The Nuclear Threat

Ever since I can remember, the world has lived in fear of one side or another using nuclear weapons. At school in the 1950s, we had air-raid drills; hiding under desks, facing away from the windows. As if that would have made any difference, if a nuclear bomb had actually struck central London, some two miles from where I was concealed under my old desk, in a school built during the Victorian era. We had seen the result of the American attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and these new bombs were many times more powerful.

At the time, there were few countries capable of using such weapons. The Soviet Union was the presumed enemy during the Cold War, and Britain had been given the means to retaliate too, by America. The French had also tested atomic bombs in the Pacific, so it was safe to assume that only four countries had these bombs in their possession. We are now in 2018, and that list of countries has not grown significantly. As well as Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel are all known to have the potential to launch nuclear weapons. And if you believe the propaganda by both sides, (I don’t) North Korea may well have a viable delivery system too.

Then there is the issue of ‘sharing’. That sounds very cosy, given what is being shared. The USA has ‘shared’ the option to launch nuclear weapons with Turkey, Belgium, Holland, Italy, and Germany. This basically consists of the USA siting weapons in those countries, then deciding whether or not to fire them. There are also countries that once had nuclear weapons, but apparently no longer have any; South Africa, Canada, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. One thing we can be sure of, there are a lot of nuclear bombs and missiles out there.

By using published figures, there are 14,900 nuclear missiles and bombs stored around the world. That’s more than enough to wipe out the human race, many times over. Probably enough to not only eradicate all life on Earth, but also to destroy the very fabric of the planet. When we read about the nuclear threat, it is generally in terms of a supposedly limited conflict. The US has hinted that it will use them against the DPRK, should their leader fire rockets at US bases, South Korea, or Japan. But the DPRK has a border with China, so involving the Chinese could not be avoided. India and Pakistan square up against each other all the time, and have been in conflict since 1947. But both sides know that using nuclear weapons would also be self-destructive, so have never launched any. For Israel to use them against their near-neighbours would also result in disaster for their own country, so they are almost certainly not going to launch any.

For almost sixty years, I have lived in the shadow of this Nuclear Threat. The Cold War, The Cuban Missile Crisis, and many other supposed ‘near misses’ over the decades. I have finally decided that nobody will use them. It doesn’t make economic sense, and money rules the world. I stopped living in fear of the Nuclear Threat, and concluded that it is just that. A threat.

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40 comments

  1. 2581john

    I guess I am arriving late to this thread Pete. Like everyone else, I agree with MAD preventing what we understand as a ‘conventional nuclear war’ but I think the nature of nuclear weapons has changed. Depleted Uranium bombs shells and bullets are now normal. NATO, during the Clinton administration dropped tonnes of them in the Balkans. They have been used so significantly in all the recent Gulf Wars that there are now hundreds of locations with significant problems caused by radioactive weapons. Apparently, Basra has some of the most affected sites. At least they’ve found a handy way to dispose of nuclear waste!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      True mate, depleted uranium ordnance does figure on the Geiger counters, but I am talking about multi-megaton airbursts above capital cities like London. I think that’s still highly unlikely.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Like

  2. jamesbenny

    The international struggle of nuclear disarmament would be forever unsuccessful as long as one portion of the world feels unjustly dominated by the other. And I do believe the west is responsible for that ie. They don’t do what they preach.

    Like

    • beetleypete

      Thanks for adding your opinion, James. I think it is rather too late now, to lay the blame on any side. They are all equally to blame for the proliferation of nuclear weapons, though it was the western allies in WW2 that used them of course.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  3. Woebegone but Hopeful

