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The Philosophy of Mutually-Assured Destruction

Updated: Apr 30

One of the most important things that has kept the world from falling apart due to constant wars is the fact that some countries have managed to gain the upper hand by developing, creating, and storing nuclear weapons. If it weren't for nuclear weapons, it is likely that there would be far more wars than there are now. This is why I am personally against the idea of disarming nuclear weapons. While they offer great risk under the wrong hands, it is better to have unused nuclear weapons than countless bloodsheds caused by fearless warmongers and psychopaths.

Because of this, it is possible to theorize that if all countries had nuclear weapons, or at least those who could afford both the space and resources to build and store them, the world could be a much better place, even if it means not being particularly at peace with certain countries. Will there ever be world peace?

I think that world peace is a noble goal, but it is one that is unlikely to be achieved in the near future. There are too many factors that contribute to war, including poverty, inequality, and political instability. However, I do believe that it is possible to reduce the number of wars and make the world a more peaceful place. We can do this by promoting diplomacy, resolving conflicts peacefully, and working to improve the lives of people around the world. But I digress.

The answer to the second paragraph is that if all countries possessing nuclear arms were to disarm, they would lose their advantage over their enemies, which could motivate the latter to harm the former, whether it's by skirmishes or full-scale invasions. It is not technically good that North Korea, for example, has weapons of mass destruction, but perhaps because of these weapons, along with those of the South and the U.S., the Korean peninsula, along with America, stay safe from each other. If none of these entities had the ability to fully decimate one another through nuclear means, perhaps many lives could have been lost over the fact that there would be no sense of intimidation to prevent them from killing each other.

How come countries like Israel have preserved their own defense from enemies far stronger than them, like Iran? The answer is, theoretically, Israel's nukes. The Iranian military far exceeds that of Israel, and yet, Iran and her allies have yet to conquer/liberate Israel. That is because if they were to do so, Israel could easily decimate it thanks to its nukes. Therefore, the sense of intimidation becomes one of the factors to keep smaller nations alive against those who surpass them in power.

There is thus a certain importance in being intimidating, if it means less people or entities will try and mess with you. A police force, for example, that is not only strong enough but intimidating enough, is likely to be treated more seriously than such a force which is seen with ridicule.

Thus, if you want to be a good police officer against certain people, intimidation is to be used to keep them at bay. The same logic applies to one's appearance -- looking intimidating can keep some of the "wrong" people away from standing in your way and/or harassing you. Hence the functionality of physical exercise if it means you will look either bigger, tougher, or both.

Intimidation by itself isn't seen as something particularly good, as the more intimidating you are, the more people are likely to stay away from you. However, when it comes to countries, if you have the power to release a devastating counter-attack on your enemies, to the point that they won't mess with you as much as they would have otherwise, perhaps intimidation and nukes are good things on the practical level.

The same thing applies to armies -- an extreme pacifist might tell you that simply disarming a nation's nuclear arms is insufficient; its military is to be disbanded as well if that country is to be at peace. And yet, unless you are a country such as Micronesia or Kiribati, most chances you'll be conquered by one or more of your neighbors, just like China did to Tibet.

Thus, the sad truth is that power, even if it won't get to be fully executed and is extremely destructive, is very beneficial to the preservation of a country, even in a world where wars are not very common.

This is why I support nuclear arms, even when considering the slight possibility of killing countless people -- you just have to choose between both evils, the evil of nukes or the evil of being invaded and perhaps conquered as well.

Of course, there is also another, more obvious option: to be at peace with as many nations as possible, including your enemies. However, that option depends on whether or not a collaboration of such negotiation will be competent enough to succeed, and whether or not one side would break said peace treaty with you.

Thus, building nuclear arms is significantly easier than entering into negotiation with an enemy or hostile nation, as nothing guarantees these encounters will be successful. Perhaps even, it is better to mutually assure the destruction of one another than to go into a years-long gamble of negotiations. What would have happened, after all, in the Cold War if it weren't for the fact that the two opposing sides had nukes and, thus, the ability to equally or more destroy one another?

The entirety of this article can be summed up in one sentence: If you want to live at peace, you should prepare for war. If you want to avoid violent encounters with people, you should know how to fight or at least how to use a weapon like a pocket knife. The reason for that is, you cannot change others, but you can indeed prepare for whatever situation that might occur with these uncontrollable agents.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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