Having already seen Erik Peterson’s presentation on the Seven Revolutions, I thought I knew what to expect from it. By and large, I was correct, except he has kept the presentation very up to date, so there were events and topics on the presentation that had not occurred when I first saw him in October.
That being said, I find all of the points Mr. Peterson made very important. Today however, I would like to discuss the idea of proliferation of nuclear weapons. Allow me to posit that the spread of nuclear weapons to states is not, in principle, a bad idea. Sure, there are some that might say that some nations might use these WMDs with considerable ill effects for the world, and they might be correct. On the other hand however, state actors should be very hesitant to use such weapons except for their deterrent capabilities because states that use them are vulnerable to counterattack and the complete destruction of their government, society, etc. So, to me, if every country on Earth had nuclear weapons, we would not be in any more danger than we are now.
The problem I see with proliferation is the ability for nonstate actors (READ: Terrorists) to have access to WMDs. These actors pose a far greater threat than state actors if they were to detonate a nuclear device. This is largely because they are not accountable to anyone, and there is nowhere an attacked country can retaliate. In this situation, where nonstate group A attacks State B with a nuke, State B is likely to attack State C, where they suspect the attack came from. This, in turn, will cause State C to retaliate against State B, who they perceive as attacking them first, creating a scenario that could end up threatening all life on this planet. Clearly, nonstate actors are the far greater threat to national and global security than states.
Now, one could argue that the greater number of countries that have access to nuclear weapons, the greater probability that a nuclear device could fall into the hands of a nonstate group. To me however, the greater threat comes from the poor security surrounding Russian nuclear installations and weapons depots. These provide a much easier target than the nascent theoretical WMD stockpiles that countries like Iran or Venezuela would have, because these countries would, one should assume, be more secretive and protective with regards to its nukes for the very reason that they don’t want one to fall into the hands of nonstate actors because the state would probably end up being blamed (READ: Nuked) for allowing nonstate actors to execute a nuclear attack.
The current state of affairs where the world’s nuclear powers are attempting to prevent other sovereign countries from developing nuclear weapons is an untenable one because it breeds resentment among the nonnuclear states and drives nuclear research underground where it is more likely to mingle with the nonstate element.
That is all I can think of now, but I think this is a very interesting topic and will likely follow up on this in the future.