Who is afraid of nuclear war?

The Economist recently published a series of articles about the potential for a nuclear war between great powers.  A nuclear war is a major threat to the existence of mankind on this planet but it is only one of several threats and some of the others may be greater, in part because they are less well understood.

Other threats  include famine, climate change, overpopulation, uncontrolled migration and disease.  All of these have been a part of human history.  The most intriguing threat comes from the potential for an electromagnetic pulse which could wipe out all of the computer chips in the area it hits.  This could come from a solar flare or from the discharge of a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere above the target.  For more on this  read the novel One Second After by William R. Forstchen .

nuclearProbably the greatest risk of nuclear war is that some lunatic will push the button.  My sense is that the current occupant of the White House is more interested in saying things that will please the people who voted for him and are likely to vote for him again and doing things, like opening parks for development, that will please his business friends.  Unfortunately there are other lunatics in this world with different interests.

This writer is not terribly worried about a nuclear war between the United States and Russia because I can not see either country gaining anything.  Both countries have used up their most easily accessible resources and modern technology is such that slaves are redundant.  A few people might get some enjoyment from bullying, terrorizing or raping the losers but would probably not get away with it for long.  In any case there are adequate opportunities at home.  Both countries have considerable social problems and I doubt any leader would want to take on the others problems as well as his own.

Since the end of the Second World War there have been no wars between great powers.  There have been lots of internal and regional conflicts and there will probably be enough more to keep the threat alive and allow the generals to test their toys.

The main benefit of war is in the preparation. A lot of people have well-paying jobs supplying military kit.  Not many politicians will vote to reduce arms spending in their constituencies.
The world economy is on a down trend and lots of spending agencies are competing for funding – education, health, transportation and military.  The military can makes a very strong case with the threat of nuclear annihilation.  It is sad that Canadians and other people around the world are going hungry and sleeping rough so that generals can play games.

Nuclear war is very much a possibility but it is just one of several things that could destroy the world as we know it.  The danger in focusing on any one threat is that another one may sneak up on us.  We need to be watching all of them and seeking ways to protect ourselves.

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