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No Nuclear weapons  

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  1. 1. Should the United States abolish it's Nuclear weapons entirely?



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[url="http://www.takepart.com/countdowntozero"]Demand Zero.[/url]

Today we live in world where nuclear weapons are within the reach of all industrialized nations.

There are an estimated 23,000 nuclear weapons in the world.

Terrorists and extremists the world over seek them, and are getting closer everyday.

When I severed in the military I learned that surprisingly, of the three ways to obtain a nuclear weapon(buy it, build it, steal it), terrorists were in fact trying to build one. And that as long has you had the uranium or plutonium all the needed parts can be bought commercially.

17 kg of HEU (Highly enriched uranium) is all you would need to level a city. That's roughly the size of a grapefruit.

The sad reality is is that these are weapons that can be trusted with no one. So long as even a single nation has them, the world will be in constant peril, because so long as one has it, others will seek it.

We must do all in our power to rid the world of the weapons and the material used to build them, before someone gets the chance to use them again.

It was a mistake in 1945 and we must never allow it to happen again.

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Nuclear weapons are horrible. Abolishing all nuclear weapons would be an idealistic thing, but it is 100% impossible to abolish the knowledge to create them. Even if every country agreed to get rid of nuclear arms, a terrorist organization or a government could still find people to secretly build them. Like it or not, America is hated. The only reason we are practically unscathed is because we hold the biggest stick. There will always be bad people in this world and weapons will always be necessary. This sounds horrible, but America needs to be feared in order to keep peace.

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[font="Tahoma"]Mutually Assured Destruction has been around long enough that the world is already come to terms with the fact that WMD's can be in the hands of any outfit, whether it'd be official Armies or Guerrilla outfits such as Al-Qaeda. Now, lets not forget that the Cold War did a lot in the reduction of Arms between the CCCP and the United States and the United Nations has done many things to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons produced in the modern world.[/font]

[quote=James May]Nuclear weapons are horrible. Abolishing all nuclear weapons would be an idealistic thing, but it is 100% impossible to abolish the knowledge to create them. Even if every country agreed to get rid of nuclear arms, a terrorist organization or a government could still find people to secretly build them. Like it or not, America is hated. The only reason we are practically unscathed is because we hold the biggest stick. There will always be bad people in this world and weapons will always be necessary. This sounds horrible, but America needs to be feared in order to keep peace. [/quote]

[font="Tahoma"]I'm not quite sure what you mean. The US is one of the leading contributors in the global economy and it's not because we decide to aim our guns at our potential trade partners. Countries that we've waged war with in the past have become some of our leading allies and trade partners (South Korea, Germany, Mexico, Japan). Fear isn't what America uses in order to keep peace. That's what extremists and terrorist outfits use to instill that sort of chaos. America's initial reaction to the 9/11 attacks was justifiable self-defense and the resulting global war on terrorism is the international response to combating aforementioned "bad people".

Even in America's own borders, fear isn't the motive used by police forces and public servants. We use weapons as self-defense, not as bargaining tools. Even now, the amount of non-lethal weaponry at the disposal of the United States military and the police force has grown leaps and bounds ("Don't taze me bro" comes to mind) as forms of self-defense.[/font]

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I meant that the repercussions of violent actions towards America should be feared. Economics completely aside. Terrorist organizations and/or future enemies are less likely to attack our country if they know we "could" practically level the entire planet with a flip of a switch.(key word "could" not "will") Edited by JamesMay

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I agree with JamesMay completely on this subject.  Personally I'd prefer to view nuclear weaponry as a "Doomsday Weapon" rather than a viable military strategy.  I can't imagine many world leaders wanting political strife to lead to worldwide nuclear fallout.  Just having the threat of it happening will hopefully be enough to keep things civil.  

