Would a World Without Nuclear Weapons Be More or Less Secure?

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Nuclear weapons are the deadliest weapon ever created by the human being, “Western newspapers struggled to explain how thousands of American, British and Canadian scientists had managed to harness the power of the sun to such deadly effect” , becoming weapons of mass annihilation. Though, do they provide us security? It’s true that they can provide nuclear deterrence, but can they actually physically protect us against a nuclear attack? The answer is no. Thus, possessing them doesn’t make us any safer. In fact, if nuclear weapons fall on hands of inadequate people like terrorists, or are employed by accident and miscalculations; effects can be lethal and irreversible. John F. Kennedy said, “The world was not meant to be a prison in which man awaits his execution”. Living in the seventh decade of the Nuclear Age, with nuclear weapons more broadly available, deterrence is decreasing while increasing danger. Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in January 2007: “It is becoming clearer that nuclear weapons are no longer a means of achieving security; in fact, with every passing year they make our security more precarious”. Nuclear weapons can also be thought of as ‘military equalizers’, making a country think twice about attacking. Often giving a nation a false sense of security. For instance, they did become essential in maintaining international security during the Cold War because there were a means of deterrence. However, if deterrence fails, even if its only one nuclear weapon; the world would be instantly facing catastrophe. Hence, deterrence is not a viable solution, especially when threats such as terrorism cannot be deterred by nuclear weapons. Nuclear deterrence being a psychological phenomenon and as such, inherently unstable, destabilizes political relationships by endorsing mistrust, hostility and arms racing. Nonetheless, some researchers argue that the bomb may actually make us safer. As Kenneth Waltz said “We now have 64 years of experience since Hiroshima. It’s striking and against all historical precedent that for that substantial period, there has not been any war among nuclear states”. Reflecting that although some leaders may be venal, unwise or evil, they tend to act rationally and take sensible decisions. For instance, taking war as an example, a country will only start a fight when it’s certain that the benefits it will obtain exceeds the costs involved. So if two nations possess the ability to turn the other to ashes just with one single move, not even the maddest leader would deny that war with a nuclear state is unwinnable, thus, pointless. “Not even Hitler or Saddam waged wars they didn’t think they could win.” Moreover, taking a look to the Cuban Missile Crisis back in 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union constantly threaten each other with irreversible destruction, coming to the border of having a nuclear war. Fortunately, both stepped back when they realised that both of them would end up with serious catastrophic consequences. As Soviet Nikita Khrushchev’s aide Fyodor Burlatsky said: “It is impossible to win a nuclear war, and both sides realized that, maybe for the first time”. Ever since then, a pattern could be seen in the timeline; nuclear-armed enemies would slide toward war but eventually would pull back, always for the same cause, the cost to pay were higher than anything . However, even if this pattern has been held in the past, we cannot always rely on it now and in the future. “Getting weapons does not always bring security as it can have unanticipated consequences”. Nuclear weapons are deadly weapons, irreversible and the world cannot afford even one mistake. All it takes is one mistake to create catastrophe. Also, it is assumed that leaders are highly rational; so none of them would be crazy enough to actually use nuclear weapons. Being proven wrong when such rational leaders used nuclear weapons in war, against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Robert McNamara, who has participated in three...
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