The Fate of the Earth by Jonathan Schell is a book which can fill anybody with fear. His gory descriptions of a post nuclear war world are vivid and painfully haunting. The consequences of such a war would be fatal, not just for a country but for the entire mankind. This is not by any means a revolutionary statement, nor is it a groundbreaking discovery. It is in fact a simple truth which everybody is aware of. Yet, we continue to live in a world which is stocked with piles of nuclear weapons. Come to think of it, they offer nothing but a fake sense of security for the insecure. The risks associated with such security is suicidal to say the least and they deserve a place not among the arsenals but among the pages of history. To put it simply, complete nuclear disarmament is a necessity and the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) is on a mission perhaps most crucial for the future of our planet.
The single most important barrier towards a nuclear free world is the attitude of the states which already possess nuclear weapons. The problem is that they campaign ferociously against the further spread of nuclear weapons across the globe but they shy away from the talks of disarmament. They do not want to put their guns down. Instead, they want to walk around with it threatening those who want guns of their own. Such dominating behaviour is what pushes the desire of a nation to arm itself in search of security. The crux of the matter is that we always want what we cannot have. The greater the restrictions, the stronger the desire. What is needed is a leader, not a dictator. The United States being the superpower that it is, needs to lead by example by disarming itself of nuclear weapons totally. Somebody has to show the way. In fact, just showing the way is not enough, somebody has to walk it. It is a tough call but when did the leaders ever have it easy? Desmond Tutu, the famous South African anti-apartheid campaigner has called for the nuclear powers to “…apply the same standard to themselves as to others – zero nuclear weapons”. There can be no compromise on that, it has to be total zero or there is no point to it. It is no good getting rid of five snakes when there are ten in the house.
In their defence, the nuclear powers would cite the deterrent abilities of the nuclear weapons in an attempt to justify their possession. The story they would tell is that the fear of devastation is too chilling for any state to even entertain the thought of a nuclear attack on its enemy and thereby establishing “peace” between the states. There are two problems with this theory. Firstly, even if this theory is believed to be true there will be serious questions raised over the quality of “peace” that it brings if at all. Peace does not mean the absence of war just like joy does not mean the absence of sorrow. The absence of a state of being does not automatically create the presence of its opposite.
Secondly, as humans, we are not perfect, we make errors. It is one of us who will decide whether or not to press the button to a nuclear war. There is no guarantee that in a tense politically escalated situation, with a hell of a lot at stake a leader would remain calm and practical. The margin of error in such a scenario would be incredibly small, perhaps there wouldn’t be one at all.
For the reasons above and simply for the sake of this world, the UN must be backed on its mission. Yes, it is a battle which we may not win. But we don’t fight battles which we can win, we fight battles which need fighting.