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by James Manista (edited by John M Repp)

The military can no more forsake newer costlier weapons than flies above a summer pasture can avoid fresh cow flop. Whether it is iron over bronze for spearheads, steel over iron for cannons, titanium over aluminum for jets—despite the cost, the new is better and required

No surprise. New weapons are like new toys to their minds, not shiny new—more likely black and drab. Yet except for a few old school hardliners, experts have agreed there are some weapons which—however technically perfected—should just stay banned

Not everyone agrees. In recent memory Saddam Hussein used poison gas on his Iraqi countrymen. Syrian factions (they keep blaming each other) have barrel-bombed their helpless counterparts from helicopters hovering over-crowded urban areas. Countless others (the USA included) research and maintain stockpiles of the forbidden weaponsjust in case.

But even the dullest tool in the military shed knows that, however carefully employed, Chemical, Biological, and Radiological weapons have a nasty history of unpredictably blowing back on one’s own cherished troops. Best not to use them.

Any weapon, from hand grenades to lately touted “smaller” (more usable) nuclear weapons can endanger its users. It could be as simple as a poor pitch or as complicated as an unexpected detonation at ground level which hurls heaps of fallout when the wind is in the wrong direction.

And we, the wizards of the devil’s dynamite, are we safe? H-bombs have fallen by accident on American soil (fortuitously their chemical explosions failed to trigger the big nuclear ones).  ICBMs have exploded in their concrete silos.

Had we known Agent Orange to be a severe risk to our soldiers we might have banned it for its hazardous blowback.

The same should apply to warheads. War planners cannot guarantee small wars can be kept from escalating to massive nuclear exchanges. The resulting nuclear winter should frighten even the most unwitting strategists. More grounded country types already understand.

If the blinding light does not immediately vaporize you where you stood, or the blast does not turn your organs to flying bits of human jelly, and if by some miracle you do not perish from the radioactive dust settling on everything—that is, supposing you had some shelter with fresh air, food, light, toilets, and maybe a good book—you would still find at your door your former neighbors who will soon perish horribly.

To any reasonable intelligence, nuclear weapons should be regarded as self-banning. They render war impossible not just inconceivable. A war requires not only that everyone else loses, but some winner also must survive. In nuclear war there are no “winners.” The meager few who live a tad longer cannot be called winners.

The world is at its limit. We know everyone; we can just about phone anyone. There is no land, no mineral, no wealth, no Helen of Troy worth a war whereby we lose our food, our health, our history, our wisdom, honor, devotion, love …. where only untidy piles of radioactive rubble signal, we once existed.

The boomerang of nuclear war will return to cull its hurler. It is that comical gun which is trained on the shooter. In this day of pandemic who with his head screwed on straight would release a disease on his enemies and think it would not make the rounds? 

Nuclear weapons must be dismantled lest, like the ammonium nitrate stored in a hot warehouse in Beirut, they spontaneously remind us of their original purpose–to destroy horrifically and completely.