Back in the 1990s, Great Britain enacted legislation that has effectively outlawed the private ownership of firearms.
Driving south towards Great Falls, Mont., if you know what to look for, you’ll spot a handful of fenced compounds that look strangely out of place.
They have unusual names, such as Carl’s and State Religion and Fairfield Bench. They’re missile silos, containing Minuteman ICBMs with multiple nuclear warheads.
There are 150 such silos in Montana alone.
There are several hundred more in the Dakotas, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska, and they’ve been providing us with a nuclear umbrella for almost my entire life.
When I hear the president of the United States pledge to the United Nations that his government plans to reduce its nuclear arsenal even further, with the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether, I get a little nervous.
In the wake of the Dunblane School shooting, pressure groups persuaded the U.K. government to pass laws that effectively outlawed the ownership of handguns in Great Britain.
Proponents of the legislation took the position that British society, once purged of guns, would become a much safer place, and crime would be reduced. Sound familiar? It only made sense, as access to guns inherently leads to violence.
The exact opposite has happened. Since 1998, violent crime against people has skyrocketed in England, Scotland and Wales, along with crimes against property.
The bottom line is that the criminals have been emboldened by the fact that the citizenry of the true home of liberty has been completely disarmed. Even accounting for changes in the way crime is recorded, violent crime has doubled since 1998.
The problem rests with people who refuse to acknowledge that some people are bad guys and some aren’t.
You see, only hours apart from Obama’s nuclear pledge at the UN, the world was treated to another world leader addressing the UN.
This leader has pledged openly to destroy Israel, and has spent billions of his country’s dollars in pursuit of a weapons system to do exactly that. And, in an ironic twist, the very same UN session became the backdrop of the news that Iran has been secretly enriching uranium at a previously unknown (to the West) facility.
So-called peace activists in the West routinely like to point out that the United States is the only nation that has ever used atomic weapons against another. This supposedly underscores their position that “we” are just as bad as “them.”
This type of revisionism ignores the fact that the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki shortened the Second World War by months, and saved millions of Japanese civilians lives by averting the need to invade Japan.
We’ve reached a point in history where the West has to make some hard decisions or live under the constant spectre of nuclear attack, much as we did in the darkest days of the Cold War.
It is our nuclear weapons that kept the Soviets at bay until they collapsed under the weight of their own deeply flawed societal model. Those same weapons keep very real imperial ambitions within the People’s Liberation Army of China held in check.
The most important nuclear weapons in the world are likely those in Israel.
Surrounded by hostile neighbours, many who have openly expressed a desire to wipe Israel from the map, it is the certainty that Israel will use its nukes if faced with overwhelming odds that have allowed the Israelis to thrive in a hostile neighbourhood.
Just as when lawful citizens own guns there is no threat to the safety of society, when peace-loving nations with no imperial ambitions have nuclear weapons, there is no threat to peace.
But just as disarming law-abiding citizens can lead to a growth in crime, disarming peace-loving nations can only have powerfully negative consequences.
So desperate are a handful of despots to join the nuclear club, that Venezuela has agreed to sell cut-rate gasoline — therefore robbing its own poor of their own oil wealth — to oil-rich but gasoline-poor Iran, which has funneled so much engineering capital into nuclear weapons programs that it can’t meet its own daily gasoline needs.
Given Hugo Chavez’s hatred for the United States, we can only speculate as to whether or not Chavez has tied his own nuclear ambitions to Iran’s.
We have to accept that by allowing tyrannical regimes a voice in the UN, we have eroded its potential to ensure a lasting peace, and we invite disaster if we disarm ourselves while nations such as Iran and Venezuela can simply ignore sanctions and other efforts at stemming the tide of nuclear proliferation.
Bill Greenwood is a local freelance columnist.