We can hold onto relative peace with nuclear arms, perhaps only with them

The basics of the Teller-Ulam design for a hyd...Image via Wikipedia
A year ago, a TIME editor opined that nuclear warheads have helped prevented much conflict death. To me, it's hard to imagine how this assertion could be wrong. They likely prevent, to this day, a third world war. Editor-at-Large David von Drehle wrote in Time, last October (2009): "Major powers find ways to get along because the cost of armed conflict between them has become unthinkably high."

From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, many world leaders have wanted nukes to go away. It's a shame leaders still seem to think it's a scary power source, as Obama seems to (he is encouraging all sorts of alternatives to fossil fuels, and nuclear isn't one).

It would be nice to rid of these armaments, but impossible to see happen. There's one 20th century event that will prevent the complete eradication of nuclear arms: the fall of the Soviet Union. That's the tidiest questionable variable in the nuclear device problem. It's possible, as presented in the book by Tom Clancy (and the movie, though its story varied significantly from the book, the essence of the nuclear bombing did not vary), The Sum of All Fears, that a missing warhead could find its way to the wrong hands.

If we eliminate the known nuclear devices, some group could have an "unknown" device, or several devices -- devices reported missing or stolen, falsely claimed as dismantled, or somehow wrongly acquired -- and they could commit the ultimate guerrilla attack without fear of equal retaliation against their people. Even the most morose extremist and terrorist leader, I want to believe, does not want to see his homeland decimated by nuclear missiles, nor would they likely avoid arrest in any sponsoring nation, with the threat of nuclear attack hanging over. There's only so far that the honor of martyrdom will go, even with the distorted beliefs of extremist communities, terrorist groups and their sponsor states.

Barring the horrific possibility of a Sum of All Fears-type attack, nuclear bombs came from a Pandora's Box, and it cannot be closed. Until the tracking and detection of what's in nuclear devices grows to the degree that we could locate one anywhere at any time, only the naive would try to see the end of the known nuclear devices. But the Nobel committee gave Barack Obama the Peace Prize in part for his stated interest in seeing an end to nuclear arms. How, exactly, will this be accomplished?

Why Nukes Are Necessary: To Stop Industrial-Scale War - TIME
As long as a nukeless world remains wishful thinking and pastoral rhetoric, we'll be all right. But if the Nobel Committee truly cares about peace, its members will think a little harder about trying to make it a reality. Open a history book and you'll see what the modern world looks like without nuclear weapons. It is horrible beyond description. ...

Industrial killing was practiced by many nations in the old world without nuclear weapons. Soldiers were gassed and machine-gunned by the hundreds of thousands in the trenches of World War I, when Hitler was just another corporal in the Kaiser's army. By World War II, countries on both sides of the war used airplanes and artillery to rain death on battlefields as well as cities, until the number killed around the world was so huge that the best estimates of the total number lost diverge by some 16 million souls. The dead numbered 62 million or 78 million — somewhere in there.

For more on the nuclear weapons problem, search the Internet. Here's some additional work regarding Pres. Ronald Reagan's approach to nukes and the USSR:
- jR, aka AirFarceOne (Twitter)
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