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The Human Rights Poll


Callie
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Human Rights  

56 members have voted

  1. 1. Is access to healthcare a human right?

    • Yes
      43
    • No
      9
    • Other
      4
  2. 2. Is access to education a human right?

    • Yes
      41
    • No
      10
    • Other
      5
  3. 3. Is access to the internet a human right?

    • Yes
      22
    • No
      27
    • Other
      7
  4. 4. Do humans have a right to reproduce?

    • Yes
      33
    • It depends
      16
    • No
      4
    • Other
      3
  5. 5. Torture should be...

    • Prohibited under all circumstances
      37
    • Permissible in some circumstances
      13
    • Other
      6
  6. 6. Do humans have a right to voluntary euthanasia?

    • Yes (under any or most circumstances)
      30
    • Yes (in the event of terminal illness)
      19
    • Yes (other)
      1
    • No
      4
    • Other
      2
  7. 7. The death penalty should be permissible for the following offenses:

    • Treason
      10
    • Terrorism
      16
    • Espionage
      7
    • Other crimes against the state
      2
    • Crimes against humanity
      20
    • Murder
      21
    • Rape
      14
    • Torture
      14
    • Child molestation
      13
    • Armed robbery
      3
    • Kidnapping
      7
    • Other violent offenses
      4
    • Drug trafficking
      2
    • Human trafficking
      13
    • Desertion
      5
    • Perjury leading to wrongful execution
      11
    • Other nonviolent offenses
      0
    • Never
      23
    • Other
      6
  8. 8. Abortion should be permissible in the following circumstances:

    • Upon request
      33
    • Rape
      39
    • Incest
      33
    • Fetal defects
      32
    • Fetus endangers mental health of mother
      35
    • Fetus endangers physical health of mother
      40
    • Socioeconomic factors (i.e. poverty)
      24
    • Never
      6
    • Other
      5
  9. 9. Humans begin to gain rights at what point?

    • Conception
      7
    • During the first trimester of pregnancy
      6
    • During the second trimester of pregnancy
      4
    • During the third trimester of pregnancy
      5
    • Birth
      24
    • After birth
      3
    • Other
      7
  10. 10. Is it ever ethical to use nuclear weapons in warfare?

    • Yes
      4
    • Yes (but only in extenuating circumstances)
      17
    • No
      29
    • Other
      6


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I had some issues with "Humans begin to gain rights at what point?" I guess my real answer is that they begin to gain rights at some point during fetus-hood, but those rights are pretty darned thin until birth, so I marked "Birth."

 

Similarly, my sense of "extenuating circumstances" for nuclear weapons is pretty darned limited, but I had to choose that option.

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Healthcare, yes.

Education, yes.

Internet, yes.

Reproduction, yes.

Torture, prohibited always.

Suicide, yes always.

Death penalty, other. The death penalty should be applied not for any particular crime, but when its application would have positive effects on the future. I have no interest in purely punitive justice.

Abortion, on request.

Rights acquisition, other. People gain rights when they can be trusted with those rights. That's different times for everyone.

Nukes, yes. If you've decided to kill a lot of people anyways, the method doesn't really make it any more or less ethical.

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Healthcare, yes

 

Education, yes.

 

Internet, yes.

 

Reproduction, yes.

 

Torture, prohibited, it's not honorable

 

What's Euthanasia?

 

Death penalty, impose it for henious crimes, so criminals will think twice before commiting a crime

 

Abortion, never, I consider abortion as murder

 

Rights , from birth you should have rights already, such as education, the right to live, the right to have a name

 

Nukes, never. Not even guns or missiles. If the ancient warriors of the past lived today, they'd laugh

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I went with a whole bunch of "others" for the first few questions because I'm a little murky on the exact boundaries of my opinions there as well as the exact delimitation of the phrase "human rights."

 

Also, wow, IPB does an *atrocious* job of graphing select-as-many-as-you-want questions. For a hot second I was thinking the board had suddenly become anti-choice...

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Healthcare: Yes.

Education: Yes.

Internet: Yes.

Reproduction: Yes.

Torture: Never.

Euthanasia: Yes, under any circumstance.

Death penalty: Never.

Abortion: On request.

Rights: Birth.

Nuclear Weapons: Yes, but only in extenuating circumstances, like preventing even more destruction.

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I don't have the time to write an extensive analysis, but I think Pandora's box is opened irrevocably in the context of nuclear weapons. Thus, I think the best answer to them is to say that everyone should have them, rather than the current asymmetrical usage that disproportionately allows for nuclear imperialism by the usual suspects. The ability for the equality of harm can guarantee a larger equality.

 

That said, I think nuclear weapons shouldn't be used. I think one of the best ways to insure that is, paradoxically, having everyone have them.

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I don't have the time to write an extensive analysis, but I think Pandora's box is opened irrevocably in the context of nuclear weapons. Thus, I think the best answer to them is to say that everyone should have them, rather than the current asymmetrical usage that disproportionately allows for nuclear imperialism by the usual suspects. The ability for the equality of harm can guarantee a larger equality.

 

when you think about it, every country having only a nuclear deterrent and no other military capability would probably work really well until the exact point when it didn't

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I had some issues with "Humans begin to gain rights at what point?" I guess my real answer is that they begin to gain rights at some point during fetus-hood, but those rights are pretty darned thin until birth, so I marked "Birth."

 

I did exactly the same thing. I think I was able to choose pretty well for every other question, but this one was more tricky.

 

Anyway:

 

Healthcare: Yes

Education: Yes

Internet: No

Reproduce: Yes

Torture: Prohibited

Euthanasia: Yes (any circumstances)

Death Penalty: Never

Abortion: On request

Human Rights: Birth

Nukes: No.

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Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) works when all sides aren't willing to die. Once a side decides that enough of them can survive or doesn't care as long as they can take the others with them, then it no longer acts as a deterrence.

 

Currently ever since Reagan, the idea has been to shoot them down before they go off. Even with conventionally missiles it hasn't been totally effective. Israel has tried with Iron Dome and other systems after the failure of the Patriot missile defense system.

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I had some issues with "Humans begin to gain rights at what point?" I guess my real answer is that they begin to gain rights at some point during fetus-hood, but those rights are pretty darned thin until birth, so I marked "Birth."

