By Peter Moreau
The United States and other nations throughout the imperial core are the major contributors towards nuclear proliferation. Second only to the climate crisis, nuclear proliferation is the largest danger to humanity and Earth. There are nuanced discussions to be had about the possession of nuclear weapons that extend beyond the blanket statement of “no more nuclear weapons,” even though this blanket statement reflects the future Communists strive for. Our movement needs to support revolutionary nuclear deterrence while simultaneously upholding the nuclear disarmament that is necessary for the safe and stable future of humanity.
Since the Cold War, which spanned most of the 20th Century, there have been warnings about nuclear apocalypse. In a nuclear war there are no winners. The destruction caused by nuclear war would destroy all of the development of the past two to three centuries and put humanity back into a pre-industrial level of development. Despite this very real threat, Western nations insist on carrying enough nuclear weapons to destroy all of humanity and, at the same time, warn about non-western aligned nations carrying nuclear weapons. It is worth noting that the United States is the only nation to use nuclear weapons during a military conflict.
During the Cold War, the U.S. increased its nuclear arsenal’s capabilities. The United States’ rapid production of thermonuclear bombs, capable of leveling cities in the blink of an eye, had repercussions around the world, including in the Soviet Union. The Soviets knew that, after Japan in World War II, they were the next nuclear target of imperialism. They further knew that there was only one way to avoid the destruction of their people at the hands of the Americans: nuclear deterrence. The development of nuclear weapons in the USSR was a survival measure aimed at countering this threat. For example, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, one of the reasons that Kennedy did not activate any nuclear weapons was because the US did not have a first strike capacity against the Soviets at that time. The Soviets had one or two ICBMs which could reach the Northeast of the US and cause a few million casualties which was an unacceptable political loss for Kennedy. If it were not for those nuclear weapons in the USSR, then millions of Soviet and Cuban people would have perished at the hands of the US in their attempt to dominate the sphere of influence that the Soviets had created.
As Michael Parenti once pointed out, the “arms race” with the Soviets was not an arms race, it was an arms chase. The Soviets reluctantly followed in the United States’ footsteps, working to diminish the gap in the nuclear arsenals between the two nations and prevent the Americans from gaining a first strike capacity. Any steps taken in the escalation in nuclear weapons technology by the U.S. was apprehensively followed by the Soviets. The U.S. continued to develop its arsenal while trying to block them from developing, producing, or improving their own.
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is one of the best examples of revolutionary nuclear deterrence. After the sweeping destruction of the Korean people and the devastation of the DPRK by the Americans during the Korean War, the Americans diplomatically and economically isolated the DPRK. This aggression against the DPRK continues today. One of the largest military games every year occurs on the southern border of the DPRK, where the imperialist superpower prepares to invade the North again. The only reason that the West does not put a violent end to the DPRK’s socialist project is the revolutionary nuclear deterrence of its government. If not for this, then the socialist project would be eliminated.
Of course, Communists do not wish death or destruction on any person, but Communists will fight just wars for the abolition of war. This is the case in the DPRK, they have no wish to kill the innocent workers of other nations, but their nuclear arms procurement is for the survival of socialism and the advancement towards the next stage of humanity.
We all wish for a nuclear-free future, but what does that look like? A nuclear-free future will likely be a socialist one. The end of nuclear proliferation and the dismantling of all nuclear weapons will likely only happen in a socialist world as nuclear proliferation and war are both a result of imperialism and are inseparably linked. In a socialist world, however, nuclear material could be used for peaceful goals such as the creation of clean energy and not in the destruction of our fellow workers. Recent discoveries in nuclear fusion potentially open the door for a clean, safe, and highly efficient form of energy which could power all of humanity at little cost to the environment.
This future and the end of nuclear aggression will only end however, with the destruction of imperialism. It is important to understand the main targets of imperialism and to understand why this is the case. The U.S. still aims its nuclear proliferation against the Socialist Bloc. The end of the Cold War was not the end of its nuclear aggression. Socialist countries like the DPRK and China as well as imperialist targets like Russia and other nations are clear examples of a dangerous game of nuclear aggression that the NATO-aligned imperialist nations play. If Communists wish to see a world devoid of nuclear weapons, then we must support China and other nations waging anti-imperialist struggles including their own nuclear deterrence projects. The only future for humanity is one that is socialist and nuclear-weapon free.