II- The Most Pressing Challenges to International Security: Why Nuclear Proliferation is One
Indeed, despite the often dramatically conflated international coverage on terrorism, and despite the attention it receives on the international stage as a major issue, there are more pressing issues to global peace and security.
Nuclear proliferation is one example. There is almost no denying that the issue of nuclear proliferation has always been an urgent and pressing challenge to world peace and security since the inception of nuclear weapons. Indeed, there are several reasons to believe that the proliferation of nuclear weapons constitutes a major (if not the major) challenge to world peace and security today, nearly three decades after the end of the Cold War.
Conceptually, nuclear proliferation is to be understood as both vertical proliferation (the increase in nuclear arsenals of a nuclear state) and horizontal proliferation (the acquisition of nuclear weapons (or their materials) by new actors). This understanding is crucially important for the development that follows. Thus, my central argument is that the proliferation of nuclear weapons inherently endangers world peace and security, regardless of whether we are talking about vertical or horizontal proliferation. Moreover, the conceptualization also helps shed light on the challenges stemming from “the rise of great power” in our age of nuclear armaments and great power competitions. For that reason, I also argue that, despite the promise that led to the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 1970, little is actually being done beyond mere political rhetorics to bring about a world free of intermittent nuclear threats.
Few people, for instance, would deny today that nuclear weapons have always been horrendous from their inception. In that sense, one only needs to consider the bombing of the two Japanese cities—Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and the near nuclear-apocalypse brought about by the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 to understand the inherent dangers nuclear weapons embody. That is, the fact that they are of horrendous implications and that they are of immeasurable destructions with enduring consequences is well beyond doubt. Perhaps, Schelling (2008)’s marked observation sums it up in the most forceful way possible. In Arms and Influence, for instance, Schelling (2008) opens his 1966 preface with the striking remark that: “One of the lamentable principles of human productivity is that it is easier to destroy than to create… And a country can destroy more with twenty billion dollars of nuclear armament than it can create with twenty billion dollars of foreign investment. The harm that people can do, or that nations can do, is impressive. And it is often used to impress”. With such a gloomy yet compelling principle “of human productivity” in mind, it would interesting to now consider how each of the proliferation (horizontal and vertical) constantly threatens global peace and security. (Soon to come)!
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