 

Similarly, my sense of "extenuating circumstances" for nuclear weapons is pretty darned limited, but I had to choose that option.

I feel similarly, but I marked "other" for both.

 

Birth is a ridiculous, fairly arbitrary distinction for for having rights. I think a case can be made for fetal rights, but those rights don't include not being aborted. A fetus probably should have similar rights one hour before birth as one hour after. Granted, there are a lot of things that no longer pertain, as it's difficult for a baby to be a threat to the mother's life when it's not physically connected, but still. Babies have rights, but they don't have all the rights of an adult, nor should they have all those of an older child.

 

For nukes, I can construct scenarios where nukes should be used, but as a general rule weapons of mass destruction should not be deployed. It's less extenuating circumstances than far-fetched hypotheticals.

 

—Alorael, who is otherwise for rights and categorically against the death penalty and torture. The only caveat is for right to reproduction. He voted yes, but there are (slightly) more plausible scenarios where he thinks people really shouldn't have the right to reproduce. It's just that he doesn't entrust any body to enforce that fairly and well, and he believes the harms of attempting such enforcement would vastly outweigh the benefits of blanket reproductive freedom.

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Anyway now that I've opened my big mouth...

 

Healthcare, education: yes. People in a technological society can't function without these.

 

Torture: prohibited, period. I know there are ethical arguments against this. There are some things I will not budge on, ever.

 

Voluntary euthanasia: bit of a story here...

 

1. Insurance companies could (and would) easily try to force people into it if they stood to make a profit. This is yet another reason IMO that for-profit medical systems are abhorrent.

2. Clinical depression, personal experience thereof. Wanting euthanasia doesn't mean it's the best choice for you.

 

I don't believe people who are suffering, and cannot be helped, should be forced to endure. But I don't think life should be taken for granted either. This one is one of the few things I consider legitimately "shades of gray."

 

Death penalty: originally I said only for crimes against humanity, on the simplistic premise that wannabe Hitlers and Stalins are too dangerous to keep alive, but really I'm not so sure. For others... well, of course I want serial killers etc. to be put to death, but wanting it on a gut level doesn't make it right.

 

In any case though, I feel very strongly that the way capital punishment is handled in my country is absolutely wrong, regardless of whether it's socially necessary.

 

(Side note: I've seen it pointed out that the terms "penalty" and "punishment" are euphemisms here, because the point of a punishment is to change someone's behavior. A criminal who is executed is not "punished," they are killed, and I can only see this being justified if said person is dangerous beyond any possibility of containment.)

 

Abortion, beginning of human rights: I put down "birth." And no, I don't think it's wholly arbitrary, because it is the point at which a fetus stops effectively being an endoparasite.

 

Nuclear weapons: I don't think warfare is ethical, period, and in particular I don't think total war against civilian populations is ethical. Doesn't matter if it's necessary; necessary evils are still, by definition, evil. Being forced to commit atrocities doesn't exempt you of responsibility.

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Okay, at risk of being flamed...

 

[soapbox]

 

No offense, but re abortion I'm more than a bit sickened by the idea of male-bodied people having any say in it at all. Our bodies cannot host a fetus, and we don't get to dictate anything to those whose bodies can.

 

[/soapbox]

 

And people who don't provide healthcare can't comment on the morality of it, and only interrogators can decide torture policy, and people who aren't executioners can't say whether the death penalty is okay or not, and people who don't personally have nuclear weapons don't get to choose how those who do use them. . .

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Surprised by how many people support Euthanasia in any case, as opposed to just terminal illness.

 

That's basically advocating that doctors aid otherwise healthy depressed people in killing themselves, which is pretty extreme.

 

Plus, there's a difference between euthanasia and assisted suicide. I'm morally uncomfortable with euthanasia (which usually implies that the doctor administers the killing agent himself, as opposed to assisted suicide where he just provides the means and the instruction and it's up to the patient to do it themselves), but don't have as much problem with assisted suicide in cases where the patient is terminally ill.

 

As to abortion, I generally support it up to the point where the fetus no longer needs the mother to live on its own. After that, though, no. And laws, at least in the USA, use that as their standard cut off (I forget how many weeks it is). I think killing the fetus after that point essentially becomes murder as one could just as easily carefully remove it and it would have a good chance of surviving on its own.

 

As to rights, I personally think it makes the most sense to bestow rights upon the baby at the point it leaves the mother's body, as that's the instant when it becomes its own separate person. Although, I acknowledge that this conception of abortion leaves a weird liminal area between the point at which I think it's immoral to kill the fetus and the actual point at which it gains rights once it's born. But I see the former as a moral and ethical issue, and the latter as a legal issue. So no contradiction in my mind.

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No offense, but re abortion I'm more than a bit sickened by the idea of male-bodied people having any say in it at all. Our bodies cannot host a fetus, and we don't get to dictate anything to those whose bodies can.

I have the flip side of Nalyd's complaint here: there are also female-bodied persons who can't host a fetus; do they get to do this dictating? Why does anyone? Why are we judging someone's qualifications to set policy -- ANY kind of policy -- based on a characteristic like gender and/or biological capability?

 

Don't misunderstand me: I think the "five old men" complaint, as articulated by people like RBG, is legitimate. But the substance of the complaint isn't that those old men should be ineligible to be part of the decision. The complaint is that there is a controlling majority such that the suspect class affected by the policy has no voice in it.

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Abortion is for more nuanced then most of the arguments for or against it choose to be. Adding a few items:

 

While only females can host, baring some serious lab work, a fetus is a result of the decision of two people (as long as there was consent), not one.

 

Juan Carlo's point on viability is very important to me. It has been used at least a few times in the states in order to prosecute individuals who have attacked pregnant women and killed their fetus for unlawful killing. Without these protections, an attack that only harms the mother, but kills the fetus would be "just" assault.

 

I find it interesting that a fair amount of the world is willing to consider a fetus an inconvenience that the mother can destroy at will past the point of viability, but is totally against executing murderers. The fetus (while a drain on resources initially) is likely to grow up and become a net benefit to society, the murderer has harmed society and is going to be a drain on society. I am perfectly willing to execute murders, rapists and child molesters, but am not willing to destroy a fetus that can be viable outside of the womb, but has not happened to be born yet (with some very small exceptions).

 

Moving on to nuclear weapons, Goldengirl, the one way to ensure that nuclear weapons would be used is for everyone to have them. There are leaders of certain countries today (and have been since 1945) that I have no doubt would use them if they had them. Also, the more nuclear weapons out there, the easier for them to get into the hands of a non-state actor (ISIS for example) who is far less likely to show restraint against using them than a nation-state is.

 

Using a nuclear weapon against a target raises the issue of proportionality which is an important legal concern in war making. It never has been possible to wage war without civilian casualties and collateral damage to civilian infrastructure. Proportionality attempts to ensure that the civilian casualties and collateral damage are not disproportionate to the military effect achieved. Based on what the decision makers knew at the time, the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagisaki caused 120,000 fatalities and prevented over a million fatalities by compelling Japan to surrender. With the benefit of hindsight and knowledge of internal debates in the Japanese government, that President Truman was unaware of at the time, some have argued that the use of the bombs was not necessary. I disagree based on Emperor Hirohito specifically citing the bombs as the reason for his decision to surrender. In World War II, the fire bombings of Tokyo and Dresden and almost all of Germany's bombings of England are a lot harder to justify based on the military effect achieved versus the civilian casualties inflicted.

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While only females can host, baring some serious lab work, a fetus is a result of the decision of two people (as long as there was consent), not one.

Edgwyn makes a number of interesting points. I'm curious about this one, though. A fetus isn't the result of a decision, it's the result of a biological process. Fetuses can come about in circumstances where neither party decided to make a baby -- and indeed, they often do. Fetuses can also come about in circumstances where both parties decided not to make a baby: broken condoms are a real thing.

 

Now, maybe you meant that the decision was to have sex, knowing the potential consequences, including pregnancy. Well, okay. That's a great argument. And remember that the potential consequences also include pregnancy followed by an abortion that the second partner has no say in.

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On euthanasia: I believe that the right to die is an important right. I don't think that terminal illness with terrible suffering is necessarily the only circumstance under which it's justified. On the other hand, I agree that depression is a terrible reason for suicide because the suicidal inclination is a primary manifestation of the disease, not a consequence of the other problems of the disease. But I think that's really part of the complicated and uncomfortable ways in which we restrict the rights of those with serious mental illness.

 

On abortion, while in an ideal world I think we would be able to grow the fetus in a vat if either parent wanted it, in practice that's all on women. It's unfortunate that potential fathers can lose a desired child because potential mothers choose to terminate, but I think the right to fatherhood is completely trumped by the sanctity of one's own body. What bothers me more is the responsibility for a child that the father wants to abort and the mother chooses to bring to term, but that's a legal issue, not a directly ethical one.

 

I think there's room for categorizing crimes that cause harm to a fetus as greater crimes without granting the fetus extra rights at all. There is serious harm to the parents—emotional harm, potentially a lifetime of consequences that inflict further financial, logistical, and emotional damage. It's not a hard case to make.

 

 

Abortion at the point of viability is deeply uncomfortable, but bringing an unwanted child into the world seems a set of problems all its own. Sure, the child can be given up for adoption—maybe. In an ideal world this would work. In the real world, not always, and the real world is not hurting for children. Ultimately the question is, I think, who suffers and who is the victim, and I don't think fetuses, even late fetuses, have enough self to suffer from loss of that self. Of course their physical suffering should be minimized, but some level of cognition is required to qualify for personhood. Do babies have that even after birth? Nor for a long time, I think. Does that make the laughable concept of post-term abortion permissible? That's horrific. Should fetuses be delivered to see whether they are viable or not? That's a cruelty to women who seek abortions, and the power of modern medicine is that viability does not guarantee much about quality or quantity of life. Birth is an arbitrary dividing line, but at least it has an incontrovertible basis unlike X weeks as the cutoff.

 

—Alorael, who thinks nukes are scary because they have immense, immediate, damaging effects followed by the lingering, scary radiation. But he's not really so sure there's much difference between dropping a few huge bombs and launching a consistent campaign of wanton destruction with smaller payloads. The problem with nukes isn't that they're nukes, it's that they're indiscriminate. (And yes, that fallout causes big long-term issues.) But stockpiles of cruise missiles with small payloads delivered with pinpoint accuracy are also scary. And if the Cold War has a lesson, it may be that the best way to handle MAD is cheaply. You don't need an arsenal fit to turn the entire surface of the Earth into glass as long as you can convincingly promise "you'll be sorry!" at need.

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Healthcare, yes.

Education, yes.

Internet, yes.

Reproduction, yes.

Torture, prohibited always.

Suicide, yes always.

Death penalty, other. The death penalty should be applied not for any particular crime, but when its application would have positive effects on the future. I have no interest in purely punitive justice.

Abortion, on request.

Rights acquisition, other. People gain rights when they can be trusted with those rights. That's different times for everyone.

Nukes, yes. If you've decided to kill a lot of people anyways, the method doesn't really make it any more or less ethical.

 

Basically this except 'no' to the use of nuclear weapons. Ethical is probably not what I'm answering to, however. It's more along the lines of "responsible" or "a reasonable way to wage war". Notwithstanding the oxymoron, the proper way to have war is to not annihilate the entire species.

 

 

Surprised by how many people support Euthanasia in any case, as opposed to just terminal illness.

 

That's basically advocating that doctors aid otherwise healthy depressed people in killing themselves, which is pretty extreme.

 

That's a matter of perspective. If you are in the business of trying to kill yourself, it's probably safe to assume that you aren't exactly 'healthy'. Depression hurts both mentally and physically and moves along a spectrum just like any disease does. At the extreme end, it can be unfathomably painful to endure. And believe it or not, you can't just tell people "now, get over it and be healed".

So here's a hypothetical to test your position: Which is better? A controlled death, meaning on your own terms in a relatively painless way rather than however you would have ended up while trying it yourself, ie paralyzed or suffering excruciatingly for hours. OR being forced into, basically, a drug-induced numb state similar to severe Alzheimers?

