- A nuclear confrontation is after all not simply a confrontation, it is an annihilation
The American senate actually held a congressional enquiry recently to debate Donald Trump’s capability of being entrusted with the codes that could trigger nuclear war. In questioning this capability it has only echoed the doubt that exists in the minds of people all over the world: is the man who tweets like a twit capable of judging how, when and if to call for nuclear confrontation?
Donald Trump, after all, is a man who has traded personal insults with the leader of North Korea in much the same way as children do in kindergarten playgrounds, and threatened the Korean regime with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” That sounds uncannily like Harry Truman’s threat against Japan towards the end of the Second World War, when, after the US bombed Hiroshima (that bomb was called ‘Little Boy’) Truman warned Japan to expect “a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.” Three days after this threat another bomb was dropped, this time on Nagasaki. This bomb was called ‘Fat Man’.
“We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear strike that is wildly out of step with US interests,” said Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut.
It isn’t just Democrats who are worried. Bob Corker, a Republican senator from Tennessee, warned that Trump’s reckless threats could put the country on a “path to World War III.”
With repercussions, as the title ‘world war’ indicates, for the entire world.
Peter Feaver, a political science professor at Duke University, was questioned about whether Donald Trump can actually launch such a nuclear attack by himself, and if so, what checks are in place to prevent his doing so arbitrarily. His response was printed in Vox, in which he said: The president of the United States “requires other people to carry out an order, so he can’t just lean on a button and automatically the missiles fly. But he has the legal and political authority on his own to give an order that would cause other people to take steps which would result in a nuclear strike.”
About checks on the POTUS’s authority, Feaver’s response was that there were more checks in place than people realise. “It would raise lots of alarms throughout the system,” he said. “So the chief of staff of the White House, the national security adviser, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — they would all ask, ‘What’s happening? We just got this crazy order. What’s going on?’”
“If they were given reliable information that we’re really under attack, that something is really happening, then you would expect the order to be carried out. But if they’re saying, ‘We don’t know what’s going on. No one’s alerted us,’ they would likely halt the process and get some clarity.”
It is a relief to know that, although if the president’s suitability for such as assessment is questionable, what guarantee the suitability of anyone else? Besides, the real question is — as it should be — whether anyone at all is capable of making this decision?
A nuclear confrontation is after all not simply a confrontation, it is an annihilation. Who, if anyone is entitled, or capable, or should be entitled or can be capable of making a call for the annihilation of a large segment of the human race, and the world it lives in?
This, briefly, is what happened on August 6 and 9, 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with the consent of the United Kingdom: Within the first two to four months 90,000 to 14,000 people died in Hiroshima, and 39,000 to 80,000 in Nagasaki. Most of these people were civilians. In the following months a huge number of people died of radiation sickness, burns and other injuries, as well as malnutrition. In addition, about 650,000 survivors are officially recognised as ‘explosion-affected people’. Some of these suffer from radiation sickness, others from psychological trauma. Many of them still suffer from discrimination since people tend to think radiation sickness is contagious.
In today’s setting, any such possibility as a nuclear strike by one nation is not the business of that nation and its victim alone. The extent of destruction and the fall-out in terms of radioactivity has far reaching effects, both with regards to physical space, and time, given that nuclear weapons these days are far larger and more powerful than those dropped on Japan after the Second World War. Therefore a strike in one country would have consequences for neighbouring countries as well, perhaps an entire region. The question of who has access to nuclear arms, and what checks exist on the capacity of persons with that access is therefore a matter of concern for the entire world, in which the entire world has a say.
Pakistan, as part of a world community, and as a state with nuclear capability, as well as a neighbour to another state with a similar capability, should give at least this matter some very serious thought. In this matter, without any doubt at all, we cannot afford the disorganisation and discord that appears to be a major factor in every sphere of life in this country.