Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why Banning nuclear weapons didn't get the Nobel Peace Prize

Here are some reasons the Nobel Peace Prize didn’t go to the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
First, many people believe that the existence of nuclear weapons actually saved lives by ending World War II sooner and then later preventing war between the US and the former Soviet Union.  Today nuclear weapons could arguably be said to be useful in protecting Israel, South Korea and preventing a serious war between the US and China if hostilities break out over some escalation of violence over some territorial dispute with one of our sworn allies Taiwan or Japan.  It’s fair to reason that the second Iraq war would have never happened if Saddam would have had nuclear weapons. 
Second, there is the remote possibility that nuclear weapons could be useful in protecting humanity from celestial threats such as asteroids or some other non-earthly force.
Third, the possession of nuclear weapons is extremely expensive and complicated.  Few in the world retain them, fewer still want to make them, and any actual imposed ban on making them could start another war (See Iraq and Iran).
Fourth, while hypothetically it is technologically feasible to detect a violation of a ban on nuclear weapons (which radiate a unique and potentially detectible signal -- unlike chemical or biological weapons) any attempt to verify a ban would be prohibitively expensive and physically intrusive in nations that may not want, or allow such inspections.  This would inevitably result in a deterioration of almost any ‘trust but verify’ schemes.   
Fifth, we have not witnessed the effects of a nuclear weapon in over 5 decades.  The recent use of chemical weapons and the increasingly likelihood that more such incidences (state or rebel/terrorist sponsored) has many people in high or knowledgeable places very concerned, puts this potential WMD high on humanities ‘security’ radar.
Last, and perhaps most important point is that bans on almost anything never work.  Remember alcohol prohibition?  How about the war like ban against drugs like marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines (if you say Breaking Bad you get a sense of just how easy it is to hide a chemical or biological lab which with enough motivation could produce damn near bio/chem WMD one can imagine). If people want something bad enough they will find a way to get it or make it.  Especially because of the dual-use nature of all technology.  
The dual-use nature of biotechnology, cyber technology or chemical precursors, not to mention conventional technology (car bombs, airplanes as missiles, pressure cookers…) means that any future focusing on the banning of any weapon will require the most intrusive inspection capacity ever known to Human kind or the NSA.  Such an effort would be prohibitively expensive economically and politically…and ultimately a failure.
If security is the priority, a far wiser use of resources and political will should be directed at creating a world of justice and well-being where the motivation to mass murder is virtually nonexistent.  And when it does crop up…we will have maximum public support in finding and prosecuting anyone hostile enough to use them or just threatening to use them.
Ultimately, security is not a function of armaments or disarmament. It is a function of justice and the protection of our most cherished inalienable human rights referenced in both the US Constitution and the more comprehensive list in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 
It appears we have forgotten the wisdom of our elders (Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King... and our profits (Jesus, Mohammad…) when they urged us to take care of one another, love one another, turn the other cheek, feed the hungry and cloth the poor. Heal the sick and treat others as you would want them to treat you.  
In this context Malala was infinitely more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than any other individual or entity.  Education and forgiveness is at the heart of peace…not popular notions to control what can never be controlled.


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