Reprint: Agreed: Nuclear War is not Such a Bad Thing


James Porteous looks at the deluded and amoral paradigm evinced in Foreign Policy magazine’s ‘analysis’ of the ongoing confrontation with North Korea. Originally published in Hawkins Bay Dispatch.

30 Jan 2018 | James Porteous | Off-Guardian

“You don’t really have to read either of these Foreign Policy articles mentioned below.

Whether the authors are arguing It’s Time to Bomb North Korea or It is Not Time to Bomb North Korea, the basic narrative is the same: There are pros and cons in using nuclear bombs to ‘stop’ the threat of North Korea.

Both ‘arguments’ are framed in such a way so as to give the ‘impression’ that Serious Debate is taking place.

Indeed, the subtitle for each might be: Be prepared for intelligent discussions on the moral and legal and ethical consequences of using nuclear or other bombs to annihilate a sovereign country. And its people.

But no. Most of the pros and cons are the same. Most are based on the general assumption that this bombing will take place and it will be justified on every level known to man and that it would be silly to waste everyone’s time talking about things that are already completely and totally known and agreed upon.

So let us further agree not to bore each other with threats of moral and ethical and legal discussions. We are done and done. Had enough. We are moving on. Time for action. Are you a man? Are you a bag of sand?

Agreed: Nuclear action will take place.

So now the authors are free to cut right to the core issue and discuss in the most sanitized words possible the fact that people will die. Perhaps many people. Perhaps even millions. Which is a shame. To be sure.

But, fear not. Most of the dead will be ‘over there.’ As in not here. As in ‘my, isn’t that horrible. Too bad they forced us to do that to them.’ As in, ‘if these poor people did not want to die, why didn’t they do something about it!

The bottom line is that hundreds of thousands of people will die within days of a U.S. attack on North Korea and millions more could perish in the war that will inevitably follow. President Trump owes it to our allies in the region and our troops on the ground to adopt a smarter, more cautious approach.

Which is not to say the US should not make a ‘preemptive’ strike. It is to say the leader should be vigilant as to the effect such a move might have on US business partners throughout the world. He does not owe anything to the millions who could actually do all the perishing. We have agreed: Such deaths are inevitable.

Wikipedia: In nuclear strategy, a first strike is a preemptive surprise attack employing overwhelming force. … The preferred methodology is to attack the opponent’s strategic nuclear weapon facilities (missile silos, submarine bases, bomber airfields), command and control sites, and storage depots first.

FP again:

Even now, casualties could still be drastically reduced by a crash resilience program. This should involve clearing out and hardening with jacks, props, and steel beams the basements of buildings of all sizes; promptly stocking necessities in the 3,257 official shelters and sign-posting them more visibly; and, of course, evacuating as many as possible beforehand (most of the 20 million or so at risk would be quite safe even just 20 miles further to the south). The United States, for its part, should consider adding vigorous counterbattery attacks to any airstrike on North Korea.

And again, the argument is presented as though actually discussing whether the US has any moral responsibility to assist the millions of people in their quest to stay alive should the US take these actions.

Agreed: The US should sell more military equipment to South Korea so that they might better protect themselves in the aftermath of the inevitable attack of North Korea by the US.

Moving forward, we should support and empower the savvy U.S. foreign service officers and civil servants who are working to strangle the Kim regime’s lifelines of money, oil, and contraband.

Well, yes, but could it not be argued that many of those so strangled might be, you know, actual people?

Interesting thought. So in the end we have been presented with not one but two choices, really. To bomb innocent people or to starve them to death.

That is the democratic way! Two choices are always better than one!

But wait! We are human beings! We are not animals. In truth, we have no choice but to pick the more ‘humane’ alternative. Even the UN has agreed. The entire world has agreed. We have to do something and we could simply not bear witness to something as utterly inhumane as forced starvation of an innocent people.

Agreed: Bombing is most certainly preferable to death by starvation.

But, then again, what do ‘ordinary people’ know about mass, premeditated starvation. What do ‘ordinary people’ know about mass, premeditated starvation perpetrated by one regime, in one country after another, for decades and decades?

We can certainly be preemptively sorry for the death and destruction -whether by bombing or starvation- that has been and will be rained down upon millions of innocent people in the world, but Billy’s math marks are in the toilet and we need a certain level of calm if the stock market is to maintain its current levels and gosh if those darn drugs don’t work nearly as well as the used to.’

But clearly we have shown that our hands are not tied. We are making real choices. Indeed we are making humane choices. Indeed we have devoted an enormous amount of time thinking about what is best for the innocent people of Korea. And elsewhere.

Agreed: Nuclear war is not so bad afterall.

Or, “Hail, Emperor, those who are about to die salute you.”

Agreed: What about those Oprah for President tweets! Wow. Now that is a story with legs!

James Porteous

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