Some people ask why America can have nuclear weapons while other countries can’t. Isn’t this a double standard? Yes it is, but America can’t un-invent the nuclear weapons it already has. It could of course scrap them tomorrow and trust leaders like Kim Jong Un and Valdimir Putin to do the same. It would also have to trust Ahmadinejad not to develop them in the first place. Whether you can trust such men depends largely on your world view. Liberals generally trust all non-westerners because this is how they have been educated and they see anti-Americanism as a virtue, as though they were fighting for the little man, the underdog. In reality it is just the same old prejudiced preference for one group over another, just with the novelty of seeing everything done by your own side in the worst possible light while bending over backwards to give the other side the benefit of the doubt.
Personally I think it would be rash for America to get rid of its nuclear weapons in the hope that other countries will never use theirs to threaten America or any other country. If it were to ditch them it would immediately be at the mercy of any country who had retained, could build or buy nuclear weapons off the shelf, including non-state actors like Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. This would be a bad thing, not only for America but for most civilised countries. After all, many democratic countries, including all of western Europe and Japan, rely on America’s protection. After World War II Western European countries pretty much handed over their defense to America so that they could spend their budgets on lavish welfare programs instead of weapons. These programs turned many once responsible citizens into whining, state-dependent cretins.
America provides the most aid to countries in need, as well as putting much of its expertise at the disposal of the world. When there is a disaster it is America that turns up first. It is probably the most benevolent super-power the world has ever seen, despite what resentful cultural Marxists claim. These are the same silly people who claim that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians. The truth is that Israel could kill every last Palestinian tomorrow if it so chose. Instead it goes to great lengths to minimize casualties among Palestinian civilians while targetting the terrorists who are doing everything they can to kill every last man, woman and Israeli child. For this the Israelis get no thanks.
I am pleased that Israel probably has nuclear weapons. Just having them is enough to make its noisy neighbours think twice about attacking it again. Nuclear weapons are necessary for Israel in a way that they aren’t for, say, Wales. The Welsh can rest assured that England and Scotland aren’t going to attack them any time soon. The Israelis on the other hand would be foolish to trust Iran and Islamic terrorist groups not to attack it. Israel’s strength is the only thing keeping it in existence.
There are plenty of westerners who simply can’t wait for the day that America falls from its position as top dog and Obama is doing his best to accommodate these people. Yet I think they should think long and hard about what a future run by the Chi-coms, Putin or any Islamic country would look like. And a world lead by no country would be worst of all. It would be like a city from which the police have fled, leaving ordinary people to fend for themselves against roving gangs. If America is not going to play policeman of the world, who is? The UN? Don’t make me laugh!
Most people agree that the fewer countries that possess nuclear weapons the better, and although it is unfortunate that half a dozen countries already have them, it would be good if countries that don’t yet have them continue to do without them. There is, after all, an international agreement to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons and most countries signed up to this, including Iran, though it now looks set to renege on that promise. This frightens not only Israel but other neighbouring countries, including Saudi Arabia, which now has to consider also going down the nuclear road. The Saudi Arabs trust America not to bomb them but they don’t trust Iran and this proliferation of nuclear weapons strikes many people, including me, as a bad development.
One reason I don’t mind America having nuclear weapons is for the same reason that I don’t mind policemen being armed. This doesn’t mean that I trust all policemen absolutely. I just think it is better that the police has more power than criminals, otherwise they can’t do their job. Some people dislike this distinction between good and bad countries, responsible and irresponsible, and think it smacks of racism. They believe that countries like America, Britain and France are just as likely to use a nuclear weapon aggressively as North Korea, Pakistan and Iran. I disagree. And yes, I know, America is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in a war by dropping two atomic bombs on Japan. However, it was a different era, the war in the Pacific had been raging for years and 7,000 American soldiers were dying a week with no sign of the Japanese giving up any time soon. Not dropping the bombs would have meant the deaths of more Americans and Japanese through conventional weapons and things would have dragged on indefinitely. And I say this in spite of the fact that I live in Japan and the majority of my friends are Japanese. Many of them admit that Japan was ultimately responsible for the disaster that befell it. Strangely the people who go on and on about how terrible it was to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki often have nothing to say about the fire-bombing of Tokyo which killed around 100,000 people, mostly civilians. This figure isn’t much smaller than the number of people who died as a result of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.
I agree that allowing some countries to keep their nuclear weapons while others make do with conventional weapons is a double standard, just as it is a double standard that adults can drive cars but children can’t and Japanese sushi chefs are allowed to handle sharp knives while residents of mental asylums aren’t. Yet this is a double standard that only people obsessed with egalitarianism would quarrel with. Such people believe that religious maniacs and demagogues who misrule their countries are to be trusted to the same degree as the leaders of stable democracies. After all, they say, aren’t David Cameron and Robert Mugabe both men and aren’t Britain and Zimbabwe both countries? To look any closer than this strikes some people as racist.
Other people sigh exasperatedly and wearily explain, as though talking to an especially stupid donkey, ‘But of course you feel like that. You are a westerner! But you have to realise that Iranians and North Koreans feel exactly the same way’.
I do realise. Yet you could make the same argument about anything. I think that Berlin is the capital of Germany and water is H₂O yet there may be some fool somewhere who believes that the German capital is Frankfurt and that water is H3O. I believe I am right and the madman believes he is right and the cultural relativist scolds me, ‘But don’t you see? He also thinks he’s right! What makes you privilege your view over his?’
The obvious answer is that I privilege my view precisely because it is mine. The less obvious answer is that the existence of a difference of opinion does not mean that both parties are equally right or wrong. Some questions have a right and wrong answer and whether Iran should have nuclear weapons might be such a question. I discuss all of this nonsense here. Thus someone with no dog in the race, say some Martian up in space looking down at the Earth through a telescope might say, ‘I couldn’t care less about the fate of that blue planet down there but those desert countries sure look volatile to me. They’re always fighting! I don’t understand why those richer, stabler and militarily stronger countries are just standing by while the desert people arm themselves with destructive technology, ready to square up to the civilised ones. How strange. Anyway, turn the telescope and let’s see what’s going on on Venus’.
The truth is that if I were an educated Iranian or North Korean I would be scared to death that my government was developing nuclear weapons because I would know that they couldn’t be trusted with them. Yet if I were an Islamic fundamentalist or an indoctrinated North Korean nationalist then I would want my government to go toe-to-toe with the evil American Imperialists. But I’m not, so I don’t.
Even if all countries did away with their nuclear weapons tomorrow we would still be left with conventional weapons of ever increasing power, including chemical weapons. And isn’t it deadly weapons that we are trying to get rid of, regardless of whether these are nuclear or not? Just as destroying all guns would lead to an increase in knife crime and strangulation, so limiting nuclear weapons would almost certainly lead to an escalation in smaller wars with conventional weapons. The existence of nuclear weapons is almost certainly why the stand-off between America and the USSR after World War Two remained a cold war rather than developing into a hot one. Perhaps those weapons are at this very moment keeping some aggressive nation in check but we just don’t realise it because it is hard to see wars not happening.
I’d be the first person to admit that my preferred course of action of keeping a precarious balance of power in favour of the West is a less than ideal solution and thus very easy to criticise. What is more difficult is to come up with a better solution. If anyone thinks they have one, please write to Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang.