EDITORIAL: ‘Usual suspects’ debate their own nuclear plans

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - US policy raises fears of a revival of arms race.

The most “undemocratic” process in the world must have to do with how superpowers deal with their military strength. The current debate on nuclear power or its deployment is something voters in their own countries have no say on, because decisions strictly belong to the countries’ top, official strategists. 

On the global scale, nations like Thailand or Myanmar can never tell America or Russia what to do regarding their numerous missiles that can kill billions.The revived debate, which has intensified over the past few days, has to do with America’s decision to revise its military nuclear plan. To cut a long story short, the US military believes its nukes are seen as too big to be used, so it wants to develop “smaller”, low-yield bombs. Washington’s rivals see that as an “expansion”, with Russia and China strongly condemning the plan.

Beijing has accused the United States of maintaining the “Cold War mentality”, meaning Washington is still using as pretext for its own military expansion, the nuclear technology of its perceived rivals. “The country that owns the world’s largest nuclear arsenal should take the initiative to follow the trend instead of going against it,” China’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.

There is some truth in what China said, but the biggest truth is that debate on issues like this has never been carried out the way it should. So far, it has been a case of people owning guns arguing how many guns they should have and how powerful their guns can be if they are to carry them in public. Opinions of people who don’t own guns, who will be nonetheless badly affected if shooting breaks out, are least relevant.

This is the ways things are. This is a world where, ultimately, people who own guns matter. When military affairs are concerned, democracy goes into hiding, and even countries that preach the concept of “equality”, like the United States and Britain, pretend anti-armament voices do not exist. How else can one explain their stubborn decision to invade Iraq when the rest of the world was clearly against the military action?
Preaching about human rights and democracy has not generated desired results because when it comes to the most important thing – human lives – the superpowers have failed to convince the world that they respect them. 

Debate on military might always leads to one thing – intensification of the arms race – because people who participate in the talks and who really matter are never ordinary citizens, despite the fact that they are the first to suffer if, say, nuclear bombs are unleashed.

Another consequence of the “usual suspects” debating their military plans is the deepening of global divides. Such divisions benefit the superpowers because ordinary people are made to look at military expansion with great prejudices. Supporters of the United States will turn a blind eye to whatever Washington does regarding its military might. It’s the same for those “under the wings” of Russia or China.
Ironically then, the more the nuclear issue is debated, the farther this world will be from the real sense of peace. Until the “real” voices – those belonging to people not in possession of firepower – count, such a debate only serves wrong purposes. 

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