U.S. Nuclear Policy, Explained

The U.S. is the only country on the planet to have used nuclear weapons. Which somehow gives it the moral authority to dictate which countries can be trusted with nuclear weapons. This makes sense somehow.

17 thoughts on “U.S. Nuclear Policy, Explained

  1. Yet there are still among us a number of people who believe that the two atomic bombs brought an end to the war and saved countless lives, while the fact is that Japan was trying to negotiate a surrender, knowing that they had lost.

    Murdering civilians is not the way to win wars — but it persists. I question: WHY?

    • > I question: WHY?

      ‘cuz vengeance. Those dirty nips DARED attack us and we had to show ’em who was boss. They are so discourteous as to be different than us, which makes civilian casualties insignificant anyway.

      Same deal in the ME today.

    • The bombing of two Japanese cities was, in part, a scientific experiment. Most of Japan had been bombed into rubble so dropping bombs on targets that were already destroyed would not have sufficiently demonstrated signal (blast effect) to noise (rubble bounced) in the desired ratio.

      Seventy major cities in Japan had already been destroyed by fire bombing and conventional bombing, so targets that had no military value at all, cities that were pristine, had to be selected to demonstrate, with maximum signal to noise ratio, the effect of the atomic bomb.

      Plus, Russia was about to invade Japan after the USSR’s very recent declaration of war, and in order to forestall that invasion, the atomic bombing provided a spectacle of violence, a terror for the hated Russians to contemplate before initiating their invasion.

      • … we put all that time & money into Little Boy and Fat Man – it would be a shame not to use them …

      • Therein is the perverse shame of property valued over the lives of people in the cities without military value, this demonstrated by the fact that during the entire war the existence of these cities was ignored, and an attack on them considered to be a waste of conventional bombardment, their presence found to be useful only as a demonstration of US savage indifference to the lives of those alien to us, and only after the war was, in effect, already over.

        Even Eisenhower, the man who knew war, spoke against this inhumane savagery.

      • With regard to the question of what was the most important influence on Japanese policy makers’ decision to accept the stipulations of the Potsdam declaration and surrender, Professor Hasegawa’s Japan Focus article will repay careful study. Note also that the Russian declaration of war on Japan on 9 August 1945 and subsequent invasion of Japanese-controlled territories in Northeast China (Manchuria) and Korea took place in accordance with an agreement reached with the US and the UK at Yalta earlier that year ; the Soviets had first proposed entering the war against Japan within six months after the German surrender, but agreed under US and British pressure to shorten the period for transferring troops from the Western front to the East to three months….

        As Ted notes, the US remains the only country to have used these weapons in war, dropping them, as was usual with bombings in WW II – and later wars on Korea and Indochina, respectively – on civilian populations without discrimination. Moreover, the US is in the process of devoting some one million million (10¹²) USD over the next three decades (thank you, Mr Obama !) to upgrading its nuclear arsenal. Those who find that this latter corresponds rather poorly to that country’s obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which commits it (and others9 to « pursu[ing] negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament …» (nota bene : the Treaty came into effect on 5 March 1970 : so much for an «early date») have my sympathies….


  2. When I could post on gocomics, I was invited to join a group. I posted an article by Gar Alperovitz that the US was not justified in nuking Japan. The person who posts on gocomics with the name Baslim said Gar Alperovitz was a proven liar.

    I challenged Baslim, and two of his supporters who post as martens and Da Ruff demanded that I be expelled from the group, since Baslim is the greatest expert on everything, so if Baslim said the US was justified in nuking Japan, that Truman saved millions of Japanese lives by nuking Japan, then it was obviously true, and only an idiot (or an evil person) would question this obvious fact. Baslim said there was no point in posting the proof, since everyone who knew anything knew the US would never have nuked Japan were it not justified, and if Truman said it saved millions of lives, then it obviously saved millions of lives, and this could not be questioned by any reasonable person.

    The person with the administrator password didn’t ban me, but everyone stopped reading anything I posted, since anyone who disagreed with Baslim was obviously wrong about everything.

    (A link to a typical Gar Alperovitz article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gar-alperovitz/obama-hiroshima-bomb_b_10067434.html )

    • I have argued that the US has executed, in blast and radioactive equivalent, a nuclear war in Iraq.

      If hundreds of tons of depleted uranium were dispersed by blast in any American city, that city would become all but unlivable except for the otherwise impoverished, those who now live at death’s door and who would relish the fine but radioactive accommodations left behind by the previously non-homeless inhabitants.

      • Little lumps of DU laying around, leftover bomblets from cluster bombs that look just like cans of food, unexploded ordnance, land mines, etc. Sometimes gases disperse to be carried downwind in diluted form; sometimes they precipitate out and cling to nearby objects.

        Every once in while someone in London comes across and explosive leftover from WW II.

        It seems that war is so immediately important that we can disregard any consequences down the line. (and, as I noted above, it’s gonna be “them” who suffer anyway…)

  3. Once again, I am unable to find a complete Heinlein quote. Proffessor de la Paz in the Moon is a Harsh Mistress is explaining his opinions on weapons, he states

    “The police of a state should never be stronger or better armed than the citizenry. An armed citizenry, willing to fight, is the foundation of civil freedom. That’s a personal evaluation, of course.”

    The person he’s talking to asks something about The Bomb, and he replies

    “My point is that one person is responsible, Always. If H-bombs exist–and they do–some man controls them. In terms of morals there is no such thing as ‘state’. Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts.”

    So, yeah, SOMEbody’s got their finger on the button. Who’s to say Trump is a better pick than I, myself?

    • “The police of a state should never be stronger or better armed than the citizenry. An armed citizenry, willing to fight, is the foundation of civil freedom. That’s a personal evaluation, of course.”

      Elaine Scarry make the same argument in her book “Thermonuclear Monarchy”.

      • In this incisive, masterfully argued new book, award-winning social theorist Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon―a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War―deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

        According to the Constitution, the decision to go to war requires rigorous testing by both Congress and the citizenry; when a leader can single-handedly decide to deploy a nuclear weapon, we live in a state of “thermonuclear monarchy,” not democracy.

  4. What makes sense is that a non-allied country’s nuclear weapons are an effective deterrent to one of our honorable/humanitarian invasions. (Remember how hard weapons inspectors worked to assure Bush/Cheney that NO weapons existed in Iraq that might inconveniently spoil his prancing about the deck of an aircraft carrier in his characteristically infantile display of pilot porn.)

    We’ll have NON of THAT sense spreading around the globe in the same way that we crush local eruptions of populist democracy, “national interests” different from our own, refusal to relinquish precious natural resources to those cuddly corporate predators and general disobedience to the commands of the empire.

    • I remember the termination of inspections in Iraq because they would have interfered with the planned schedule of attack, as well as I remember the termination of vote counting in 2000 because continuation would have interfered with an arbitrary deadline imposed by the Constitution.

      How I hate Democrats for not being the opposition party they advertise themselves to be.

      (I will never forget how the Democrats let the Republicans steal the Supreme Court seat from them even though they would have put someone more suitable as a Republican choice than an opposition party’s choice.)

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