Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Yesterday was International Day For The Total Elimination Of Nuclear Weapons.  No, I am not making this up and yes, I am serious.

Following the High-level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament held at the United Nations on 26 September 2013, the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/68/32 calling for “the urgent commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament for the early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons to prohibit their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use and to provide for their destruction.”

Resolution 68/32 also declares 26 September “as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons devoted to furthering this objective, including through enhancing public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination, in order to mobilize international efforts towards achieving the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I am against any and all sorts of weapons.  I would happily see guns removed from the hands of all civilians.  I consider the invention of nuclear weapons to be the single worst invention of humankind.  So, my ears perked when I saw the title of this day, but then my brain kicked in and I wanted to say, “Quit talking about it, stop patting yourselves on the back for creating an “International Day”, and just DO SOMETHING about it!!!”  But, of course, that is easier said than done, for it requires leaders of nations to set aside their fears and join together for the sake of all life on Planet Earth.

From the United Nations website

Achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the United Nations. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946, which established the Atomic Energy Commission (dissolved in 1952), with a mandate to make specific proposals for the control of nuclear energy and the elimination of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction. The United Nations has been at the forefront of many major diplomatic efforts to advance nuclear disarmament since. In 1959, the General Assembly endorsed the objective of general and complete disarmament. In 1978, the first Special Session of the General Assembly Devoted to Disarmament further recognized that nuclear disarmament should be the priority objective in the field of disarmament. Every United Nations Secretary-General has actively promoted this goal.

Okay, so they’ve been at it for 76 years and today there are still approximately 12,705 nuclear weapons and …

While the number of deployed nuclear weapons has appreciably declined since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty. In addition, no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway.

Let me tell you a little story that some of you may remember …

On September 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov, then Lieutenant Colonel of the Soviet Air Force made a decision that prevented a nuclear war between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States.

The USSR’s satellite missile detection system issued the alarm that the United States had launched five nuclear missiles into the territory of the USSR. The alert required an immediate response. The USSR had only a few minutes to decide whether to launch nuclear missiles at the United States in retaliation or to wait and risk devastating damage. This decision was in the hands of Petrov who noticed that the conventional radar system did not detect any nuclear missile and chose to break the military protocol. Despite opposition from its command team, Petrov ignored the alert of the new missile detection system of the USSR. He disobeyed the chain of command and preferred not to respond to the alleged attack.

The supposed launching of the North American missiles turned out to be a false alarm, it was an error of the USSR missile detection system. Had the USSR responded to the alleged attack, the United States, in turn, might have launched a nuclear strike in retaliation, provoking an untold number of deaths and major disasters. Petrov’s decision not to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike saved hundreds of millions of lives around the world.

That time, a cooler head prevailed and a catastrophe of great magnitude was averted, but what about next time?

While I applaud the intent for this international day, I would cheer if progress were being made, but it seems to me that it is more talk than anything.  With escalating tensions around the globe today, I believe it is only a matter of time before somebody gets trigger-happy, or an accident happens that will change the landscape of all nations forever.  The road to peace, if such a road exists, will be paved with tolerance, understanding, and compassion … not with nuclear weapons!

22 thoughts on “Actions Speak Louder Than Words

  1. /well, gee. I seem to have missed another potential holiday. Like you, I would find more to celebrate if they were actually doing something about the nuclear waste around the world. And I consider all nuclear weapons to be waste! All that money spent on more weapons when we already have more than enough in the world to blow us all out of existence. I wonder though where they can bury all of that safely. It would have to be sent into outer space and the farthest out the better, but then we would be guilty of poisoning outer space as much as Earth. How did we ever allow this to happen?

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    • I think that no further progress can be made in the near future in disarmament of nuclear weapons, for too many nations have, or will soon likely have, bloated egos leading them … men who need these weapons to feel like “men” … and yes, that goes for the likes of Meloni and Truss also. It’s a very false sense of security … remember ‘Mutually Assured Destruction” aka MAD? ‘Tis a fact that if nukes are ever deployed again, those who survive will likely wish they hadn’t. How did we allow this to happen, you ask? That, my friend, is a complex answer. Human greed, a corrupt Supreme Court, corrupt politicians, the arms industry, and human ignorance.

