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View Diary: Syrian foreign minister: We will sign chemical weapons ban treaty, allow United Nations inspections (112 comments)

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  •  That's completely fair (1+ / 0-)
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    and something like sarin does degrade in the environment very quickly (though VX hangs out for a while, to be fair.) That is a major difference.

    But while sarin is there, it kills or seriously harms -- longterm, chronic, at enough dosage -- everybody who comes into any contact with it at all. Civilians, emergency workers -- heck, if the wind manages to shift it around, it can hit the side that launched it, which is why they usually do it from afar or by plane.

    And once somebody has something that does that, once they clearly are willing to use something like that, the reality is that the only way that other actors can feel confident that their civilians won't get hit is to have a sort of mutually assured destruction thing going on. There is no defending from that, in reality, so the only thing left is to count on deterring through blowback. In the case of nukes, this is why we had the cold war. In the case of chem warfare, it's not necessarily true that it wants to go to some sort of proliferation, but it's not unlikely, either.

    I disagree that it's the fallout only that distinguishes a nuke. I wouldn't be ok with a firebombing, either, to be clear. The scale of devastation humans bring on each other is maddening on every plane. But taking the worst of the worst pieces out of that is high on my list of "yes, please."

    Thank you for good discussion on it, in any case. Yes, the fallout does matter, I agree, but I wouldn't be ok with nuclear weapons even if they didn't leave the fallout, honestly. Their only realistic purpose is to slaughter people who are just trying to go about their business as civilians.

    Nature allows a huge amount of awful; nukes work, sarin works, and the more we understand about physiology, the more ways we can probably come up with to make awful things that screw it up. We don't have to continue making all of the awful things that natural law allows for actually happen.

    I have to go for now, but thank you for good discussion on it.

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