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[quote name='JamesMay' timestamp='1292770723' post='702955']
I meant that the repercussions of violent actions towards America should be feared. Economics completely aside. Terrorist organizations and/or future enemies are less likely to attack our country if they know we "could" practically level the entire planet with a flip of a switch.(key word "could" not "will")
[/quote]

[font="Tahoma"]Didn't stop Al-Qaeda, m'boy :suave:

I'm sure terrorist organizations and other dissidents are perfectly aware of the capabilities of our countries' military. As would be any other first world countries with Nuclear Arms. The threat of retaliation didn't mean anything at Pearl Harbor, and that was before nuclear weapons. So what changed besides a better bomb? [/font]

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[quote name='AvalonAngel' timestamp='1292774186' post='702962']
[font="Tahoma"]Didn't stop Al-Qaeda, m'boy :suave:

I'm sure terrorist organizations and other dissidents are perfectly aware of the capabilities of our countries' military. As would be any other first world countries with Nuclear Arms. The threat of retaliation didn't mean anything at Pearl Harbor, and that was before nuclear weapons. So what changed besides a better bomb? [/font]
[/quote]


You only focus on the intentional threat. The nuclear threat exists in three places. Intentional, accidental, and the miscalculated.

You already seem aware of the intentional threat, which is actually pretty simple to obtain. As long as you have enough money and enough patience, anyone can get the material. You are also only focusing on the US. You forget that nine countries have nuclear weapons. USA (1945), Russia (1949), Britain (1952), France (1960), China (1964), Israel (1967), India (1974), Pakistan (1990), North Korea (2006). And that over 40 countries are capable of obtaining them. There is not a single country in the world that doesn't have at least one enemy. Every country can use self defense as an excuse to obtain nuclear weapons, but if they do it is a much more dangerous world. The United States doesn't have a monopoly on the bomb.

You also forget that terrorism is like no other threat. You speak of terrorists as if they are afraid of us using bombs on them. Tell me, where should we bomb if Al-qaeda did managa to nuke us. Afganistan? There are less then a hundred members of Al-qaeda in Afganistan. What about Somalia? They have lots of known Al-qaeda members living there. Yemen? Guess they should get it too. Pakistan? We know they're there, maybe even Bin Laden himself, but they have nukes too, don't they? Tell me, what should we do about them? Should we just nuke all muslim arab nations, just in case?

And not just them. The terror death cult, Aum Shinrikyo, in Japan tried to buy a nuke from Russia. They tried to buy a sheep farm in Australia to mine Uranium to make their own bomb.

Osama Bin Laden has stated that his goal is to kill 4,000,000 Americans, including 2,000,000 children. Your not going to be able to kill 4,000,000 people by hijacking planes and crashing them into buildings. You have the added bonuses of suicide bombers, who would be more then happy enough to kill themselves even if they killed only one other person.

The most difficult part about building a bomb is getting the HEU. Which isn't as hard as one might think. If I was going to get HEU, I would go to Russia, or another country of the former Soviet Union. Many people have succeeded in stealing HEU in this region. The people of this prestigious list include a truck driver, a plumber, a janitor, a small time drug dealer, and a carpenter. If small time people like this can get a hold of HEU then imagine what professionals could do? People with training, with an ideology, with brains.

Once you have it, shipping it isn't that hard. 100 lbs. of HEU(Which is big enough for 3 Hiroshima size bombs) is smaller then a football. You could hide it in a six pack of beer. Now maybe your saying: Well what about port authority? Surely they scan cargo containers for radiation? This is true, but there are two parts to consider first.

1. Ever heard the expression 'Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades.' Well this is the macro version of that. If your a terrorist and you think they might find your bomb, then you set it off in the port. Close is good enough in this situation.

2. As long as it's contained in lead, HEU gives off very low levels of radiation. The port authorities know this, so the sensors are cranked up to there maximum level. Unfortunately, this means that just about anything will set them off. Porcelain will set it off, old school CRT TV's, various household chemicals, kitty litter. As a result, port authorities get thousands of false hits a day. If you wanted to ship HEU into the country, hide it in a bag of kitty litter. As soon as port security sees that litter, they'll never even bother to open the bag. Plus, anyway you would ship drugs into the US would be just good as well.

