Why Terrorist Nukes the Greatest Threat Ever

March 13, 2009

[First published February 10, 2005] Why, it is asked, should we be so afraid of terrorists having nuclear weapons when during most of the Cold War the Soviets had enough nuclear weapons to utterly destroy every major American city, and then some? Surely, the terrorist could not develop such a vast number of nukes. Yes, may be one or two, maybe in the long run even three of four, and certainly they will be a threat, but nothing like the Soviets were, it seems. And since we handled the Soviets, we should be able to deal with terrorist’s nukes. Right?

Wrong. What protected us from a Soviet first strike with their nuclear weapons was the American defense policy of deterrence. That is, if the Soviet’s attacked us, we would massively retaliate with our own nuclear weapons. In the early years of the Cold War, this meant attacking Soviet cities and major military targets. In the waning years of the Cold War, this policy was redefined to mean targets of value to the Soviet rulers, which were not only the most important military targets, but also the Communist Party, the rulers themselves, and their means of control over the nation.

Now, if the terrorists get nukes, how do we deter them? They operate in diffuse gangs, often with the secret help of sympathetic nations or groups within nations (such as a Muslim sub-community). And they are willing to die for their cause, which is often simply killing Americans. If the terrorists are able to hide a small nuclear bomb in a container unloaded in New York, and set it off, the result would be a city destroyed and perhaps half-a million murdered. Now, whom do we retaliate against?

Of course, we will try to track the source of the nuclear bomb, and perhaps find that it was constructed with the secret help of rogue scientists from Russia and Pakistan, with ingredients and parts from N. Korea, France, and China, much of it commercial. You can be sure that if such a bomb is exploded in the U.S., there will not be a clear relationship between the terrorists and any nations, as there was between El Quida and the Taliban of Afghanistan.

In other words, an anti-terrorist-use-of-nukes policy of deterrence will not work. For this reason alone, their getting nukes are more dangerous than when the Soviets had them.

This understood, then what is to be done? What we are doing now. Imprison or kill the terrorists, destroy their infrastructure, warn states that are supporting them about the consequences and apply pressure and sanctions, and prevent supporting states such as Iran from getting nukes themselves. And work at the underlying cause by working to democratize possibly supportive tyrannies. Democracies will never be a danger to us, or support terrorism. Above all, treat global terrorism as the war it is. There is too much at stake not to.

Oh, yes, let “nukes” stand for all weapons of mass destruction, and not a word of the above need be changed.

Link of Note

”N. Korea Announces It Has Nuclear Weapon” (2/10/05) By Sang-Hun Choe

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea on Thursday announced for the first time that it has nuclear arms and rejected moves to restart disarmament talks anytime soon, saying it needs the weapons as protection against an increasingly hostile United States.

N. Korea was helping Libya develop nuclear weapons, and is reportedly helping Iran. How long before Kim Il-jong decides the way to hit at its greatest enemy, the United States, is by helping the terrorists go nuclear. As for N. Korea itself, too much is made of its lack of reliable and long-range nuclear tipped missiles. Come now, there are many ways to deliver nuclear weapons without a missile (beside which the source of a missile is easy to track). How about exploding one hidden in a freighter off the port of New York?

The “Peace” of Nuclear Nonproliferation

March 12, 2009

[First published August 2, 2005] Several days ago I came across such an egregious blindness to the democratic peace that I dragged the offending article to my desktop for its display on my blog. So I thought. But I can’t find it there or on the net.

So, from memory, a columnist obviously concerned about nuclear proliferation asked a presumed authority about the ahistorical peace in Europe since the end of World War II (ignoring the violence resulting from the breakup of Yugoslavia) and whether it was related to nonproliferation. The answer was yes, this was one of the reasons.

No, this peace couldn’t be because all Europe is democratic. Excuse me, but doesn’t France and Britain have nukes. And anyway, these weapons and the deterrent strategy of the United States surely were responsible for keeping the peace with the Soviet Union. The United States refused to declare no first use of its nukes so that they could be used defensively in case of a massive Soviet Invasion of Europe.

Here we have a strong case for the actual existence of nuclear weapons possibly saving us all from a nuclear War.

And since the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the universalization of democracy in Europe, has nonproliferation in Europe beyond Britain and France kept the peace? No, and if one is going to be ridiculous, one could also argue that it is Britain’s and France’s arsenal that has kept the peace since then.

Truth to tell, I have to throw up my hands in frustration. How can the role of democracy be missed? It goes beyond something in the water. It must be an ideological unwillingness to accept this truth, much like the left’s unwillingness to accept the power of the free market.

Link of Note

“Al-Qaida nukes already in U.S.” (7/11/05) From WorldNet Daily.com

It says:

According to captured al-Qaida leaders and documents, the plan is called the “American Hiroshima” and involves the multiple detonation of nuclear weapons already smuggled into the U.S. over the Mexican border with the help of the MS-13 street gang and other organized crime groups.

Al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union – including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition, documents captured in Afghanistan show al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.

Democratic Peace

What To Do About Nukes?

January 31, 2009

[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.

Never Again Series