Ever since the United States ended World War II by dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons have had a part to play in nearly every major conflict that America has faced. A question that sparks debate from people on both sides of the political spectrum is: “Is it necessary for any country to have nuclear weapons as a means of safety, or are they good for nothing but costing civilians their lives?
Former President Ronald Reagan once stated that, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” To paraphrase, Reagan is saying that in any given situation where it becomes necessary to for both sides to use nuclear weapons, the results would be utter devastation for both sides. This sentiment is shared by much of our country today, many believe that the United States’ excessive funding of nuclear weapon projects (35 billion every year!) could be better spent towards other issues that are plaguing the country.
On the other hand, some believe the nuclear weapons have become a necessity in our world today, with the argument that serve to prevent any further nuclear devastation. The world saw the effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and every country knew that any damage of that magnitude would cripple their economy and population. Furthermore, the nuclear weapons in our world today are approximately 60 times more devastating than the ones dropped in Japan. Advocates for nuclear weapons argue that there is an imperative for countries to own nuclear weapons in order to keep other countries at bay. One can argue that if every nation is in the possession of nuclear weapons, there is too much fear of the ruin that nuclear weapons would bring unto a nation, that no sane world leader would resort to the usage of them.
An additional problem that arises from the use of nuclear weapons is the amount of leverage it may give one country over another. For example, the United States has had a significant arsenal of nuclear weapons since the days of the Cold War, giving them a great deal of power over the amount of nuclear weapons another country develops. This segue ways into a related topic, of how the United State’s power gives them the ability to act as “the world’s police force” controlling the level of nuclear weaponry other countries are allowed to possess. This has resulted in backlash from heads of several other world powers, claiming that the United States is infringing on their rights to defend themselves.
The destruction that nuclear weapons have the power to cause was predicted by the late scientist Albert Einstein shortly after World War II ended, “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” Regardless of whether you believe that nuclear weapons belong in the hands of any nation in modern society, a nuclear war is something capable of setting humanity back thousands of years, and must be avoided at all cost. As of now, the Cold War is the closest call we’ve had of starting a nuclear war, and it is impossible to predict what state the world would be in today if one had been set into motion. It is critical to recognize the utter havoc that nuclear weapons have the ability to unleash on society, and this must be taken into account when deciding their future, and the amount of federal funds that should be spent on them.