Sunday, October 11, 2009

A world without nukes?

Maybe not such a good idea:

Why the Nobel Peace Prize Should Go to Nuclear Weapons - Yahoo! News
President Barack Obama's Nobel peace surprise was given "primarily for his work on and commitment to nuclear disarmament," according to Agot Valle, a Norwegian politician who served on the award committee. Valle told the Wall Street Journal that the stewards of the prize wanted to "support" Obama's goal, as expressed recently at the United Nations, "of a world without nuclear weapons."...

As long as a nukeless world remains wishful thinking and pastoral rhetoric, we'll be all right. But if the Nobel committee truly cares about peace, they will think a little harder about actually trying to make it a reality. Open a history book and you'll see what the modern world looks like without nuclear weapons. It is horrible beyond description.

During the 31 years leading up to the first atomic bomb, the world without nuclear weapons engaged in two global wars resulting in the deaths of an estimated 78 million to 95 million people, uniformed and civilian. The world wars were the hideous expression of what happens when the human tendency toward conflict hooks up with the violent possibilities of the industrial age. The version of this story we are most familiar with today is the Nazi death machinery, and so we are often tempted to think that if Hitler had not happened, we would never have encountered assembly line murder.

The truth is that industrial killing was practiced by many nations in the old world without nuclear weapons. Soldiers were gassed and machine-gunned by the hundreds of thousands in the trenches of World War I, when Hitler was just another corporal in the Kaiser's army. By World War II, countries on both sides of the war used airplanes and artillery to rain death on battlefields as well as cities, until the number killed around the world was so huge the best estimates of the total number lost diverge by some 16 million souls. The dead numbered 62 million, or 78 million - somewhere in there.

So, when last we saw a world without nuclear weapons, human beings were killing each other with such feverish efficiency that they couldn't keep track of the victims to the nearest 15 million. Over three decades of industrialized war, the planet had averaged around three million dead per year. Why did that stop happening?

No comments: