Today we live in a world of uncertainty. If the situation in Cuba escalates any further, the world as we know it will be annihilated. I question the logic of our world leaders; do they not comprehend the destruction that these weapons can bring to humanity? For our country to once again use these weapons of mass destruction as pawns in a political chess match is pushing our luck.
Thankfully, seventeen years ago the world was relatively unarmed when the United States “open[ed] the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale” by dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Leo Szilard). Over the past couple of decades, there has been an exponential increase in nuclear development. Today, if WMDs were to be used, it would almost certainly result in mutually assured destruction. Nobody wants to live in a destroyed world.
If we do not learn from the previous mistake of using nuclear weapons, we will not be given a second chance. With the current hostile tension between the US and the USSR, one slip up will result in a series of catastrophic events. We have already witnessed the destruction that nuclear weapons are capable of; we cannot risk escalating the tensions in Cuba for any longer. For the sake of the world, we must immediately solve this crisis with diplomacy or prepare to face Armageddon.
The use of nuclear weapons is particularly immoral due to their effects on civilians who are not the targets of war. After Nagaski, citizens were left in shock. Their schools, homes, and families were all destroyed. Yasujiro Tanaka, a survivor of the horrific attacks of Nagaski recalls his sister who has had permanent kidney damage and chronic muscle cramps asking “what did I do to the Americans?’ and ‘why did they do this to me?” (Yasujiro Tanaka). What did the citizens of Japan do to deserve to be killed? Absolutely nothing. Innocent civilians are not government leaders and do not reside on the front line; civilians do not participate in war and, therefore, should not be treated like they do.
Tanaka’s sister is only one of hundreds of thousands of people who were victims of nuclear violence in World War II. Another wounded survivor, Masakatsu Obata, “was surrounded by a blinding light…[and]smothered by “the roof and walls of the factory.” At that moment, the only thought going through his head was that he was “going to die” (Masakatsu Obata). Others burned, suffered radiation sickness, and watch loved ones perish before their eyes. It is not right for weapons capable of these monstrosities exist, and if “ nuclear weapons… cannot coexist with humans,” as many claim (Taniguchi Sumiteru), we should denuclearize the world and, in doing so, avoid standoffs similar to the one the US is engaged in with the Soviets.
Additionally, in order to prevent the pending devastation, we first have to acknowledge that both the US and the USSR are in the wrong. The United States raised tensions by placing missiles in Turkey, and Russia significantly exacerbated relations by placing retaliatory missiles in Cuba, proceeding to lie about their transgressions. Furthermore, not only do both countries possess these inhumane weapons, but both nations are wrongfully using them to intimidate each other. These fear tactics only propel the world into a state of hostility as a result. The US, the definition of democracy, is supposed to represent the populace and keep its citizens safe. The people of the United States do not want to live in fear of doomsday, yet the US is still entangled in this nerve-racking conflict. By misrepresenting and endangering its people, the United States is completing neither of its jobs.
Currently, the whole world is in a constant state of fear, caused by the egos of two of the most powerful countries. This is why I’m advocating for worldwide disarmament of nuclear weapons. President Kennedy has said, himself, that nuclear weapons are a “definite threat to peace”(President Kennedy). In a hostile world, we cannot manage the use of such powerful weapons. We must learn from our previous mistakes, and it is essential that we fix them promptly. We need to discuss the issues with the USSR peacefully and effectively, but unless we do more to disarm the rest of the world, the security of our future generations is in doubt. It is imperative for the fate of our nation and all of humanity that we rid our world of the plague that is nuclear weapons and solve this crisis as soon as possible.
This OpEd (written by Curriculum Development Intern, Teddy Delisio) is written from the perspective of an American citizen, advocating for peaceful nuclear disarmament, during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. This article focuses on the danger of nuclear weapons, and why it is essential that the US does not start a nuclear conflict. This piece first reflects on the damage done during World War II in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then presents these devastating events as evidence on why nuclear warfare must be avoided. The goal of this article is to demonstrate the devastating impacts of nuclear weaponry.
“The National Archives Learning Curve: Heroes & Villains: Kennedy & Cuba: What Triggered the Missile Crisis?” The National Archives, www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/heroesvillains/transcript/g2cs2s1t.htm.
Sumiteru, Taniguchi. “Hibakusha Statement: ‘Humans Cannot Coexist with Nuclear Weapons’ .” United Nations, un.org.
Szilard, Leo. “A PETITION TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.” A Petition To The President Of The United States, www.atomicarchive.com/Docs/ManhattanProject/Petition.shtml.
Tanaka, Yasujiro, and Masakatsu Obata. “After the Bomb.” Time, time.com/after-the-bomb/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2019.
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