2016/12/04

Five years, that's all I've got

NEW BLOG HERE

Loyal readers of this blog, if there are any left, may have noticed that I have departed from my original purpose in 2011 of writing about the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe and all the various problems with nuclear energy. Over the past year, most of the blog posts have been about nuclear disarmament and its relation to the broader issues of war and international relations.
This drift happened because I felt I had covered everything there was to say about the argument against nuclear energy. There are things left to say. The nuclear catastrophes are not over, but they are being covered well elsewhere, so I shifted my attention to nuclear disarmament because it seemed to be a more urgent problem as well as a prerequisite (or co-requisite) of the abolition of nuclear energy. I’ve been on this topic also because there are some aspects of it that I believe are not being addressed sufficiently by most disarmament groups that tend to have a single-issue orientation.
Nuclear disarmament receives a lot more attention than the threats posed by the proliferation of nuclear power plants, and all of the groups fighting for disarmament seem to have made a strategic choice not to put the elimination of nuclear energy on their agenda. Article IV of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) gives all parties the right to develop nuclear energy for “peaceful purposes.” Much attention is paid to the other articles of the treaty that oblige the nuclear powers to work toward disarmament, but the proliferation problems arising from Article IV get passed over. The strategy is to get rid of the bombs first and worry about that other problem later. This neglect, however, takes nuclear power completely off the agenda of international politics, and reminds anti-nuclear activists that there is a very, very long road to travel to the elimination of all nuclear technologies. It is much more likely at this stage that nuclear power will fade away because of the emergence of renewable energy technologies as well as national and regional constraints on the continuation of this outdated way of producing electricity.
Nuclear disarmament groups also seem content to ignore the broader problems posed by international disparities in military spending and the proliferation of conventional military hardware. If this neglect continues, and if the movement succeeds in getting the UN to ratify an international treaty declaring nuclear weapons illegal, we will be left with a very destabilized world, with the United States vastly predominant in a non-nuclear armed world. Intercontinental ballistic missiles would be refitted with precision conventional bombs capable of putting any nation on earth back in the Stone Age within a matter of weeks. This has already been achieved with an assortment of various cruise missiles, air raids and drone attacks in Serbia (1999), Iraq (1991, 2003) and Libya (2011). An American predominance in space-based weapons and anti-ballistic missiles would simply add to the imbalance of power. The absence of nuclear deterrence among weaker powers could set off a new arms race based on old-fashioned dependence on tanks, heavy artillery, and so on, then there would be an increased risk of war, with a likelihood that in any conflict nuclear power plants would be demolished with conventional weaponry. The fire burning at just one destroyed nuclear fuel storage pool would be far worse than Chernobyl or Fukushima (depending on the status of its contents), and there could be multiple such disasters in a large-scale war. It would be nuclear war coming in a way that wasn’t expected, the good intentions of rapid nuclear disarmament leading to unforeseen consequences.
The recent defeat of the Democratic Party in the United States illustrated what happens when a regime spends decades compromising its core values in order to achieve short-term gains. Continually choosing the lesser evil eventually leads to a rendezvous with the evil we had first wanted to avoid. The disarmament movement is making the same mistake when it strategically decides to not talk about nuclear energy, then scoffs at nations that hesitate to embrace the instability that would follow a ban on nuclear weapons. It is easy to laugh at this fear of instability and dismiss it as an outrageous excuse to go on endangering life on the planet, but we laugh at our own peril. It is not so easy to convince people who remember the battle of Stalingrad in 1942-43, as well as the humiliation, economic devastation and NATO expansion that followed the nuclear arms reductions of the 1980s and 1990s.
The Russians and the Chinese are having none of this talk of a ban on nuclear weapons as long as the US regards them as a threat to America’s preferred version of “global order.” They are quick to remind the global community that it wasn’t they who set off the nuclear arms race in 1945. They expect America to lead the way not only to nuclear disarmament but also to a general demilitarization and retrenchment of its global supremacy toward a world of balanced interests. The first stop on nuclear disarmament's "road to Damascus" (pun intended) is the Pentagon.
Since my writing is moving on to other topics, this blog will no longer be updated with weekly posts. The title no longer matches what I want to write about, and besides, the title never really worked after the blog evolved in unexpected ways. I received comments telling me I was a compromising sellout for not wanting a nuclear free world tomorrow, and I received others telling me that 2045 was much too soon, too much of a quixotic dream (as if I didn’t know.) But nowadays, I don’t get any comments at all.
The blog still receives 500-1000 views every week, but I have no way of knowing how many people read beyond the first paragraph, how many are students looking for a report they can copy and paste into an assignment, or how many are just web crawlers, bots and security agencies scouring the internet. Book offers never came, and no one from bigger journals and alternative media sites asked to republish my articles. In a way, I feel like I have failed for not having made it to the Washington Post’s recent list of “fake news” sites that included all the respectable alternative media websites—the ones that must be “fake” and overrun with useful idiots for the mythical Russian propaganda machine—just because they question American foreign policy. But alas, no one from the Russian embassy here in Tokyo ever tracked me down and took me out for coffee to discuss a mutually beneficial arrangement. I remain unaffiliated, un-sponsored and non-commercial, writing for reasons yet to be fully revealed, even to myself.
The best thing about writing this blog, aside from whatever educational merit it provided to the world and whatever it did to keep my aging brain sharp, was the number of friendships it led to. Family and friends read the blog regularly and offered encouragement, or stayed politely silent when I was being too outrageous for their liking. There were also many new friends who contacted me through email and social media. Some I have met in person, some I might meet someday, but to meet them all the list is too long, the distances too vast, and the years remaining too limited. I would name you all, but you might prefer that I didn’t, so I’ll just say a big THANK YOU. You all know who you are.

 THE NEW BLOG PICKS UP WHERE THIS ONE LEAVES OFF.

5 comments:

  1. Looking forward to see what you do next. Hope you post a link here, so please one more post! Thanks for all the information; you've tipped me off to several good books and I hope you write one, one day, too.

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement. Yes, I will post links to whatever I do next.

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  2. posting anti nuclear bad news articles helps battle against the pro nuclear press .. The trawler bots from the finance world is big buisness and helps to decide the areas of funding to go into and avoid .. no matter your hit rate .. http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2015/04/bot_makes_2_4_million_reading_twitter_meet_the_guy_it_cost_a_fortune.html
    regards arclight

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  3. Hi Dennis,

    I'm a reader who values your writing (have linked to you on one of my own sites), but rarely has time to comment. Or need... you always cover the ground thoroughly!

    So let me say, belatedly, that I've found your thoughts and reporting one of very to 'go-to' sources for level headed opposition to both nuclear power and weapons.

    Thank you for the effort you've put out in these posts and best wishes for your future endeavours! Wish there were more like you out there.

    Sincerely,

    Dave Zeiger

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    1. Thanks, Dave. I noticed the links going up on your blog and read it often (http://teotwurbulence.blogspot.jp/) Thanks for the comment. It's great to have some reactions once in a while.

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