But what about the accidental threat. Now, I know in the United States, we like to believe that our military is infallible. That they could never make such a disastrous mistake as to accidentally set off a nuke in this country. Allow me to assure you, that from personal experience, the military can be just as incompetent as any other organization. We once had an incident where a B-52 blew during a refueling mission. The four nuclear warheads fell on to Spainish territory and into the Mediterranean. A B-52 crashed over Greenland with nukes on board, spreading radioactive plutonium over the ice cap. In 1960 a Bomark air defense missile exploded on the launch platform, melting the nuclear warhead. In 1968 the USS Scorpion, a nuclear submarine, sank. The nuclear weapons on board were never recovered. A B-47 bomber was lost over the Mediterranean. The nuclear weapons are board were never recovered. In 1959 an aircraft crashed off the coast of Washington. The nuclear depth charges were never recovered. A sky hawk strike aircraft rolled off the deck of an aircraft carrier with a nuclear weapon on board in the sea of Japan. The weapon was never recovered. In 2006 a B-52 with 6 nuclear warheads on board was flown across the United States. The problem: Nobody knew that there were nukes on board. Not the crew or the command on the ground. In 1961 a B-52 broke up over North Carolina, dropping two nuclear warheads. One had it's safety parachute deploy and it landed safely. The other ones didn't, and it had 5 of 6 fail safes malfunction. A single switch prevented a full blown nuclear explosion.

When I came into the US military, I believed that the odds of an accidental nuclear explosion in the United States was very low. I still believe that, but the reality is is that low probability events happen all the time. There is a first time for everything. And even having it happen once, could be disastrous.

Then there is the threat of miscalculation. In 1995 Pete Sampras won the US open and Wimbledon, George Clooney made his first big movie, a bomb blew up the federal building in Oklahoma city, OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder, and we also came close to an accidental nuclear launch. On January 25th 1995, the US launched a missile over Norway to study the northern lights. We sent word along to Moscow about this, but word never got passed along. When they saw the 4 stages of this missile, it looked exactly like a nuclear strike. For the first time in the nuclear age, they opened the 'atomic football', the command and control box. The brought it into president Boris Yeltsin and assured him that the country was under attack and that he had five minutes to give the launch command for the nations nuclear arsenal. Luckily, Yeltsin wasn't drunk, and he didn't believe that it was true, that there had to be another answer.

The Russians have the same launch protocol as the United States, which is 'Launch on warning'. If you THINK you are under attack, you launch your own missiles. You don't wait for their bombs to hit first. To this day, we have no idea why president Yeltsin didn't launch his bombs, all we know is that he didn't.

During the cold war, we had a number of false alarms. There have been instances where the rising moon was interpreted as a Russian ICBM attack. A flock of geese was mistaken for bombers. A training video was slipped into the command and control center at NORAD. Everyone involved believed it to be real. No one noticed til after the launch procedures had already gotten underway all across the country to launch an all out assault against the Soviet Union. In some cases, mobile air command ships, including the presidents 'doomsday' plane, took off in anticipation of the destruction of all US military command centers. Another incident was caused when a malfunctioning computer chip set off a warning of a full scale nuclear launch. Command codes were removed from their safes, keys were put into launch switches, President Carter was woken up in the middle of the night, 8 minutes worth of launch prep was carried out, before they realized that it nothing more then a malfunctioning computer chip that cost less then a dollar to replace.

When you have nuclear weapons on hair triggers, it is not a matter of 'if' an accidental launch will occur, but when.

The question is: What can we do? For starters, we do away with the material. Without the highly enriched uranium or plutonium a bomb is impossible to build. Not an ounce of gold has ever been stolen from Fort Knox, so we should seal up all the material in Fort Knox like structures to ensure that it never falls into anyone's hands ever again. We then sign binding and legal treaties with all other countries forbidding any nation from possessing them, just like we did with chemical weapons. These are now taboo, just as nukes should be.

And, since you sited Pearl Harbor, I would like to point out the inaccuracy in your own assessment. The dropping of the nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasake was unnecessary. We think of that time today and think that if we hadn't dropped the nukes on Japan, that they would have kept fighting, but once the nukes hit they instantly caved. The truth is is that the Japanese had been trying to surrender all that summer before. But president Truman wanted to drop the bomb as a show of force. He did it, not to break the Japanese, but to frighten Stalin. To change the balance of power in the world. To declare war on communism.

