainly, I would focus not only on the symptoms of the negative international relations, but the fundamental causes. The NK government, or whatever despot you are playing, is oppressing its people, and has probably already incurred international sanctions.
This is probably a leverege point in negotiations.
In the end though, does it really matter is the US has nukes or not? There will always be the potential for harm from without as long as we maintain our belligerent position. As 9-11 showed us, in spite our nuclear aresenal and insane military, those who have grievances against us attacked us.
As America, I would address each and every one of those grievances and heal our relations. This in and of itself would lessen the probability of an unhinged dictator from suicidally attacking us. We will never be able to cement our dominance, or security, through use of intimidation and threat of nuclear retaliation, especially in an age of stateless terrorism.
If we actually diplomatically sat down and genuinely discussed grievances, would could probably come to a compromise that would eventually mean the elimination of your nuclear weapon. Peaceful negotiation may take time, but isn't it better than a few thousand incinerated people?
The bottom line is sustainability.
It is simply not possible to be perfectly secure in every way; in fact, it is inevitable that we will all die, and instead of trying to run away from that fact or hide from it, if we embraced it then we would actually be able to live our lives more freely and happily.
I agree with your comments that reducing complex international relations to more human examples is imperfect, but it can be helpful in terms of relevance and relatability.
I think we can agree that the US is a global bully, armed with a very heavy stick of our military and especailly nuclear arsenal.
Being such a bully, we easily make enemies. If we stopped being a bully, came to honestly friendly terms with those we hurt before, don't you think it would be nicer to just put down that big, heavy stick (that is also very expensive and polluting) and relax a bit? I'm not saying we should pin a "kick me" sign to our back and shut our eyes, I'm saying that holding the big stick will eventually destroy us, ironically the opposite of what it was intended to do. "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword."
Turn the stick into fire wood and have a festive celebration that gets everyone together in peace, rather than wielding it aggressively and belliegerently and creating more and more enemies.
Trying to defeat all our enemies is like trying to cover the entire world in leather because we don't want to hurt our feet. It is futile. Wouldn't it make more sense to just cover our own feet in leather?
Instead of holding the entire world's fate on a hair-trigger of nuclear annhilation, wouldn't it make more sense to cultivate trust and understanding between those who disagree with us, and come to some grown-up, sustainable, mutualy beneficial outcome?
Holding the entire world hostage with our nuclear arsenal will not make life any easier for us or anyone else. But if we lower that big stick, and eventually put it down completely and in concert with all the other sticks out there, then not only is there no chance of nuclear annhilation, but there is more friendship and harmony in the world.

sventastic said...

In order to balance out your misperception of "Peace Man," I suggest you do some reading up on the Nash Equilibrium and game theory. Balance this with sustainability, and it becomes clear that maintaining the status quo of Mutual Assured Destruction is not sustainable and an insane policy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nash_Equilibrium

The main point is, under the Prisoner's Dilemma:
"both betray" is globally inferior to "both remain loyal".

Insert this logic into our discussion it reads like: mutual assured destruction is globally inferior to universal disarmament.

Universal disarmament, I am proposing, would best and most quickly be accomplished if America undertook unilteral disarmament and proceeded in negotiated concert with other nuclear countries to do the same. You do the math.

Anonymous said...

Sventastic,

You keep saying we shouldn't conduct ourselves in a naive manner, yet your expectation that all the conditions you detail for success after disarmament (including disarmament itself) will be met and honored by everyone is inherently naive.

I've explained why already. Continuing to explain why at this point serves no purpose.

I agree that love is better than hate. I agree that MAD is a bleak strategy at best. But I'm also able to see that this utopia you are strategizing for has never existed and never will, outside of a vacuum detached from human nature.

-Smitty

sventastic said...

