Nuclear Weapons: Good or Bad?

Reaction Paper: Nuclear Weapons – Danger or Necessity? The use of nuclear weapons has been under much debate from the moment the world witnessed their destructive power. As seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the aftermath left by these weapons is utter chaos, having a profound effect on both victims and witnesses lives. However, author Kenneth N. Waltz advocates the necessity of nuclear weapons as a balance of power between countries.
Another author, Robert S. McNamara stands in favor of eliminating nuclear weapons for good, bringing reassurance of peace for a fearful world. As debates over nuclear weapon use rage on, the threat is still present and must be handled carefully to avoid a man made apocalypse. McNamara and his stance on eliminating nuclear weapons is sensible, primarily due to the common man and woman agreeing with his logic.
Nuclear weapons in today’s world have no purpose but to scare opposing countries from complete warfare, a purpose that hopefully stays that way. While they were an everyday occurrence during the cold war years, concerns with the growth of existing nuclear stockpiles are no longer front page news. In an era where the security agenda is topped by fighting terrorism, we are more worried that terrorist organizations or rogue regimes might acquire nuclear weapons and inflict unspeakable damage to the targeted countries.

McNamara argues that “The countries of the world should try to eliminate their nuclear arsenal because of the utter devastation these weapons can inflict on humanity” (p 147). McNamara also states that “By intensifying its efforts in sustaining, modernizing, and improving its nuclear stockpile while refusing to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the United States sends a message that it is not serious about nuclear non-proliferation” (p 147).
In order for complete nuclear disarmament, all cards must be playing the same game. Kenneth Waltz is one of few advocators in favor of nuclear weapons, but he does have a solid argument. Leading scholars of international relations and policymakers share in the belief that the sheer destructiveness of nuclear weapons prevents them from being used by friends and foes alike. The deterrent effect of nuclear weapons is rooted in their possession rather than in their use.
Waltz argues that “Nuclear weapons make states cautious and less likely to engage in reckless behavior” (p 156). He also states that “While the enormous destructiveness of nuclear weapons makes them excellent weapons for defensive purposes-the weapons have no offensive rationale” (p 155). Though Waltz does not advocate widespread nuclear armament, he does submit that nuclear weapons are great contributors to stability in the international system.
After reading and analyzing the arguments of both authors, I take my stance with McNamara and his view toward eliminating nuclear weapons. Recently in an article on NY Times, the US and Russia agreed on a nuclear disarmament treaty that shows progress in eliminating nuclear weapons by dismantling the two biggest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the modern world. This, I believe, is just the beginning of the end for nuclear weapons around the world which would keep humanity much safer and hopefully create long lasting peace.

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