[First published May 19, 2005] For a month diplomats gathered in New York about revising the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and wrung their hands over North Korea’s self-proclaimed, and apparently actual, possession of nuclear weapons, and Iran’s intent to develop them. What to do? What to do?
It seems the best that the diplomats can recommend is to guarantee North Korea that it will not be attacked by any power, including especially the United States, and to offer inducements, such as international recognition and the multilateral promise of food and material aid. Regarding Iran, the idea is the same — guarantees of its security, enhance trade, encouraged investment, and reactor fuel for nuclear power. In other words, if the thugs that rule are clever enough, and can get the resources they need to seem on the verge of developing nukes, then most of the world will appease them. Indeed, they will argue among themselves as to how to best appease these thugs.
Of course, something must be done in the short run about their possessing or soon to get nukes. But, I don’t believe appeasement works. It only feeds the thugs hunger for more, and only encourages other thugs to exploit this obvious fear so created to get their own goodies. A fundamental principle is at work here:
Appeasement begets appeasement.
But, what to do in the long run? This is another amazing case of few recognizing what is in front of their noses, such as our ability to produce invisible solids (glass). The solution is obvious, when it is pointed out. Consider: the United States, Britain, France, and Israel have nuclear weapons. (South Africa had six, but then in 1993 the South African Parliament committed the country against developing nuclear weapons, and the six were dismantled — at that time South Africa was on the road from Apartheid to being a full-fledged liberal democracy, which was achieved the following year.) Note that none of these democratic nuclear powers perceive the other as a threat or as a matter of security, and have developed no defenses against the others, ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS. It is just inconceivable that such democracies would go to nuclear war against each other. The only purpose of their nukes is protection against the thugs of this world, or, in the case of France, as also a ticket to the Big Power Club.
So, what to do for the long run elimination of the supreme danger of nuclear weapons? Pure and simple:
Foster democratic freedom
In a world of democracies, there should be complete nuclear disarmament, for democracies have no need for military forces against each other.
And so an interventionist policy of freeing people from their enslavement to the whims of thugs and ordinary dictators is also to wage peace and denuclearization.
Link of Note
” The anomalies killing nonproliferation” (5/18/05) By Ramesh Thakur
Ramesh Thakur is senior vice rector of the UN University in Tokyo. He says:
Significant gaps exist in the legal and institutional framework to combat today’s real threats. It is impossible to defang tyrants of their nuclear weapons the day after they acquire and use them. The UN seems incapable of doing so the day before: The Security Council can hardly table the North Korean threat for discussion and resolution.
If international institutions cannot cope, states will try to do so themselves, either unilaterally or in concert with like-minded allies. If prevention is strategically necessary and morally justified but legally not permitted, then the existing framework of laws and rules — not the anticipatory military action — is defective.
In other words, international law is an ass, and so is the fundamental legal norm against intervention in the affairs of a state.