Smitty, your apathy, pessimism, and lack of productive suggestions about how to make our way out of the nuclear labyrinth are underwhelming.
I do not propose an idealastic utopia, nor naive wishful thinking for international cooperation.
I suppose this is the end of our thought experiment, for you have thrown in the towel with your "crappy boat" of a) status quo nuclear stand-off, or b) nuclear annhilation.
I have shown and proven that a) is an untenable and unsustainable position that will necessarily have to shift from the current position, and have also presented various scenarios to do so in a constructive and positive way, and b) is the horrendous threat that inspires me to try and make my own life and those of others better, in order to reach c) a world without nuclear weapons.
Certainly not a utopian or perfect world, but one where total extinction of all life on the planet could not occur at the whim of a President, mistaken computer read-outs, or other technical or human error.
This may well be wishful thinking, but personally, I would rather think about ways out of this dreadful situation we all find ourselves in rather than resign myself to the perceived inevitability of wallowing in the negative patterns of human history.
You said:
I agree that love is better than hate.
Good call.
Why not try and do something about spreading genuine love rather than sitting on your hands and saying, "the world's a cold, dark place that is filled with evil and cannor be changed."
That's a bummer of an outlook.
I say it's time to grow up. Put your money where your mouth is: if you believe that love is a worthwhile cause, maybe do some honest introspection and find out what it truly means to you and how you can spread that in the world.

Anonymous said...

You said, “I do not propose an idealastic utopia, nor naive wishful thinking for international cooperation.

And then you said, “This may well be wishful thinking ...

Which is it, wishful thinking or not? Your knee-jerk response is to defend against the accusation of wishful thinking because you don’t want it to be just wishful, but once engaged in a discussion beyond the accusation, you seem to realize that is indeed what it could be. In fact, it is.

I suppose this is the end of our thought experiment, for you have thrown in the towel …

There is a substantial difference between throwing in the towel and refusing to regurgitate the same fundamental points in different ways.

Why not try and do something about spreading genuine love rather than sitting on your hands and saying, "the world's a cold, dark place that is filled with evil and cannor be changed."

This is characteristic of many of the rest of your assumptions in our discussion. You assume because I can identify the perils of humanity that I don’t individually attempt to live my life in a loving manner. But what you don’t know is I am a firm believer in the Bible, the book that requires loving both neighbors and enemies as you love yourself and try to the best of my ability to live what I read. The cause of the main difference between us is that you hold a very humanistic view of the world, one where the solution to humanity is within humanity itself. I reject that in preference for a biblical view where we as humans are in need of a salvation or solution outside of ourselves. You spoke of proof earlier. What better proof need I provide you than the last 6 or 7 thousand years of documented history? I applaud the hope you hold that humans will change to correct the situation but hoping you won’t splat when you hit the sidewalk doesn’t actually help save your life.

All your suggestions I am in favor for, but will not lose any sleep when I see them fail because they are all at the mercy of human nature, the constant you habitually refuse to factor in to all your suggestions. I have nothing against your trying to implement them. Now all you have to do is convince everyone else to implement them at the expense of their own nature. Kudos to you for overcoming it in your own life, but that is not the norm. Yes, let’s “Turn the stick into fire wood and have a festive celebration that gets everyone together in peace …”! This assumes that everyone wants to attend the ceremony, another dubious assumption.

-Smitty Broham

sventastic said...

The distinction between the two "wishful thinking statements," is: that I proposed a step-by-step strategy for diplomatically working with other countries in the first instance, thus not constituting wishful thinking but strategic thinking, and in the second, I admit that any wish for a better future is still speculation about the future and simply a wish, but an achievable and worthwhile one.
Your discussion of "proof" and human history is flawed. You only take into account a very brief period of the expanse of our species' existence. An anology would be observing children in a sand-box throwing sand at each other and assuming all human children are brats all the time.
I do not wish to engage you in a theological debate, but I do want to mention a couple of things.
First, books do not "require" anyone to do anything. Their static words may suggest or even demand, but ultimately it is up to our moment-to-moment choice about how we behave in the world, no matter who said what or what is written down somewhere.
Second, dependence on external salvation is problematic, especially within a system based on free-will, and with a proponent who repeatedly proclaims, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you," (Luke 17:20-21).
I urge you to examine the mathematical evidence I produced in terms of game theory. These theorems show that in a context of two players (transposed unto your role-playing game) the optimal outcome is one of mutual cooperation instead of self-interest.
Finally, as I have said before, the world will always throw us curve-balls, whether in the form of volcanos, global warming, hurricanes, earthquakes, imminent global economic and social Collapse (which will disrupt the status quo of the nuclear situation, thus negating your first outcome and hopefully not thrusting us automaticlly into your second), or terrorist attacks.
We cannot eliminate these threats, but we can adjust and adapt our sense of wellbeing when these and other circumstances arise, and choose to modify our behavior in an altrusitic and sustainable manner in new contexts.
Unilateral disarmament would be a radical shift in the international paradigm, one that I believe is positive and would be the start of global disarmament.
But as I've also said before, we must first start with disarming ourselves by recognizing and changing our patterns of fear and hatred. Your saying that this is naive is rather like a three year old saying it is naive to think he'll ever be six feet tall.
A wise man once (twice actually) said: "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29).
Does this statement seem to espouse the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, or something else? I think it would do us all some good to look honestly and deeply inside, examine our own experience (which is all we truly have), and contemplate how we should conduct ourselves to make our lives and the world a better place.

Anonymous said...

Your discussion of "proof" and human history is flawed. You only take into account a very brief period of the expanse of our species' existence.

I apologize; over 6,000 years of proof supporting my understanding of human kind is not enough for you. What documented evidence do you refer to that occurs prior to this 6 or 7 thousand years, that also lasts longer than 6 or 7 thousand years, to show the last 6 or 7 thousand years is only an anomaly of human nature?

Second, dependence on external salvation is problematic, especially within a system based on free-will, and with a proponent who repeatedly proclaims, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you," (Luke 17:20-21).

Awful strange discussion for someone who doesn’t want to get into a theological debate. But since you brought it up, much is written about the Kingdom of Heaven, you touched on but one verse. The verse you cited is also translated “The Kingdom of God is among you” as you can see in the footnoted section. But either translation is consistent when you apply the whole council of God’s word toward a particular matter:

1) Jesus Christ IS the Kingdom of God – The Kingdom of God can come near to people, as we read in Luke 10, at precisely the same time Jesus was physically near those who were being told such a thing.

And

2) Jesus Christ is within us indeed (2 Cor. 4:6, John 17:20-23). But not “us” as in every person, but rather, “for those who will believe in Me [Jesus] through their [the apostles’] word”.

Either of the above two interpretive methods you wish to use contradict your assertion that the kingdom of God is within everyone on earth, and that no external savior is needed because of that fact. Especially when you consider that Jesus, the one you try to imply was preaching the solution (or kingdom of Heaven) is within all of us specifically states, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no man comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) That is the trouble with picking and choosing verses with no regard for the whole message being presented.

Your saying that this is naive is rather like a three year old saying it is naive to think he'll ever be six feet tall.

If these 3 year olds remained 3 feet tall no matter how old they became for the last 6 or 7 thousand years, as did every other 3 foot tall person on the planet for the last 6 or 7 thousand years, it would not be naïve at all for that 3 year old to think he’ll never be 6 feet tall, it would instead be down right reasonable. In fact, if he were to think he’d ever get to 6 feet tall, most would laugh him off as delusional. If you’re going to use analogies, use accurate ones.

A wise man once (twice actually) said: "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29).
Does this statement seem to espouse the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, or something else?


A slap in the face is an insult, or perhaps mild hostility. Let me illustrate this was the meaning with the following:

“Do not resist an evil person. If someone breaks into your house at night and rapes one of your daughters, lead him into her sister’s room and offer him the other also.”

