(from The Last American #1, order December 1990; by Alan Grant, John Wagner, and Michael McMahon)
I knew when I turned on the news Friday morning to discover that Barack Obama had won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize that we’d soon be awash in a flood of inane commentary from the usual sources. Besides the usual batshit partisan reactions we’ve all come to know and love, there was also a slightly more elevated discussion about whether Obama had done enough of merit to justify the award…though few remarked on the sorry state of affairs over the past decade resulting in a situation where having a responsible grownup in charge of the preeminent (for now) superpower was considered to be a Nobel-worthy event.
There was one reaction I had not anticipated — not through any lack of foresight on my part, but by the utterly staggering idiocy of the argument being made….in a supposedly respectable news magazine, to boot.
I suppose I should have expected no less from the “journalist” responsible for lending credibility and “balanced perspective” to the noxious bullshit machine otherwise known as Glenn Beck via a notoriously sloppy and poorly fact-checked Time puff piece, but the half-assed, fashionably confrontational argument that nuclear weapons are more worthy of the Peace Prize occupies a plane of idiocy all to itself.
The argument that “nukes = peace” isn’t a new one. In fact, I’ve got an issue of Time from 1983 in which a right-wing thinktanker takes a similar line of reasoning. What is new is the delivery, the glib and self-satisfied smugness of a freshman College Republican attempting to score points in a intro-level Poli-Sci course. (“Uh, no.” Really, Time? This is what passes for adult discourse these days in the House the Luces Built? Well, fuck. I’ll take the gig for half that dipshit’s current salary, and I’ll even tone down my language to a — sophisticated for Time — third-grade level.)
That the nuclear genie has escaped from the bottle is a lamentable tragedy, not something to be lauded (even with mealy-mouthed qualifiers) as an ambivalent boon to peaceful coexistence. It’s interesting that the author cites various examples of internal atrocities as examples of mankind’s bloody impulses, yet fails to cite the many bloody and varied proxy wars which emerged as a result of the supposed peace imposed by threat of mutual annihilation. I suppose there was peace of a sort…as long as you weren’t a resident of Vietnam, the Middle East, Angola, or various Latin American countries where the ugly impulses of empire sublimated themselves over decades of “low-intensity” bloodletting.
It was a peace paid for (and still being paid for) at tremendous cost, and contingent on the assumptions that the same shitheels who couldn’t be trusted to abide diplomatically without the threat of nuclear exchange would be consistently willing to back away from the brink. The nuclear age has not been an uncomfortable “live and let live” arrangement, but a minefield of hazards continuously navigated in search of a decisive advantage, which in turn encourages proliferation and ramps up the likelihood of a final, fatal fuckup. This isn’t ancient history. It’s still being played out in places like Iran and North Korea as well as recent American talk of missile defense shields and how to overcome taboos regarding the use of “tactical” nuclear warheads.
But, hey, I guess it’s better than another conventional world war which exists in the imagination of a reporter who didn’t know the difference between 1,000,000 and 70,000 people.
There’s little security to this arrangement, just a host of potential nightmares kept in check by the mother of all standoffs. In the meantime, the maintenance of such a defensively hostile posture has seen the rise of the security state, the explosive growth of the military-industrial complex, the massive outflow of wealth to sustain the posture, long-term environmental ruin, and the psychic damage inflicted upon those generations who’ve been forced to live under the shadow of nuclear armageddon.
Vampires and ghosts are make-believe boogeymen. Nuclear weapons are all too real, and while it is possible to make concessions to the complexities of the horrifying situation, embracing those concessions as positives takes a whole ‘nother brand of stupidity.
Recommended listening: D.I. – Nuclear Funeral (from Team Goon, 1983)[audio:1015dinf.mp3]
If it wasn’t for nuclear weapons, you’d all be speaking Russian right now…because part of those trillions spent on weapons development would have gone instead to funding modern languages programs for K-12 students.