 

Is that situation still considered living? Are we, collectively, now morally superior because that organism is still an ongoing chemical reaction? Because it's certainly not a person anymore. I will be on the side of the individual's dignity and happiness. Does that mean every person who feels suicidal should be handed syringe with lethal drugs in it? Hardly. All reasonable efforts should be made to help the individual. However, if you are 85 years old and/or have been battling depression for the last twenty years, chances are that there's not a lot that a third party can accomplish for you. And, gosh, didn't we just agree that torture is never morally permissible? Or was that just for interrogation.

 

I find it interesting that a fair amount of the world is willing to consider a fetus an inconvenience that the mother can destroy at will past the point of viability, but is totally against executing murderers. The fetus (while a drain on resources initially) is likely to grow up and become a net benefit to society, the murderer has harmed society and is going to be a drain on society. I am perfectly willing to execute murders, rapists and child molesters, but am not willing to destroy a fetus that can be viable outside of the womb, but has not happened to be born yet (with some very small exceptions).

 

The problem with this argument is when it isn't central to the mother. Let's first take out the idea that the parents were irresponsible by realizing that no birth control short of mutilation is 100% effective. Life happens, literally. Now if you were in a position where life did happen, but knew most certainly that your child would be essentially doomed due to your own economic conditions, security conditions, educational prospects, and more, what is better? Do you want that child growing up in the notoriously horrendous foster care system? Would you have it and raise it yourself anyway despite slim chances for survival and absent chances or prosperity? Once again, are we collectively now morally superior because we've enabled another lifetime of suffering? I mean, if pregnancy had a pause button, my argument would be totally shot, but I'm reasonably sure it doesn't work that way.

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I believe that healthcare is a right, and that accessing such care should not impose financial duress. Knowledge is one of the greatest social goods, so education and knowledge via the internet should be readily accessible.

 

Reproduction: I strongly oppose any restrictions on reproduction; as a society becomes more prosperous, more educated, healthier, and less violent it will generally reach a state of demographic transition whereby the birth rate matches or is less than the death rate. I find it far more productive to improve society with social welfare and education.

 

Capital punishment: I consider the death penalty to be the ultimate denial of human rights. Execution is a kind of barbarism that humanity will eventually grow out of.

 

Torture: Torture should be prohibited under all circumstances. I am appalled by my country's Orwellian labeling of water boarding as an "enhanced interrogation technique".

 

Euthanasia: Denying a terminally ill person the right to die is cruel. In other circumstances, mental health and/or life circumstances should be addressed with therapy and whatnot before considering euthanasia.

 

Abortion: On request. Determining when humans begin to gain rights is problematic. Birth seems to be appropriate for legal purposes.

 

Nuclear weapons: I don't accept America's traditional interpretation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I would go so far as to say that the use of nuclear weapons is a war crime.

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The term war crime is thrown around a lot. The WWII allies made the situation worse in terms of definitions of war crimes with some of the prosecutions against Germany and Japan after WWII. While I do not want to see Nuclear Weapons used, their use in WWII was proportional and effective, irrespective of what you choose to believe. The WWIII scenario of nuking cities irrespective of any other considerations would most likely be a war crime. Add a declaration of war (which many WWIII scenarios never got to), show that the cities are tied into their respective nations military-industrial complex, and there is still a problem with proportionality. The problem from a law of war perspective comes down to the fact that it is very hard (but not necessarily impossible) to use a nuclear weapon in a way that does not cause disproportional civilian casualties to the military objective achieved.

 

Neb, your bit about "essentially doomed" is very first world of you. The most economically disadvantaged child in our Western nations (where abortion is legal) has far more economic opportunities than the vast majority of children in many African and some Asian countries.

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You have some with no abortion and no exceptions including when carrying the potential baby to term could endanger the mother's life. That lowers the existing mother's rights to less than a potential person that may not live.

 

As to use of nuclear bombs, I live in a city that was near the top of the Soviet target list because of proximity to military bases. Civilians as collateral damage will always exist just because they are near military targets. Even with precise targeting civilians will always be downwind of a target to get some fallout.

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Neb, your bit about "essentially doomed" is very first world of you. The most economically disadvantaged child in our Western nations (where abortion is legal) has far more economic opportunities than the vast majority of children in many African and some Asian countries.

If you cannot afford food, you starve and die no matter what country you live in. Asian and African cultures are typically more collectivist. I would venture to say the likelihood of one disadvantaged child being shouldered by the community is far greater in third would countries than in western societies that take pride in self-interest and, for the most part, abstain from charity.

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The ability to absolve one's ethical quandaries is a common spoils of war. The Americans had been fighting against an opponent that launched a vicious attack without any declaration of war. The Japanese forces had notably committed crimes against humanity such as the Nanking Massacre and the Bataan death marches. Iwo Jima was an incredibly bloody affair. The U.S. government interned its own Japanese citizens and riled the public with virulently racist propaganda. Although Japan had certainly committed much greater atrocities at such point, America was also responsible for a great deal of dehumanization. This dehumanization allowed for a great deal of complicity on part of the American people following the war.

 

I question the so-called military necessity of the bombings. Japan had attempted to establish peace with Russia the very day before the Potsdam Declaration1. Russia declared war on August 8th, crushing hopes that Russia would stay out of the war. I ultimately think that had more of an impact on Japan's surrender than anything else. The U.S. already had superior air capacity; why couldn't it continue to conduct traditional bombing raids? Why not a submarine blockade (or both)? I find it damning that generals such as Eisenhower and MacArthur deemed the bombings unnecessary. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that (p. 26):

 

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

 

1: Tsuyoshi Hasegawa

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While I do not want to see Nuclear Weapons used, their use in WWII was proportional and effective, irrespective of what you choose to believe.

Uh, excuse me please.

 

This isn't a case of a simple fact. This isn't even a case of a confusing theory that is accepted by most experts. This is a case of a speculative analysis that historical experts are deeply divided on!

 

Which is not to say that you can't be right, just that saying "I'm right and you're wrong and it doesn't matter what you think" is not a very convincing argument.

 

Also, it's worth pointing out that there's rather less disagreement among historians about whether or not the second bomb was necessary.

