Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lessons in political pressure, international duties and other musings Part II (or Nuclear Weapons revisited)

So I'm sure all of you have been wondering what the second part is. Well, it's to do with the nuclear weapons discussion that has been taking place as a result of North Korea's test launching of some rockets. Japan and the US have been especially vocal, Barack Obama even envisioning a nuclear-weapon free world. To this end, he is negotiating a deal with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to reduce the amount of weapons stockpiled by each nation.

The political pressure in this case has been largely ineffective, the North Koreans launching their rockets despite the American and Japanese outcry. This is an inherent characteristic of nuclear weapons: numbers end up mattering little because a relatively small amount of the stockpiled weapons could destroy the world. So, therefore North Korea wielding even the possibility of a nuclear weapon is a significant bargaining chip. This is the case with every nation.

It is therefore refreshing to see Barack Obama, as the leader of the world's greatest nuclear power, to suggest an end to these most powerful agents of destruction. Although it is an ambitious goal, that will take many years to achieve, it is well worth the attempt. There are already too many potential causes of the destruction of the planet that we have created, namely environmental issues and diplomatic tensions, without that of nuclear weapons.

However, let's deal with a grim reality. A truly nuclear free world would be difficult to achieve for the reason that a nation could choose take advantage of the new situation and create weapons for themselves, thereby giving them a powerful weapon against the disarmed world. To deal with this, the ability to produce weapons must remain an option.

Another, not so grim reality, is that a world without nuclear weapons would mean a great shift on the international relations playing field. The US, having lost one of the components of its basis for "world-leading superpower status", would be less powerful, and unable to police the world. This could be a great improvement on the international scene, relaxing tensions created by a forceful and supervising America.

The US would be closer to par military strength in the developed nations ranks. However, they would still be very powerful, as nuclear weapons are not the only military technology they wield. They will still be powerful, just not as powerful, which is enough for what we need to fight terrorism, but not so much as to allow them to bully the world.

Let's hope that Obama can sift through all these problems to deliver on solving one of the, if not the, major problems that have faced humanity as a whole in the last 50 years.
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