People in Hiroshima have longer life expectancies than people in Washington? I didn’t expect that…
I’ve often gone back and forth in my stance of if the U.S. was justified in using nuclear bombs to quickly to end the war, but I’m happy to see the long-term effects of Hiroshima are not affecting life spans.
By the way, has anybody else seen the beautiful Nagasaki ground zero monument?
I recommend everyone to read Richard Rhodes´ books, ‘The making of the atomic bomb’ and ‘Dark Sun: The making of the hydrogen bomb’. The first is a bit technical and focuses mainly on the scientific parts. I am currently reading the later, which documents the beginning of the cold war and therefore more political.
Nicely done! It continues to amaze me how relaxed most of the planet’s population is about the existence of weapons able to end the History of Mankind. As if the fact that we’ve had them for about 60 years without having a nuclear apocalypse means it’s never going to happen. And, as you point out, damn expensive to maintain, as well.
Washington, DC residents pay exactly the same amount as anyone in the country to “nuclear weapons.” Different parts of the country aren’t taxed at different rates. (Although the infamous “Cornhusker Kickback” may well change that.) For those not familiar with the US, DC is a Federal District and thus pays no state taxes. Hence the *percentage* of its taxes that goes to “nuclear weapons” (I use the quotes because the very idea that any money is targeted at one matter, or that it can even be quantified, is ludicrous) may be higher, as it pays less taxes overall.
Mr. Rowntree is either uninformed (as he isn’t an American, this may be partially forgivable) or is telling a half-truth to attempt to score a political point.
Needless to say, nuclear weapons can be a fine thing.
Nachum informs us that in DC, tax money goes for bombs, but in states, money goes for bombs and social services and things.
Okay. An interesting way to ‘argue’.
Speaking of social services in the US, there are some articles making the rounds today about Colorado Springs deciding that it is tired of parks and streetlights and firefighters. That’ll be…interesting.
There’s lots of complicated statistics at play here, so remember to take them with a grain of salt. Besides, that’s a pretty small sample size you’ve got there =P.
Although, now that I think about it, comparing the human development index (HDI) of countries with the bomb and those without would be interesting. In general, countries with the bomb will be better off (weight of numbers; more countries don’t have the bomb, and most of those are very poor) but among those above some threshold those without the bomb might have a higher HDI.
In any case, nuclear weapons are one of the sadder outputs of people weaponising scientific endeavour. At least tasers are alright.
Fantastic job. Would you be interested in putting a Creative Commons license on this artwork so that it can be used for political education? I’d love to pass it around to a lot of people without overloading your server with linkage.
Nachum, as you’re so blatantly wrong about how income tax works in the US, ie. the fact that DC pays no state taxes, http://cfo.dc.gov/cfo/cwp/view,a,1324,q,610984.asp (yeah, not a “state” tax, but it works the same way so who cares), the fact that every citizen not in DC pays state income taxes (Look up Alaska and Texas), I’m going to venture out on a limb and say that you probably haven’t done a whole lot of research on the other things that you have a problem with.
Look, Fungi and jim, why don’t *you* try explaining that completely nonsensical line. I repeat, there is absolutely no way it can be claimed that DC residents pay “more” for atomic weapons than anyone else paying federal taxes.
If you can explain how paying the most per capita somehow means that they are not paying the most per capita then by all means please explain. And if DC has some kind of special tax situation that allows for skewed data, then how do you explain Delaware and Connecticut?
I was surprised by the life expectancy statistics, too. Very interesting.
Some notes on the cost of nuclear missiles: they are actually cheaper (significantly cheaper) than nuclear bombs, once the costs of supporting infrastructure is figured in. Khrushchev saw this right away, and recognized it as a way to maintain parity with the West without bankrupting the Soviet Union. And, of course, Eisenhower had to counter the growing Soviet missile threat with missiles of their own. As soon as the bean counters in the Pentagon saw the cost benefit of going with ICBMs over a large, complex bomber force, the race was on. End result: world-wide mutually assured destruction, but on the cheap!
What I think Nachum is trying to get at is that you are claiming that DC tax payers pay 3X more for nuclear weapons. This is only true if you are measuring in absolute amounts.