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Dan Carlin's show has one of my favorite looks at the morality of the atomic bombs. WW2 was full of completely indiscriminate wide-area attacks and even attacks that clearly deliberately targeted civilians, from both sides. Military attacks on cities were okay by the rules of the game throughout WW2, again according to both sides. And it was a war of carpet-bombing and fire-bombing and wide-area artillery shelling and lines of tanks and massive troop movements. Attacks that were guaranteed to murder literally thousands of civilians were common. The atomic bombs were a difference of scale, not of kind, from the conduct that defined the entire war from beginning to end. You can argue whether that kind of warfare can be morally justified at all - and in fact, that show labels military attacks on cities as a categorical war crime - but the atomic bombs really cannot be differentiated from any other event in the war except maybe in the diplomatic context of trying to demand surrender.
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"The selected zone of attack covered six important industrial targets, and numerous smaller factories, railyards, home industries and cable plants. But is also included one of the most densely-populated areas of the world, Osakasaku, with a population of more than 135,000 people per square mile. Before Operation Meetinghouse was over, between 90,000 and 100,000 people had been killed. Most died horribly, as intense heat from the firestorm consumed the oxygen, boiled the water in canals, and sent liquid glass rolling down the streets. Thousands suffocated in shelters or parks. Panicked crowds crushed victims who had fallen in the streets as they surged towards waterways to escape the flames. Perhaps the most terrible incident came when one B-29 dropped seven tons of incendiaries on or around the crowded Kokotoi Bridge. Hundred of people were turned into fiery torches and splashed into the river below in sizzling hisses. One writer described the falling bodies as resembling 'tent caterpillars that had been burned out of a tree.' Tailgunners were sickened by the sight of hundreds of people burning to death in flaming napalm on the surface of the Sumida River. A doctor who observed the carnage there later said 'you couldn't even tell if the objects floating by were arms and legs or pieces of burnt wood.' B-29 crews fought superheated updrafts that destroyed at least ten aircraft and wore oxygen masks to avoid vomiting from the stench of burning flesh. By the time the attack had ended, almost sixteen square miles of Tokyo were burned out, and over one million people were homeless."

 

That wasn't an atomic bomb attack. That was a fire raid. Those are the sorts of bombings that were going on all the time over Japan before the atomic bombs were dropped. More than sixty Japanese cities had already been burnt off the map.

 

That's the context of the war where the atomic bombs were dropped. Unspeakable atrocity was the norm - it's how this war was fought, and the atomic bomb was just one more atrocity. "Conventional" warfare, "conventional" bombings, was not doing anyone any favors, least of all the Japanese. Did it constitute a war crime? Of [censored]ing course it did! Hundreds of thousands of people were destroyed! The atomic bombs are not morally unique just for being the worst single physical devices used.

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Is access to healthcare a human right?

 

Yes.

Not much to say about this one, aside from "otherwise we're barbarians".

 

Is access to education a human right?

 

Yes.

Assuming we're talking about primary and secondary education. I am obviously a proponent of post-secondary education, but I'm not convinced it should be entirely funded by the government. At that stage, education should be viewed as a personal investment, not an experience, or a necessity because of degree inflation.

 

Is access to the internet a human right?

 

Yes.

Ideally, I'd prefer if it was treated like any other utility.

 

Do humans have a right to reproduce?

 

Yes.

I can think of situations where I don't think it's wise for a couple to have a child. But there's a huge chasm between "I wouldn't have kids in that situation" and "people in that situation must not have children and this should be enforced". The Alberta Eugenics Board existed here until 1972, operating with very little transparency or oversight, enacting forced sterilizations on thousands of people, disproportionally focused on women and certain minority groups. It's only in the last two decades that its actions have been really brought to the public's attention. This isn't a theoretical question in the slightest.

 

Torture should be...

 

Prohibited under all circumstances.

This is another one of those "otherwise we're barbarians" questions.

 

Do humans have a right to voluntary euthanasia?

 

Yes (in the event of terminal illness).

I can maybe see myself bumping this to an unconditional 'Yes (under any or most circumstances)', though I wouldn't be fully comfortable with it. That said, I share the concerns Tevildo voiced and more. The implementation of personal directives and DNRs, cuts to end-of-life care. I'd be less worried about widespread legalization of voluntary euthanasia if I could be completely assured that full support and protection would be provided for those who don't want it. I'm probably being very paranoid here. But I worry what public health care will look like in a few generations if the widespread belief that life isn't worth living when you're elderly or sick continues to grow.

 

The death penalty should be permissible for the following offenses:

 

Never.

Like Nalyd, I don't agree with punitive sentencing. I'd put public safety as the biggest concern when determining sentences (rehabilitation and deterrence are also factors, but public safety first and punitive never), but I don't see any real drop in safety when going from execution to life imprisonment. Given the ethical concerns about ending a life, not to mention ending a possibly innocent person's life, I'd be against the death penalty for all but the most heinous of crimes. And while I wouldn't lose any sleep over the execution of someone who authorized genocide (or whatever other extreme examples you might come up with), would executing them provide any real benefit? Public morale? No thanks. Deterrence? I don't see it for such extreme crimes.

 

Abortion should be permissible in the following circumstances:

 

Fetus endangers physical health of mother.

 

Humans begin to gain rights at what point?

 

Conception.

This is where my opinion differs from most people here. It's an incredibly thorny issue, and it's one I reevaluate often, but I keep coming to the same conclusion.

 

One thing I think we can all agree on is that restrictions on the availability of abortion without additional legislation to help the mothers would be disastrous. What infuriates me most about the vast majority of pro-life rhetoric is that it begins and ends with the definition of life. I agree with that definition, obviously, but simply making that argument isn't enough. " Although few studies have been made of this phenomenon, a study done in 1981 (1) found that 24% of women who had abortions considered the procedure morally wrong, and 7% of women who'd had abortions disagreed with the statement, "Any woman who wants an abortion should be permitted to obtain it legally. " (taken from here, and the article has some sobering food-for-thought for pro-lifers; if anyone has numbers from a more recent study, I would be indebted). That's not just a quarter of women who think abortion is wrong, that's a quarter of the women who have had an abortion who would have decided differently had their situation been different (perhaps the number would be even higher; the question would be worded differently for this case). This should be seen as a tragedy by people on both sides of the issue, and should motivate legislators to enact policies that aid women in this situation (better maternity leave, better job security for women taking maternity leave, better welfare system, perhaps social changes even more extreme). Unfortunately, people who are 'social conservatives' tend to be economic conservatives as well. The saying about the right wing only caring about children until they're born is sadly true.

