Donald Trump has just announced a likely build up of US nuclear capability
The threat of nuclear war has probably never been higher, and continues to grow. Given emotional human nature, cognitive irrationality and distributed authority to strike, we have merely been lucky to avoid nuclear war to date.
These new moves without a doubt raise the threat of a human extinction event in the near future. The reasons why are explained in a compelling podcast by Daniel Ellsberg
Ellsberg (the leaker of the Pentagon Papers that ended the Nixon presidency) explains the key facts. Contemporary modelling shows the likelihood of a nuclear winter is high if more than a couple of hundred weapons are detonated. Previous Cold War modelling ignored the smoke from burning radioactive fires, and so vastly underestimated the risk.
On the other hand, detonation of a hundred or so warheads poses low or no risk of nuclear winter (merely catastrophic destruction). As such, and as nuclear strategist Ellsberg forcefully argues, the only strategically relevant nuclear weapons are those on submarines. This is because they cannot be targeted by pre-emptive strikes, and yet still (with n = 300 or so) provide the necessary deterrence.
Therefore, land-based ICBMs are of no strategic value whatsoever, and merely provide additional targets for additional weapons, thereby pushing the nuclear threat from the deterrence/massive destruction game into the human extinction game. This is totally unacceptable.
Importantly, Ellsberg further argues that the reason the US is so determined to continue to maintain and build nuclear weapons is because of the billions of dollars that it generates in business for Lockhead Martin, Boeing, etc. We are escalating the risk of human extinction in exchange for economic growth.
John Bolton, Trump’s National Security Advisor, is corrupted by the nuclear lobbyists and stands to gain should capabilities be expanded.
There is no military justification for more than a hundred or so nuclear weapons (China’s nuclear policy reflects this – they are capable of building many thousands, but maintain only a fraction of this number). An arsenal of a hundred warheads is an arsenal that cannot destroy life on planet Earth. If these are on submarines they are difficult to target. Yet perversely we sustain thousands of weapons, at great risk to our own future.
The lobbying for large nuclear arsenals must stop. The political rhetoric that this is for our own safety and defence must stop. The drive for profit above all else must stop. Our children’s future depends on it.