My Thoughts on Nuclear Weapons/Foreign Policy
Most Americans have a very distorted view of the threat nuclear weapons pose to their lives. As a matter of fact, cognitive dissonance is almost omnipresent in American perception of military policy. At any moment, a simple computer glitch could cause a mutually-assured destruction style nuclear war to start through no purposeful human action from any political or military leaders. This would cause anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of Americans and billions of other people around the world to die. Such glitches have occurred before, but were fortunately corrected before war could start. Most estimates of such an event triggering war usually average around 1% a decade.
In their personal lives, most Americans have never known anything other than peace. There haven’t been any military battles with a foreign power in the lower 48 states in over 100 years. Not since Pancho Villa attacked New Mexico in 1916. Combine this with the fact that we’re all practically indoctrinated from childhood to think that FDR and Woodrow Wilson were good presidents because they got us through the World Wars and that we always need to respect the troops, and you get a hyper-militaristic culture that sees war and violence as the response to any possible aggression against the “prosperous American way of life”. As a result, when events like 9/11 happen, Americans aren’t used to their country being a war zone, so they subsequently have no problem turning other parts of the world into one. Really, any military conflict is seen as some “patriotic duty” of America. I guarantee you that right now, Joe Biden could order the bombing of any country in the world, regardless of their current relations with the US, tell Americans we’re going to war with them, and within a month, that war would have the support of at least 75% of the population. It doesn’t matter which country it is. It could be Iran, Pakistan, Myanmar, Israel, Venezuela, Chile, Belarus, Finland. If you don’t believe me, support for military action against Iraq rose from 55% to 80% after the 2003 invasion started. Support for action against Iran rose from 25% to 55% after the killing of Soleimani last year. That’s just how screwed up our culture is with regards to foreign policy. This isn’t exclusive to military policy either. The war on drugs/mass incarceration are often seen in the same way. It’s OK to cause the incalculable suffering of ten of millions of inmates, as long as it’s to “protect freedom and safety” or whatever.
The way in which this ties into nuclear weapons is that the whole idea of deterrence theory basically uses the American people and billions of other people around the world as a meat shield for the state. It assumes that no political leaders would ever think to bomb another country as long as it means their nation would be destroyed as well. Of course, as we all know, the state couldn’t care less for the rights of the people. Politicians insulate themselves by building nuclear bunkers, so they won’t ever have to face the consequences of the war they force the rest of us to fight. It’s the equivalent of Australian prison ship captains being paid by prisoner, not survival rate. American citizens, of course, are largely none the wiser. They think that events like 9/11 are some of the worst in human history. 9/11 killed about a thousandth of 1% of the US population. In terms of war, those numbers are child’s play. The Soviet Union lost 15% of it’s population during WWII, Poland lost 17%. In terms of nuclear war, the number are even worse. As mentioned earlier, 50 to 90% of the US population could die in a nuclear war. That’s literally 100,000 times more people than died in 9/11. This is in a war that could start at any time due to a computer glitch, that individual world leaders have almost sole authority to start, and the results of which they will be completely insulated from. Consider just how used to peace Americans are, then think about this, and you see just how much cognitive dissonance permeates our thought process with regards to foreign/military policy. The US has literally never fought a war like this in its history. As a matter of fact, wars with this level of death are almost unseen in world history. Even the most brutal conquerors and dictators of centuries past did not wage the wars that modern, first-world politicians would be expected to fight in the event of foreign aggression. Any wars that the US has previously fought pale in comparison.
Most modern education makes it out to be as if the US just barely managed to eek out a victory in wars like WWI and WWII. WWI was practically over by the time US started military operations. During the time it was in WWII, the US spent almost 10 times as much on the war than it’s main rival, Japan did. America lost about 420,000 soldiers over the course of the war, about 0.32% of it’s pre-war population. Keep in mind the war death numbers I mentioned earlier. The US was never going to lose WWI or WWII. This is just war propaganda that’s be ingrained in our culture over the last 100 years. All getting disproportionately involved in these wars did was set the stage for future conflicts (WWI led to WWII, WWII led to the Cold war). Even during the Civil War, only about 2% of the pre-war US population died, almost all of which were military deaths. Hardly any countries in the world truly want to fight wars if they can avoid them. They see us the exact same way we see them. If we approach military conflicts with proportional response, non-aggression, and free trade to increase the benefits of peace, we can avoid almost all conflicts. No two countries with McDonalds have ever gone to war with each other. We can do better than this.
Article from r/Libertarian: For a Free Society