Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How I learned to love the bomb

David Seaton's News Links   
The dirty secret of the atom bomb is that it is a "peace maker", as in "blessed be the peacemakers". 

The "inconvenient truth" is that the only one to have ever used the atomic bomb on human beings (twice) is the USA. 

The atomic bomb, like "the sound of a clod of earth falling on a coffin, is something perfect in its seriousness" (hat to A. Machado).

The bomb concentrates people's minds totally and suddenly they act rationally when contemplating war. 

How do I know that?

From direct personal experience, that's how...

I owe my life to the atomic bomb and I'm certainly not alone.

I think my whole (boomer) generation owe our lives to the atomic bomb... 

Without the bomb we would have gone to war with the USSR for sure.

My whole generation would have been drafted in both countries and the ensuing "conventional" war would have been even more brutal than WWII.

More brutal, why?

Because if we compare the conventional weapons that the Americans used in Vietnam and the Soviets used in Afghanistan with what both sides used in WWII (compare the M1 to the M16), millions of us on both sides would have died (probably me included).

So, I for one think that I owe my long and heretofore happy life directly to the proliferation of the atomic bomb.

It should be underlined that Iran's having the bomb does not mean they will ever use it. Persians are very sensible folk. A people like the Persians don't exist for thousands of years because of lemming tendencies.

What an Iranian bomb will mean is that the Israelis, for example, will not be able to periodically destroy half of Lebanon or massacre Palestinians in Gaza with impunity, as is their wont.

In an "bi" or "multi" lateral atomic Middle East something that brutal could spin out of control.

I remember with what care and caution the Soviet Union and the USA regarded each other.
What do you call an 800 pound gorilla?

When you stop and think about it, MAD (mutually assured destruction) is a rather beautiful thing.

It remains to be seen if the Israelis can lay down their "white man's burden" and deal with their neighbors without "gunboat diplomacy"... that is really what this issue is all about. That is what all the urgency is really about.

Proliferation means the end of colonialism: Sitting Bull gets the Gatling Gun. DS


Anansi said...

Interesting post. I hadn't looked at it from that perspective but it makes sense.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

It is very hard to look at it from that perspective, because the greatest value of atomic weapons is that their use is "unthinkable". The horror is the blessing so to speak.

Anonymous said...

I hope your trying to pull a Jonathan Swift with that one.

You seem like the kind of guy who marched at non-proliferation rallies when you were younger.

Doesnt matter, Israel will bomb Iran in the spring.


Anonymous said...

PS A belated thanks to Forensic Economist on the whole flag thing.


David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I'm perfectly serious. I have had this idea since I was quite young. I could see that the only thing that was keeping the USA and the USSR from fighting an all out war was atomic terror. I had studied the two world wars in some depth and having heard a friend of my parents describe how he fire bombed Tokyo, I found the words, "conventional weapons" of little comfort.

I honestly believe that I owe my life to the atomic bomb and the seriousness it imposed on otherwise venal and silly politicians.

When push comes to show, in having a jaundiced view of the good sense of large masses of people, I am quite similar to some paleo-conservatives.

anansi said...

A somewhat related MAD article, "The Stability of MAD", at Pat Lang's Sic Semper Tyrannis site.

forensic economist said...

My oldest brother volunteered at age 17 for the Navy in WW2. He spent his first year in uniform in New York City, sitting in in jazz clubs whenever he could. 1945 found him offshore of Japan. He tells me he would have gone in to Kyushu on the second wave, as a radio man. The ferocious battles for Okinawa and Iwo Jima had just happened. He figures the invation of Japan would have been worse. He credits the A bomb with saving his life - and saving a lot of Japanese lives.

I have heard the arguments that Japan was ready to surrender anyway; and that it was running out of oil and amunition. We will never know. Just thought I would pass on a reminiscence from someone who was there.

Anonymous said...

Pfft, "paleo-conservatives". Could your nose get higher in the air?

Ya know what Sitting Bull would have done with the Gatling gun? He would turned it on Siouz enemies like the Comanchee, Blackfeet, Nez Perce, etc. He would have slaughtered thousands of Native Americans. More Sioux as well as white soldiers would have died.

It's not about Iran being able to "stand up" to the bullies with nukes. Obviously that hasnt stopped us from killing each other through proxy wars now has it? It's about what happens if a bomb gets in the hands of a terrorist group. They dont need a ballistic missile, the dont even need the bomb to explode to kill people.

Mutually assured destruction seems like a risky think to bet your life on. Not to mention the lives of others.

You honestly think that Iran having nuclear weapons wont destablize the region? You honestly think that two countries like Saudia Arabia and Iran pointing nukes at each other (and Israel) isnt a recipe for disaster?Well congratulations, your an idiotic progressive and the impotence of your foreign policies is why "neoconservatism" is making a comeback.

Like I said before, Israel will bomb Iran in the spring and Obama will react with wide-eyed shock and dismay (even though he probably already knows about it).


Anonymous said...

"...your an idiotic..."

Hey, Adam, is that how they spell >you're< in the trailer park where you live?

El Flaco

Anansi said...

I think that you are missing the point, Adam. And could we keep the discussion civil please?

Anonymous said...

No I get the point. I just think it's incredibly misguided.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons doesnt make their use "unthinkable". And it hasnt stopped conventional warfare from happening either. But is has given small groups of people the ability to kill alot of people really easily. The Persian people probably are too cultured to use the weapon as people like to point out, but all it takes is one group of nutjobs to turn some part of the earth into a quiet neighborhood for a couple hunrdred years.

If I were Europeans, I wouldnt be worried so much about the nukes as I'd be worried about the ballistic missiles that Iran keeps firing that could carry a warhead. You might want to be a little concerned in Paris and Madrid and Berlin.

Whoops, I missed an apostrophe! I guess that invalidates everything I said! I dont see anyone asking you to be civil here, probably because your another left wing hack like them who always has to resort to condescension and the same old tired arguments of racism, sexism, etc. Or the case of Europeans it's always about class. How is it that so many intelligent people are so unable to defend their position intelligently? That's the problem Obama and progressives all over the world are having right now. Reality is slapping you in the face once again.


Forensic economist said...

Nuclear weapons keep war contained.

They deter against attack by other nuclear weapons. They deter against all out conventional war. Neither India or Pakistan have had an all out war, either nuclear or conventional, but it did not stop the Kargil fight or the Bombay murders.

Israel's nukes did not deter Hezbollah's or Hamas'rockets. Israel's nukes did not let it defeat Hezbollah or Hamas, even though 20% of Lebanese were turned into refugees and all of the Gazans are on short rations.

There was no all out conventional war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact but it did not stop numerous proxy wars in Vietnam, Angola, Afghanistan, etc.

It is worth noting that Iran's nuclear weapons program started in the mid 80s during the Iran Iraq war and ended in 2003 after Iraq was no longer a threat. If both had been nuclear armed, the war would not have happened. Right now, if Iran had the bomb it would deter against a nuclear attack by Israel; it might not deter against a conventional bombing attack by Israel.

It is also worth noting that Iran had been working on its nuclear program for 20 years without producing enough weapons grade uranium, much less a working bomb. I get the impression that the technology is a lot harder to master than the pundits would have you believe.

It might make the world more peaceable if we sold the Iranians nuclear weapons.

The Iranian government is corrupt and dictatorial but they are not suicidal. Just like no state has launched a nuclear attack since Nagasaki, neither would Iran. Note that no state has sponsored suicide bombers.