A few thoughts on why peaceful nuclear anti-proliferation is so damn hard (no matter who's in the White House):
  • All countries that have sought a nuclear weapon have eventually developed one.
  • Only one country has voluntarily given up its nuclear arsenal (South Africa).
  • Sanctions eventually fail. Any government can avail itself of a thousand different ways to bathe itself in material comfort while its population suffers.
  • Illiberal governments know their counterparts eventually lose their stomach for sanctions as images of suffering children circle the globe. In fact, they count on it.
  • They are also fully aware of our electoral process and internal disagreements. Liberal societies and their governments almost never speak with one voice on anything (and when they do it doesn't last long).
  • Even an impoverished country like North Korea has something of value to sell to someone somewhere with hard currency.
  • Moral suasion appeals to the press and Berkeley/Georgetown/Cambridge axis of afternoon teas. The only countries disarmament efforts disarm are the ones interested in disarmament.
  • The UN is easily divided and conquered by illiberal states that become clients of a veto-wielding Security Council member.


Anonymous said...

"I just don't think nuclear weapons are usable...I'm not saying that we military disarm. I'm saying that I have a nuclear weapons, and you're North Korea and you have a nuclear weapon. You can use yours. I can't use mine. What am I going to use it on? What are nuclear weapons good for? Busting cities. What president of the United States is going to take out Pyongyang?"

"I want to go to zero, and I'll tell you why: If we and the Russians can go to zero nuclear weapons, then think what that does for us in our efforts to counter the new war...Think how intolerant we will be of nations that are developing nuclear weapons if we have none. Think of the high moral ground we secure by having none...It's kind of hard for us to say to North Korea, `You are terrible people, you're developing a nuclear weapons,' when we have oh, 8,000."

General Charles Horner, Commander of U.S. Space Command, 15 July 1994

The Daily Pander said...

If we go from 8000 to zero, and NK goes from 1 to 2 how exactly will we manifest our intolerance if NK uses its spare?

Nobody sane wants to use these things but every self-preserving despot wants to have one, even if we disarm. They'll never trust we won't rearm.

If we go the moral suasion route the Kim Jong-Il's of the world will invent a whole new reason for wanting these weapons. "Oh, you disarmed? Well you might rearm..."

Chris Janc said...

Sorry guys, in a world where military might is judged by who has the biggest, baddest weapons, do you really believe that what the US and Russia do with their nukes matters one iota to NK and Iran?

Do you really believe that US disarmament will deter NK from trying to be the scariest power in its region next to the Chinese? Will Iran give up its ambitions to change the balance of power in the Middle East because the US has gone soft? No, they will laugh and move on. The development of nukes is so appealing not for what it does to their position relative to the US but more for what it does to their stature to every other non-nuke bearing country on the planet. No amount of disarmament on our part will change that important part of the equation.