Are nuclear weapons a waste of money?

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Nuclear weapons have been the founding figures amongst many countries’ defences, proving to be an effective defensive mechanism and exists as a somewhat strong deterrent for conflict amongst many nations.

Despite the fact many superpowers, including the US and China, heavily invest in it, it does lead us to question whether it is an effective form of investment or not – and it wholly remains to be seen as an ineffectual use of taxpayer money.

While nuclear weapons are a form of defence, it has not been utilised in recent years and is unlikely to be used any time soon. Most of the time, nuclear weapons are simply established in a region to prevent other countries from attacking them with their nuclear weapons.

A clear indication of this is the Cuban missile crisis, where both the US and Soviet Union ceased to use their missiles. Nonetheless, both these nations chose to retain their nuclear weapons, reiterating the idea that nuclear weapons are solely there as a ‘deterrent’ rather than for use in war.

If this is the case, which it is currently regarding China and the US, it can be said that having these weapons are a waste of financial resources. The only reason as to why the US have invested in it is because China has done the same, it is only there to act as a threat, rather than ever being used for genuine defensive purposes. It leads us to question if it is it effective to spend money in this way.

Is it essential for a country to play in this never-ending game of ping-pong, in which one country invests in nuclear weapons and the other nations follow suit, just to cancel out their threat as a nation?

It’s an interesting situation when countries, like the UK, are reluctant to decrease austerity measures but make a prominent investment in nuclear weapons. It begs the question of what is more important, retaining social control or decreasing the deficit, only for this money to be spent on defensive weapons and for these weapons to act only as a ‘threat’ to other countries.

Billions of pounds are invested in this sector, a sector which is not even utilised. It is simply there for reputation purposes so that the country can seem as if though it is a threat.

This seems to be an extremely poor way of investing money when there are currently various sectors such as health, education or even stimulating consumer spending by reducing austerity. These will positively impact the people, it won’t just ‘protect’ them by simply being there and performing no apparent function.

It can be argued however, that, a lack of spending in this sector would put a nation at risk. If other countries were to recognise other nations’ reduction to spending in nuclear weapons, they would be able to exert hard power. This is because they would have the nuclear weapons to do so, allowing them to exert their dominance on neighbouring regions, as China have done in the South Vietnam Sea – their military currently on Spratly Island.

If nations like China were given the chance to exert further hard power through the knowledge of having more nuclear weapons than other nations, they would surely abuse this position. Thus, it can be argued that nuclear weapon spending is needed to create a balance of hard power, in which no superpower can wield too much control.

Not only is it important for protection, but it allows countries to retain their status as a hegemony. If the US were to suddenly decrease their spending in this defensive mechanism, it would lead us to question their supreme global status as they would lack the hard power to dominate regions of interest.

Nonetheless, it can be argued that there is reluctance to use nuclear weapons currently, due to conflict in the past and the hesitancy to be placed in a position of conflict once again, as well as the standing factor of it being a very primeval form of defence.

Without there being any desire to initiate these weapons, the advantages of investment become moot as you are, in essence, paying for something which shall never be applied. If that’s not a poor consumption of a nation’s funds, I don’t know what is.

Nuclear weapons are evidently effective in creating a hovering appearance for a country so that it can exert its dominance on neighbouring regions, as well as acting as a deterrent for any future conflict. However, it remains to be a waste of capital, as it is never utilised and is simply there to reaffirm a country’s ‘threatening’ reputation.

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