    I agree with you fully Pete. Built into the Nuclear option is the certain knowledge that leaders would suffer too, after all in a wasteland who will bring them comforts and luxuries, they also might get killed themselves.
    It’s easy to send others off to wars far away to die for your vanities, fear or mistakes, but quite another thing, if you are going to be on the business end. And that would not do.
    Because of their fearsomeness there is a terrible twisted logic about nuclear weapons. We must have more in case they have, so they know, we have more than them and they can’t get all of ours and so on. Thus Europe and the USA lived under a cosy and also neurotic security…no wars here, we know what will happen.
    This was, of course tough on all the places where The USA, USSR and China squared up to each in proxy conventional wars. Cold War era?….Not really.
    In the meantime ‘we’ all keep them, just in case, because ‘you never know’.
    (I wonder which of the US’ agencies has the responsibility for ‘incapacitating’ Trump if he tries to fool around with the nuclear codes?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      Thanks for your thoughts, Roger. I reckon we must be of a similar age and background. I see younger people in dread of some imminent nuclear war based on events in the DPRK or Iran, and I just cannot see that happening. I sought to offer that as a positive idea, but I fear I have annoyed some people!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Woebegone but Hopeful

        That’s folks for you Pete. Not happy unless it’s bad news.
        The trouble is Pete, in my opinion; these days (we all say it don’t we?). We have a proliferation of media outlets professional and amateur and too many pundits who have a Chicken Licken fixation.
        1951:I was born and like you grew up in the shadow of the Bomb, then I started to read military and political histories and learnt about M.A.D and as you did experienced the Cuban Incident.
        Sure it might happen. Anything might happen.
        Trump could try and seize the UK as an outpost. WE could go to war with France. The UK could fall apart in a Balkan-style Civil War. We could end up as a subsidiary of China Inc. If Prince C becomes king Charles III could declare he has now faith in Parliament and raise his standard at Oxford. They are all possible. Probable, that’s another question.
        Nuclear War? Nope. Massive tectonic event. New plague. Collapse of farming. Run-away pollution. Death by a thousand cuts of small conventional wars. Big rock from Outer Space. Now those I can ‘scare the horses’ with.
        And best wishes to you to Pete, keep up the good work.
        Roger

        Liked by 1 person

  4. toritto

    I’d feel better without Trump Pete. I would hope there are enough adults in the room to remove him at the WH if he orders a nuclear strike because some North Korean kid soldier fired a couple of rounds across the DMZ! Best.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Eddy Winko

    Whilst most people would prefer a quick death? it seems the world has decided upon a slow drawn out affair, we don’t need nukes to bring it to an end, although the closer it gets the more likely the button pressing will start. I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime either, but there will have to be some serious changes for it not to happen in my children’s time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      Thanks for your thoughts Eddy. I really don’t see it happening now, or in your kid’s lifetimes either. If it was going to happen, I’m sure it would have done so already mate. The tensions during the early part of the Cold war were far more extreme. As for a drawn out situation with climate change, pollution, etc, that is another thing entirely.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

      • Eddy Winko

        You say that Pete, but I think that climate change will be the driver. As populations shift and resources, such as water, dwindle then there will be new motives to protect or expand. I hope of course my thoughts are misguided, I’m an optimist after all 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Doug (FPS/DougLite.com)

    You are correct, Pete. Many people tend to lament about having to have lived under the nuclear threat of the Cold War years and beyond when in fact that was a very stable period which kept us out of the threat of nuclear war. The threat got much worse with the fall of the Soviet Union and the sudden breakdown of security of nuclear weapons and military going-out-of-business sales. I was always concerned in those days (also echoed in the Clooney/Kidman movie, “The Peacemaker”… I fear more the man who only wants one nuclear device and not ten.
    Our bozo president fails to understand broader ramifications of his impulsive knee-jerk admonitions about Pakistan. He surely hasn’t stopped to consider that the long term security of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into some coup elements and ending up in the hands of Muslim extremists in the area (any number of whacked groups.. not just Isis and Al Queada). Part of the reason we send money there is to help insure some friendliness and security is maintained regarding security of their nukes. I understand we have contingency plans sitting around to “rescue” nuke security if their local government control goes to hell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      Thanks, Doug. I think it is highly unlikely that the western powers would allow the nukes in Pakistan to be taken over by any extremist group. I have no doubt that those contingency plans you mention are well prepared.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

  7. greenpete58

    “I have finally decided that nobody will use them.”

    I sincerely hope you’re right. But I have kids and grandkids who are inheriting this planet, and I’m not as sanguine about human nature as you. Too many times we’ve seen the “It can’t happen here” philosophy upended.

    Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      Thanks for reading, and for your comment, Pete. All I can say is that it hasn’t happened in the 65 years I have been alive, and I really see no reason why it should happen in the future. I don’t know if I am right in that assertion, as it is of course just my opinion.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

      • greenpete58

        The TITANIC was called “unsinkable.” It sank on its maiden voyage. WWI was “the war to end all wars.” Twenty years later Germany started a second world war. Do you really think that, just because you’ve lived 65 years, nobody will ever use nuclear weapons, particularly with the shortsighted juveniles that are now governing our nations?? You can’t be that naïve. Sixty-five years is a blip on the radar screen. YOU may leave this planet before a nuclear attack happens, but what about future generations?

        Liked by 1 person

    • beetleypete

      I do still think that nobody will use them, which is just my opinion. If you think they will, then you are entitled to that opinion too.
      I would sooner there had never been any, but that was beyond my control. I spent time campaigning against them in the past, and trying to get them removed from Britain at least, to no avail. As for future generations, they should keep protesting, and become involved in politics, as I did for most of my life. They won’t change anything by ignoring the issue, that’s for sure.
      Other than that, they have to take their own chances in an uncertain world, just as I have had to, and millions of others like me.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      • greenpete58

        Pete, I didn’t say that I “think they will” use nuclear weapons. I only said that it’s naïve to believe that it will never happen. I also feel we have a responsibility to future generations, not just to our own. Saying “Hey kids, don’t worry, it’ll never happen” is reckless and irresponsible. Your comment “they have to take their own chances” is very cold.

        But peace on you.

        Liked by 1 person

      • beetleypete

        I was only answering your point about future generations. As for my ‘Pollyanna’ thoughts, that may be what you think they are, but I still doubt anyone will ever be foolish enough to unleash a widespread nuclear conflict. If I am right, then those future generations won’t have to protest, and hopefully will live without fear of such things. If I am wrong, there’s not much I can do about it anyway. I am trying to see the positives in life. I started that in 2017, and I am continuing during this year too. The alternative may be to think about building shelters, or planning how to cope in some post-apocalyptic future.
        I can see we have no area for agreement on this issue, Pete. But I really do appreciate you taking the time to air your views, which are of course just as important as anything I have to say.
        Best wishes, Pete.

        Like

    • beetleypete

      I tried to help those future generations by protesting and campaigning. But the hard truth of life is that we all come into this world having to take our own chances. Imagine how I felt, taking part in air raid drills at the age of 7, and being terrified that nuclear Armageddon was going to happen any day. Life is hard, and future generations have to be prepared to speak up for issues that affect them.
      Let’s hope it will be peace for all of us. Naive or not, I think it will.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

      • greenpete58

        I don’t disagree that “future generations have to be prepared to speak up for issues that affect them.” But the crux of your blog post is that there will never be nuclear warfare (for various reasons). And now you say that it’s up to future generations to prevent nuclear warfare, like you did, by protesting and campaigning?

        You’re contradicting yourself. If there will never be nuclear warfare, like you claim, why should future generations even bother? If a young and impressionable person reads your Pollyanna-ish essay, what do you expect their takeaway to be? I’m not being a downer here, and feeling optimistic about the future is nice, but you’re naïve if you think nuclear warfare will never happen only because it hasn’t happened in your 65 years. There are still survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ask them what they think.

        Liked by 1 person

      • greenpete58

        Pete, there’s nothing wrong with “trying to see the positives in life.” But you can be positive about things without also throwing caution to the wind. I don’t expect my house will ever catch fire, but I’ve got smoke alarms and a fire extinguisher just in case. I don’t expect everyone, including me, to “(think) about building shelters,” or to continually campaign or protest. But claiming that “nobody will use them” is reckless and foolish and makes us less safe, if for only a drop. Too many drops can bring a rainstorm, and too powerful a rainstorm can cause a flood. Don’t think it can’t happen, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. lobotero

    There you are….cash rules and nothing change that or cease the flow of cash……you are right….keep in mind that Trump wants to give nuke tech to the Saudis and their allies…..I don’t believe the propaganda either…..NK is an excuse……chuq

    Liked by 1 person

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