Friday 8 August 2014

Always a Pleasure to Disagree with Noam Chomsky

Ah, Chomsky, one of those really clever people who somehow always leave their brains at the door when it comes to politics.

It's the 69th anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and here he is, opining that it has been the merest good fortune we haven't been plunged into atomic war.  Somehow we have dodged the bullet every day, every hour, every second for 69 years of foam-at-the-mouth nuclear madness - particularly American madness, you'll not be amazed to learn.

Here's an alternative view.  Actually (and even if a little surprisingly), politicians in all countries who have a nuclear briefcase at their disposal find this very sobering, and act fairly responsibly when push comes to shove.

Perhaps we'd expect that of, well, the Brits ?  France ?  the USA ?  But how about Russia, China, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Israel ...  No shortage of political extremists in the list, and yet somehow no-one has pressed any buttons.  This ain't chance, Mr Chomsky - this speaks well for all concerned. 

[As it happens I have a little theory about the Communist nuke-owners:  as good Marxists they have - in the past -  been sufficiently gripped by the inevitability of their ultimate victory, they never saw much advantage in pushing their luck and hazarding it all.  But hey, that all ended in 1989, and still they've stayed sober.]

I'm not complacent.  Iran is a proper country (measured by the standards of the above), but North Korea ain't.  ISIS (if it ever gets a stable base) is in Pol Pot territory: capable of anything and with a broader 'vision' than ever a Cambodian nutter could manage.  

And we may be putting little Volodya to the test in Ukraine quite shortly.  But he'll pass.  At the end of the day, for all his angry nationalism there are some very venal, very pratical men looking over his shoulder at all times.  They all want to retire to spend more time with their money.

Ordinarily it's conservatives that hold pessemistic views on human nature, and radicals the hopeless optimism.  But on this issue ?  No Mr Chomsky, it's not luck.  It's that human nature is a bit better than you think. 


10 comments: said...

I agree, Noam has got the wrong end of the (big) stick.

Do you suppose the US would have dropped nukes on Japan if there had been a fair chance of getting some back? No way, because nukes are really really effective - against you as well as the other guy. The past 69 years show us that nukes are militarily useless - which tells a lot - but probably quite useful as a skeleton at the politicians' feasts.

Bill Quango MP said...

There is a long running comment on ConHome. The commenter is ranting that UK military is now so small we could be invaded by Putin at moment.

He forgets the nukes.

{he also seems to forget Nato..Or the USA...Its really an anti Dave rant. But from someone with a lot of technical knowledge but an inability to see the reality of the situation.}

Electro-Kevin said...

The reason why nukes don't get used is that - once you've used your toys - you've lost all your leverage. I don't think it has much to do with killing lots of people. Governments do that all the time.

It might spoil the environment... a bit. But I don't think they care much about that either.

dearieme said...

Second strike nukes can wipe out the governing class of your opponent. Very sobering: a deterrent that actually deters your opponent from nuking you first.

'course, if all you've got are first strike nukes, that's an invitation to war. It was the American folly of basing first strike nukes in, especially, Turkey that was one of the causes of the Cuban missile crisis.

Anonymous said...


I am not claiming the nuke strikes on Japan were wrong. My point is that if there had been a chance New York or San Francisco might get one back I suspect the job would indeed have been left to the GIs. Which has implications for what would actually happen if say Europe were seriously threatened.

dearieme said...

@Roger, I don't disagree. After all, your logic is why Bertrand Russell advocated a first strike on Moscow before Stalin got the bomb.

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