“Do not resist an evil person. If someone stabs your wife in the face, help her to remain standing in order to offer the other side as well.”

“Do not resist an evil person. If someone detonates nuclear weapons in New York, offer to them Los Angeles as well.”

This is quite the sticky situation to be in, considering Paul’s Spirit inspired epistles tell us that those who fail to take care of their families are worse than unbelievers (1 Tim. 5:8). Again, context is golden. Possessing nuclear weapons is the only verifiable self-defensive tactic against nuclear weapons, and the Bible is not against self-defense.

On a side note, it makes little sense to mingle the Spiritual principles of the Bible in with the secular-humanist values of the world and discuss them in the same boat. This is the chief reason your brief biblical citations only serve your point when detached from their full meanings.

I don’t intend for this to become a biblical debate, but felt it was necessary to inform you of what I, individually subscribe to, and to let you know it fulfills your suggestions in an individual manner, so you would quit asking me to “try it” as if I am not. I can only reiterate that until everyone ‘tries it”, we will have the precise situation we have today, indefinitely, because “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).

-Smitty Broham

sventastic said...

My brother is a Christian, and he offers this commentary:

"The passage about "turn the other cheek" that you are both citing can be interpreted in many ways. One is that Jesus is teaching against revenge. The old Jewish law from Moses had said "an eye for an eye" -- justice comes from punishment matching the injury. Jesus is calling for compassion, non-violence and forgiveness -- even to the point of self-sacrifice. As you know, this was something MLK spoke about often. The cycle of violence must stop somewhere.

Once Jesus was asked, which is the most important commandment? (Mark 12:28-21)He answered:

"'Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.' The second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."

And who is your neighbor? It is everyone, including your enemy (Luke 10:29-37). In the past, the Jews had thought only other Jews were their neighbors (and therefore deserving of respect and mercy), but Jesus expands this idea to include all humanity.

At another point, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands us to love our enemies.

Jesus' message is about love. This is what makes his teaching special, revolutionary. We are called to live peacefully, even when it seems impossible. Faith makes it possible."

(Me again,)Smitty: The development, possession, and use of nuclear weapons is irreconcilable with what Jesus taught and his personal example.
Despite your faith in the possession of nukes as deterrant from others using them against us, the production of nuclear weapons produces untold pollution and suffering; the possession of them is based on exploiting others with terror - they are the ultimate terror tactic (which in spite of its supposed efficacy as a deterrant, makes the threat of them morally and ethically reprehensible); and finally the use of nuclear weapons is beyond reproach in the use of genocide as strategy and tactic.
Threatening others with torture and death were not part of Jesus' teachings.
Finally, in terms of self-defense, look at what Jesus taught and his own example. His actions are his teaching, the model for his followers. He explicitly told his followers not to respond to violence in kind (Matthew 26:52).
The very thought that the use of terror and violence are not only acceptible but preferred in a (futile) attempt to provide security is wholly contrary to all that Jesus taught.

You said before:
I am a firm believer in the Bible, the book that requires loving both neighbors and enemies as you love yourself and try to the best of my ability to live what I read.

Is possession of nuclear weapons/threatening your neighbors and especially enemies with nuclear annhilation loving them? Is it loving yourself? Is it based in love at all?

Anonymous said...

I can’t say that I disagree with anything your brother said, but neither can I say that your brother addressed any of the points I made.

The development, possession, and use of nuclear weapons is irreconcilable with what Jesus taught and his personal example.

