Coming to the defense of nuclear weaponry

By Lee Feder

Utopia is a magical place of perfection. Like all things perfect, though, it remains a fantastic machination that does not and cannot exist. Despite this truism, a group of foreign policy experts called for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the world. While I wish I could share their perspective (and that of heavyweights Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn and others) that eliminating such a destructive force would benefit mankind, nuclear weapons never will and should not disappear from this earth.

While few would say nuclear weapons are friendly little devices that children should play with, they serve an important purpose in maintaining peace. Nuclear weapons exemplify Pres. Teddy Roosevelt’s philosophy, “speak softly and carry a big stick.” There is no stick bigger than a 50 megaton nuclear weapon that can end a country’s existence with one flash, empowering the U.S. to speak as softly as it wants in militarized conflict. Of course, this threat is the undercurrent of Kissinger’s argument. The mere existence of nuclear weapons in the world allows for the possibility of their misuse. If the U.S. has a big stick, someone else will have “stick envy” and try to use one against us, thereby making our weapon of peace an agent of aggression.

Unfortunately, this immutable cycle that started on August 6, 1944 has long since passed the fail-safe point. The sad truth is that the world is stuck with nuclear weapons, as much because they represent the holy grail of military power as because the world needs nuclear technology for peaceful uses. Their elimination is simply unrealistic because people will always try to build the weapons, and nuclear material will exist as long as nuclear energy does.

Some of the consortium’s points are reasonable: without the U.S. actively opposing nuclear weapons, we cannot philosophically justify an anti-proliferation stance. That would be the have’s telling the have not’s that they cannot have. Negotiating reductions in the American and Russian nuclear arsenals, while ensuring better weapons security worldwide, is one set of objectives. Eliminating them altogether is pure fantasy, as well as irresponsible policy.

While Russia is more or less a friendly nation now, we do not know what the future holds. What if Iran develops nuclear weapons and uses them on Israel or the American fleet? What if China becomes hostile or Russia reverses course? Sure, mutually assured destruction is an obsolete foreign policy, but nuclear weapons have a modern role – nuclear states deter rogue nations with the threat of “small hit-big hit.” If a small state were to attack the U.S. with a nuclear weapon, it would have immediately signed its own death warrant as the full force of the American arsenal could be brought to bear on it.

The need to destroy the world multiple times over with nuclear weapons is absurd but no more so than the belief that their complete elimination is either possible or beneficial for the security of mankind.

Lee is a recent graduate who recognizes there are unexplained openings in the argument. You work with 500 words and see how .