User voted Yes.
1 vote
Jul 12, 2016

The U.S. should begin rolling out such initiatives. Perhaps it should maintain a very small stockpile of a few hundred weapons at the most for some period, but certainly the vast bulk should be destroyed immediately and publicly.

The elephant in the room that those who cite MAD ignore is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This treaty has such normative force that even North Korea chose to leave the treaty rather than simply violate it.

A lot of people think that the NPT merely restricts those powers who signed it who didn't have nuclear weapons at the time of signing from acquiring them. Indeed, a regrettable amount of reporting reiterates this myth. But in fact the NPT was a much bigger bargain: those who didn't have nukes had to forego ever getting them in exchange for access to civilian nuclear power resources, but those who had nukes had to make proactive efforts toward disarmament. That disarmament aspect of the treaty is considered to be its second pillar and is codified in Article VI.

The U.S. (and, yes, Russia) violated Article VI for the entirety of the Cold War.

In addition, due to the way that the U.S. has given aid to Israel which is clearly nuclear-armed despite not being a signatory and has similarly effectively aided both India and Pakistan in proliferating, the U.S. is the leading violator of the NPT.

As long as the global hegemon keeps breaking the rules, states have both an excuse and a reason to develop their own deterrents, whether they be nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional or a terrorist network. It's trivial for any country to point to the most powerful country on the planet violating the UN Charter and basic rules of international conduct constantly, indicating that they are a threat that needs a deterrent. After all, when George Bush identified the "axis of evil" (Iran, Iraq and North Korea, countries that were not allied and largely despised each other), the only one that got taken down was the one without a sufficient conventional, WMD and terrorist deterrent. Iran's terror networks and conventional army allow them to threaten both the U.S. and its allies, and North Korea's primary deterrent is their conventional artillery that could obliterate Seoul. The lesson to the world was clear: "The only way to stop the lawless state from attacking you is to have a deterrent".

People at this point often counter that we want to retain a second-strike capability. Yes, everyone in the world would like to have a deterrent so powerful it can survive obliteration. That's because it's not defensive.

A second-strike capability isn't about defense. It's about being able to antagonize others without reproach. The U.S. doesn't use its second-strike capability to protect itself: when was the last time the U.S. was invaded by ground forces or even at any serious risk of that occurring? Instead, it uses that "nuclear umbrella" to expand its reach and that of its allies.

This is in addition to the fact that, at present, the U.S. has not done a great job of maintaining its nuclear arsenal. The amount of weapons that we have, during peacetime, is simply too large to effectively maintain. Poor maintenance of nuclear weapons can lead to accidental launch scenarios which rapidly become apocalyptic.

Treaties are the highest law of the land under the Constitution. As long as the U.S. continues to violate the treaties it signs, it is making a mockery of the Constitution, the rule of law and the bond of its word. And when the stakes of breaking such promises are apocalyptic, there is no excuse for reasonable efforts toward disarmament.

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