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The History of Nuclear Weapons Part II The History of Nuclear Weapons Part II
by Dr. Lawrence Nannery
2012-12-05 11:05:02
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Analytically, pace Russell, there have always been three possible situations in which a nuclear weapon would be unleashed by any nation.

The first situation is that two great powers, each armed with nuclear weapons, would trade blows with these murderous weapons under the conditions that one struck first in order to eliminate the second as a great power at all.  In this scenario the striking power merely has to lull its adversary to sleep and strike without warning, winning total power in one step, as happened with Rome over Carthage in ancient times.  This was unlikely on account of the paranoid suspicions harbored by both of the superpowers in play.  The established academic and military institutions had a vested interest in being paranoid, focusing exclusively upon the dangers inherent in its one great adversary.    But if the US was successful in eliminating the Soviet Union, it would still have had to face China, which was developing its nuclear capability in the mid-1960’s.  Conversely, if the Soviet Union eliminated the US, it would still have to face Great Britain’s nuclear arsenal. 

In the 1960’s it was common to say that MAD, an acronym for “mutually assured destruction,” a term coined by John von Neumann, was the only way to see the situation, because of the fact that policies and weapons had already been developed that could survive a first strike.  The elimination of the US capability was not possible, because the US had three sets of capability: the bomber force flew up to the “fail safe” line in the Arctic.  When the bombers had reached that line they turned around and returned to their bases, another group would have already lifted off to relieve them.  In other words, even if the Soviets struck without warning it would still be eliminated from the earth because the US would not have lost its capability of delivering atomic weapons on the Soviets under any circumstances.  There had also been developed a capability of submarines, difficult to find, that could carry nuclear missiles to the enemy, and ships at sea, who carried much the same capacity. 

At this point the US modified its military doctrine, rejecting the earlier “Massive Retaliation” (declared in 1953) for “Flexible Response.”  Oddly this mimicked the view of China, who had claimed that the reactionary superpowers of the West would be slowly defeated by armed uprisings against them by third world nations.  As it turned out, this led to the invasion of Vietnam by the US military in 1965, formally speaking.  The war that followed, after a full generation of revolt against the original imperial power, France, lasted another generation, until 1974.  This near-destruction of the entire region of Southeast Asia might as well have been a major war, if the number of dead bodies be taken seriously. 

A second type of case of proliferation would describe middle-ranking powers mimicking the great powers.  The case of India and Pakistan comes to mind.  They are rightly called “middle ranking” because they are very populous and perhaps not poor, but they have very little influence outside their immediate region. 

It would take up a great deal of time to detail the reasons for the tensions between these two very populous states.  I will mention only the fact that India has never accepted the existence of Pakistan, and has fought three wars over borders, with an emphasis on Kashmir.  Pakistan has reciprocated by sinking into sullen resentment, and in signing treaties with the US.

India was in possession of enough knowledge to begin a nuclear program by the early 1974 at the latest, but did not do so, and in continually putting itself forward as a model for all states, achieved a level of self satisfaction that was shared by no one else. 

Pakistan was far behind, but determined to catch up, especially after 1991, out of fear of India. 

Both powers detonated nuclear devices in the same month in 1998. 

Their case can serve as a transition to a third type of case.

Part I - Part II - Part III

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Emanuel Paparella2012-12-05 13:09:58
I suppose Larry that Hannibal was in fact lulled into a false sense of security, having beaten the Romans at their own military game several times, but then again he only had to blame himself for the underestimation; he should have known better. The Romans did not give up so easily and having been defeated in their own home (the Italian peninsula) they were fighting for their very existential survival as an empire. Once they prevailed and had established themselves as the only superpower in the Mediterranean the Romans reasoned Machiavellically that they simply could not afford to let such a militarily capable adversary survive for another century of hostility. Yes, the end came suddenly and it was brutal, but it took more than one war (the Punic wars) and various strategic maneuvers on both sides to arrive at its conclusion.

Here too we have plenty to hypothesize and speculate upon. Let us transpose both Rome and Carthage to modern times, and let us say that they both were “mad” enough (pun intended) to possess nuclear weapons of mass destruction with which to deter each other out of fear and terror, would they have been used by one or the other power and who would have gone first? In my opinion they would have been used and the Romans would have gone first, not unlike a desperate cornered rat in mortal danger. But we cannot forget that the provocateur was Hannibal who brought the war right to Rome’s doorsteps thus provoking the Romans’ desperate response in a desperate situation.

What is the lesson there? For one thing, that human nature has not changed that much in two thousand years and it is a delusion within an illusion to think of ourselves as so much superior ethically and so much more perfect and wiser than the ancients. Perhaps Christianity, with or without religion, has indeed the wiser insight into it when it declares it glorious and a mirror and an image of divinity but it does not make the mistake of the Gnostics in declaring it angelic and perfect and spiritually disembodied. Rather, it declares it glorious but also flawed and in need of redemption and salvation.

Leah Sellers2012-12-06 03:59:22
That Nations anywhere continue to build and maintain Nuclear weaponry upon Our beautiful Planet, knowing what these weapons can do and will do is an Absurd Sacrilege ! An Insanely Absurd Planetary and Cosmic Sacrilege !
These Nuclear Weapons are merely what False Thinkers (Non-Thinkers) use to prematurely/immaturely ejaculate their Lustful Angers, Slights, Power Agendas, and "I got ya's" at the Scapegoats/Targets of their Choosing.
We all need to Grow up in Enlightened ways, and get about the Art, Science and Business of Living and Creating - not Annihilating and Destroying.
Like Children in the Sand Box. Let's use our Words, Our Minds, Our Hearts and Our Souls to Communicate (yes, even when the Words we use may be thrown about like hot potatoes), and Seek to Build Mutually/Cooperatively Sustained and Sustainable Bridges toward one another's Benefit and Good Will.
Thank you for bringing such a Bright Light to this tawdry and shameful subject, Dear Sir.

Eleana Winter-Irving2012-12-07 04:56:24
Totally agree with you Leah. 'Children in the sand box' is how I see the male rulers of the nations of this planet and to an extent the female rulers as well. Females who are left brained and think like men, will not run a country to it best advantage. It will be for political advantage only. We all have to live with the consequences.

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