Nuclear Weaons- Destructors Or Saviors Essay, Research Paper
22 October 1996
English Composition 101
Nuclear Weapons: Destructors or Saviors?
When one thinks of complete and total annihilation, the plumage of an infamous mushroom cloud is undoubtedly an image which comes to mind. This ominous image is “. . . a tiger which must be looked in the eye,” (Looking the Tiger in the Eye, 1982). The reason for which we must examine the issue of nuclear weapons, is best stated in the words of J. Robert Oppenheimer, “. . . until we have looked this tiger in the eye, we shall ever be in the worst of all possible dangers, of which we may back into him.” In an attempt to prevent ourselves from backing into this proverbial tiger, we will discuss the following subheadings of nuclear arms: should countries dismantle their nuclear arms; and whether a nuclear war can occur, without resulting in a total nuclear holocaust of both conflicting parties.
Virtually all, who know of the rise in modern-day technology, oppose the first subheading, dismantling nuclear weapons; but, before stating their reasoning, we will change our viewpoint to that of the naive (no insult intended) or too optimistic. Assuming all nations dismantled their nuclear weapons tomorrow; the world would be peaceful: no more nuclear weapons, no more eminent destruction, no more bad guys. What? Exactly! How can we eliminate the evil side of humans, their inherent dark side? This leads to the reason supporting the maintenance of existing, and the development of future nuclear weapons. When a nation, terrorist group, or someone with ill intent secures sole-control of nuclear capabilities, the world will be at the mercy of this group’s sanity, since the world is currently nowhere near an acceptable defensive system. So from this scenario, one can infer that in the present, the only deterrent to nuclear war is the existence of nuclear arms in opposition to each other.
The second subheading, whether a nuclear war can occur without escalating into a victorless, nuclear holocaust, is an evolving argument due to its dependency on modern technology. The two stances on this topic are known by their acronyms of NUTS and MAD (Nuclear Utilization Target Selection, and Mutually Assured Destruction respectively). The position taken by NUTS is that limited use of nuclear weapons can occur, without igniting an all-out, nuclear holocaust-resulting in the devastation of both conflicting parties, and hence a mutual loss. The major fault on which NUTS lies is that no nuclear nation possesses, or is expected to soon possess, an acceptable defensive shield against nuclear weapons. While this fault is not due to our ability to destroy inbound weapons, it is due to our accuracy in destroying the sheer quantity in which they can be deployed. For instance, even if the kill percentage of an inbound nuclear strike is 98 percent (unrealistically high), the remaining 2 percent can have a substantial result, when one finds that the strike consists of 6,000 nuclear weapons-which translates into 120 nuclear detonations on C3I (command, control, communications, and intelligence) capabilities in a country. The most austere disadvantage to NUTS, is the cruel and blatant torture which would result from its implementation-stemming from the collateral effects of fire, genetic damage, and slow agonizing deaths. In the aftermath of a nuclear war, some have said, the living would envy the dead (The Nuclear Controversy, 1985). Having said this, it is easy to see why the accepted and foreseeable position of the masses is MAD. The thesis to MAD, which states that the world is inherently MAD (due to its inability to protect its population from a large-scale nuclear war), is dead on target, when one realizes that this protection-while being physical-may also be concerning their conscious states.
French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote that in war, “we are all embued with the feeling of participating in a world event . . . it’s during peacetime that we should have had that dedication and that seriousness-we’d perhaps have avoided the war.” Recently, true to the wishes of Sartre, an international panel of nuclear powers convened to adopt a policy of “No-First Strike.” This occurrence, while weighting popular opinion on the MAD stance, also exemplifies the words of an American Nobel Laureate, William Faulkner, “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance . . .”