On what ethical grounds do countries justify possession of nuclear weapons? What is your stand on the issue? (150 W/ 10 M)

Mentor’s Comment:

The question is straight forward and simple. Nuclear arms are meant for destruction and possess the threat for humanity. However, there are various grounds on which countries justify the possession of Nuclear Weapons. However, we need to talk and explain only the ethical ground of possession of N-Weapon like proportionality, just cause, peaceful use, last resort, immunity, non-combatants etc… etc…

Then, mention your view for the possession of N-Weapon and bring logical points in support of your arguments.

Bring conclusion on the basis of points mentioned.

Model Answer:

Like so many of the issues relating to nuclear weapons, the debate is built largely on speculation and ambiguous historical experience. Nuclear weapons remain attractive to insecure or ambitious states. In regional rivalries such as the subcontinent, East Asia, and the Middle East, the bomb still has influence. Nuclear status still imparts extraordinary prestige and power. The countries justify possession of nuclear weapons on various grounds. Most important of them is the ethical one.

Ethical grounds of countries possessing nuclear weapons:

  • Ethical criteria include: proportionality, just cause, last resort, immunity of noncombatants and reasonable prospect of success
  • Nuclear weapons may be evil, but they have helped restore and maintain it.
  • There is still a widespread view, for instance, that Hiroshima and Nagasaki hastened the end of the Second World War.
  • On this view, the fact that there has not been war between nuclear-armed states has to do with the credible fear of mutually assured destruction.
  • Various countries suggested that, with more nuclear states the world will have a promising future.
  • Countries argue that it’s too late to unlearn what we know. Once the technical know how is out there, you can’t turn back the clock.
  • If, moreover, the most conscientious states renounce nuclear weapons, than nuclear weapons will be left in the hands of the least conscientious states.
  • Such a scenario would lead to state-level blackmail.
  • A country that has intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) with nuclear warheads could dictate another country’s policy.
  • Belligerent states could credibly threaten to incinerate cities with impunity.
  • There’d be no limit to the moral concessions it could extract from desperate populations.
  • Example of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are prime.
  • It reflected on military ethics in general, i.e. the criteria for morally licit warfare.
  • Humans are social creatures; we live in communities. In order to secure our human rights and liberties, it’s often necessary to pool our collective resources. These are like internal military alliances.
  • Even a great deal of evil, such as nuclear strikes on populated areas, may need to be endured for the pursuit of a greatly important and legitimate aim, such as survival.

According to me,

  • Nuclear weapons should be banned.
  • For me, continued dependence on these weapons is not only evil but also detrimental to international peace and stability.
  • It is notable in this regard that recent scholarship has cast some doubts on the idea that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki played a central role in Japan’s decision to surrender.
  • And, even if nuclear deterrence added to strategic stability between the superpower-led ideological blocs during the Cold War, it clearly failed to curb numerous conflicts that occurred elsewhere. Indeed, it may have made their incidence more likely as proxy wars.
  • Even with the best of intentions amongst nuclear-armed states, there are always risks of accidents and inadvertent escalations that may trigger nuclear exchanges.
  • The possibility that nuclear-armed states may go rogue, collapse, or fail to prevent their arsenal from falling into the hands of terrorists, can scarcely be ignored.

We categorically reject nuclear strikes because they rob their victims, fellow human beings, of human qualities by subjecting them to unspeakable inhumanity and reducing them to the status of mere instruments for the benefit of the rest of us. The challenge now is to foster a broader political consensus on the intrinsic wrongfulness of nuclear weapons. Such a consensus would furnish a solid conviction with which to fill the legal gap.