Who are the other 1700 - 2200 bombs for, Mr. President?
To: President George Bush <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: "Governor Gray Davis" <email@example.com>, "Barbara Boxer, Senator (CA, D)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: November 13th, 2001
From: Russell Hoffman, Concerned Citizen
Subject: Who are the other 1700 - 2200 bombs for, Mr. President?
Dear Mr. President,
Our lap-dog press was stunned today, because you and Vladimir Putin have come to an agreement on nuclear weapons, announcing that over the next 10 years the United States plans to reduce our nuclear stockpile by about 2/3rds. As a result, the current 7,000 admitted nuclear weapons will be reduced to between 1700 and 2200 weapons.
Assuming, just for the sake of argument, "one missile, one city" (no multiple-warhead missiles), my question to you is, which 1700 to 2200 cities, towns, industrial complexes, infrastructures, bean fields, or whatever, are you planning on bombing, should -- horror of horrors -- you (or one of your successors) decide to use these nuclear weapons?
Moscow? Kiev? Kabul? One of the towns where the 328 nuclear power plants outside the United States are located? One of the hundreds of sites where research reactors are located? One of the radioactive waste dumps that dot the landscape? The Russian Navy's rusting nuclear sub fleet? All of these sites at once? Or what?
How can you be sure you'll miss all these "hot spots" if you do decide to attack some target you think is valid? All our other weapons miss their targets occasionally; I'm sure nuclear weapons will too, if they are ever used (again). And can you even be sure you know where everyone else's spent nuclear fuel piles are? Only a madman would intentionally blow up a spent fuel pool with a nuclear weapon, but merely HAVING nuclear weapons creates a calculable risk of such an incalculably horrible event!
Sometimes it's hard to tell who the terrorist really is -- the guy with the bomb, or the guy that blows up the guy with the bomb.
Perhaps you're afraid that if we suddenly made yesterday's Cold War heros unemployed, they would sell out to the highest bidder like so many Russian Cold War death-merchants supposedly already have. I agree, that's a grizzly thought. But continuing to pay them to do what they do isn't much better.
Perhaps we could turn them all into nuclear waste custodians, instead of nuclear weapons scientists, since dealing with nuclear waste requires basically the same understanding of the complex physical properties of radioactive elements. It just isn't hell-bent on mass destruction.
Remember how mad we all were when the Taliban blew up that Buddhist statue, even though very few of us cared a hoot about Buddhism itself? Think how much history one nuclear bomb obliterates in the best of cases!
It's bad enough, Mr. President, that you might think of bombing Moscow, with its proud history, beautiful architecture, libraries of knowledge, and millions of inhabitants, but what about the lingering deaths from low level radiation which would follow any nuclear attack? People will get sick and die long and painful deaths from cancer and leukemia, or suffer life-long debilitating birth defects (or die in the womb, or in infancy) hundreds, even thousands and tens of thousands of years later, and thousands of miles away -- all over the globe.
Why would anyone ever resort to inflicting such a horrible thing upon anyone? How could it possibly help civilization for the world's most advanced nation to do such a thing, regardless of the provocation?
If the most advanced, most logical, most compassionate nation on earth would do such a thing (assuming, for the moment, we have indeed managed to fit that description because even if we haven't, at least we strive for it), what would other nations be willing to do?
We've seen that there are many ways to hurt us. Nuclear weapons are yesterday's solution, and they belong to yesterday's wars, just as much as flinging plague-infested bodies over the walls of a besieged city has gone out of style (at last).
The anthrax attack was unquestionably a terrorist act against the United States. But what good is even one nuclear weapon against it?
There is no room in a sane world for nuclear weapons. There is even less room in this crazy place.
I think the proper number of nuclear weapons a modern super-power should have is zero.
Thank you in advance for your time.
Here's a list of books related to nuclear topics. Some of them, unfortunately, are quite erroneous in their assumptions, especially the government documents, I'm sorry to say:
Here's an essay I wrote in 1999 which discusses the effects of nuclear weapons in greater detail:
Here is an article by the Associated Press giving a history of nuclear weapons numbers:
Nuclear Arms History Numbers
Updated: Tue, Nov 13 7:56 PM EST
By The Associated Press
The number of strategic, or intercontinental, nuclear arms held by the United States and Russia:
Present, as of July 31, 2001
-U.S.: 7,013, supposed to be 6,000 by year's end.
Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START) III
-1997: Plans discussed by President Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
-Limit on warheads: 2,000-2,500 by the end of 2007.
-1993: President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin sign START II.
-Status: Ratified by both countries.
-Limit on warheads: 3,000-3,500.
-1991: President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev sign START I.
-Status: Ratified by both countries.
-Limit on warheads: 6,000.
Sources: Arms Control Association, Council for a Livable World Education Fund, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
11th hour protest against nuclear power:
For more information please visit:
Learn about the effects of nuclear weapons here:
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First posted November 13th, 2001.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman