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A 'World Without Nuclear Weapons' Would Be a Far More Unstable and Dangerous World

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum/U.S. Army via AP

Today is the 78th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb. Instead of the usual fruitless discussion about the “morality” of dropping the bomb or the “necessity” of dropping the bomb, let’s play the old-fashioned parlor game of “What if?”

Counterfactual scenarios are frowned upon by professional historians because there are so many events happening at once that altering one or two of them is tantamount to guesswork. Be that as it may, what if the atom bomb had never been used? Better yet, what if Oppenheimer had failed to create an atom bomb before the end of the Second World War?

The first thing to understand — and the one thing that the nuclear “peace movement” fails to accept — is that someone, somewhere, in some nation, with some physicists, was going to create a working atomic bomb in the 1940s. The solution was sitting right there in front of their faces: “E=MC².” Along with the unclassified work in the 1930s of Leo Szilard, who envisioned an atomic chain reaction, and the more secretive work of Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago in the early 1940s, the theoretical and practical underpinnings of the bomb were well known.

In the end, the effort to create an atomic bomb proved beyond the technical reach of Japan. And while Germany might have had a better chance, it was never in the race to begin with. German physicists were handicapped by the paranoia and anti-Semitism of Heinrich Himmler, who distrusted most of the Jewish scientists working on Germany’s bomb program. And the scientists themselves fully realized what giving Hitler The Bomb would mean, and many of them slow-walked their research.

So if The Bomb was inevitable, why are some in the peace movement calling nuclear “deterrence” folly? Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui rejected the notion that deterrence was a valid strategy in his peace address at the commemoration.

“Leaders around the world must confront the reality that nuclear threats now being voiced by certain policymakers reveal the folly of nuclear deterrence theory,” he said. “They must immediately take concrete steps to lead us from the dangerous present toward our ideal world.”

Why should we work for an “ideal world”? Since only an idiot would see an “ideal world” as practical, what’s the next best thing?

Associated Press:

Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzai questioned the growing calls for reinforced nuclear deterrence around the world, including in Japan, since Russia invaded Ukraine and warned of possible nuclear weapons use, while North Korea advances its missile and nuclear development.

“Believers of proactive nuclear deterrence, who say nuclear weapons are indispensable to maintain peace, are only delaying the progress toward nuclear disarmament,” Yuzai said.

“Nuclear disarmament” is a dangerous pipe dream. When even an impoverished, starving, nation like North Korea can threaten any nation on earth with a nuclear weapon, “disarmament” as a universal policy becomes not only impractical but also insanely suicidal. The only modest security in the nuclear age is to have weapons of your own and prove willing to use them.

The nuclear genie is out of the bottle. Most of the steps to build a crude nuclear bomb can be found on the internet, although getting your hands on enough U-235 or plutonium to create a critical mass and cause an explosion is still extremely difficult.

Instead of disarmament, the nations of the world should redouble their efforts to keep nuclear materials out of the hands of people who wouldn’t hesitate to fashion a bomb and use it. Nuclear terrorists are far more dangerous than nuclear-armed nations. And nuclear disarmament would serve only to leave the rest of the world defenseless against the actions of terrorists.

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