Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Other Nucular Option

We've heard an awful lot about Weapons of Mass Destruction™ during our long national nightmare. You know, horrific weapons like the sarin gas that a faith-based organization used to kill 11 people in the Tokyo subway, and the weaponized anthrax that one of the tireless defenders of America's freedom took from a secret U.S. military laboratory and used to kill 5 people.

I have wasted a lot of time, megabytes and inkjet toner, before and after the glorious conquest of Mesoptomia, arguing that nerve gas and non-contagious pathogens are in fact no more inherently massively destructive than the high explosives and projectile weapons used by the defenders of freedom to, among other humanitarian triumphs, reduce the city of Fallujah to rubble. Not long after the Aum Shinrikyo attack in Tokyo, a man in Seoul killed hundreds of subway passenger with a milk carton full of paint thinner. Thank God we got rid of Saddam before he gave a bottle of turpentine to Osama bin Laden.

But there is of course a category of weapons which are about as massively destructive as they can get. From a public health point of view, a nuclear explosion would definitely be an incident to be avoided. Unfortunately, a certain rogue state in North America possesses a few more of these weapons than it is likely to need for legitimate purposes of self defense. Specifically, 10,000 nuclear explosive devices, 7,000 of which are actively deployed on submarines, land-based ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers. The purpose of these weapons is to uh, uhm, errr, ahh . . . come to think of it nobody has actually explained what they are for. I don't recall hearing any discussion about this.

Lawrence J. Korb, former Asst. Secretary of Defense for the spineless, America-hating liberal president Ronald Reagan, points out that Emperor Chimpoleon the First's budget calls for spending $11 billion next year on maintaining these nuclear weapon delivery systems, and another $6.6 billion to develop, test and build new ones. I mean, you can never have too many, right? This traitor proposes reducing our aresenal to 1,000 weapons, which would still be plenty to destroy all of civilization and would save us about $10 billion a year, which we could use for good purposes, such as keeping all the people in persistent vegetative states alive forever. Maybe you can think of a different use, but the point is, in order to protect rich people from godless taxation, we've run up this little budget deficit and it's causing a few little problems.

Korb and his colleagues can be found at the Center for American Progress. Meanwhile, it's pretty obvious to me that there is no reason why the Iranians should feel shame and guilt about their own nuclear weapons-related research when it's perfectly alright for Israel to have at least 100 nuclear weapons and the U.S. to have 10,000. Not to mention the Russians, Chinese, Pakistanis, Indians, British, and French. Non-proliferation is not going to make any sense to most of the world unless we make serious steps toward reducing nuclear arsenals. As Korb says, the U.S. could give up 90% of its nuclear weapons tomorrow, and we would be instantly safer and more prosperous. We could move toward an effective, international nuclear arms reduction regime, and ultimately elimination, from there. That's the single most important step we can take to lift the cloud of terror from humanity.

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