The Nuclear Issue

All mystical spiritual traditions know that the world is unity, fundamentally connected, but I first encountered this idea studying quantum physics in college. Matter is like waves on the ocean; each form is individual, but each arises from the same ocean. In this case, the ocean is energy, and matter is a peak of energy, albeit, a very dense peak.

Everyone has heard of Einstein's equation that E=MC2. The speed of light is very large, so a small amount of mass equals a very large amount of energy. A bottle of Boont Amber, my favorite local beer, weighs 21 ounces. If this mass converted to energy, the blast yield would be equal to 13 megatons of TNT, equal to a cube measuring 200 yard per side. Fortunately, beer is very stable.

Quantum theory started in the early 1900's, and by the late 30's it was known that some elements are unstable, or radioactive, and would break apart (fission) into smaller elements, releasing energy in the process. These fissions could be triggered to create a chain reaction, releasing very large amounts of energy. The fear that the Germans were working on this type of weapon stimulated a massive US investment to make sure we got there first.

On August 6th, 1945, the world was shown that the US had won the race; we vaporized the city of Hiroshima with a single uranium bomb. This device yielded 15 kilotons, the energy equivalent of 3/4 of a gram of mass. Three days later we repeated the demonstration with a plutonium bomb, ending World War 2. In the game of world domination, we had the biggest stick, and it was a game changer. The US structured the postwar world to our advantage, and everyone had to agree.

Once it was know that nuclear weapons were possible, it was just a matter of time before other countries joined the "nuclear club". Russia was first in 1949, and the Cold War arms race lasted for decades. Mutual Assured Destruction became the strategy because, for the first time, an all out war could not be won. The massive forces unleashed in a nuclear war meant everyone lost no matter who started it. Thus a weapon derived from a physics of unity guaranteed a unity outcome. The deterrent to domination was access to nuclear weapons. The threat of nuclear attack has been the driving force to create nuclear weapons.

Britain wanted to remain an independent world power, but the US refused to share nuclear designs, so Britain designed their own, first tested in 1952. France joined the club in 1960. Israel has never acknowledged having nuclear weapons, but their research program started in the late 1940's, and after the Six Days War in 1967, they developed and tested weapons in the early 70's. China first tested in 1967, which prompted India, engaged in border wars with China, to develop nuclear weapons in 1974. In response, Pakistan, engaged in border conflicts with India, began their program, first tested in 1998. Pakistan, unlike most other nations, decided to sell their designs to anyone. This helped nuclear programs in Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

After the 1979 Iranian revolution against the US imposed Shah, the US shifted support to Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and urged an 8 year war against Iran, which ended in a stalemate in 1988. In 1990, the US destroyed the Iraqi military in a matter of weeks, which alarmed the Iranians, prompting them to get serious about their nuclear program in order to avoid a similar fate. The recent nuclear agreement with Iran has stalled their program short of actual weapons. When President Bush included North Korea in the "Axis Of Evil" in 2002, North Korea began their serious nuclear development, resulting in tests in 2006.

Nine countries have demonstrated their nuclear capacity, yet 72 years after the first detonation, no other country has actually used nuclear weapons. Simply having them has been sufficient deterrence, which drives a desire by other nations to develop these devices for their national security. We talk about "rogue" nations having nuclear capability, but the history of American intervention around the globe understandably makes other countries nervous about the US. We may have to live with some nuclear armed crazies in the world. After all, we now have a crazy in charge of American nuclear forces, and we expect everyone to accept that.