Could nuclear proliferation, ie the spread of nuclear weapons, actually be a good idea? In this post I will explain why I think it is (under certain circumstances), and why it may be the best way to preserve peace in the world.
Here is how it works: Essentially, the two most powerful countries in the world after the US, in other words Russia and China, both have nuclear weapons. They’re both potential superpowers (although I’ve always argued that Russia is a greater threat than China), and they’ve both shown a certain tendency to be aggressive towards their smaller neighbours (Tibet and Taiwan in China’s case, Georgia in Russia’s case).
The problem for the US is that the US not in a million years would wage a war against either country, and so it’s hard to act when China bullies Taiwan or when Russia decides to take their military on a field trip to Georgia. Sure you can protest, but since when do these countries care? It’s not like they weren’t counting on you protesting when they made their decisions.
Russia and China has some democratic neighbours that we in the west ought to support, but kind words are not going to help them. Pledging to support them if they are attacked is a good first step, but it’s far from enough (in particular as no-one really trusts the US after all the betrayals committed under Obama).
These countries have to be armed enough to withstand a Russian or Chinese attack. But even if you were to give away guns, ammo and tanks to every individual in the entire Taiwanese population, they would still be outnumbered by the Chinese army.
What is then left, if we want to ensure that these countries never ever occupy one of their neighbours again? The answer lies in nuclear proliferation. By simply providing Taiwan, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and all the other democratic countries bordering these evil nations with nuclear weapons, the problem is solved.
Do you know why the cold war never became a real war? Because of the mutually assured destruction that would have occured and that neither side wanted. The US knew that if they attacked Russia, Russia would strike back with nuclear weapons, and then the US would launch its nuclear weapons and then the fight would go on until everyone froze to death in the following nuclear winter. No-one wanted that outcome, and so neither party decided to go to war against the other party.
That’s exactly the kind of stand-off we want to create between Russia, China and their democratic neighbours. By providing them with nuclear weapons, and obviously the know-how on how to use them, we can chain Russia and China to their current geographic areas and create eternal stability in these parts of the world.
I can see three objections coming up: First, what if the nukes get stolen? What if terrorists take them? Sure, the US nukes are safely guarded (or so we’d like to think), but there is no guarantee this would be the case in other countries.
The problem with that argument is that those who make it don’t really understand how nuclear weapons work. You can’t just run away with them and then light the fuse and make them go off wherever you want. Portable nuclear weapons – nuclear weapons that could be carried in a briefcase or so – is truly a scary scenario, but they don’t exist yet and so terrorists getting nukes, or stealing “stationary” nukes is not something we have to be worried about.
Then the next problem is: What if it doesn’t work? What if, say, Russia were to attack Georgia using some kind of Bliztkrieg strategy and occupy them before they have time to launch their nukes? Then the US nukes would fall into enemy hands! First of all, I believe Russia would be most unlikely to try anything if Georgia were in possession of nukes; the risks are just too high. And even if they did, and they did get the nukes, it wouldn’t really make a difference. Russia (and China) has thousands of nukes, even if they get an extra 10 or so from Georgia that won’t change anything at all.
Finally, would these countries really want nukes? I mean, there is a reason why they haven’t developed them themselves so far? Yes there is. But the reason is not necessarily that they don’t want nukes, but rather that 1) They don’t have the money/know-how to build them and 2) it takes time to build a nuclear arsenal, and during that time they would be vulnerable for an attack from a Russia or China who realizes that it’s “now or never”. If the US simply decides to give Georgia a dozen of nukes as a christmas present or whatever, that’s a whole different thing and I doubt many countries would turn the offer down.
But why should the US do it? Nukes are expensive, is it not a waste, even if it would work? We need to remember that the US, as it stands of today, is a superpower in decline. This is not in any way irreversible, but over the next 1-2 decades, the US will have to focus on solving its fiscal crisis and won’t have enough money for military expeditions like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan (even though I think they were both justified). In order to make sure that China and Russia doesn’t occupy the world while the US is busy getting its fiscal house in order, I believe nuclear proliferation to selected allies is necessary.
Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.