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Nukes vs. Peace May 27, 2016

Posted by geoff in News.
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So our esteemed president recently visited Hiroshima, and had this to say:

President Barack Obama called on nations to “escape the logic of fear” and reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons as he became the first sitting U.S. President to visit Hiroshima, Japan Friday.

Now, no sensible person wants to have nuclear weapons, but since World War II there are many very sensible people who have appreciated the necessity of nuclear weapons. President Obama doesn’t seem to share that appreciation, so I was wondering: “Have the nuclear stockpile reductions over the past 30 years reduced the threat of nuclear war?”

So here’s a chart I found at The Economist, which shows the total number of nukes in the world, as well as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock. So now you can see, year by year, how the threat of nuclear war correlates with the number of nuclear weapons (US warheads are in blue, Russkies’ are in commie reddish-orange):

NukesvsDanger

As you can see, since 1995 the danger of nuclear war has increased from 17 minutes to midnight to 3 minutes to midnight, even though the number of nuclear weapons has dropped by 2/3. That suggests, to me at least, that reducing our nuclear stockpiles has not made the world a safer place, and may even have made it much more dangerous.

A second point is that from 1960 to 1995, the threat level seems to closely track the number of Soviet Union/Russian nukes, and then from 1995 forward, the correlation is still strong, but negative. The number of US warheads doesn’t seem to matter much.

As you can also see, the number of US warheads was decreased during the Bush years, with very little reduction during President Obama’s terms. This, despite the fact that our current president has been much more critical of nuclear weapons, and has taken a lot of credit for significantly reducing our stockpile.

So I don’t think a state of peace and harmony is going to be achieved by following the president’s wishful thinking. It’s a policy you might encounter at a dope-addled college bull session instead of one produced by careful and informed thinking.

Like so many others in this administration.

Comments»

1. Mark in NJ - May 27, 2016

Hey Geoff – a couple things: (1) don’t you think Obama’s rhetoric might’ve been a leetle bit influenced by the venue where he was speaking? (2) I think the doomsday clock now includes the potential catastrophic threat of climate change.

2. Mark in NJ - May 27, 2016

btw – I’ve done some of my best thinking while dope-addled. But ironically, due to the memory-impairing qualities of the drug, I can never remember any of those great thoughts.

3. geoff - May 27, 2016

(1) don’t you think Obama’s rhetoric might’ve been a leetle bit influenced by the venue where he was speaking?

He’s said the same sort of things since 2006.

(2) I think the doomsday clock now includes the potential catastrophic threat of climate change.

I hadn’t realized they had broadened their scope, especially since the chart from The Economist labeled the clock as “nuclear threat level.” But you are correct, though the emphasis is still on global catastrophe due to nuclear war. Rising Russian/US tensions, North Korea joining the nuclear club, and all the violence and impending violence worldwide seem to dominate their concerns.

4. ORPO1 - May 28, 2016

Reblogged this on Among The Joshua Trees and commented:
“President Barack Obama called on nations to “escape the logic of fear” and reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons as he became the first sitting U.S. President to visit Hiroshima, Japan Friday.”
Makes one wonder after reading this post at Innocent Bystanders.

5. Sobek - May 28, 2016

Ordinary prudence = logic of fear.

6. Sobek - May 28, 2016

Back when I was a lad, people loved to try to scare me into liberalism by pointing out that we had enough nuclear capacity to nuke the entire world x number of times over!!! It never occurred to me to wonder then, although it occurs to me now, why we would do such a thing. Assuredly the rocket scientists who built these things were aware of the destructive capacity of what they were making – and yet they kept making more. Instead of arrogantly assuming they didn’t know, I’m going to assume there was some kind of logic behind it that I – with my liberal arts degree an no military experience – just haven’t seen.

7. Sobek - May 28, 2016

There’s a problem with Chesterton’s “Parable of the Fence,” which Ace loves to cite so often. It assumes a certain amount of intellectual humility that is simply lacking among the target audience.

Consider the following conversation:

A. We need to abolish the family unit.
B. I won’t let you abolish it unless you can first…
A. I KNOW WHY IT EXISTS IT EXISTS BECAUSE OF PATRIARCHAL OPPRESSION!
B. There’s probably a better …
A. I’M BEING OPPRESSED BY THE PATRIARCHY WITH YOUR FOLLOW-UP STATEMENT!!!
B. The family unit developed for many …
A. YOU’RE A H8R!!!

In the case of arguing institutions with a liberal, it’s not that they don’t know the purpose of the law. It’s that they know with 100% certainty, even when all the evidence contradicts them.

8. geoff - May 28, 2016

Why so many nukes? ‘Cuz commies is like cockroaches – they need lots of nukin’.

9. geoff - May 28, 2016

But seriously, for the audience at large, there are a number of reasons to have so many nukes. Just looking at strategic ICBMs, you have to have redundancy because there’s a probability that we’ll be attacked first, losing a lot of our missile force. Then there are failures on launch, post boost vehicle deployment, reentry, and fusing/detonation, as well as the prospect for nuclear intercept. Finally you have hardened targets to which you often have to commit more than one warhead.

The “Assurance” in Mutually Assured Destruction comes from all that redundancy.


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