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University of Southern California Nuclear Weapons Rendered War Unthinkable Essay

University of Southern California Nuclear Weapons Rendered War Unthinkable Essay


Title: Limiting and Controlling the Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Pragmatic Approach


The development and deployment of nuclear weapons undoubtedly marked a turning point in human history, ushering in an era of unprecedented destructive power. As a result, the global community has been faced with a crucial dilemma: whether to ban the possession and use of nuclear weapons altogether or opt for a strategy that focuses on limiting and controlling their spread. While the abolition of nuclear weapons seems ideal, a more pragmatic approach would be to advocate for limiting their possession and spread. This stance takes into account historical facts, strategic realities, and the intricate balance between peace and security.

Historical Context

The historical context of nuclear weapons cannot be overlooked when considering their role in shaping global politics. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II demonstrated the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of these weapons, prompting international efforts to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. The establishment of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 marked a significant milestone, as it aimed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons while allowing states to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Limiting and Controlling Nuclear Weapons

A complete ban on nuclear weapons might seem desirable on moral grounds, but it is crucial to acknowledge the practical challenges associated with such a move. The existence of nuclear deterrence has arguably contributed to a decrease in the frequency of large-scale conflicts between major powers. The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union serves as a prime example. Both sides possessed nuclear arsenals, creating a balance of power that discouraged direct military confrontation.

Furthermore, advocating for complete nuclear disarmament might undermine the principle of national sovereignty. States have legitimate security concerns that prompt them to seek nuclear capabilities as a deterrent against potential threats. The possession of nuclear weapons could be seen as a means for smaller or less politically stable nations to protect themselves against potential aggression from larger powers.

Strategic Stability and Arms Control

Strategic stability is a vital consideration when addressing the question of nuclear weapons. Instead of pursuing complete disarmament, the international community should focus on arms control and disarmament treaties. Agreements like the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the U.S. and Russia have led to significant reductions in the number of deployed nuclear weapons, enhancing global security.

Complete disarmament would also raise concerns about the potential for cheating and clandestine nuclear programs. By implementing stringent verification measures, arms control agreements can minimize the risk of proliferation while allowing nations to maintain a minimum deterrent capability.

The NPT and Diplomacy

The NPT has played a crucial role in preventing the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons. While some critics argue that it has not entirely prevented new states from acquiring nuclear capabilities, the treaty has undeniably slowed down the spread of these weapons. Countries that initially pursued nuclear programs, such as South Africa, Libya, and Ukraine, abandoned them due to international pressure and diplomatic efforts.


In a perfect world, the complete abolition of nuclear weapons would be the ultimate goal. However, this stance fails to account for the complex geopolitical landscape and the role of nuclear deterrence in maintaining peace among major powers. A more pragmatic approach would involve limiting the possession and spread of nuclear weapons through arms control agreements, strict verification mechanisms, and diplomatic efforts. By striking a balance between security concerns and disarmament, the international community can work towards a safer world while acknowledging the realities of power politics.

University of Southern California Nuclear Weapons Rendered War Unthinkable Essay



Have nuclear weapons rendered war unthinkable? Should the world ban the possession and use of nuclear weapons, or should it agree to limit and control the inevitable spread of these weapons? Write an essay with a clear stance either in favor of banning the weapons entirely or limiting the possession and spread of nuclear weapons. Use historical facts to support your argument.

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