Nuclear is not unclear
We were to the brink in Cuba once before, but fingers are itchier now.
NOTE: I AM SUSPENDING MY SUNDAY “OBSERVING THE NEWS” SEGMENT BECAUSE THE CONFLICTING DETAILS OF UKRAINE WOULD TAKE UP ALL THE SPACE, CONTRARY TO MY OBJECTIVES FOR THIS COLUMN. ☹️
John F. Kennedy in a speech on July 26, 1963
“A war today or tomorrow, if it led to nuclear war, would not be like any war in history. A full-scale nuclear exchange, lasting less than 60 minutes, with the weapons now in existence, could wipe out more than 300 million Americans, Europeans, and Russians, as well as untold numbers elsewhere. And the survivors, as Chairman Khrushchev warned the Communist Chinese, “the survivors would envy the dead.” For they would inherit a world so devastated by explosions and poison and fire that today we cannot even conceive of its horrors. So let us try to turn the world away from war. Let us make the most of this opportunity, and every opportunity, to reduce tension, to slow down the perilous nuclear arms race, and to check the world’s slide toward final annihilation.”
I remember the nail-biting tension we all felt as Soviet ships carrying missiles for Cuba were headed right into a U.S. naval blockade. It took feverish red-phone negotiations for those ships to turn around, but only after Kennedy promised Kruschev to remove American missiles aimed at Russia from Turkey. There were hard liners who objected, and probably this decision was no small matter leading up to Kennedy’s assassination.
Looks like we are still at it. When I read recent reports that one third of Americans would support a nuclear war with Russia over intervening in Ukraine, I was flabbergasted.
Who are these people? Evangelicals seeking to hasten the end times? Rural red-staters wishing good riddance to blue-state urban and coastal elites? Does their ignorance shield them from the idea of killing radiation hundreds of miles from blast centers? Or are these haters so fixated on the other that all notion of self-preservation has deserted them?
My guess is the percentage would be even higher if one polled members of Congress. Who among our august legislators has summoned everyone to stop thinking of sanctions and weaponry and get real about nuclear disarmament. I believe no nuclear nation will allow itself to be ground to dust without ultimate retaliation. Strategists on both sides have to be thinking “first strike” as the only slim chance for survival and a phyrric victory.
These concerns can hardly make it to the surface amidst the current carnage. But “current” may not turn to “after” if it’s a matter of rapid escalation. Historians will sort out who is right and who is wrong and exactly when the current war started. No borders have ever changed peacefully, and my brother recently sent me an active map of the border flux (see link below) in the volatile area where Europe, Central Asia and the Near/Middle East come together. It’s imperative to muffle the geo-political engine of conflict, but nuclear weapons must permanently be off the table first.
It was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s vision that a world order based on multi-lateralism after WWII would put an end to all wars. He espoused the UN as the vehicle for world peace. But after his sudden death his vision was squashed by the imperialistic Winston Churchill. By introducing the big powers veto to the Security Council, the UN was rendered helpless. The inevitable move toward mono-polar power was completed when Ricard Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard and made the dollar the world’s back-up currency.
Truman’s dropping of the first atomic bombs on Japan served notice to the world that the U.S. was boss, that we had the power, and were not afraid to use it. However, a hegemony based on nuclear strength has slowly eroded until the arsenal of the rest of the world combined exceeds that of the U.S.
Matt Ehret writing on The Rising Tide Foundation web site notes:
The 14 kiloton bomb “Little Boy” which erupted over Hiroshima killed 140 thousand people instantly, with countless tens of thousands more who died in agony during the weeks and months following the explosion. The bomb that destroyed Nagasaki days later was 23 kilotons.
To put this into perspective, one modern U.S. Ohio Class Submarine travelling in the waters of China’s back yard carries 24 Trident missiles.
Each Trident missile can carry up to 8 nuclear warheads and each warhead utilizing thermonuclear technology packs the equivalent of 475 kilotons of TNT. When all warheads contained on one Trident II missile are added together, a force 253 times more powerful than the bomb that annihilated Hiroshima is unleashed. Although nuclear reduction treaties established since 1991 have reduced the global nuclear stockpiles from 64,000 warheads in 1986 to approximately 20,000 today, the fact Is that over 5000 megatons of nuclear bombs ready to be unleashed still litter the face of the earth.
The nations of the world need to end all current conflicts -too many to enumerate- and all come together -both friend and foe- to make a comprehensive peace, like the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 that ended the wars ravaging Europe for 100 years. And once we’ve restored the UN to its original vision, then the peace of multi-lateralism has a chance to settle on the world.
Changing maps tell a story whose final chapter needs to be written now: