Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

Genies and Wish Lists

Posted by hyperpat on October 11, 2006

So it looks like North Korea now has (gasp!) the Bomb. And all the other countries that have it are all up in arms about it, and are threatening dire things. Certainly sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. Look, if I lived in a small, relatively undeveloped country surrounded by neighbors who might not be all that friendly, I think I might want to have something that would make those neighbors think twice, too.

Does this mean that I endorse the idea of N. Korea having such a weapon? No, I don’t – it means that here is one more potential flash point in the world, one more place where people of unbalanced minds might be able to get their hands on an item with which they can do some real damage to whomever comes into their addled minds. In other words, the peace and security level of the world just went down a notch.

But all this posturing by the big powers is ridiculous. The first item to remember is that developing such capability is merely a matter of money and engineering. No scientific breakthroughs required, no unusual new tools that have to be developed, as all that has already been done. As long as you’re willing to spend a lot of money, obtaining the required tools and raw material is not a large hurdle. And once you have those items, deriving the required engineering data to build a useful bomb is an exercise in plodding along (or, with more money, certain parties just might be willing to sell you that supposedly ultra-secret data). Perhaps the most difficult part of this is getting the proper raw material with the proper ratio of fissionables – something that can be a byproduct of an appropriately designed nuclear power plant (which everyone endorses as nice things to have), which is why the Iranian situation is also being raked over the coals by this same set of super-powers. But this technological genie can’t be put back in the bottle, no matter how hard people try.

But for one country that has such weapons to tell another country it can’t develop them, or, you know, we just might have to do something to hurt you,  is moral hypocrisy of the first order. If we, or a small group of countries, are going to lay down such demands, then we need to acknowledge what we are – a world dictator, which is what most people in the world consider us to be anyway. Or get rid of all such weapons, completely. And this last won’t happen, because, you know, this genie is well out of the bottle, and no longer listens to our wish list.

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