Sunday, March 16, 2008

Israel and Nuclear Weapons

We have known for some time that Israel has numerous nuclear weapons; some estimate as many as 200. Therefore, it came a somewhat of a surprise to learn that China, who surely must be considered the prime target of American nuclear weapons (if you exclude Iran) has only 110-160 warheads!
I’ve read Chinese Military Power and I don’t agree that it says China increased the size of its nuclear force by 1/3. When I do the math, I get basically 110-160 warheads — about the same size as last year or a little larger depending on how many DF-21s have a nuclear role.
At the suggestion of The Growlery, I have been reading the three books by Jeanne DuPrau (The City of Ember, The People of Sparks and the prequel, The Prophet of Yornwood). While written for young adolescents, they once more resurrect the spectre of a nuclear holocaust that we thought had been on its way out with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Union formerly known as Soviet. As we used to say when we were kids, "Dream on, sucker." (Yes, I highly recommend these books for adults since they have a strange, uncomplicated story line that harkens back to those days of the Hardy Boys and Jack London. On, you Huskies.)

Other books that visit this scenario are, of course the 1957 book "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute, "Eternity Road" by Jack McDivitt, "Riddley Walker" by Russel Hoban, and a host of other mainstream and sci-fi post-apocalyptic fiction.

Do you not find it strange that we probably spend more intellectual energy in trying to imagine what will happen after a nuclear "exchange" (sounds so benign, doesn't it) than we do to try and prevent one? Don't you also find it strange that a large number of the Christian Right in the United States look forward to the apocalypse when there will be an Armageddon in the mid East and they will be "raptured" up to heaven intact? How can that be when a nuclear War in the mid East will inevitably wind up involving a nuclear weapons everywhere and all those Christians will be vaporized. Can you rapture vaporized humans? Hmmm...

In any case, I digress. The point I wanted to make is that the tiny state of Israel with 7 million people has almost twice the number of nuclear weapons as China, a state of 1,321 million people. Eventually, weapons sitting on the shelf will not protect Israel from attack. At that point they will use those weapons as sure as I am writing this. Then?

(I make no apology for the use of the word holocaust above. If an official of the Israeli government can use it to describe what he is going to do to the Palestinians I think it is no longer a reserved word.)

No comments: