On Victory, And Defeat, In The Nuclear Missile Age
On Victory, And Defeat, In The Nuclear Missile Age – by Susan Duclos – All News Pipeline
– Why Nuclear Weapons Are Central To, If Not The Foundation, Of America’s National Security
Americans hate nuclear weapons, and those who think about them. This I know from a professional lifetime as one who thinks about nuclear weapons, strategy, and warfare.
Philosophically, weapons of mass destruction are antithetical to the ethos of democratic societies deriving their legitimacy from the people, where government exists to serve the people, where the most precious jewel is the lives of the people. Nuclear weapons, that threaten mass destruction of the people, is so noxious in our society that almost no one wants to think about them—and very few do.
In contrast, totalitarian and authoritarian states are proud of their nuclear firepower and celebrate nuclear weapons. Russia, China, and North Korea parade nuclear missiles in their streets. They broadcast TV documentaries about winning nuclear wars, almost always against the United States.
Military dictatorships and societies ruled by iron-fisted elites, where the dictators or their ideology is the most precious jewel, where the people are considered expendable—such societies love nuclear weapons. Even their peoples love The Bomb. They never seem to tire of nuclear missile parades and civil defense drills.
Refusing to think about nuclear weapons and warfare will not make the threat go away. Pretending to abolish nuclear weapons through arms control, as the West has been trying to do since 1945, is just another way of not thinking.
We should have learned by now nuclear weapons are here to stay, a permanent fact of international life. The bad guys do not want to ban their bomb. They will encourage us to ban our bombs, but keep theirs.
Pretending that nuclear strategy is Strangelovian, an evil necessity to be tolerated among a small group of bespectacled weirdos like myself—but not central to national security and real statesmanship—is yet another way of not thinking.
In fact, nuclear weapons are the most formidable military technology existing in the modern world. They are the most powerful piece on the geopolitical chess board.
Nuclear weapons are central to, and the foundation of, our national security.
Colin S. Gray correctly observed, during the height of the Cold War, that nuclear weapons are so important they overshadow everything in war, peace, and diplomacy. Gray understood then, as we must now, that nuclear weapons are so powerful they shape the mental geography of international relations, and influence war, diplomacy, and peace—merely by existing.
Thus, since 1945, every war fought involving a nuclear-armed power or their allies has been a nuclear war. All diplomacy involving nuclear-armed powers or their allies has been nuclear diplomacy. Since 1945, when there has been peace, it has been nuclear peace.
Since 1945, the greatest U.S. victories and greatest U.S. defeats have been nuclear victories, and nuclear defeats:
Nuclear victory looks like the 200,000 casualties of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But also like Japan surrendering on the deck of the USS Missouri, sparing over 1,000,000 casualties expected from invading their home islands, and ending World War II.