Friday, January 19, 2007

Why Nuclear War Can Be Ethical

On a discussion board I frequent, one poster presented the following hypothetical question;

“If you were President of the U.S. and were just informed that we were definitely under a full nuclear attack by a country that'll destroy most or all our people, would you order a full nuclear counter-attack?”

The poster received the predictable “correct” answers from many people, condemning any sort of violent response, to the point that the consensus became clear that the group, as a whole, thought that any use of nuclear weapons, even in retaliation to a massive unprovoked attack, was not only immoral but an atrocity. I was the sole respondent to observe that the only moral course was to retaliate in full force. For today’s column, I want to expand on why this is so.

I must begin with the acknowledgement that nuclear weapons are horrific weapons, which no sane person wants to see used. Yet it must be understood that nuclear weapons exist, and therefore we must address that fact. We can try to prevent proliferation, but in truth we cannot hope to do so forever. It follows therefore, that the only control we can hope to hold is to influence the behavior of nations in such a way that they will be disinclined to build or use nuclear weapons.

When we look at the question posed at the beginning, there are a lot of missing pieces. What we do know, is that a massive nuclear attack is underway against the United States, and therefore the United States is not the trigger of these events, but rather someone else has done this. Since we are dealing with a hypothetical, it is completely fair to answer by saying we would plan and act ahead of time in a way to dissuade that massive attack from happening. Deterrence, in a word. And historically, for all the talk and blather, the only proven deterrent from such an attack is the sure destruction of the aggressor through retaliation.

A good example of this can be found by examining the world condition in 1975. While it is popular to pretend that the Soviet Union was largely misunderstood and never truly a threat to the West, in reality the USSR certainly hoped to win a war of conquest against the Free World, and planned it military ambitions accordingly. The Soviets boasted a much larger army, with better experience and organization, higher morale (especially as Vietnam fell), support from regional governments and logistics. The Soviets made inroads into Africa, Asia, and South America and many leading “intellectuals”, both Republican and Democrat, were counseling American leaders to push for the best deal possible, before it was “too late”. In the dark days before Reagan and Thatcher, it seemed all too plausible that the Iron Curtain would soon extend its reach to at least all of Europe and North Africa.

Yet it did not happen. One thing bothered the Soviets, one thorn in their plans which stymied Moscow’s ambitions. The United States refused to rule out a nuclear retaliation, even in response to a conventional invasion by the Warsaw Pact. The United States possessed the means, and it seemed the will, to use nuclear weapons to prevent Soviet hegemony in Europe. The Soviets erroneously believed that the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976 reinforced that view, since Carter had served as an officer in the United States Navy. Perhaps that view was not erroneous, as even in his most obliging discussions with Moscow, President Carter never ruled out a U.S. First Strike, an option he understood was vital, perhaps literally vital to the very survival of the United States.

It is difficult for some people to understand the unique role of the United States. Even as they demand the U.S. serve as a global policeman, liberals and simplists fail to understand that the United States serves a truly unique role, one which no other nation is able, much less inclined, to take up. The nuclear umbrella is held by Uncle Sam, and so there is a very great difference between American nuclear might and nuclear weapons in anyone else’s arsenal. It should also be understood that such an umbrella has already restrained the American hand in the use of nuclear weapons.

It is now known that in the last weeks of 1963, President Johnson was seriously concerned that the assassination of President Kennedy might have been planned and supported by either Cuba or the Soviet Union. If this was true, President Johnson would be faced with a truly ghastly decision in how to respond. . One consideration was the possibility of full-scale war with the Soviet Union, which would inevitably include nuclear strikes. In 1964, there was little doubt that the United States could devastate the Soviet Union to a degree that the Soviets could not hope to match. However, even if American losses would comparatively light, Johnson understood that even “complete victory” as it was then defined would include the deaths of millions of Americans, and severe damage to the infrastructure of the United States in all respects. But even if this could be avoided, the annihilation of the Soviet Union would mean that the United States would forever after be linked to an act of incalculable barbarism, and any influence the United States could claim would be solely through the threat of force; it would impossible to reconcile any claim of moral leadership with the devastation of so much of the earth and the deaths of so many people.

It is in this light that I return to the hypothetical question. If we accept for discussion the claim of a massive nuclear attack on the United States, then we are by definition discussing an aggressor who is unconcerned with the morality of their attack, but who is pursuing the destruction of America as an integral step in a plan of conquest – no other possibility exists. If such a power were to succeed in surviving the assault on the United States, the remaining nations of the earth would fall under control of an unquestionably evil despot, having proved a bloodthirstiness on unprecedented scale and malicious forethought. The responsibility of the United States is such, that even were it facing its own imminent destruction that the United States must use its forces to remove that threat from the rest of the world. The attack must be deterred through the certainty of total retaliation, but even if that should be insufficient to prevent the attack, the attacker must be totally destroyed to end its threat and evil.

Certainly all of this sounds grim and cold-blooded, and that is true. However, the audience should take note of the great difference between a hypothetical massacre and a real one. If the knowledge of the first can dissuade a power from causing a second, then that course must be pursued as the most moral choice. Nuclear weapons cannot be unmade, nor knowledge of them undone. Therefore the resolve of the United States to respond in full force must be established beyond question, in order to diminish desire to build, much less use, such weapons.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

O As In Obama, Or 0 As In Zero?

In 2004, Democrats thought they had it all set up. Convinced that America hated President Bush as much as they did, they figured that all they had to do was avoid a complete disaster for a candidate. Unfortunately, History showed that the entire Democrat selection shared that quality.

