Anders on the ethics of using weapons of mass destruction

From: John Grigg (
Date: Sat Nov 24 2001 - 09:09:27 MST

Anders wrote:
I think that if the United States had realized, that far back in
time, how much the threat of nuclear war - and later, nanotechnological
war and biological war - would hang over the heads of future generations,
the correct decision would have been to spend the lives necessary
to subdue Japan the hard way. The US was the first to acquire nuclear
weapons, and then immediately used them, in war, against a nonnuclear
opponent's cities. This is not a good precedent if some country
other than the US is the first to acquire military nanotechnology.
 This does not help the US's argument for nuclear nonproliferation.

I have to disagree with you. I think we still would have, considering
the massive casualties projected to happen on either side. A hundred-thousand
U.S. casualties or more for the endgame just would not be tolerated
when an atom bomb can be used. So, unless a time traveler showed
the President an end of the world result due to its usage, the bomb would have been dropped.

I do agree it would have been the proper thing to demonstrate the
destructive power of the atom bomb by first dropping one on a relatively
uninhabited area. But remember, by being so ruthless with Japan,
we showed the Soviets we were NOT to be messed with. Doing it your
way would have shown us as weak where use of nukes were concerned.
 And the Soviet leadership had no respect for weakness.

In actuality, a limited or even total nuclear war may have been
averted by the U.S. decision to be so brutal. The Soviets after
this realized playing "Russian roulette" with us would be a very
high-stakes game. The Berlin Blockade and the Cuban Missle Crisis are examples of this.

you continued:
I think it would have been worth subduing Japan the hard way in
order to establish the principle that non-first-use of weapons of
mass destruction, even when the lives of your country's soldiers
are at stake or whatever, is an absolute, inviolable principle -
that who wins or loses some war between nations isn't worth dragging
existential risks (planetary risks) into the equation. We blew
our chance to establish that principle almost immediately. It's depressing.

And would the Soviets have respected our example? lol! The problem
of being "noble" in such a way is that often your unprincipled enemy
will not be. And they will be very tempted to think you will not
have the backbone to defend yourself in a case of nuclear blackmail.
Don't tread on me!

best wishes,



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