Your own world view, this idea that he who has the mightiest arsenal stands atop the world, untouchable, is straight up delusional. When you say that people fear our might, you're right, but just as many people hate us for it as well. When unstable countries like Pakistan and North Korea have bombs, how long til you think someone uses theirs?

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[quote= Starwind]

*tl;dr argument*





Your own world view, this idea that he who has the mightiest arsenal stands atop the world, untouchable, is straight up delusional. When you say that people fear our might, you're right, but just as many people hate us for it as well. When unstable countries like Pakistan and North Korea have bombs, how long til you think someone uses theirs?
[/quote]

Hmmmm....

[quote= Korey]
I'm sure terrorist organizations and other dissidents are perfectly aware of the capabilities of our countries' military. As would be any other first world countries with Nuclear Arms. The threat of retaliation didn't mean anything at Pearl Harbor, and that was before nuclear weapons. So what changed besides a better bomb?[/quote]

Now in that short little paragraph, I'd like to see where you get this idea that I'm under the assumption that "he who holds the biggest stick wins." Without going into too much detail, I'd like to explain that when I wrote this I meant "aware" in the definition that the terrorists/enemies acknowledge our capabilities as a nation and our allies capabilities. I never made one claim towards superiority or "RAH RAH USA, WE NUMBAH 1." I'm not going to start a flame war, but if you're going to insult someone and then press on them your own world view, you might want to make sure that you have a basis to diss them with. Edited by AvalonAngel

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[quote name='AvalonAngel' timestamp='1292774186' post='702962']
[font="Tahoma"]Didn't stop Al-Qaeda, m'boy :suave:

I'm sure terrorist organizations and other dissidents are perfectly aware of the capabilities of our countries' military. As would be any other first world countries with Nuclear Arms. The threat of retaliation didn't mean anything at Pearl Harbor, and that was before nuclear weapons. So what changed besides a better bomb? [/font]
[/quote]



The key is "less likely". War will always be present in this world.

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Interesting thread, with so much to discuss! However, right now I can only offer some minimal input on assorted topics covered.

Of course, I voted yes. Is it idealistic? Indeed. I agree with JamesMay's assertion that it's idealistic, in the sense that it's a lofty, virtuous goal - however unlikely or plausible that state of affairs actually happening. I also agree with the idea that the knowledge behind it isn't the sort of thing that can be banished in the same way weapons can be. Science doesn't work that way. (I should note here that I don't attribute this view, viz. that such knowledge can be somehow "banished", to anyone here.) And this itself raises a problem, which I'll come to later.

And when AvalonAngel briefly mentions the economy, (#3), I think it's a relevant issue: North Korea's nuclear tactics and military threats/actions are meant to be economic actions as they are military actions. That's how they try and get leverage at the international level, unfortunately. Even with the threat of more international economic sanctions that's their[i] modus operandi.[/i]

I agree with most of the facts you presented, Starwind; plenty of it's documented fact or have come from highly credible sources. What I can gather is that all of that was meant to be justification for your side of the argument, correct? The part that makes me pause is the idea that we can somehow legislate and control a naturally occurring substance, perhaps in the same way the ATF in the U.S. handles their respective areas. If that were possible (it does have some plausibility to it, however) the fact that such knowledge of building nuclear weapons is out there, and the will to own them is there too, it's also plausible to say that no amount of binding treaties and sanctions would deter those rogue elements from trying to obtain one at any cost. Many countries have banned landmines, but they're still used by many other countries. If landmines aren't available, an IED is the next logical choice. Briefly, it don't think it would be possible to [i]completely[/i] enforce such a global treaty, since such treaties don't really mean much to those radical or rogue elements (even the UN no longer has the sway it does over some of the more "industrialized and modern" countries). In those cases, we'd then have to worry about getting blindsided with maybe no warnings at all. However, I'll give you that such a proposal was exactly that: "for starters". I don't think you meant it as[i] the [/i]fix, but as merely one way of actually "getting the ball rolling", as it were.