Unsure about what went wrong but convinced that the problem could not be that President Bush was actually respected and supported by most of the nation in that election, the Democrats examined their methodology and decided that the ’jump to conclusions and grab the first candidate who makes them breathe heavy’ plan was still the way to go, and in addition to keeping their front-loaded primary schedule for 2008 they agreed that qualifications for their nominee must depend heavily on the public whim. Acknowledging that John Forbes Kerry was the party’s second straight disaster for a nominee, and the fourth such ridiculous submission from the Jackass Party in the last five Presidential tries, they also tried a hard reverse on several points:

Whereas John Kerry was clearly a horse-faced old white man, and a veteran of the War in Vietnam, the current Democrats are more than slightly enamoured of Barack Obama, an attractive young black man who probably couldn’t find Vietnam on a map. Where Kerry was most well-known as a back-stabbing traitor who falsely accused his fellow soldiers of atrocities, Obama is careful to praise the military, if only in platitudes. Where Kerry could not order lunch without offending someone, Obama is articulate and charming. Where Kerry’s roots were in the most elite sections of Massachusetts, Obama boasts of his Chicago roots, as if he were an ordinary working-class man. Where most folks would expect Kerry to hang out with Ted Kennedy, they would expect Obama to chill with Oprah. And where Kerry thought his name would help him, Obama is already working hard to keep his name from being a factor.

Beneath the surface, however, the Democrats’ preference in personal qualities continues to be a constant. Both Kerry and Obama have voting records which support Socialist economic policies and try to impede the Military and our Intelligence agencies from doing their jobs. Both avoid naming any specific polices they would support as President, or any doctrines they would pronounce in leading America. Neither is known for sponsoring significant legislation, nor is either a heavyweight in the Senate in terms of getting things done. Both men are essentially ornamental, rather than practical, from dress to function. Both hope to win election through public resentment of the present leadership, rather than any personal character or plan of action on their part. Both refuse to answer tough questions, and both get kid glove treatment from the Mainstream Media, especially network television. Both have a habit of disappearing when Hillary enters the room.

I would not bet money on an Obama Presidency anytime soon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What Paul Taught Me About Pain

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

My cancer is growing. How fast, I cannot say, but it is more difficult now than it was last week, both in what I can do and in terms of pain. I won’t dwell on that here, except that it has brought unexpected blessings of perception, perhaps a few insights. That verse from Paul was one I thought I understood, but I have a different take on it now. Obviously, I have no idea what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, although I cannot help but consider my similarity when I feel a jab in my side, unexpected and sharp. I imagine Paul thinking from time to time, that maybe he has gotten past the problem, when suddenly he feels it again, maybe when he tries to sleep, maybe while eating, but a nasty reminder that he is never free from it. It seems quite apt to call such a thing a “messenger from Satan, to torment”.

But maybe it’s not quite the same for me. Where Paul calls his pain a messenger from Satan, I believe mine is a reminder from God. I am reminded that we all must die one day, that all sorts of things we might think are important are really just vanity and selfish pursuits. I am reminded that many people are in pain, sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent, sometimes minor and sometimes a torment, sometimes it seems just part of life which we all must face, and sometimes a singular injustice we did nothing to deserve. On the one hand, I sometimes complain that every time I seem to start getting things to go well in my life, something seems to happen which ruins it all. On the other hand, I have seen children with cancer, and people who found out too late to do anything but wait for death, and I am ashamed of my own complaint. Sometimes I feel that I do not receive what I have worked for, that I am cheated of justice and my right reward, but then I see others who have been cheated to a greater degree, and for much longer, and again I am silenced by that rebuke.

I think about things, especially at night when I am having trouble getting sleep. I realize that I live for a purpose, and I want very badly not to screw up the things that matter. I do not just desire to be a good husband and father, I need to be the best husband and father that I can possibly be. I do not simply want to live in service to God and as a witness to His love, I need to do so. I do not simply wish to help people understand what hope and joy and peace are really like, I need to do my best to help people find those things if they desire them.

Even if I beat this thing, I am aware that the clock is running.

Painfully aware.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Something I Did Not Know Before

My readers will already be aware that I do not think all that highly of Democrats, particularly the present leadership. However, I try to be honest when considering people, and I have discovered something which needs to be praised.

I am presently reading a book about the Zodiac Murders, and so came across the name of David Toschi, the San Francisco detective who was the lead investigator for the case. Unfortunately for Toschi, he became something of a celebrity, and so collected enemies and rivals along the way; while Toschi never voiced a desire to be anything but a good cop, it was rumored that some high-profile politicians intended to make him police chief, perhaps back him for elected office. A sort of smear campaign began against Toschi, which not only cost him his position in the Homicide department (Toschi was transferred to Pawn Shop robberies for allegedly writing fan mail about himself to a newspaper under assumed names), but which damaged the credibility of authenticated letters sent by the murderer. It was later established that Toschi broke no laws or regulations, and in no way compromised his work or the evidence, something police chief Gain cannot claim. He was restored to his former rank and duties after a number of people came to his defense, most notably then-City Supervisor Dianne Feinstein (later Mayor and now United States Senator). It should be noted that Feinstein put her own position at some risk to defend Toschi, and that the available information indicates her defense of Toschi was principled and apolitical.

I disagree with Senator Feinstein on a number of issues, but applaud her principles and courage in defending Detective Toschi. It demonstrates a level of character and integrity which should not be ignored.