There is nothing unloving about retaining the ability to defend one’s self. If I carried a gun to protect my family from potential muggers and killers, but never used it, or only used it in the case my or my family’s lives were in mortal danger, what biblical moral code have I broken? Now if I instead carry the gun for the sake of intimidating people, robbing people, or simply because I’m violent and would love an excuse to kill someone, then I am guilty of violating a variety of biblical moral codes. I’m sure between you and your brother’s reading of the Bible you have come across where Jesus instructs His disciples to sell their clothing to raise money for purchasing swords if they didn’t already own one (Luke 22:36). Obviously Jesus did not want them to have these weapons so they would never use them, but in case they had to. So in what way exactly is the mere possession of weapons or the use of those weapons in mortal situations violating Christ’s example? And before you go on to point out that when Peter tried to actually use his weapon and Jesus told him to put it away, I’ll pre-empt that argument with the explanation that Peter was attempting to prevent Jesus from being taken, tried, and put to death on the cross which was the entire point of His life on earth and that is why He told Peter to put away the sword, not to mention his fight would have been in vain considering the number of people that came out to arrest Him.

Nuclear weapons, though much grander on the scale, nonetheless fall under the same criteria someone marauding a handgun about the streets would. The two times we did use nukes on Japan arguably saved many more lives than it cost, and was certainly done within the context of a mortal situation we did not start. Our retaining nukes is not an example of an unloving deed, just as my carrying a gun for protection, or Jesus’ disciples carrying swords were not unloving deeds. But this analogy doesn’t tie together neatly because as I pointed out, discussing the spiritual principles of the Bible in the same boat as the secular-humanistic and often times atheistic operations of world powers (America not immune) doesn’t mesh. If we’re going to apply biblical principles to determine right or wrong, we would theoretically need participants who adhere to biblical principles. The United States, nor any other nation on this planet do, so what’s the point? We should instead be discussing Machiavellian strategy, and in such a case as that, possession of nuclear weapons only makes good sense.

Despite your faith in the possession of nukes as deterrant from others using them against us

Despite your attempts to derail where I just got done explaining where my faith rests, possession of nukes as a deterrent to nuclear attack is not a matter of faith, but as I have repeated numerous times and you continue to ignore on numerous occasions, it is the ONLY-IDENTIFIED-TACTIC-AGAINST-NUCLEAR-INVASION. That comes straight from the pages of military tactician guides, not my personal faith. Nice strawman.

… which in spite of its supposed efficacy as a deterrant, makes the threat of them morally and ethically reprehensible); and finally the use of nuclear weapons is beyond reproach in the use of genocide as strategy and tactic.

You’re making my case for me. Because of all these reasons, what better to have a *relatively* moral nation in possession of the very thing that counteracts the will for a *relatively* immoral nation to use such reprehensible weapons? You should pay closer attention to what my opinions are as I have expressed them and focus less on what you think my opinions will be; you’d save quite a bit of time explaining to me that nuclear weapons are bad. Nuclear weapons are bad? No kidding?

Threatening others with torture and death were not part of Jesus' teachings.

That’s a relatively safe statement. Neither was “lay down and die” as evidenced by his ensuring all his disciples possessed swords for the coming days. You’ll recall Jesus instructed us to “crucify yourselves” figuratively, not “let others crucify you” literally. What’s your point?

Finally, in terms of self-defense, look at what Jesus taught and his own example. His actions are his teaching, the model for his followers. He explicitly told his followers not to respond to violence in kind (Matthew 26:52).

Ah, there’s the reference to “put away your sword, Peter”. I knew it’d come up sooner or later. Refer to my previous comments.

The very thought that the use of terror and violence are not only acceptible but preferred in a (futile) attempt to provide security is wholly contrary to all that Jesus taught.

No sense beating a dead horse, so I’ll instead point out for the umpteenth time that there are exactly 0 nations today that rule according to the principles in the Bible. Unless you are just bent on refusing to believe I live my personal life according to the word of Christ, I don’t know what else to say to you.

You said before: I am a firm believer in the Bible, the book that requires loving both neighbors and enemies as you love yourself and try to the best of my ability to live what I read.
Is possession of nuclear weapons/threatening your neighbors and especially enemies with nuclear annhilation loving them? Is it loving yourself? Is it based in love at all?


Refer to the majority of my response above. You appear to be quite hung up on points I have already explained as best I can.

-Smitty Broham