Avoiding Hiroshima

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima. I hope it will help refocus people’s minds on the importance of getting rid of the threat of nuclear and other weapons, although recent events are not very promising. I wrote in this entry about how efforts towards disarmament seem to have stalled, and even fallen out of fashion in recent years, despite the major danger still presented by weapons proliferation. It seems like the so-called ‘war on terror’ has driven a focus on intelligence and military solutions, rather than also pursuing greater security through better disarmament measures.

There is compelling evidence that the fewer guns are around, the safer a community is, yet we don’t seem to apply that logic on a global level. A report from the Worldwatch Institute outlines the proliferation of arms being continually manufactured and sold by nations around the world. To pick one statistic: – “Annual production of military-calibre small arms ammunition alone is believed to be in the range of 10–14 billion rounds—or roughly one-and a- half to two bullets for every living person on Earth.”

However, even at the level of weapons of mass destruction, things seem to be going backwards in a big way. George Monbiot in The Guardian outlines how “in just a few months, Bush and Blair have destroyed global restraint on the development of nuclear weapons.” It is bad enough that this is happening, but what is possibly worse is that these developments, such as the recent nuclear treaty between the USA and India, draw so little negative comment. It seems that it is being seen as an inevitable part of global ‘realpolitik’, but I believe it is a very dangerous development.

PS I found the Monbiot story through The Daily Briefing, which I recommend as providing a very good selection of articles from magazines and newspapers around the world (those written in English anyway).

Some other suggestions of good Hiroshima-related reading:
– a reading list of some of the best books on nuclear weapons from The Washington Post;
– the BBC provides a summary of the arguments surrounding the decision to drop the bomb;
– a Professor of nuclear physics writes on what may have been learned – good and bad – from Hiroshima.

(I got all these articles through “The Reader”, which is the weekly summary of articles provided to Crikey subscribers)

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  1. Having just become a working man before uni next year, I could really use a WMD on my head right now.
    I shudder to think of the work load of a Senator, must be five times the work of an ordinary customer service officer.

  2. Hi Senator:
    In putting forward your views on disarmament, are you dismissing the views of someone like Kenneth Waltz (who argued that the more nuclear weapons we have, the safer we will be) just out of hand?
    A link to Waltz’s argument is here (http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/waltz1.htm). I would be interested to know what you think of waltz’s ideas.
    Best wishes,
    Dylan Kissane

  3. Andrew.
    Thanks for posting this issue and I endorse your comments.
    I note that Iran is to go ahead with its nuclear program and that is a worry.
    I clearly remember what our Australian Defence Force personnel went through whilst serving in Japan.

  4. Dylan
    Thanks for the link. It’s always useful to see alternative arguments.
    However, I can’t say I agree with his logic. Whilst it was written in the cold war era, I can see the line of argument being taken, and most of it would still apply in the current post-Soviet era. But the trouble with nukes – even more than any other weapon – is it really only takes one slip and there can be massively serious consequences.
    The ‘logic’ being used by some of the current leaders of various nations to justify various actions doesn’t fill me with confidence that we are terribly safe with an expanding nuclear arsenal.
    Given the direct experience of people like Robert McNamara – not just with the weaponry but with the psychology of world leaders and what happens in times of international tension – I’m much more inclined to go with his views (see http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/050505B.shtml) that relying on nuclear weapons as a foreign-policy and defence tool is “immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous.” (not to mention bloody expensive)

  5. Take hand guns for instance, the only purpose a hand gun has is to kill someone. Whereas a rifle does have legitimate purposes such killing animals.
    Oh wait, I see the flaws in my logic.

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