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The History of Nuclear Weapons - Part III The History of Nuclear Weapons - Part III
by Dr. Lawrence Nannery
2012-12-07 09:29:59
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What of the case in which a great power, driven by hatred, would engage in bullying a smaller power until it toed the line that the great power demanded.  Something like this happened in October of 1962, in Cuba.  The hatred of the government of the USA was hysterical, since it was obvious that Cuba posed no threat to the great power. 

It was perfectly rational for Fidel Castro to seek protection from a friendly Soviet Union, and obvious that putting Soviet missiles into place in Cuba would require secrecy, and this was attempted.  The missiles were not initially armed with nuclear weapons, but by and by could be so equipped.  The nuclear materials remained at all times under the control of the USSR.  When these missiles were detected by spy planes, the hysteria in the US was of the greatest proportions.  I was a college student far from home in those days and I can assure anyone that the fear of the possibility of the end of the nation was palpable.  We all believed that we might not see our homes and families again.  Initially Kennedy left no room for bargaining, and he deployed several armies in southern Florida to make ready for an invasion.  He also demanded that the missiles must be removed, and arrangements be made for US planes to fly over and inspect the fields where they were stationed, and later inspect the ships in which they were returned. 

To all this, Fidel Castro said “no,” even in the face of nuclear destruction of his people.  But the demand had been made to Khrushchev, not to Castro.  Khrushchev was genuinely fearful, and the messages he sent to Kennedy were very soulful, but he did in the end agree to remove the missiles over Castro’s objections.  But — and here is where things began to take a turn — he extracted from Kennedy a promise not to invade Cuba as a quid pro quo, and “to save face,” in addition to pull down the antiquated Jupiter missiles stationed in Turkey pointed at the USSR. 

In this way a new paradigm was introduced to the world: big power vs. small power; threats by big power against small power; small power begs countervailing big power to protect them, and is helped to defend itself; first big power threatens to set the whole world ablaze, and the other big power reassesses, and decides that the price of the threat being carried out is too high, and moves to obey, but, even more, extracts from the bullying power concessions that protect the small power from destruction, even though it had lost face. 

And this has been the leitmotiv in several similar cases that have arisen since.  As a result the world has been a safer place since 1962.

There is more than once instance of this strategy being used by the weaker entity, and so far every case has succeeded.

There is the case of North Korea.  It developed its own nuclear capability in 2006.  The leadership of the nation decided that, since no other big power will come to its aid similar to the way the Russians did for Cuba, it must do so all alone.  Why would it feel the need to?  In the case of Korea European and American peoples are startlingly ignorant of the situation at hand, and about South Korea what people hear and see in the media is very different. 

The first oddity is that the nation of South Korea has not been independent.  The fact is that if the United States had not intervened, and still today keeps many battalions in the country, there would be no South Korea.  After the intervention in the Korean war, in 1950, the US has stayed in this nation since, armed with tactical nuclear weapons.   

Second, Korea has only been of a democratic nation for a few years of its existence.  For several decades it was under military regimes that were far more violent than almost any other regime in the world.  The various criminal codes published by several of these regimes are harsher and more cruel than even those of the Franco regime in Spain.  Tens of thousands of citizens who publicly protested these repressive regimes were killed, tortured, or sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor.  The nation was (and still is) occupied by the US, who have given much weaponry to the governments that came and went decade after decade.  As in the case of the Soviets in Cuba, the US has nuclear weapons at the ready if an invasion from the north were to take place, but does not allow the Koreans to have input on this question.

The picture of South Korea as a developed nation is mostly untrue, since only the very rich in that society get to consume in the manner of modern Western nations.  Armed with Liberal theories of economic development, the economy grew by leaps and bounds, but for the rich alone, as is likely under Liberal theories of economics.

Prosperity and the presence of the world’s greatest and richest power on its soil eventually led to the governments of South Korea to, out of arrogance, engage in many acts of provocation, in the hope of igniting a war that big brother America would have to take part in.  Over time, and many times, the US military has been embarrassed by this state of affairs, but it is not possible for the American government to withdraw the troops, for fear that the North Koreans would in fact attack, and, if they did, the American-backed government could not survive.  An embarrassment, to be sure.

Concerning nuclear weapons, the South tried to develop them by itself in the 1070’s, but could not.  Perhaps the US told its allies to deny help, since the US does not desire to see a nuclear war in that region, which happens to be hostile to nuclear weaponry of all sorts.  Think of Japan.

