Nuclear armed nieghbours. That is what they are called. That is India and Pakistan. So, even when they are just seizing each other up, the world gets worried. That is simply because they are all nuclear capable states. They have been shooting down each other’s fighter crafts during the week in a test of strength which could escalate into something nasty. After all, nuclear weapons are not things to toy with.
It must be a very welcome story that, tomorrow, Friday, Pakistan will be handing over an Indian fighter pilot captured in the course of their aerial engagement earlier this week. The hope is that the two countries would seize on that gesture from Pakistan to produce a more peaceful relationship.
That would be important so that the world would have just the US and North Korea to worry about regarding the international politics of nuclear insanity. The difference in how Trump and Kim Jon Un understand de-nuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula has, for now, created a crease in the power game between the two. Their meeting appeared to have ended rather abruptly in Hanoi without the usual consensual closing press conference.
Scholars of international relations see the nuclear weapon problem in different ways. India and Pakistan have not gone to war precisely because they are all nuclear armed, says one of them in a journal article. That is to say that both knows that once any side presses the button, no one within the firing range will be left behind to tell the story. Those studying that line of argument are asking the logical question of why then doesn’t everyone be allowed to have nuclear weapons if nuclear deterrence works. If it guarantees peace, then why the Nuclear Taboo, they ask?
The counter argument is: when everyone has it, someone might, one day, push the button. So, the best thing is, let no one have it. That appears to be where the world is today. But the nuclear armed powers do not want to de-nuclearise. They are so fearful of the other that they cannot contemplate it.
But, the finality of nuclear weapons for life on earth is such that it is puzzling the campaign against nuclear armament is not as robust as it should be. A lot of work, spearheaded by the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons, (ICAN) is going on. Many would think the volume level from the advocacy and campaigning on it is not echoing as powerfully as it should across the world. The message about everyone de-nuclearising has been heard loud and clear everywhere. What is loud enough is one great power insisting on one small aspiring nuclear power somewhere to hands up or get punished when it should apply to all.
The Nobel Peace prize givers have made significant contribution to this position by awarding the 2017 prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, (ICAN).