 

Is it ever ethical to use nuclear weapons in warfare?

 

No.

This is another really tricky one. Like Nalyd and Alorael said, what real difference is there between what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and what happened to Dresden and Tokyo? Did the bombings really end the war in the Pacific? Does MAD work? Is the Nuclear Peace a thing? Short of looking into a crystal ball and seeing what the world would look like if the bombs were never dropped, it's all but impossible to say. I just don't know.

 

But.

 

There is a huge stigma against the potential use of nuclear weapons. Against other stuff too. People talked about how ridiculous it was that other countries only started taking action about the Syrian civil war once sarin gas was used. But it was a clear and definitive line that had been crossed. And the more lines that are drawn, the more militaries are reluctant to use nuclear weapons, or chemical weapons, or biological weapons or mines or napalm or whatever, the better off I think we'll be.

 

EDIT: Kinda unrelated, but I learned a few months ago that Nagasaki was the secondary target for the second bomb, and the original target escaped bombing because steel workers set up a smoke screen. Was new information for me, thought I might share.

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Ideally, I'd prefer if it was treated like any other utility.

 

fwiw in australia it pretty much is. the physical copper and fibre cables that all our internet juice runs through are owned by a single company but it's required by law to licence the use of its infrastructure to third parties at specific fee schedules, meaning that basically anyone with enough money can start an ISP serving any area without needing to get permits to physically dig into the ground and install their own cables, avoiding a lot of the problems the usa has with local monopolies over telecommunication services. electricity and water work in a similar way. it's not the model i'd most prefer (for starters there's zero good reason for the big infrastructure-owning company to be private, especially since major infrastructure expansion projects are always funded primarily by the federal government anyway) but it basically works, assuming you can afford service in the first place

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I question the so-called military necessity of the bombings. Japan had attempted to establish peace with Russia the very day before the Potsdam Declaration1. Russia declared war on August 8th, crushing hopes that Russia would stay out of the war. I ultimately think that had more of an impact on Japan's surrender than anything else. The U.S. already had superior air capacity; why couldn't it continue to conduct traditional bombing raids? Why not a submarine blockade (or both)? I find it damning that generals such as Eisenhower and MacArthur deemed the bombings unnecessary. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that (p. 26):

 

 

 

1: Tsuyoshi Hasegawa

 

Most of the quotes from Emperor Hirohito cite that the Atomic Bombing gave him the excuse to surrender when he did. I do not disagree with the USSBS excerpt that you quoted, but it is based on what US leaders knew after Japan surrendered, not what they knew when the decisions to use the atomic bombs were made. What was obvious to Japanese leaders on 1 Dec 45 (that the war was lost and that they need to surrender to avoid total destruction) was not necessarily obvious to them on 31 Jul 45 because of a variety of emotional and military intelligence issues, plus the actual use of the bombs.

 

The US could certainly have continued bombing raids, and had the atomic bombs not compelled Japan to surrender would have continued to do so until the launch of Operation Olympic or the surrender of Japan which ever came first. Between 1 Aug 45 and 1 Nov 45 (or what ever arbitrary date you select for Japan's surrender), far more Japanese civilians would have been killed by bombing raids than were actually killed by the atomic bombs.

 

Personally I do not think that the USSR's declaration of war had much to do with the Japanese decision making process. I do realize that Emperor Hirohito did cite it in a letter to the military, but in all of the rest of his documents about surrendering, he did not mention them at all. I do not think that any real elements of the Japanese government were maintaining the fantasy that the USSR would join them against the US, the way that part of the German government was hoping that we would team up with them against the USSR. Therefore I do not think that any hopes were dashed by the USSR's declaration of war. Economically it had no effect since the home islands were essentially completely blockaded by that point anyway.

 

From a pure military standpoint, the USSR's declaration of war did not add any immediate capability to the Allies ability to threaten the home islands. In the middle term, being able to replace some US (and British Empire) troops in the invasion would have been nice, but 100% of the logistics of the invasion (ships, landing craft, etc) would still have been US (since the USSR essentially did not have an amphibious warfare capability) and so the size of the actual invasion force would not have changed appreciably. Long term, I believe it was a serious mistake for the US to have invited the USSR to participate in the war against Japan at all.

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The USSR joining against Japan was motivated more by claiming territory than having a useful attack against the Home Islands.

 

If the Japanese had not surrendered after the second atomic bomb, the US would have had to go back to conventional attacks because there were no more atomic bombs ready for use. There was a discussion about demonstrating the bomb to the Japanese on a deserted location, but that ended quickly when it was pointed out that after the Trinity test there were only 2 bombs available and one couldn't be wasted for a demonstration if the Japanese refused.

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but the atomic bombs really cannot be differentiated from any other event in the war except maybe in the diplomatic context of trying to demand surrender.

Atomic bombs have severe long-term consequences, and as Alorael pointed out, they're highly indiscriminate. Conventional bombs are often indiscriminate, but they at least don't cause damage to future generations in the form of radiation.

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"far more Japanese civilians would have been killed by bombing raids than were actually killed by the atomic bombs. "

 

There was a 334-plane firebombing in March that Wikipedia says killed 100,000 people, but nothing else approached that number. Wikipedia also says that military officials felt they were running out of good targets for their attack strategy. Wikipedia gives a broad range for deaths attributable to the atomic blasts that ranges from 150,000 to 250,000 people.

 

It certainly sounds *possible* that dropping an atomic bomb resulted in fewer casualties, but perhaps not certain, especially given everything Hirohito et al said about the March firebombing being what really prompted them to look into exiting the war. It definitely does not sound like "far more" civilians would have died over the course of a few months of conventional-bombing less-attractive targets, though.

 

Also, there is still the question of the second bomb. Even under utilitarian terms that would allow the lesser of two death machines, was it even remotely likely that there would have been no imminent surrender without Nagasaki?

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fwiw in australia it pretty much is. the physical copper and fibre cables that all our internet juice runs through are owned by a single company but it's required by law to licence the use of its infrastructure to third parties at specific fee schedules, meaning that basically anyone with enough money can start an ISP serving any area without needing to get permits to physically dig into the ground and install their own cables, avoiding a lot of the problems the usa has with local monopolies over telecommunication services. electricity and water work in a similar way. it's not the model i'd most prefer (for starters there's zero good reason for the big infrastructure-owning company to be private, especially since major infrastructure expansion projects are always funded primarily by the federal government anyway) but it basically works, assuming you can afford service in the first place
This is how it works here too, though there's more than one company owning the infrastructure. I'd be mostly fine if companies could own the infrastructure or run ISPs but not both. As it stands, those companies do both, and they've been pushing for more and more anti-competitive measures, and regulatory capture is definitely a thing here.
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There was a discussion about demonstrating the bomb to the Japanese on a deserted location, but that ended quickly when it was pointed out that after the Trinity test there were only 2 bombs available and one couldn't be wasted for a demonstration if the Japanese refused.

 

If the destructive capacity of the bombs were unknown, we can probably safely say that the quantity of those bombs at the disposal of the US was also known. I cannot be convinced that the US couldn't have bluffed that they had a dozen more. Additionally, the two bombings took place within such a short time, and the Japanese had very limited information about the full extent of the damage from this new kind of weapon. I cannot be convinced that a reasonable attempt to evaluate surrender could take place in three days. We look at it from a modern perspective of knowing all the stats, but just hours after the bombing, no one even knew what happened, immediate thinking was the loss of a communications was probably a technical fault, not the obliteration of every life and structure.

Finally, yes we're talking about WWII, but we're not talking about a regime that had executed eleven million people in the holocaust alone. I'm not sure I could, as well, be convinced that destruction on this scale was called for, when it seems far more likely that the US used them because they thought it would be cool to have a decisive victory at this level. It saved the lives of American soldiers, but it certainly didn't spare suffering.

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If you cannot afford food, you starve and die no matter what country you live in. Asian and African cultures are typically more collectivist. I would venture to say the likelihood of one disadvantaged child being shouldered by the community is far greater in third would countries than in western societies that take pride in self-interest and, for the most part, abstain from charity.

If you cannot afford food in the US, you probably won't starve and die. You may well go hungry sometimes, but there is enough public and private food support available that outright starvation is vanishingly rare, and when it does happen it's almost always neglect of a dependent. The third world is far more likely to have outright shortages of food, where no amount of communalism or collective effort can overcome the simple fact that there are not enough calories to go around.

 

After the bombing of Hiroshima the Japanese weren't completely in the dark about the possibility of atomic bombs. They examined the wreckage, figured out what had happened, and then guessed (not incorrectly) that the US couldn't have a large arsenal and decided to tough it out. The Japanese cabinet's decision was intercepted by US intelligence. There wasn't incontrovertible proof that the bombing was necessary to end the war; it would be reasonable to conclude that in the face of such resolve further bombing would only increase civilian casualties without ending the war. But it's not at all obvious either way.

 

Non-lethal demonstration of the power of these new nuclear weapons was also considered, but it was ruled out because of concerns about wasting one of only two bombs, potential for failure of demonstration, and the likelihood that it would be discounted as a fake.

 

—Alorael, who doesn't think the sparing of US soldiers' lives should be neglected. Predictions for American casualties in the event of an invasion of Japan mostly ran to over one million, although of course they varied widely. Civilian casualties could be expected to be painfully high as well. By that measure, the use of nuclear weapons was successful; it's just not clear, nor can it be clear, how good the estimates were, nor is it at all certain that a less destructive option could not have ended the war, but it's equally unclear that one could. Hindsight, in this case, is not 20/20.

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I'm always surprised by people painting this as a choice between an amphibious invasion of Japan and the use of the atomic bombs. Japan's an island. Its navy was in shambles. Its air force was in shambles. Its industrial capacity to replace these assets was in shambles. Extracting a formal surrender from the government seems, frankly, unnecessary.

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On the other hand, if you're a recently risen world power and you want to puff up your chest to optimize your prospects with every country you interact with -- which, despite this description, is arguably a reasonable thing to do -- blowing away two cities with 1945's Borg Cube equivalent in order to force a concession from an already humbled foe would sure be a great way to do it.

 

 

 

 

...now I can't help but imagine this whole debate taking place between Sisko and Picard. Phooey.

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Moving on to nuclear weapons, Goldengirl, the one way to ensure that nuclear weapons would be used is for everyone to have them. There are leaders of certain countries today (and have been since 1945) that I have no doubt would use them if they had them. Also, the more nuclear weapons out there, the easier for them to get into the hands of a non-state actor (ISIS for example) who is far less likely to show restraint against using them than a nation-state is.

 

Using a nuclear weapon against a target raises the issue of proportionality which is an important legal concern in war making. It never has been possible to wage war without civilian casualties and collateral damage to civilian infrastructure. Proportionality attempts to ensure that the civilian casualties and collateral damage are not disproportionate to the military effect achieved. Based on what the decision makers knew at the time, the use of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagisaki caused 120,000 fatalities and prevented over a million fatalities by compelling Japan to surrender. With the benefit of hindsight and knowledge of internal debates in the Japanese government, that President Truman was unaware of at the time, some have argued that the use of the bombs was not necessary. I disagree based on Emperor Hirohito specifically citing the bombs as the reason for his decision to surrender. In World War II, the fire bombings of Tokyo and Dresden and almost all of Germany's bombings of England are a lot harder to justify based on the military effect achieved versus the civilian casualties inflicted.

 

I disagree. Historically, the only case in which nuclear weapons have been used has been when only one (or a few) states have had them. There is a direct relationship between the number of nuclear armed countries and their usage. That said, a big part of that has been moving to the use of computer generated models for testing nuclear weapons.