So now for the math-
Since you claim that it is as a percentage 3X greater, you have to consider that DC residents also make far more money than the average US citizen (in fact the most) and would thus pay more in absolute terms, but not necessarily as a percentage of the taxes they pay. Consider also that as it is being done by per capita GDP, it considers all corporate taxes paid in DC to be part of the amount paid by DC residents, which isn’t really true when you consider the number of companies that simply have their headquarters in DC. Once you consider this, the amounts shown start to weight out far more equally than your source would suggest.
DC is a classic example of American aristocracykleptocracy. There are a few very wealthy (and very white) people skewing the per capita income, but the city is predominately occupied by poor and impoverished black people. Wealthy people maintain their privilege by maintaining the status quo – which is a $600,000,000/year defense budget military industrial complex with over 30,000 nukes. That’s about half of America’s early budget and more than the governments of the rest of the world combined expenditures on things meant to kill people. I think, and this is just like, my opinion man, that Americans can reallocate a fraction of this spending and dramatically increase the life expectancy of DC residents.
BTW, long time reader, first time poster. Love your work Winstone.
I am not arguing against there being a massive rich-poor gap or even a kleptocracy in Washington, I am merely trying to point out that you don’t suddenly pay proportionally more towards nuclear weapons if you move from say Connecticut to DC. You could clearly do a lot of good with all that money, but remember the vast majority of it is from those wealthy few simply because they are wealthy. In fact, they pay not just absolutely but proportionally more taxes because of the progressive income tax. Obviously depending on who you are you may think this is right or wrong (Not all millionaires got there through corrupt or exploitative means, although many certainly did).
I’d love to live in a sunshine-and-lollipops world where all my tax dollars go to health care and feeding the hungry and whatnot. However, in the real world, the reason that you can publish something critical of the government without disappearing in the middle of the night is because the US has all those nukes.
It is my belief that mutually assured destruction is the only thing maintaining relative world peace right now. If every country in the world that owns nuclear weapons of any king got rid of them at the same moment, five years later the world would be drowning in blood.
@Oglokoog – And with nukes, only the third world is drowning in blood. Huge improvement, amirite?
But Winston, I would like to see where you’re getting the rest of you numbers. I’m not disagreeing with you, it’s just so I can show this to people and not allow them to just ignore it because it’s “on the internet and you know anyone can write anything on the internet I’m staying under my rock and I’m not coming out jibber jabber yabber ACORN”
I’d love to live in a sunshine-and-lollipops world where all my tax dollars go to health care and feeding the hungry and whatnot. However, in the real world, we have a lot of right-wing bigots (in all countries) who continue to claim that war is necessary. I struggle to see the logic in calling people who embark on wars “diplomats”.
I’d like to point out that I don’t think the 715 nukes on “Russian” soil figure is accurate. Many Soviet nuclear weapons were tested in Kazakhstan, so the correct statement would be 715 nuclear weapon detonations on Soviet soil.
Wikipedia lists Washington DC life expectancy as 73.8 years, so I went with 73 in the comic as it was between that and the Business Week figure of 72. The Moscow figure is the most recent one I could find, and also the highest. The Hiroshima figure is from 1995, and I couldn’t find a more recent figure for that prefecture specifically, but comparing it to the Japanese national life expectancy at the time it’s consistent with that, and as the national expectancy has been trending upwards since 1995 (another source) it is I think safe to say that current life expectancy in Hiroshima is at least 80, and is probably higher. There’s no reason to think that it would have dropped since 1995, basically, and it’s probably in fact risen along with the rest of the country. But to err on the side of caution, 80 it is.
Chamale: You’re right, on closer inspection the vast majority did in fact take place in Kazakhstan. I had assumed the Semipalatinsk Test Site was in Russia, but it’s not. I’ll change the comic to reflect that when i get a chance, and i apologize for the inaccuracy.
Thank you for the tremendous comic. I’m a community organizer and for the last 5 years, since I was 19 I’ve been focused on nuclear disarmament, mostly with the organizations Think Outside the Bomb and Western States Legal Foundation, and I’ve also been reading your comic every Monday(ish) for over a year, now.
