Zero nuclear weapons in 2050? Zero armies in 2100? Impossible? No, but improbable. On the other hand, if we don’t set goals, we might not even make minor steps.
I don’t think the current holders of nuclear weapons are going to make any real steps to get rid of them or even to reduce their stockpiles significantly. What it will take is many of the non-holders to put constant pressure in the U.N. and other places to get the holders to begin reducing their nuclear arsenals.
Currently, it seems the problem is getting even worse. Saudi Arabia is threatening to start its own nuclear program. China is developing multiple-warhead missiles. North Korea could get mad enough to launch a missile at somebody at anytime. And who knows what kind of deals ISIS may be seeking?
What reduction plans are possible?
A first step might be for the biggest holders to reduce their stockpiles to the level of the next biggest holders. This should be an “easy” step given the huge gap between the groups.
According to estimates published by Ploughshares, the U.S. has 8,000 and Russia has 7,800 nuclear weapons. There are 1,000 cities in the world with a population of 500,000 or more. That means that the U.S. and Russia could send over fifteen missiles to each of these cities. Too what purpose? Who dies and why?
Worse yet, they would probably launch their missiles at cities in Europe and North America. There are less than 250 cities in these two continents with populations of 500,000 or more. The U.S. and Russia could send over 60 missiles and bombs to each of these cities. What do they want to do? Watch the rubble bounce? With this kind of ridiculous power would there be anybody left to watch the rubble bounce?
As a first step away from this madness, the U.S. and Russia should reduce their nuclear weapons to the level of the third largest nuclear power – France, which has 300 nuclear weapons. That would be more than enough to obliterate the larger cities in North America and Europe more than twice over.
Any country with nuclear weapons can have a change in government, even “peaceful”, to a more bellicose government. What if Israel with its 80 nuclear weapons feels that it has to react to some threat and sends nuclear weapons to several of its Muslim neighbors? Would Pakistan, which might not be an Israeli target, then feel compelled to retaliate with its 120 nuclear weapons? Even if Pakistan didn’t retaliate, would some of the fallout come back to haunt Israel? The farthest Israeli target that I can think of is Tehran, less than 1,000 miles away. Winds may be westerly, but some of the fallout might drift back to Israel, really making the use of nuclear weapons a lose-lose idea.
I hope a large coalition of non-nuclear countries would continually bring up in the United Nations General Assembly the folly of nuclear weapons. Maybe if the pressure gets great enough, we might have no nuclear weapons in 2050.
Although the amount of war has not decreased, there are several areas that had major wars but now have peace.
Think of the centuries of wars in Europe: duke vs. duke, king vs. king, city state vs. city state. The King of Sweden doesn’t march to Prague. Britain and France have peaceful relations after centuries of fighting for dominance on land and sea. Despite Putin’s perceptions, no Knights Templar, no Napoleon, and no Kaiser or Hitler will be banging at the gates of St. Petersburg or Moscow.
There have been many wars in South America and there are still armed rebellions in Columbia and Peru, but the last war between two countries was the Cerepa War between Ecuador and Peru that ended in 1995.
The Americas have the most countries with zero active militaries – Costa Rica, Panama, and Haiti. Iceland and Mauritius also have no active militaries. Iceland has the smallest paramilitary with 130. Iceland’s paramilitary includes counter-terrorism police and the coast guard. Ironically, although Mauritius has no active military, a part that was considered part of Mauritius before independence is now leased by the United Kingdom to the United States - Diego Garcia.
You can do some of your own comparison of militaries with the Wikipedia entry “List of countries by number of military and paramilitary”. You can order the list by any of the columns.
Ordering by “Total per 1000 capita”, North Korea outstrips all others: 308.5. Almost a third of the population is in the military or paramilitary. Its active military is 47.8 per 1000 capita. Its archenemy, South Korea has 12.3, just behind North Korea’s “benefactor”, China, with 12.4. The United States is much farther down the list at 4.7, even though it has the second largest active military after China. I could go on and on. It just boggles the mind how many resources we as a species put into distrust of others of our own species.
Maybe no armies in 2100 is a difficult goal, but when you compare the hostilities of 2000 to the hostilities of 1900 or 1800, it is not an impossible goal.
Maybe we could start with reducing the arms trade. And maybe the way to reduce the arms trade is with sarcastic humor.
“Micmacs” is a great slapstick movie about a bunch of misfits fighting arms merchants by exposing their hypocrisy.
The satire section of Swedish Radio’s “Godmorgon, världen”, Public Service [sic], had a wonderful piece about Sweden not selling arms to dictators. The “prime minister” is queried about sending arms to Thailand. He calls it a “non-democracy” because Sweden doesn’t send arms to dictators. The interviewer then asks if Belgium is a dictatorship because Sweden doesn’t send arms to Belgium.
Hitler is gone, but Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” is still popular: “the misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress.”
This was also published in the Reader Weekly of Duluth, 2015-05-25 at http://duluthreader.com/articles/2015/05/28/5356_0_in_2050_0_in_2100.