In sum, I agree with the general idea of banning such weapons, but the devil is in the details. Edited by Pleiades Rising

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[quote name='Pleiades Rising' timestamp='1292825015' post='702980']In sum, I agree with the general idea of banning such weapons, but the devil is in the details.
[/quote]

[font=palatino linotype]Bingo. From my perspective, there isn't even really a debate about whether we should or shouldn't have less nuclear weapons in the world - I am sure that, ultimately, pretty much every sane person is going to agree that the world would be better off without nuclear weapons.

But we live in a complex world and the solution to this problem is not clear. It is unlikely, for example, that the United States would unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons when other powers have not done so - not only is it unlikely, but it's something that most rational people would oppose. Can you imagine a world where the United States has no nuclear arsenal, but countries like North Korea and Iran do? To some extent, America's nuclear arsenal assures some degree of global security by way of being an effective counter-balance.

Just a footnote to this discussion as well...Starwind, you mentioned 1945 and it being a "mistake". I just want to say something about that.

First of all, hindsight is always 20/20. It's very easy to sit here now, in 2010 and look back at 1945 as being a horrific mistake. But I think it's important to just step back for a moment and consider other points of view.

What was the alternative to dropping the atomic bombs on Japan? I can think of only one - a ground invasion of Japan by allied forces. It is not out of the question to imagine that a ground invasion of Japan at that time would have resulted in significantly more deaths than the dropping of the atomic bombs. Millions of Japanese are loyal to a derranged emperor and we already know that Japanese soldiers were prepared to commit suicide in order to protect Japan. I can't even begin to imagine what would have happened if tens of thousands of allied forces had actually tried to take Japan via a ground invasion.

Secondly, those bombs essentially stopped the war. I live in a country that was underwent some four months of aerial assault by the Japanese air force just prior to the end of the war. By that time, Japan had conquered several nations to Australia's north (including Indonesia, which they occupied for some time).

I say this because, again, it's easy in retrospect to say that something was a "mistake never to be repeated". However, I also think it's worth considering what we'd have done if America never had a nuclear arsenal to deploy in such a situation.

Americans celebrated the end of WWII for obvious reasons, but the people here celebrated the end of the war because a) it meant the end of Japanese occupation of the region and b) it meant that no further Australian cities would be decemated as Darwin was.

This is not to say that the dropping of the bombs wasn't horrific - of course it was. But I suggest that if Japan had begun to bomb San Fransisco and Los Angeles, some Americans today may view the atomic bomb attacks differently than they do. It's worth thinking about, anyway. :)[/font]

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James's comments reminded me that I forgot to add a qualifier to my "yes" vote: America should abandon its nuclear stockpile if (and only if?) other nuclear armed countries do so as well. So, when I voted yes, I read it and the supporting information as implying something more global in scope.

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[quote name='James' timestamp='1292833812' post='702982']
[font=palatino linotype]Bingo. From my perspective, there isn't even really a debate about whether we should or shouldn't have less nuclear weapons in the world - I am sure that, ultimately, pretty much every sane person is going to agree that the world would be better off without nuclear weapons.

But we live in a complex world and the solution to this problem is not clear. It is unlikely, for example, that the United States would unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons when other powers have not done so - not only is it unlikely, but it's something that most rational people would oppose. Can you imagine a world where the United States has no nuclear arsenal, but countries like North Korea and Iran do? To some extent, America's nuclear arsenal assures some degree of global security by way of being an effective counter-balance.

Just a footnote to this discussion as well...Starwind, you mentioned 1945 and it being a "mistake". I just want to say something about that.

First of all, hindsight is always 20/20. It's very easy to sit here now, in 2010 and look back at 1945 as being a horrific mistake. But I think it's important to just step back for a moment and consider other points of view.

What was the alternative to dropping the atomic bombs on Japan? I can think of only one - a ground invasion of Japan by allied forces. It is not out of the question to imagine that a ground invasion of Japan at that time would have resulted in significantly more deaths than the dropping of the atomic bombs. Millions of Japanese are loyal to a derranged emperor and we already know that Japanese soldiers were prepared to commit suicide in order to protect Japan. I can't even begin to imagine what would have happened if tens of thousands of allied forces had actually tried to take Japan via a ground invasion.

