Our Nuclear Folly

The well-established assumption that North Korea is our most difficult and dangerous foreign policy challenge is worth a little dispassionate examination.

North Korea is not a fun place. If ever a nation had earned the right to be labeled collectively psychotic, it would be the Democratic Republic of North Korea under Kim Jung-un, who apparently just outsourced the bizarre assassination of his own brother. The country possesses neither a viable judiciary nor any kind of religious freedom. Famine has been a cyclical presence. Electrical power is intermittent. In 2015 North Korea ranked 115th in the world in the size of its GDP according to U.N. statistics.

Yet nothing the United States has tried to do, including decades of diplomatic negotiations and the application of severe sanctions, has stopped this isolated conundrum of a country from strutting proudly through the exclusive doors of the nuclear club.

But let’s get real. As odd and alienated as North Korea may be, their leaders know perfectly well that even if the United States had not a single nuclear warhead at its disposal, if provoked we could bomb North Korea until there was nothing left but bouncing rubble. The idea that they would be so suicidally unwise as to use their nuclear weapons to launch an unprovoked first-strike attack upon the United States, or South Korea for that matter, seems utterly remote from reality.

Instead, they are pursuing a policy – the policy of deterrence – which is a mirror image of our own. But by a collective trick of the mind, our use of weapons of mass destruction to deter is rationalized and justified by the fact that our intentions are good, while from our perspective both their intentions and their weapons are perceived to be evil – as if there were such a thing as good nuclear weapons and bad nuclear weapons. In this particular sense, there is not a whit of difference between our otherwise two very different countries. North Korea took careful note of what happened to Libya when they agreed unilaterally to give up their nuclear program. Their motive is self-protection, not aggression.

It is one thing to say that deterrence was a temporary (now nearly three-quarters of a century) strategy to prevent planet-destroying war. But can we go on this way forever, with all nine nuclear powers committed to never making a single error of interpretation, never having a single equipment failure, never succumbing to a single computer hack? If we think we can, we’re just as out of it as Kim Jung-UN Our bowing to the false idol of nuclear deterrence as the ultimate and permanent bedrock of international security is in its own way as delusional as the way the brainwashed citizens of North Korea give absolute obeisance to their dear leader.

If the United States, as a responsible world player, does not move beyond the obsolete paradigm of endless paranoid cycles of we-build-they build; if it does not begin to think in terms of setting an example; if it does not begin to participate authentically in international conferences to ban these weapons, there is going to be a nuclear war in our future.

We’re uneasy with Mr. Trump’s finger on the nuclear trigger, but this is a bigger problem than who specifically is commander in chief. When the moment comes and we begin to slide down the slippery slope of deterrence breakdown because of some completely unanticipated dissolution of "fail-safeness," it won’t matter how experienced the human parties to the disaster might be.

Whoever is left on this small, no longer so beautiful planet, freezing under the ash clouds of nuclear winter, uselessly nursing their boils and pustules from radiation poisoning, will hate and despise us for what we didn’t do for decades, and they will be quite right.

Because we know. We know and yet we do not act on our solemn obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In fact the United States actively undermines legitimate efforts to outlaw nuclear weapons. We just boycotted a recent one.

North Korea is a pariah nation led by a greedy Stalinist family. No one can say with any certainty whether they could be brought to the table to discuss abolition. Why can’t we admit that we ourselves harbor a similar reluctance? The process of building trust, agreement and verification among the nine nuclear powers would be the most difficult diplomatic challenge ever undertaken. The only thing more difficult is the unthinkable agony of the alternative.

Winslow Myers, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the War Preventive Initiative.

8 thoughts on “Our Nuclear Folly”

  1. When we read this in the second paragraph, we should know the article is going nowhere serious:

    ” If ever a nation had earned the right to be labeled collectively psychotic, it would be the Democratic Republic of North Korea under Kim Jung-un, who apparently just outsourced the bizarre assassination of his own brother.”

    The writers on this site are out of place writing to demonize the US’s enemies. The proper narrative is much closer to pushing an understanding of why small nations such as N.Korea strive to possess nuclear weapons to protect themselves.

    Keep the demonizing to yourself for a while Winslow. Everybody’s had lots of it and we’re full to the neck with it. And that includes the pictures of Kim that are always meant to demean and make a villian out of the short little oriental guy.

    It just doesn’t seem all that funny anymore when nuclear war being started by the US is on our horizons.

    1. Agreed. And the idiot who wrote this somehow has proof that Kim had his brother assassinated? Where is that proof? What is that proof? These writers are the same idiots who demand proof that the WTC buildings were blown down, but spews this nonsense about Kim and his brother and every other official story that is put out by the MSM.

      And this is supposed to be an alternative site?

  2. North Korea and Pakistan are the biggest advertisements for developing nuclear weapons. They are weak poor countries (exactly the kind the US likes to “regime change”) but they can stand up against US hegemony because they have the “Bomb”.

  3. Restless. Several scientists found nano-thermite. OBL didn´t have access to nano-thermite. Or did he ? The official story is impossible. Apparently, Isaac Newton lived in vain.
    US Disarming First Strike Capability Without Nuclear Winter.
    The US aims to achieve a Disarming First Strike Capability according to former chief submarine missile engineer Bob Aldridge-www.plrc.org
    GPS was made to give Minuteman-3 and Trident-2 a CEP of 30 meters or less against missile silos (Circular Error Probability — the radius centered on the target in which half the warheads are expected to hit).
    The US Navy can track and destroy all enemy submarines simultaneously according to Bob Aldridge.
    Professor J. Ed Anderson: “There is no doubt in my mind that deployment of anti-missile missiles in Eastern Europe is part of a first-strike strategy.”
    Missile engineer Bob Aldridge on the 648 missiles in Romania and Poland and on 32 ships in the Mediterranean: “Whether they are on ships or land, they are still a necessary component for an unanswerable first strike.”
    Professor Paul Rogers: “The warheads on Minuteman-3 and Trident-2 are designed to minimize Nuclear Winter Effects if used against missile silos.”
    Dr Bob Bowman, Chief “Star Wars” Project: “Missile Defense is the missing link to first strike.”
    The late General Harbottle: “They are bloody fools in the Pentagon because aiming to achieve a Disarming First Strike Capability leads to Launch On Warning which increases the danger of Accidental Nuclear War.
    So, European Phased Adaptive Approach, 648 missiles in Eastern Europe and on 32 ships, must be stopped as it´s Suicidal.

  4. The dancing Israeli “art students” were there to document the event as they later said on Israeli TV.

  5. Honestly, planes can´t make a steel-building fall. That´s impossible. It couldn´t have happened without nano-thermite. Who has access to nano-thermite ? The plot thickens. 8 or 9 scientists, one of them Dr Niels Harrit, Uni of Copenhagen, found nano-thermite. A plane can´t go through a steel building, it´s ALUMINIUM nose sticking out the other side and without the wings breaking off, no debris on the ground. It´s a film trick. The planes didn ´t do it. Nano-thermite did. Pilots For Truth say: No planes at all, it´s all film trick and nano-thermite. It´s a scientific fact that nano-thermite was used to bring down the three buildings. So, Who Has Access To Nano-Thermite ???

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