It’s sad that even most anti-nuke organizations don’t afford the issue the same level of thought towards the mindset and the consequences of the nuclear industry that you encompassed just in this one comic — and if the anti-nuke crowd can’t be bothered to look any further than “nukes are scary and they can kill us all”, well, we can forget about politicians.
With your permission, I’d love to use this as an educational tool in my group’s upcoming campaign in New Mexico and at the Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York this May.
Great comic! And to the folks talking about how wonderful nukes are; you’ve yet to explain WHY we need nukes. Begging the question is not going to convince anyone, especially given how much effort went into this comic to show the costs and negatives.
While I’m not happy with the idea of more nuclear power plants, I’m holding out hope that the reason Obama keeps mentioning them is because it would be a great way to get rid of all these nukes we have lying around. Think they’re safe just because they’re ours? There’s no such thing as an impregnable security system!
“Owning the bomb” – pardon my possible naivite here Winston but when has it ever been shown that Japan moved past feasibility into actual possession of a nuclear bomb?
I find it a bit of a stretch to close an argument of figures with a not-like-for-like comparison. Can’t see the logic or how in any way the listed figures can be linked to the preceding graphic, sorry.
“I’d love to live in a sunshine-and-lollipops world where all my tax dollars go to health care and feeding the hungry and whatnot. However, in the real world, the reason that you can publish something critical of the government without disappearing in the middle of the night is because the US has all those nukes.”
Um… justify that? See, I’m pretty sure that there are countries out there that have nukes that make people disappear for comics like this… and I’m pretty sure there are non-nuke countries with freedom of speech. Plus, there’s the whole “history of freedom of speech” and the first amendment and whatnot… pretty big protector of all that…
I may not think nukes are as black-and-white evil as everyone else does, but you, sir, are ignorant.
Also, for the record, the fire-bombings we did in Europe did FAR more damage than either of the two nukes in Japan. Less long term, to be sure… but much worse. Much more death and destruction.
@GerryB: I think the ‘owning the bomb’ box was pointing out that the capitals of the countries that owned bombs now have a lower life expectancy than a city that was bombed. I didn’t read any implication that Japan had nukes, but that’s just me.
Only started reading Subnormality about a year ago but I must say, I’m damned impressed with the messages you manage to encode into your work. I now check everyday for updates! Incredibly poignant. Bravo, sir
Kerry: In fact, the French have reactors that reprocess nuclear reactor waste (and weapon grade material too). As a result, they get a large majority of their power from nuclear and have very little waste.
Unfortunately, the process produces plutonium, and so was banned by Jimmy Carter back in the day for fears the stuff could be used for weapons. It’s a pity: It’s been estimated that if we used the French system, all our waste could fit into a (figurative) closet instead of a mountain, and (the only real?) major concern about nuclear power would be solved.
Me, I’m still dreaming of fusion. Safe power from water, no waste, no weapons potential…one day, one day. I know a scientist who’s working on it and encourage him every now and then.
I can’t really give a truly accurate answer, not knowing a lot about the whole ‘nukes’ situation. But here is my probably-biased fairly-ignorant two pence:
Countries want or need nuclear weapons because other countries have them. They act as a status symbol; owning your own nukes gives you weight on the world stage.
Primarily they’re a defensive weapon; obviously, of the “mutually assured destruction” kind. I doubt any current possessors of nukes would want to launch theirs (and here’s the important bit) as long as there are other countries who could and would want to launch back in retaliation.
Which leads to the problem with disarmament. It’s a bit like having some guys with guns. As long as one guy has a gun (and wants some of what the other guy has), the other guy isn’t going to want to give up their gun. You get one of those “no, you drop YOUR gun first!” scenes. No-one wants to be the one who drops their gun first, in case the other guy decides that now he can shoot you without getting shot himself.
Now, we add lots of other people trying to get their own guns. If one guy drops his gun, there’s a chance one of the other guys will pick it up and then say “Aha! Now I have a gun. Now you guys without guns will do things for me.” Obviously, the problem with that is that any sensible person would realise that if he fired at someone else it’d be more than likely that one of the other people with guns would shoot him (UNLESS you made a truce with a guy with a gun, so that if someone shot at you then your team-mate would shoot at them). Of course, not everyone is sensible, and sometimes you’ll get someone who just would like to shoot someone because they looked at him funny.