Secondly, those bombs essentially stopped the war. I live in a country that was underwent some four months of aerial assault by the Japanese air force just prior to the end of the war. By that time, Japan had conquered several nations to Australia's north (including Indonesia, which they occupied for some time).

I say this because, again, it's easy in retrospect to say that something was a "mistake never to be repeated". However, I also think it's worth considering what we'd have done if America never had a nuclear arsenal to deploy in such a situation.

Americans celebrated the end of WWII for obvious reasons, but the people here celebrated the end of the war because a) it meant the end of Japanese occupation of the region and b) it meant that no further Australian cities would be decemated as Darwin was.

This is not to say that the dropping of the bombs wasn't horrific - of course it was. But I suggest that if Japan had begun to bomb San Fransisco and Los Angeles, some Americans today may view the atomic bomb attacks differently than they do. It's worth thinking about, anyway. <img src='http://www.otakuboards.com/public/style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':)' />[/font]
[/quote]
ad

First off my opinion is not unique (in reference to 1945). I know for a fact that others shared my opinion then. Dwight D. Eisenhower felt that the very development of them was a mistake in 1945, before the bombs were ever dropped. And besides, like I said earlier, they weren't going to fight to the death. They had been trying to surrender for months before the bombs drop. The bombs had little to do with Japan, and everything to do with Russia.

There are 183 countries in the world that don't have nuclear weapons, but most of them could. In 1989 when F. W. de Klerk became president of South Africa, he was informed of the nations nuclear arsenal. He was told that they had 6 bombs on the scale of the ones dropped on Japan in 1945. He responded by ordering the dismantling of all six.

Next I see is that everyone focuses on the knowledge of the weapons. But there is one simple fact. Without the material, the knowledge means nothing. Without HEU or plutonium you can't build a true nuclear bomb, it's not possible. That's the first thing we should take care of. I mentioned above that they should be sealed in Fort Knox like structures, where no one could possibly get it. The material is key: without that, the threat disappears. Secure it where it can't be used and stop making more material. Then setup a police and intelligence agency that exists to make sure that there is no illicit transfer of this material. Then you begin destroying the material you have. There is about 1700 tons of material on the planet, that's about enough for 100 to 50 thousand bombs. Like I said above, the current number of bombs on the planet is about 23,000. That's a lot of unused material. You do away with some of it with things like International reprocessing centers or international fuel banks.

The next step would be to take all US and Russian weapons (the majority) off launch ready alert. Maybe it made sense during the cold war, but this is 2010, with 2011 on the horizon, there is no need for these arsenals to be on launch ready alert. When you have weapons on hair triggers it's not a matter of 'if' there will be an accidental launch, it's a matter of when. We could take all the warheads off our weapons and share our safeguards technology. Then we establish a joint warning center to ensure that nuclear war can't happen by mistake.

You are right that this will not be quick. It has to be a step by step process. Using diplomacy, phased reductions and international treaties. That's how we did it with chemical weapons. These weapons are now considered taboo. All nuclear states have to sign a legally binding, intrusively verifiable treaty to ensure that this can be done. When the Soviet Union collapsed the US succeeded in getting Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to sign an enforceable treaty and they gave up their nuclear weapons.

Between the US and Russia you have 96% of the worlds nuclear arsenal. We will have to make the reduction first. Once you get to the low hundreds, you can begin to build up the confidence needed to get other nations to reduce their arsenals as well.

Leaders of the world have tried to do away with these weapons for almost as long as we've had them.

"Every man, woman and child, lives under a nuclear sword of damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment, by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished, before they abolish us." John F. Kennedy.

"What a diabolic force, everything gets destroyed, everything. Absolutely nothing can stop it." Mikhail Gorbachev

"We are not just discussing limits on further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination, one day, of nuclear weapons from the face of the earth." Ronald Reagan at the nuclear summit in Reykjavik, in 1986.

The key is public support, just like any other political action. When JFK passed the limited test ban treaty, every time he mentioned it on the stump he got thunderous applause and quipped 'Had I known it was so popular, I would have done it a long time ago.'

