The 6th of August is Hiroshima Day. On this day in 1945 a single bomb killed about 80,000 people in that city, and many more died, or lived suffering terribly, in the weeks and years that followed. This link is to a survivor’s story.
Since 1945 the history of efforts to control nuclear bombs has been patchy. On the one hand, apart from the attack on Nagasaki (on the 9th August 1945), the bombs have remained the great unused weapon of world politics, with the establishment of a so-called “nuclear taboo”, and — something often lost in the media noise on nuclear matters — most countries which could build a Bomb have decided not to do so.
On the other hand, there have been over 2,000 full nuclear test explosions, ten countries have built the things (US, Russia, UK, China, France, Israel, South Africa, India, Pakistan, North Korea), and efforts at non-proliferation have frequently been marred by hypocrisy, bad faith, and reckless disregard for the well being of humanity. Also, many bombs now in service are far more destructive than the Hiroshima bomb. For instance, today the average US nuclear warhead is perhaps 10 or 15 times more powerful. And Washington and Moscow have built bombs more than a thousand times more powerful.
Although the number of nuclear weapons has declined since 1990, there are still enough to destroy every major city in the world and slaughter hundreds of millions of innocent people. Furthermore, permissive use of these weapons could well destroy the infrastructure and environmental foundations needed for the human species to build a recovery.
But recently a hopeful sign has appeared. This is the July Agreement (a 159 page “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”) between Iran and the “P5+1” (US, Russia, China, France, UK + Germany) over Tehran’s nuclear program. The text of the Agreement is here.
Most experts support the the deal. For example:
The Arms Control Association
Expert Opinion Piece
There is, of course, room for measured debate over the merits of the deal. For instance, see this range of views.
Unfortunately the Agreement has also attracted lots of ill-informed or mischievous criticism, including blow-hard polemical nonsense. The most predictable and depressing reaction has come from the US Republican Party and cross-over Neo-conservatives. Often they are the same folks who produced and directed the 2003 Iraq War. But let them, and other critics, speak for themselves:
Here a Republican contender equates the Agreement with the Nazi engineered Holocaust.
Here an advocate of the disastrous 2003 Iraq War calls for tearing up the Agreement and bombing Iran.
Here the same character calls the Agreement “the greatest display of appeasement from a president in history.”
Many critics who caricature and ridicule the deal with Tehran (including, apparently, most of the Republican candidates for the Presidential election) will try hard to defeat it. They will then explicitly or implicitly call for a non-negotiated resolution. This merges into advocacy of another Middle Eastern war. Some opponents are quite open about the idea.
Great! Just what we, the Middle East, and the World needs: another war. A conflict based more on parochial politically inspired rabble-rousing rather than a measured examination of the pros and cons of a seriously important diplomatic deal. What the more gung-ho critics of the agreement have to seriously reflect on is whether they think trashing a measured diplomatic initiative in order to make way for another American led war in the Middle East makes any moral, political, strategic, or practical sense.