Nuclear Weapons

James and Chike

An Overview

A nuclear weapon is a modern invention, first implemented in WWII by the United States of America, that uses nuclear fission (and more recently fusion) to generate and release massive amounts of energy. These weapons have drastically destructive effects, and can kill millions of people with a single effective strike. One accompanying side effect of the nuclear weaponry is the phenomenon known as nuclear fallout, which is incredible cloud of radioactive material that is released during the detonation of the weapon. This radioactive material, though not immediately fatal, causes long term health impacts and affects an area much larger than the target zone. When combined, these factors make nuclear weapons terribly efficient yet indiscriminate killing devices.

The Problem

A source of power as magnificent as a nuclear weapon can be an asset of extreme military importance: the simple threat of having the capability of such destruction is enough to deter most significant attacks. But in the event of a major armed conflict between 2 developed nations, there are several documents and pacts banning the use of nuclear weapons. The simple question is why these bans are in place, if these nuclear weapons represent millions of dollars of funding and some of the most advanced technology our generation has been able to produce? But a more sophisticated, and less easily answered, question lies in the matter of trying to regulate such a barbaric and primeval activity such as war. The bans on these weapons all stem from the concept that nuclear devices are indiscriminate killing machines that will lead to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and a cloud of fallout that can increase cancer incidents the world over. The question that faces society, and more specifically, the military leaders of the world is one not of military strategy or significance, but instead one of global ethics. Should nuclear weapons be used in international warfare, or are the impacts too detrimental to allow them in the even the most savage of all human activities?

The Answer

While the easy answer to the preceding question is that we should obviously do everything to limit civilian casualties and should therefore eliminate nuclear weapons. However after research, it can be concluded that the time spent pondering this question is time wasted. While pacts and declarations are grand moves of show, that is all they are. How can you enforce a policy against a weapon that will forever remain one of the most powerful instruments created by man? Since the scientists have already pursued their interests and developed these weapons, the more apt question to ask is "should we use this technology regardless of potential risks?" The unfortunate answer is simply that yes, they will be used because when engaging in an act such as war, all guidelines and precautions are left at the wayside. They have been created, and even if we destroy every bomb in the world, we will never destroy the knowledge used to create them. We were so intensely interested in discovering whether or not we could make this device that we did not ponder its effects, and it is now too late to undo what has been done.

The Effects

Political: These devices are some of the greatest assets countries have against foreign attacks. They represent massive battle field advantages and have been the center piece of international turmoil on multiple instances.

Moral: The moral effect can seem nominal when considering the nature of war. Can such a barbaric act can be quantified into any sort of morality at all? Well by doing our best to limit the spread of nuclear weapons to countries that are highly unstable or in unsafe areas, we are doing a small part to better protect our futures and innocent civilian lives, an obvious moral decision.

Historical: Thankfully there are only 2 instances to record here: both were bombs dropped by USA on Japan during WWII. There have been few other instances, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, that have had the world on edge.

Societal: One impact that bombs of this nature have is that they have such a large and uncontrolable area of impact that they can wipe out entire subcultures. When America dropped "Little Boy" on Nagosaki, hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and with them we lost priceless knowledge, art, and culture.

Works Cited

  1. Near-Earth Object Survey and Deflection Analysis of Alternatives Report to Congress March 2007