At a very fundamental level, war is about defending against a perceived or actual threat. Such aggressions have been frequently used throughout history to defend ideas, ideologies and territories- but more recently, economies.
Unlike any other defence environment, the theatre of nuclear war exists in a state of near-permanent checkmate. Every participant (a participant being a nation who openly, opaquely, or otherwise have nuclear weapons capability) knows their weapons capability acts as the ultimate defensive posture, insofar as even the smallest of modern nuclear devices has adequate yield and range to destroy a city. Larger weapons (as held by ‘nuclear weapons states’ under the non-proliferation-treaty) could not only level a city, but create earthquakes, life-threatening injuries out to almost a hundred kilometres, and render the blast area uninhabitable for many decades. One could argue the ethics of possessing devices with such an existential threat capability, but the fact remains, that for most military countries- nuclear weapons are a ‘risk-manager’. While some nations do possess “first strike” capability (a country’s ability to defeat another nuclear power by destroying its arsenal to the point where the attacking country can survive the weakened retaliation while the opposing side is left unable to continue war) the main purpose of the arsenal is purely defensive as neither party would, in theory, wish to engage in a war that would (in all likelihood) irrevocably destroy the majority of their countries- incredibly quickly. Continue reading