This is where we stand. Don't just stand back and sing of lofty ideas and unattainable goals. In 1980 the idea that you could get the US and Soviets to agree to a reduction of 10,000 weapons was the most insane thing many had ever heard. And yet, before the decade was out, they had succeeded. It's not impossible, or simply some lofty idea, it's reality, but as long as you and others like you disregard it as 'lofty', then that's all it will ever be. Don't sit down, stand. Don't be silent, speak out. Don't let size intimidate you. There maybe great numbers against us, but this doesn't make it impossible. Half the battle is getting those that WOULD support this cause TOO support it. To stand up and speak out. That will be half the fight. If you stood up today and made your voice heard on this matter, we would already be one step closer.

Don't call it 'lofty' or 'idealistic', because by doing so you diminish both it's reality and it's meaning. Lofty goals are purely quixotic in their nature, but this isn't some ridiculous notion. Social movements are impossible, until they happen, then they become inevitable. Well what's happening now is that this movement is starting to take on an air of inevitability. The US and Russia just signed a new treaty, agreeing to reduce both of their arsenals further.

The civil rights movement, the womens rights movement, environmental protection, all these things seemed impossible when they first started, but now we can't imagine going back to how life was before these movements. That's what needs to happen here. The difference is is that these were national movements. This needs to be an international movement, because this issue is global in it's reach.

Don't write it off and shrug your shoulders. Get out there and do something. Edited by Starwind

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[quote]And besides, like I said earlier, they weren't going to fight to the death. They had been trying to surrender for months before the bombs drop. The bombs had little to do with Japan, and everything to do with Russia.[/quote]

[font=palatino linotype]I'm not sure I agree with that. I don't doubt that prior and subsequent to the dropping of the bombs, there were other factors involved (that is to say, broader reasons than just stopping Japan alone), but I think you're ignoring the very real alternatives that could have been as bad or worse.

My intention is not to defend the fact that the bombs were dropped. But I do think that it's easy for us to make an intellectual argument more than half a century later, without really understanding what the experience was like at the time. It is wrong to simply write off 1945 as a "mistake" without acknowledging the complexity or context of the action at the time.

In regard to everything else in your post, I only have two things to say really. First of all, absolutely nothing you have said there is a revelation - it is certainly not a revelation to politicians or those who have been fighting for nuclear arms reduction over the last few decades. There are no new ideas there.

I say this to emphasize the fact that it's one thing to have a detailed set of steps that form a broader proposal for nuclear arms reduction. It's another thing entirely to physically implement those proposals, especially when the countries concerned have completely different attitudes about the issue - and I mean [i]completely[/i] different attitudes about the issue. So different that it is difficult to even agree on a [i]terms of reference[/i] for [i]preliminary[/i] meetings on the subject.

Don't think leaders haven't tried (or aren't trying) or somehow aren't as passionate about the subject as you are. My mind immediately goes to the Obama Administration's angling with Iran about its weapons program - they actually had some pretty creative proposals that were not only clever, but extremely light-handed from Iran's point of view...and they still got nowhere.

Secondly, you say that we need national and international movements in order to reduce nuclear arms. I agree with you that public pressure is incredibly important. But what about those nations where such public expression is impossible? Countries where people can't even vote, let alone protest their government's nuclear policy?

I admire your enthusiasm and your passion - I think it's aimed in the right direction. But don't mistake my apparent cynicism for a lack of passion on the issue. I do think there's a place for public pressure and demonstration. But I also understand that there's a [i]lot[/i] more involved - a whole lot more. It's not just a question of political will, but also the ability to apply pressure from a variety of angles (diplomatic, economic and military).

It's interesting to note, for example, that no amount of public demonstration caused Colonel Ghadafi to abandon his nuclear weapons program. And yet, the 2003 invasion of Iraq directly prompted him to a) declare exactly what his regime possessed (bear in mind that nobody in the world really knew the extent of Libya's nuclear program until that time) and b) agree to verifiable international inspections and destruction of his existing nuclear material.

I don't want to debate the war here, but I am raising this to point out that public pressure - as strong as it can be - is also not a cure-all, nor is it even the most appropriate strategy in all scenarios. True nuclear arms reduction will certainly require passionate words, but it will also require resolute action on multiple levels as well (and a preparedness to make words enforceable to an appropriate extent).