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  2. I shouldn’t get involved in this worthy post and its background of folk with the best of sensible and rational intentions, working for obvious proper course.
    Were it not for some sad and regular observations on the Human Conditions. We, who are flawed, with strife built into our perceptions and responses. We, who will accelerate strife into political conflict into armed conflict, either because we want to get the first blow in, or because we see it as the only option to an armed attack. There is the nub of it; from stick and stones the jagged path to the Here and Now of weaponry which can turn cities to rubble or wipe out our dependency on the delicate thread of electricity and its child the cyber-verse.
    The other side of the tragic coin being our ability and curiosity forged into constant progress, and in each progress for good and comfort comes the notion ‘there’s a weapon here’. From the time atomic research went down the innocent path to seek cheap ways to supply power for light and heating the arrival and nuclear weaponry was only that question of time.
    Add to all this the evidence that International Relations always contains the elements of suspicion of the others and the nuclear arsenals were assured. Some like Ukraine in headier days might give them up
    And they scare us all. They are so quick, efficient and widespread, never mind whether these are tactical, operational or strategic the very word is enough to cause even the most apathetic adherent of the huh-huh outlook on life to start worrying if we’ll see the next public holiday. That fear of course takes many forms, but it is there to be shared around.
    And That Fear may be the way out. Firing a conventional bullet or shell is one thing. Taking the nuclear step is another. Sure there may be folk who are willing to use the devices in a relatively promiscuous way. The question is, when that wish get down the line to the one who pulls the trigger. Will they pull it? Or back to the other end of line will somebody remove the person who wants to give the order? Don’t think that is not possible.
    Fear may be our only hope for the time being while we hope Humanity evolves past its current aggressive stage.
    Many good folk can pass resolutions and have wise observations about war and especially nuclear war, but it is only Fear that keeps the whole race in check.
    Sorry about that.

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    • Well said and thoughtful, Roger. The only thing I would disagree with is when you say “Humanity evolves past its current aggressive stage.” Humanity has been in this stage since the beginning of recorded history at least, and I’ve long since concluded that humans will not … or perhaps cannot … evolve further. It seems we have reached the limit and it even seems as if we are moving backward. None of which will matter, for even if Putin or Trump or somebody else doesn’t bring about the end of life on Planet Earth, we are bringing about our own extinction, little by little, day by day, with our love of gadgets, conveniences, plastics, etc., and our refusal to acknowledge and work to reverse the effects of climate change. Sigh. Too bad … there was potential in them there humans, too.

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      • I can give you a glimmer of hope there Jill regarding evolution.
        It’s a long haul.
        Who we are arguably started out 300,000 years ago. Our shift to what is termed Modernity is believed to have taken place between 160,000 to 60,000 years ago. Agriculture and settlements about 13,000 years ago.
        Now it has to be accepted that hostility over areas of occupation and resources is a common occurrence in Life.
        Thus we come back to that problem that haven taken the stride forward 15,000 to 13,000 years ago to settle down in places we have to evolve the concept of extended co-operation and sharing. 13,000 to 15,000 years is not even a fraction of a blink in evolution, even the previous 285,000 years was pretty rapid against the backdrop of the whole history of the world.
        And there is the challenge our social / spiritual needs to catch up with our inventive and adaptability sides. Otherwise we are still at the defending our turf stage, only with more than tooth and claw.
        There is where I go paradoxical….
        If we keep scaring ourselves long enough with nuclear weapons and what chaos can be caused by malware we might just stagger through into a better time and place, evolve that is.
        It’s not much of a candle of hope, I know. Some might say waving such a candle is like taking it and blindfolded walking around in a tinder dry forest at high summer.
        I never said it was perfect.

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    • I think that would be the happiest day of my life, but … sadly … I don’t think we will ever see that day because fear, egos, arrogance, greed, and a number of other factors will keep it from ever happening. Not to mention that there is no safe way to dispose of nuclear waste. Sigh.

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  3. Pingback: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. | | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  4. I like this quote from our then Prime Minister David Lange at the Oxford Union debate in 1985:
    There is simply only one thing more terrifying than nuclear weapons pointed in your direction and that is nuclear weapons pointed in your enemy’s direction. The outcome of their use would be the same in either case, and that is the annihilation of you and all of us. “That is a defence which is no defence“.

    The argument is just as valid today as it was back then, and there’s few here that regret that as a nation, Aotearoa New Zealand took a principled stance against nuclear weapons even though it cost us a defence treaty and being cold shouldered by the US for more than three decades.

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    • That is a great quote! And he is right … once nuclear weapons come into play, there can be no good outcome, no victory, only death, devastation and destruction. The argument is even more valid today than then … with authoritarian regimes on the rise, with threats by a man who cares only about his own power. Thumbs up to New Zealand for their principled stance … I did not realize they had gotten the cold shoulder from the U.S. … what a damn shame! I would love to see all nukes dismantled and disabled immediately, but apparently it isn’t ever going to happen,

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  5. The Briand-Kellog pact was an international agreement on peace in which signatory states promised not to use war to resolve “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them”.[2] The pact was signed by Germany, France, and the United States on 27 August 1928, and by most other states soon after.

    Frank Kellogg, the US Secretary of State won the Nobel Peace Prize for this landmark achievement. The only problem is that the pact lasted about five minutes before it was ignored. Hitler and Mussolini took power a few years later and the world was plunged into the worst war in human history. Meanwhile, the US disarmed and cut back military forces, even after war in Europe and Asia began (as we have repeatedly done since then), leaving us vulnerable to an attack at Pearl Harbor.

    We cannot overcome human nature. Any such agreement will leave the nations abiding by it vulnerable. Other nations will use such a pact to further their own goals and take advantage of what they see as simple-mindedness of the other side.

    Eliminating nuclear weapons is a worthy goal but it is unachievable. Pursuing such a goal will leave the US far more vulnerable to attack by others. It should not even be attempted. It is a catch-22 for sure, but we are better off keeping this deterrent. Without it, we would have been attacked long ago.

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