 

There is a myth that the United States is the only country that used the nuclear bomb in anger. There's a wonderful article out there by Masahide Kato about how the vast majority of nuclear bombs that have been dropped in "tests" have been dropped on the 'fourth world' - which is to say, the lands of indigenous and native people. Nuclear war isn't a mythic end, it's a lived reality.

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I'm always surprised by people painting this as a choice between an amphibious invasion of Japan and the use of the atomic bombs. Japan's an island. Its navy was in shambles. Its air force was in shambles. Its industrial capacity to replace these assets was in shambles. Extracting a formal surrender from the government seems, frankly, unnecessary.

There was also the option of conventional bombing, but the basic question was what would be required to force a peace. If you're suggesting that simply declaring the war won and going home was an option, I think you vastly overestimate the shambles. Japan certainly wasn't going to win, but it also wasn't going to give up, and not forcing it to could leave it free to attack again.

 

I mean, if a country has already launched an unannounced attack, it's a little much to expect anyone to accept an end to the war that doesn't involve some kind of formal end or everyone's going to have the nagging doubt that they'll do it again. And recently after the Meiji Restoration, expecting Japan to be able to suddenly pull industrial capacity out of nowhere might seem reasonable.

 

—Alorael, who thinks the real problem might be that Japan was beaten but not humbled. And the experiences of the Pacifific theater created the real fear that it would take extreme measures to do so or have a permanent foe honor-bound to avenge itself.

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The Imperial Japanese Army and Navy's tendency to follow Bushido also had a psychological effect on the decision makers in the US and British Empires. The rules of war as codified in Europe (and followed fairly well between Germany, France, Italy, GB and USA ((though not between Germany and its own population, USSR and its own population or Germany and USSR and each other or anyone in the way))) emphasized attempting to reduce the suffering of war. To that end, surrendering when you no longer had the means to resist was an honorable choice and POWs were to be treated well. With the limitations above, that actually mostly happened. Surrender was not seen as honorable by Imperial Japan which led to the commitment of "war crimes" (Japan had not agreed to follow the rules), but also to the US and GB's perception that Imperial Japan was not going to surrender at a "rational" point in time. We can sit here with hindsight and pick many dates after the Battle of Midway and say that it should have been obvious to Japan that they had lost the war and that they should have tried to negotiate a peace, but that did not happen in reality and there is not any reason to be confident that it would have happened by 1 Nov.

 

The large scale bombing of the home islands did not start until Nov of 1944 and was somewhat limited by weather and especially logistics until Spring 45. It is certainly likely (though impossible to prove) that three more months of bombings at the intensity level achieved from Mar 45 on would have killed a couple hundred thousand civilians. In addition to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there were a couple of other cities that had been left largely untouched that could have been targeted for conventional bombing as well. The payloads for the raids was going up as well as the bombers were leaving more and more of their defensive armament behind. Even if not quite as many civilians would have been killed in the bombings, the invasions would have killed far more civilians and far more people on both sides.

 

Nuclear testing by the five security council members certainly displaced many people, destroyed their way of life and increased cancer rates, but I believe that to describe nuclear testing as nuclear warfare is a bit extreme and underplays how awful an actual nuclear war would be. As the negative environmental impacts of nuclear weapons were better understood, above ground nuclear testing stopped as did the atoms for peace program. There are also some military intelligence benefits to doing your testing underground as well. Generally countries have stopped their underground testing as they nuclear weapons industrial complex has gotten to the point of fully understanding their design and manufacturing. Computer sims are great, but developing them requires test data. Currently Israel is the only nation that is thought to have nuclear weapons that might not have done live testing, all of the others have done real tests. If Iran is going to be the next member of the nuclear weapons club, it would be to their benefit to announce their membership via a successful underground full scale test as well, not through a sim.

 

Goldengirl, you are essentially making a second amendment argument that if guns exist, everyone should have one. Interestingly enough, I am coming in on the other side (despite my pro second amendment stance) and saying that the only reasons that we have not had more deaths due to nuclear weapons is that so few nations have them. We have seen poorly controlled chemical weapons used in places like Iraq and Syria where the government may very well have not been involved in deciding to use them. I have a good degree of confidence in the security of the US, GB and French nuclear weapons and how difficult it would be to capture a modern nuclear weapon and use it in an unauthorized manor. I have a bit less confidence in the USSR, Israel and the PRC's arsenals. I have some degree of confidence in North Koreas and India's protections against unauthorized use (but not in their rationality when it comes to authorized use), and not nearly as much confidence as I would like in Pakistans protections. If you start giving them out to Iran, Lybia, Iraq, East Timor, etc, you start getting into countries that do not have the resources/will to protect the weapons from unauthorized use even if you trust their definition of authorized use.

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It used to be that two armies would meet up in a field or some other decently out of the way location. Heck, even castles were usually just self-contained forts rather than major urban centers. They would duke it out and then the winner would be declared, including a formal surrender (or else retreat). This is the kind of warfare that Carl Schmitt glorifies in his text the Concept of the Political, which is a pretty cool piece of political theory, at least from a historical perspective. A state is an organization that has the power to declare and wage war, according to his definition.

 

War doesn't really happen at all like this anymore. Enemies are enemies to be absolutely destroyed, not merely defeated. Total war exists. Rules of war still attempt to guide conflict, but they are violated often and enforced loosely. The mere existence of nuclear weapons reifies this in an unfortunate way. Personally, I think that a world without nuclear weapons is desirable. However, I do not think it is one that we can achieve. In that case, we have a historical record that no two countries with nuclear armaments have gone to war with each other. Nuclear weaponry is a certain means of guaranteeing sovereignty, and in great enough proportion, even of establishing hegemony.

 

I disagree that this is like the second amendment argument. People can be disarmed easily and voluntarily. The argument I'm making is more akin to saying that it would be unwise for South Korea to disband its military.

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In that case, we have a historical record that no two countries with nuclear armaments have gone to war with each other.

No, but it's come awfully close to happening on multiple occasions. I agree with you that the weapons provide a strong incentive to avoid it, and I don't think it's an accident that it's come so close but has never actually happened. However, I also don't see any evidence that suggests it can't actually happen. Logic dictates that the more chances we give it, the more likely it is to actually happen at some point.

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