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The Atomic Lie
or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb
Our entire lives we have been taught to live in fear of nuclear war, which is of course a seemingly reasonable thing to fear. Really, being bombed by anything at all is surely terrifying. But quite specifically in the entire post-WW2 era, foreign policy has been based on the idea that we have entered a new era where old rules don’t apply, because of the power of this specific weapon. I admit I myself believed this until a few years ago, and had an actual emotional breakdown after a round of severe saber-rattling regarding…was it the Trump admin bombing a Russian base in Syria? To be honest, the constant irresponsible behavior of the government is hard for even me to track and I was upset my wife was out of town and drunk all weekend.
Regardless, we’ve all been told our whole lives that if the bombs fly we will all be dead. We’ve all played Fallout and seen post-apocalyptic tv shows and portrayals of nuclear winter. But there is a massive logical problem here, say what you will about how much more powerful they’ve become: they tested a ton of atomic bombs for several decades. It’s obviously the case that some atomic bombs going off does not doom all of humanity. Really, what has gone on is that the US and the USSR both set the policy of “Mutually Assured Destruction”, appropriately known as MAD, to prevent any use of atomic bombs. Instead of agreeing to not destroy the world if an atomic bomb should fly, they promised to.
But the thing is, it is only that way because they choose to do that. The truth is that the use of an atomic bomb does not automatically lead to a global apocalypse, it is simply the USG’s policy to unleash an apocalypse should anyone use an atomic bomb. This was an extremely base and immoral policy for several reasons. Most importantly, it is clear to any sane person that it’s better we should all die than take part in ending humanity. This is actually not a difficult decision for anyone with a modicum of virtue. And the USSR also didn’t want nuclear war. They had no reason to start one. The US could have done much more for its standing in the world by announcing a policy of not simultaneously launching enough nuclear missiles to destroy life on Earth if the Soviets also launch them. You’ve simply been indoctrinated your whole life to think that this insane policy is necessary and inevitable. [While we’re at it, they absolutely could have chosen to just not do the Cold War.]
This lie serves a few different purposes. Most importantly, it terrifies the population of the whole world. People are much easier to control when they have a huge degree of anxiety about problems beyond their control, such as they’ve done with the youngest generation in making them think they won’t have a future due to global warming. Another key purpose is non-proliferation gives the world powers much larger excuses to meddle in the affairs of other countries than they actually deserve to have, and it allows them to paint every tin-pot dictator as if he is a madman who wishes to destroy the world and as if they’re the heroes saving us all. As ever, a cartoonish portrayal of good and evil is used to control and manipulate the stupid [at least this aspect of this lie never worked on me personally.]
But, and this is what got me to the greatest extent and what I’ve had to work the hardest to unlearn: they want you to believe everything changed. That is to say, that no aspect of the post-1945 world order can ever be returned to while these weapons exist. That historical examples are now irrelevant. They are trying to indefinitely extend the post-WW2 peace in which they are beneficiaries, but no peace can last forever and it’s obvious that when everyone of that generation has died along with it goes the justification for the world being governed by the winner of a war that ended 75+ years ago.
While the atomic bomb is drastic, it really isn’t that much different from anything else that was used throughout history. Once upon a time, elephants were the great new innovation in warfare, and the Romans enforced a prohibition on other states possessing them. I mean yes, the bomb does kill a lot of people rapidly, but two of the largest mass casualty events in human history are separate instances of dams being intentionally blown up in China for purposes of warfare. It certainly shocks our modern sensibilities that everyone in a city should be killed, but historically this happened in various forms quite commonly, though the rules of war would usually dictate that only military aged free males be put to the sword while women, children, and slaves are taken as slaves. If you’ve ever read the Bible or ancient histories you would know this is a common thing, and indeed Polybius actually criticizes historians who sensationalize the hardships of those whose cities are taken, saying that this is simply what is acceptable under the rules of war.
But, other times, driven by rage, whole cities have been wiped out in the course of a day with all of the inhabitants slaughtered. The atomic bomb is more efficient and cities are larger now, but this isn’t actually any sort of new innovation in warfare.
It has been argued that atomic bombs make people sick, and thus that is different from conventional warfare. However, pestilence is the constant companion of war and it is also well established that dealing with a mass of dead humans and animals, being under siege, lacking resources, and all other aspects of warfare also have a severely deleterious impact on health [not to mention, like, getting shot.]
It is said the environmental damage is something new and unprecedented, but when the Romans besieged Jerusalem over time they cut down all the trees within many miles for firewood and to make siege equipment, and the forest literally never grew back. [If you’ve ever wondered how Israel could be called a land of milk and honey, it is that it was forested before the Romans, to borrow Tacitus’ phrase, quite literally “made a desert and called it peace.”] The negative environmental impact of war has been established since antiquity.
What, then, is so different about the atomic bomb? It is simply the evilness of the current world powers. This is no different from if the CCP were to tell the public they intend to blow the Three Gorges Dam during any uprising. It’s simply a threat from evil people in the position to make the threat. And of course, this isn’t anything new, the consequences of rising up against world powers have always been this same thing, the only difference is scale.
So what is to be done? The nuclear stockpile that is enough to destroy everything can be massively reduced, and the USG can make a policy to only retaliate against legitimate military targets in the event of an attack. Obviously, nuclear bombs are not precision weapons, but military bases are rarely in the city center. The problem with this policy change is that the US’s crumbling hegemony is based on its threat to destroy the world if it should face any sort of attacks from the kind of weapons which it itself constantly uses to threaten others. The atomic bomb is not the problem, the problem is that we are ruled by madmen. Men who are so mad that they can’t understand that the great majority of tyrants want to try and enjoy power, and don’t desire to bring about their own destruction by senselessly slaughtering tens of thousands of people for their own sake. You know they want to rule the land and extract the taxes from it, not be a Bond villain.
If anything, it is probably advantageous that more countries nuclearize, and the world has a more complex but less drastic balance of power.
Of course, none of this is to say we shouldn’t show extreme caution towards Russia, a country which we know has the atomic bombs necessary to entirely destroy us if they choose to do so. It is undeniably significant enough that American foreign policy must reflect that the threat exists. However, Putin is clearly relatively less insane than the American political class, he has a good life in secure power, he isn’t going to just let everything be destroyed. Similarly, Trump actually had posterity to worry about, and physically owned things in a lot of places and surely didn’t want them destroyed. Alternately, the elderly Democrats who represent the oligarchy have never cared for anything but profiting from corruption.
Where does this leave us on Ukraine? Well, firstly, the President of Ukraine directly said Russia isn’t going to invade and asked Biden to end his irresponsible rhetoric, so all of this is literally made up. Secondly, Ukraine is of no major concern to the United States, every power has a sphere of influence, and an international agreement recognizing the neutrality of Ukraine is a rare instance where these idiots can get out of something without completely humiliating themselves. But of course, they don’t want to do that, because they have been driven mad by the wages of corruption. Thirdly, this country doesn’t have the unity necessary to build rail transit, whereas Russia built a 16 mile bridge to Crimea in like 2 years, these are probably not people we want to fight on their front porch.
It isn’t the nuclear bombs that scare me in this situation- I guess in a way nothing does because it’s a farce- my major concern is that the US is simply woefully unequipped to fight a major land war with Russia, who have actually been training for serious things while American soldiers are at gender studies seminars. The US was unconditionally defeated by the Taliban, how do they expect to go toe-to-toe against the Russian military? Further, the carrier fleet is obsolete due to the quality of Anti-Carrier Ballistic Missiles which have been developed by Russia and China. Even more importantly, relations with Turkey are terrible, and there is no reason to believe that they will fulfill their treaty obligations to allow the passage of military vessels through the Dardanelles in the event of a conflict of Russia- and they would in fact have much to gain from charting an independant course. This is all meaningless though, as Russia could actually march through Ukraine basically without resistance at any time it should choose to do so, meaning the only risk of this going nuclear is, once again, if the USG decided to destroy the world, and they are both evil and incompetent. Regardless, Russia being nuclear armed is actually the least of our problems in this specific situation.
Fortunately, as I said above, this is a made up problem. But don’t let them control you with fear of the bomb, don’t let them pull you by the nose with their nonsense policies on proliferation, and always recognize that it is in fact the US government who are the ones who are threatening the world with nuclear holocaust. That is a policy that they choose to have and which they could end at any time.