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that everybody in the world not only thinks similarly to us, but has the same "push and pull" factors when they really don't.

I know I am also not saying anything revelatory, but I do think it represents the second half of the point you are making.[/font]

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Okay, right now I'm mainly concerned with a position you, Starwind, have sought to rebut or refute. Specifically, I'd like to clarify my own position a bit more than I have, for I notice some confusions surrounding it.

As I read this once again, I'm no longer sure the position being refuted or argued against actually belongs to anyone here, least of all my own. I'm concerned with this because when I read the statement, "It's not impossible, or simply some lofty idea, it's reality, but as long as you and others like you disregard it as 'lofty', then that's all it will ever be" (#13), I'm not sure exactly to whom this applies. In my own brief comments I mentioned that "it's a lofty, virtuous goal - however unlikely or plausible that state of affairs actually happening" (#10). In JamesMay's own comment, he mentions impossibility, but doesn't state the much stronger (and distinctly different) thesis that nuclear disarmament is itself impossible. He instead makes a different claim that's quite correct: abolishing [i]the knowledge[/i] to create nuclear weapons is impossible (and here, too, I'd qualify the kind of impossibility mentioned). This is briefly touched upon in your reply, but the reply is ambiguous; it's not clear if it's directed towards James (as the quote implies), JamesMay, myself, or "everyone else". In any case, my remarks obviously make reference to both the terms quoted above and the knowledge involved.

First of all, I'll remove the sneer or scare quotes from those terms. I'm quite aware of the positive values those concepts have, so they should also be read in that sense too, without having to hastily shift to its diametric opposite - i.e. they're inherently bad and flawed concepts. True, they are often used in a pejorative sense, and they may have been read that way when I left my brief comment. However, my comment was too brief to [i]rightly[/i] infer from it my singing of lofty, unattainable goals. Difficult goals, yes; unattainable [i]and [/i]impossible, no. Additionally, you'll notice that I never made reference to the impossibility you infer; that inference is strictly yours, based on a position I do not hold. My qualifiers - plausible, possible, unlikely, completely - do the work they were intended to do.

I agree that globally abolishing nuclear stockpiles is the correct thing to do. I also agree that accidents can and have happened. What I state, however, is that the former is a difficult goal to attain or realize. And on this position, too, we still seem to agree, but I can't say how much we agree on the details. Nevertheless, If I read this right, you're aware that it's not an easy task: "Leaders of the world have tried to do away with these weapons for almost as long as we've had them." Considering this has been a decades long discussion and dispute that's deeply embedded within many levels - e.g. politically, economically, socially, environmentally - abolishing nuclear weapons might be one of the most difficult tasks humanity has ever faced.

Briefly consider these two recent events: the START treaty has the curious consequence that actually allows Russia to[i] increase[/i] the number of weapons it has. Furthermore, it also allows Russia to merely phase-out obsolete Soviet-era weapons. I quote Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on the treaty: "'We will not have to make any cuts to our strategic offensive weapons,'' Serdyukov told sceptical lawmakers from the Communist opposition. 'But the Americans -- they will indeed have to make some cuts.'" In North Korea, they might be planning another nuclear test, in a show of force to South Korea and its allies. This is a test with dual implications: its aim is to test the nuclear capabilities of North Korea, and it's a political move aimed at strengthening Kim Jong-un's position as their next "leader". This alone strengthens my own claim about how deeply embedded this nuclear issue really is. These are recent events with their own respective difficulties, and how to resolve these involves more than just "public support". (I'm not sure exactly what this public support means, since the circumstances of such support varies with context and country. To what extent is public support possible in Iran or North Korea? - which is a another thing to consider.) I'm not sure how this is workable in all countries involved, especially when some of them involve countries that imprison anyone they label a dissident, e.g. China and Liu Xiaobo.

I can find more cases and examples like these, which clearly show the difficulties involved in this entire project. But those difficulties should not be confused with impossibilities, whichever side of the dispute one takes. Seeing them as impossibilities and attributing them to anyone who doesn't hold them are both misleading and unhelpful in opening reasonable dialogue - especially of the persuasive kind.

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