The result is a deadlock, and North Korea has survived.  And it survived because they have developed their own nuclear weapon program, which had its first test of such a weapon in 2012.  (???)  It also is due to the Americans’ refusal to allow nuclear war to break out in the region, which is hostile, and the fears of the Korean people themselves.

There has been another case of a small nation trying to develop a nuclear capability, but without success.  Libya is the example.  Under the knout of a delirious and untutored man with delusions of glory, the site for such a development was set up and it seemed that the nation might manage to pull off this gambit, but it was much more dream than reality.  Probably it was the lack of a true armed force, a fact dictated by the paucity of population in this desert country.  The population as a whole could easily be accommodated in a few suburbs of one of the world’s metropolises with ease, and no army could be fielded that could resist any invasion force by one of several larger nations.  Further, the so-called nation is really tribal, with no solid unity. 

When the idiot colonel who had ruled by bluster and murder for about four decades was put on notice by the Europeans and Americans, and lacking resources, the colonel  relented and gave up the dream. 

Last, I think it very important to discuss the current crisis in Iran. 

Iran is a very large nation with a very large population, probably larger than that of France.  Although it has long been a relatively underdeveloped nation, in recent decade it has made great strides in development.  It is very hostile to many European nations, and especially the United States, on account of their experiences under the Shah, who had absolutely no legitimacy, just like his father.  In 1951 the Shah took flight when a nationwide rebellion broke out, that had as its goal democracy and the rule of people.  Eisenhower could not stomach this, and allowed the CIA to plot a coup against the government of Mossadegh, a conservative aristocrat who offered land reform and other democratic measures.  Long decades of repression and torture followed. 

The regime was totally dependent upon the United States, and a great deal of the nation’s wealth in oil was given to the United States as a gift for protection, mostly in the form of the latest weapons and weapon systems.  By any measure Iran was not a state in the modern sense of the term. 

In 1978 came the Islamic Revolution, under the direction of the Ayatollah Khomeni.  The regime that was installed under his leadership had democratic and autocratic features, with elections on a popular basis, whose officers were subject to councils controlled by the mullahs.  Its hostility to the West, and in particular to the United States and Israel, which is seen as a foreign plant in the region, and part of the West.  This is at least partly true; all one has to do is to search out the sources of wealth and technology that is available to it, and one can see this clearly.  It condemns Israel for illegal actions in sending away from their homelands many thousands of Muslims, with not thought of compensation or reconciliation, egregious and warlike actions that cannot be justified. 

Among the mullahs, the call is for the evisceration of Israel.  It has no legitimacy in their eyes.  Among the Jews, probably all Jews, when they hear hostile words, words calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, they can not avoid thinking of the Holocaust that they suffered at the hands of the Germans during World War II.

These countervailing narratives prevent any resolution of the questions at hand.  When Iran decided to begin a nuclear program it immediately caused Israel to go to war against the regime.  Almost immediately after the overthrow of the Shah, it set about to test its own nuclear weapon, which it did over the Indian ocean in cooperation with the government of South Africa, still a white racist state at that time.  In consonance with the warlike actions it has engaged in since its inception, Israel has murdered several high ranking Iranian scientists working on this project.  It has managed to get the US to secretly invade some of the computers that run the machines that refine Iran’s nuclear fuel, slowing down the process that might lead to weapons grade material that can be used in the manufacture of a nuclear weapon. 

Though it is obvious that Israel has cause for concern, it is also obvious that the threshold has not been reached where it is clear that a bomb is being contemplated.  So, it has been the practice of the United Nations to direct the IAEA — the International Atomic Energy Association — to inspect the facilities that Iran is operating for the use, as they contend, will be used for peaceful purposes.  They have even dug deeper into mountains to protect these projects, for fear of nuclear attack by the Israelis. 

The issue is indeterminate.  Given the nature of the regimes involved — the one attacking first all the time, and with accurate military results, the other an aggrieved and angry regime of Shia muslims, poor and badgered for centuries, but rising fast — it seems very dangerous, dangerous to the point that only all the great powers, acting in concert, would seem to be able to impose a settlement on them.     

Part I - Part II - Part III


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Leah Sellers2012-12-09 04:06:58
The World Cauldron is definitely simmering to a boil, Dear Sir. But being a Frequent Alchemist in the Kitchen, I can tell you that even the most unmanageable concoction can be contained and transformed into something palatable and nourishing for All.

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