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Ethics of Nuclear Warfare

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Ethics of Nuclear Warfare

Nuclear Warfare

        Nuclear war, is one of the largest threats to humanity, and has been since the end of WWII.  The fear of nuclear war has decreased drastically; however, I feel like the threat is increasingly eminent.  With the fall of the U.S.S.R. the threat was thought to have lowered; but the opposite appears to be true.  During the Cold War neither side, East or West, would attack without being driven to the brink of disaster first.  Today, large quantities of nuclear material are unaccounted for, countries that are very anti-U.N. have started nuclear weapons programs, and the threat of nuclear warfare is reaching dangerous levels.  The enemy is no longer one nation or one ideology; but a host of individuals with the means to do what has never been done before.  With the threat only increasing as time moves on, it is time for a change in nuclear policy.  This is not a change for just one country or for the countries of one ideology, but a new policy for the world.

        Looking at the effects of nuclear war it is clearly unethical.  Every category of rights is being violated: human, animal, and environmental.  Nuclear war not only kills mass numbers of the human populace, but destroys the environment and voids all life weather human or animal.  From any view point on ethics it is clearly wrong.  Destroying the entire planet only for the means of killing your enemies; is it really worth it?  “Would you rather have a world in which both friends and foes survive, or a world in which both are extinct?” (Russell 65)  Russell brings up a good point.  With the situation in the 50s and today, not as extreme, the mood was if you are attacked fire nukes and at least take them with you.  This attitude is not held entirely by the world powers anymore, but held very largely by the terrorist cells that are currently attacking without mercy.  The firing of a nuclear weapon is the biggest slap in the face of ethics.  If these terror groups were nuclear equipped, the world would feel the pain.  Not only would the terrorist probably destroy western civilizations, but continue their harassment of other religious groups with nuclear force.  Human rights violated, the ecosystems destroyed and the world slowly dying from nuclear fall-out.  This needs to be avoided.  

The first thing to understand is that nuclear war does more harm to humanity as a whole, than any other form of warfare.  While traditional wars have large amounts of casualties over an extended amount of time, “"It is estimated that by the sixtieth day there would be 72 million dead and 21 million injured" (Russell 24).  These numbers are based on the 1950 population.  If you take the percentage of damage and put it to the 2010 population it gives an estimated 149 million dead and 44 million injured. (2010 Census Data)  Using nothing but basic human intuition, you can see that nuclear weapons are devastating and should not be used.  Russell also states that the future results of the world-wide fallout would be even more disastrous and lead to more problems, such as genetic deformities, loss of water supply and crops, and the increase of tumors.  This is just another reason nuclear war needs to be averted.  Without new policy, the future grows more and more bleak.

        Russell brings a lot of good points to the surface; however, many of his ideas are dated and I give him the benefit of the doubt.  He supported total disarmament of nations and the use of wise forbearance to solve problems.  He may have believed this to be the solution at the time, but today a different policy is needed.  Stated earlier was the mention that war is waged against individuals now rather than entire countries.  Total disarmament would not help in the current situation.  If disarmament was the policy that countries took into action terrorist groups would increase activity without any barriers to stop them.  350 tons of nuclear material is unaccounted for this suggests that there is an underground network of selling this unaccounted material. (McKillop)  If the militaries were decreased in size and all nuclear weapons disarmed then this material would be easier to access by underground groups.  Suggesting that terrorist actions could began to involve the active use of nuclear weapons against the “infidels.”  It is currently believed that Iran may supply terror groups, such as al-Qaeda, with nuclear armaments if they begin a successful nuclear program.  This is suggested by Iran’s national security strategy.

        Iran’s main goal with their security interests is the survival of their regime under velayat-e faghih (rule of the supreme jurisprudent) (Davis, Martini and Nader 7) and the spread of Islamic regimes.  Based on recent American actions, Iran feels the need to deter an invasion by the United States.  Protecting their homeland against all external threats (Potentially destroying the U.S. armed forces) (Davis, Martini and Nader 7).  Iran also blames the U.S. on the internal riots Iran is currently suffering through.  They believe it was all a plot set up by America to over through the Islamic regime.  Now the U.S. has claimed to not be a part of this; however, in an address to the nation in 2009 Iranian Supreme Leader stated that America was to blame for the riots and if the threats of invasion continued they would retaliate.  Shortly after this address Iran began its nuclear program.  Today America is still unsure whether or not Iran has nuclear ability, but can see that testing is being done.  This is why disarmament is a bad idea.  Could you imagine what damage might be brought if the threat of nuclear annihilation was removed from Iran.  The would  start to focus on the second of their goals and start destroying whomever they wanted without having to worry about an external invasion.

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