Jennifer Kim informs us that the world is a safer place thanks to the existence of nuclear weapons inventories of the world’s declared (and undeclared) nuclear-armed states. She writes that they’ve provided the “best possible deterrent” to war.
Her assertion is unsupported by the following facts. Since the end of the Second World War in 1945, there have been over 250 major wars in which over 23 million people have been killed, tens of millions made homeless and countless millions injured and bereaved.
So, her statement that “before nuclear weapons, powerful countries invaded and occupied weaker neighbours and wars caused millions of civilian deaths. Since 1945, such military aggression and large-scale wars have been reduced considerably” is evidently not based on facts.
There are far more intrastate wars than ever post-1945, for example. Now, far more civilians (approximately 90 per cent of all war deaths), for instance, are killed in conflicts than before World War Two. Prior to World War One, it was rather less than 10 per cent.
Moreover, the central observation Kim makes misses the ulterior point – whilst these weapons exist, the world is emphatically not safer at all. It’s currently in a condition of “well – so far, so good”, as they haven’t been used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet.
So, the theory that Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) only applies for as long as it is valid, and the balloon doesn’t go up. That said, I would agree that the idea of general and complete nuclear disarmament is naive to say the least. The technology can’t be un-invented; the genie is out of the bottle, as the ongoing proliferation of these weapons proves conclusively.
Let’s hope that there isn’t an “accidental” or premeditated release of these dreadful weapons in the future.