Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Deterrence": As a strategy, it makes about as much sense as "proliferation"

The doctrine of deterrence -- and the preferential comfort it affords a few nuclear weapons states -- will not survive the 2017 Nuclear Ban Treaty Negotiations . . . .

The biggest global event of 2017 will be the negotiations on a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.

Nuclear Ban Treaty Negotiations
United Nations, New York
27-31 March 2017
15 June - 7 July 2017
(For more information: ICAN)

I have just read a very provocative analysis of what the nuclear weapons ban treaty is all about. It asserts, in part:

"The ban treaty, then, is
an instrument to disrupt the comfort
of those who still believe that deterrence logic
(or mutual assured destruction)
provides a security rationale for nuclear weapons."
(emphasis added)

(See "The ban treaty: An interim step, but politically profound" by Joelien Pretorius in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.)

This was a revelation to me, taken in concert with my current re-reading of Mohammed ElBaradei's The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times."That's right!" I thought. "'Deterrence' is only the chosen logical paradigm for those who already control a massive advantage AND have a way of maintaining that advantage. They -- the nuclear weapons powers - have managed to attach a taboo to proliferation, but not to deterrence. It's bogus."

"Deterrence" is the back-door concept by which nuclear weapons states, having undertaken a treaty obligation to give up their nuclear weapons in exchange for a promise by others to not acquire them, over and over and over again make excuses for doing so. "And yet . . . to achieve deterrence . . . maintain strategic balance . . . and keep in mind global security . . . . "

It slowly began to dawn on me that, because I live in the US, and have been inculcated with more than 50 years of pro-deterrence propaganda, at some deep level I have bought into the deterrence argument. Logically, of course, I have rejected it; but that's not the same thing as the visceral disdain for the idea that is felt by every person living in a non-nuclear weapons state.

If you think about it, it is only one set of parties for whom deterrence is okay, and for whom proliferation doesn't make any sense at all. Those without nuclear weapons don't have the luxury of being comfortable with it.

In fact: is it possible that those without nuclear weapons -- and facing the nuclear weapons monopoly of the "haves" -- may see proliferation as a preferable option?

In fact: if you really believe in deterrence, don't you believe in deterrence for everybody? Don't you achieve perfect deterrence when you achieve total proliferation?

Before you say "of course not," please consider: proliferation can never be more taboo than deterrence.

In 2017, the nations of the world will make that clear.

Related posts

It is a stunning lesson in global civics to observe who voted "YES" and who voted "NO" (and also who abstained) on L.41 - "taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations."

(See Who would possibly vote "NO" to banning nuclear weapons???)

How do you formulate a statement that can somehow convince the United States to eliminate its threatening nuclear weapons? How do you formulate the 10th request? Or the 100th? Knowing all the time that the United States is in the position -- will always be in the position -- to say, "No" ?  At what point does it dawn on you that the United States will never give up its nuclear weapons, because it has the power and the rest of the world doesn't?

(See 360 Degree Feedback in New York (2014 NPT Prepcom and How the World Views the United States)

The Age of Deception deserves close reading by anyone who wants to understand why a nuclear ban will be negotiated in 2017.

(See HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: ElBaradei's "Age of Deception")

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