Article > Nuclear Proliferation
Description :: This is almost funny.
Okay. So you've got this guy, NK, who just got himself a gun. Scared, reclusive, and rather paranoid, he goes out and shouts to a gang of big guys down the street "I have a gun now! I don't have to be afraid of you anymore!" Rather than calm him down, assure him he's in no danger, offer to collectively hand over their guns as a sign of peace, the gang just tells him that guns are bad, that he's dangerous, and that they might have to do something about him if he doesn't get rid of it. Now then. Do you think this guy's going to think "gee, they seem nice after all, I should let them be the only ones with guns"?

I don't see us getting rid of our weapons. We still mistrust the rest of the world enough to keep a large stockpile of nukes. We're the only country to have used them "for" anything, twice, half a century ago. In fact, I'd say we're terrified of ever using "the bomb" again. We'll keep developing new types of nukes, but if the time comes, will we use them? I highly doubt it. And the fact that other countries might be thinking the same means that nukes aren't even a good deterrent anymore. But for "little" countries like Iran or North Korea, it's still a symbol of being one of the "big guys" of the world, of earning respect, adulthood, whatever. Besides, consider our own laws: you have a right to own a gun. Why? Not because you're really in much of any danger where a gun would be helpful to you (more than likely you'll just hurt yourself, have it taken away, kill someone you only meant to harm, only harm someone you meant to kill, and get your ass sued, or otherwise mis-use the darn thing.) It's just your right. You get to have weapons, your neighbors get to have weapons, and by the time it's all said and done, we're all too afraid of each other to do anything, or too insane to care (and therefore still dangerous.) How can a country that values self-defense so highly, and makes a point of giving its citizens the right to bear arms (supposedly of equal power to that of the "enemy"), tell another nation that nukes are a bad idea?

We're trying to negotiate. Well, the Europeans are; we're just sitting here telling them they're not forceful enough, as if that really makes the situation any better. Our previous arrangement with NK involved shipping oil to them as a substitute to their having their own nuclear reactors. We bribed them. The current negotiations also involve trade incentives. Wow. Let's bribe them again and see if that helps. Maybe we're too naive to realize this, but ... nukes make for better bargaining chips than they do weapons. Sure, you can take out a city with one, if you really want to. But you'll get yourself pounded so hard it won't matter. On the other hand, having a few around is good enough to be courted by the governments of the world offering your higher and higher prices for your disarmament. If the deal ever stops being good, you can just build another set of bombs, and start all over again. So long as you don't use them for anything, governments are just giving you "stuff" in exchange for a little peace of mind; the fact that they're worried is entirely their own problem. Pretty cool deal, if you ask me. And if it's cheaper to get nukes than to get the equivalent "incentives" you'll get out of negotiations, then it simply makes economic sense to build nukes and black-mail people. Do we really think Iran and North Korea aren't smart enough to realize this?

I propose we give Iran and North Korea the same deal we gave the CCCP: have all the nukes you want; stockpile them, have them for breakfast, build high towers out of them, whatever; we don't care, you won't get anything from us; but if you ever so much as twitch, and/or launch one anywhere, prepare to have your ass served to you on a radioactive platter." Mutually-assured destruction has worked before, and it still can. It's a sensible policy: if your neighbor does you no harm, you have no reason to harm your neighbor. As long as your neighbor feels safe, and feels that his safety is in his own realm of control (that is, you're sane, and his decisions actually decide whether or not he's safe from you), then he's unlikely to do anything foolish. If your neighbor thinks you're a wild-eyed cowboy with an itchy trigger finger, chances are he'll shoot first despite your lack of intervention. (Note: we apparently thought Saddam had an itchy finger, look what that got him!) North Korea has reason to fear us: we're fairly sane, they're fairly not, and things could go sour. But if we don't show some sign of restraint, there's no chance that a paranoid government will ever calm down. Mistrust will just spiral out of control, and someone will get nuked (or not, and we'll have to explain how our macho facade isn't the "real us".)

So the message is: "we promise not to attack you so long as you don't attack us; your fate is entirely in your own hands; if you do, however, screw up, prepare to be royally rewarded."

The problem is that we can't make that promise. We're itching to liberate people from tyranny. And at least for the sake of this argument, I have no problem with such intentions on our part. Freedom's neat, even though we're not terribly clear on what it is, how to enforce it, or whether or not liberating someone really makes them free. So really, we can't swear we won't invade their country. They have reason to fear us, reason to arm themselves, reason to warn us that they're armed.

Our fate (or rather, that of our allies in the area) is in our own hands, maybe. I'm not convinced the leadership of North Korea is entirely sane. The itchy finger could twitch. Maybe it won't. And there's no really good way for us to back down without also appearing to give into "terrorism" and "tyranny" ... but so long as we don't, we're the presumed future initiator of violence, even if it's for a "good cause."

We've got a potentially crazy guy holed up in an apartment building, holding a gun, yelling at everyone to leave him the hell alone. What do our street cops usually do in this case? It's hard to convince someone who feels threatened that they should just put down their guns when you're not doing so yourself. Did I hear someone say "sniper"?

Note that this applies equally well to Iran. Or anyone (past/present/future) else who thinks (I have no idea how they got this idea, of course) that we might be coming "after them" (particularly to "liberate" their people.)