Mutually Assured Destruction

Atoll nuclear test

Nuclear weapons have exerted great influence over our way of life throughout the past seven decades. They have been a saviour but they also hold us all hostage.

Unleashing atomic bombs to end the Second World War was a frightening gamble. It largely delivered us the socio-political and economic world we know today.

But it let a genie out of a bottle and no-one has found a way to recapture that evil spirit and replace the stopper. For many generations now we have lived our lives in the shadow of a mushroom cloud. It’s called Mututally Assured Destruction and it truly is mad.

Largely, it has been beneficial as it halted the forces of darkness that wanted to rule the world and were willing to start a global conflict to give vent to their megalomania. But the threat remains that similar power-hungry dictators could still enslave much of the world. Anyone recall the axis of evil?

No sane person wants to live their life in fear of a threatened – far less actual – nuclear holocaust. But it remains an ever-present threat.

Just consider the latest report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute which keeps an unofficial tally of nuclear weapon stockpiles around the world. Its assessment for 2012 is sobering – if it doesn’t drive you to drink!

It seems a number of nations calmly plod along building another ten nuclear weapons each year.

Those friendly rascals, India and Pakistan are in this cycle with Pakistan having around 110-120 bombs compared to India’s 90-110. A nice balance if you like living on the edge.

Other smaller players such as France with around 300 and Britain with 250 are similar neighbours who like to walk softly but carry an array of very big sticks.

Somewhat scarier is Israel with an estimated 80 nuclear warheads. We are supposed to be reassured that Iran has not yet developed a nuclear capability.

And those loveable crazies, North Korea, just wander along in their own demented world still trying to buy expertise from Russia and China. Not that we should be concerned about either of those two nations, eh?

China plods along expanding its arsenal at the leisurely pace of ten new ones a year and now has a tally of some 250.

But if you do like an adrenalin rush consider Russia’s mighty stockpile of 8500 warheads (though they have demonstrated their peacenik tendencies (yeah, right!) by reducing their stockpile from 10,000.

And America – the world’s best hope – has cut-back from 8000 to 7700.

No, there’s no reason to lie awake at night fearing for that searing glare of radioactive hell signifying the end of our world as we know it. Nah, let’s just keep re-electing all those lovely politicians who promise to keep our world safe while keeping their hands in their pockets and playing with their private parts.

We elect them: who else have we got to blame?


Oh, and I’m as guilty as everyone else. How depressing!