Den Beste tackles the timely issue of nuclear weapons. He has a lot to say about it, and it's worth a read
. I, however, wanted to add something about nukes that was brought up in my International Security/Military Strategies class yesterday. The prof. (whom I think is absolutely top notch) explained the concept of Nuclear Taboo, which is generally explained to be a universal norm against the use of such deadly weapons by a nuclear state against a non-nuclear state, and I realized that the whole thing is a complete farce! It doesn't really exist. I raised the point (slightly incoherently) in class, but I don't think my point really got across. I'll try to explain a little more clearly here:
In reality, there is no "universal norm against the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state" that has kept them from being used. What has existed, however, is a set of beliefs, held by all nuclear capabilities up until today, about the value of human life and the unacceptability of human suffering that would arise from the use of nukes. Think about it, who has nuclear weapons? America, France, Israel, Britain, etc. These are democratic countries that regard human life as sacred. Imagine if the situation between Israel and Egypt had been reversed during the '73 war, and Egypt (or any other Arab country) had possessed nuclear weapons while Israel had not. Do you think Arabs would have worried about the taboo associated with nuking a bunch of Jews? Do you think the notion of "nuclear taboo" would have survived passed 1973? Neither do I.
Maybe I'm harping on semantics here, but I really think that the distinction is an important one to be made. The professor's definition of "nuclear taboo" is based on a belief in the inherent rationality and morality of all world leaders. This would have been valid up until Iraq and North Korea came along and got a few nukes of their own. In today's world, assuming the existence of nuclear taboo is stupid at best, deadly at worst, which is why disarming Saddam et. al. is so crucial.