Feeding the flames of perpetual fear

Growing up, I was reminded, time and time again, how lucky I was not to live through the Cold War — not to grow up fearing the possibility of a nuclear Armageddon.

As a kid, I never had to worry about such things. But now, at 27 years old, I find myself worrying about that very thing.

My mom, who went to school all over the San Francisco Bay Area, told me about the drills they used to run at school. Not just fire and earthquake drills, but drills for the event of a nuclear blast.

This is a reality my generation didn’t grow up with. We only ever saw nukes in movies and history class, but in the last few months, this has changed.

Recently, both America and Russia have pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF.

The INF treaty has restricted both countries from developing nuclear capable ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges from 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

In addition to restricting the development of these missiles, the treaty also enabled 10-year onsite verification inspections. This allowed American inspectors to enter Russian nuclear weapons facilities, and vice versa, which led to the deconstruction of 2,692 nuclear missiles.

As of Feb. 1, President Donald Trump formally suspended the INF, due to what he referred to as a “violation.” The Russians denied the accusations and followed their American counterparts in suspending the treaty the following day.

Does this mean we could be entering a new Cold War with Russia? Not necessarily, but both countries, just days after, promised to bulk up their land-based nuclear arsenals and modernize their current stockpiles.

I don’t understand the idea of wanting to continue the cycle of perpetual fear and needless spending of our tax dollars, on weapons that have zero practical use, even in war.

The modernization of these weapons has no bearing on the progress of humanity, nor does it help us understand anything new about the splitting of an atom.

In each instance, from the two cities destroyed in Japan at the end of the second World War, to the thousands of tests conducted by more than 11 countries, we’ve learned that these weapons not only kill quickly, they also have a ripple effect that can eradicate hundreds of people after the initial strike.

Research shows that these weapons are useful for one thing and one thing only: Mutually assured destruction — accurately abbreviated to the acronym, MAD.

We all know what will happen if either side uses even one of these weapons. We will just wipe each other off the face of the Earth, and that’s not a comfort to me. As a society, we expect our government to protect us. But when is it our responsibility to tell our government that this is not protection; it’s a sure-fire way to destroy the world as we know it?

When world leaders play with such things as plutonium-laced bargaining chips, no one is the winner in that game.

In my opinion, nuclear weapons are the single greatest mistake ever created by man. They ensure nothing but our own destruction.

I worry that we don’t currently have the proper leadership to protect our nation from another nuclear Armageddon.

Click here to submit a letter to the editor about this post.