And, of course, the guns all shoot nuclear weapons.
Now, this more than likely makes no sense. But I offer it shamelessly as an ‘answer’ to your question.
What I meant was that, because the US has nukes, the USSR didn’t conquer the world during the cold war. Thus we have the freedom to complain about governments without being shipped off to Siberia. In re-reading my comment, I realize that wasn’t clear.
And remember two things: 1) When the number of nukes goes DOWN, the probability of a successful first strike goes UP; 2) If the responsible party cannot be identified, a retaliatory strike cannot be successful.
You know, my dad always used to guilt-trip me by saying that I was born because the bomb was dropped. My grandfather was in either the second or third wave to go in, depending on how angry my dad was when he was telling the story. The last defense of any believer in the Bomb is the number of lives it may have saved.
It’s always made me wonder just how far the Japanese were wiling to go. We have pictures of families committing suicide, yes, but the victor always writes history and isolates the moments it needs. They could have been handing women and children pointed sticks, and they might have been willing to jump into American bullets, I don’t know. I’m sure there’s books on the subject, but I can’t seem to Google up one right now.
So we can rationalize with ourselves having a certain amount of weapons in stock. We build them, and they wait. But why do we keep building more and more? What’s advancing with these new waves of weapons, at the cost of our domestic infrastructure and advancement of our society as a whole? Who benefits from the constant need to justify all of these expenditures? This isn’t just to the US, who struts around like a bully searching for a worthy foe, but also to pretty much everyone who wants a nuke-peen to wave in the international community’s face.
Winston’s whole point, if I may say so, is that cutting up the fabric of your society to stitch together a defense against an ever more vague and amorphous threat is more damaging than losing a few cities in nuclear fire.
Oh yeah, as far as nuclear plants go, I think Wired did a pretty good article on the progress that’s been made with thorium-based reactors, which seem like a much safer alternative to plutonium and the like. The reaction is easier to control and the leftovers aren’t powerful enough to make a worthwhile bomb.
In traditional Japanese culture suicide is the correct response to a great loss of face, and what could be a greater loss of face than your country having an area devastated to such an extent that you were unable to fight. It was also considered a great thing to die a warriors death in battle… if you were a man, it would have been considered wrong for the women and children to die in such a way so they would go by suicide instead.
Did dropping the bomb save lives? Maybe and in a culture where it would be considered better to die than surrender maybe a show of devastating force was needed to make the leaders consider surrendering.
Just to finish, excellent art as always Winston and I loved the visual representations of the subject, a difficult one to tackle and done so with a great deal of panache, subtlety and skill.
Someone really needs to appreciate how appropriate my comment was (third one down from the top), it’s at least as funny and relevant as the comic itself. I expect this comment to go unread – i have a theory that people who post to comments threads don’t actually read other comments once the count goes past 30 or so, after which they use a search function to find their own name to see if anyone has replied to their oh-so-witty post. WinTree himself (may I call you WinTree? No? Sorry dude) got my attention initially not just for the quality of the story and the artwork but also because he interacted with posters in the comments. This hasn’t happened so much lately, probably real life issues have something to do with it, but nonetheless the fact that a genuinely awesome post (again, third from the top) gets buried by noise generated by a bunch of anal stats-nerd whingers is another reason why your otherwise awesome site should make registration compulsory before commenting.
The Japanese as a whole over time have always had greater life expectancy than caucasians, Mostly because of their diets. So the life expectancy graph really means nothing.
Dropping the bomb on Japan was needed and the only way to win the war without a massive invasion. My father was a Marine and he was in Guadalcanal and other battles, and would have also been in the invasion of the home islands.
Steve: Yeah, you can use the comic for your campaign for sure, email me if you’d like a higher-res version for printing.
simon: Yeah, i don’t always have the time to participate in the discussion here as much as i’d like to, but i read all the commments, i assure you. I disagree with your characterization of others as “anal stats-nerd whingers” though, I’ll say that. The tooltip info was legitimately misleading, people let me know about it, and now it’s fixed. That’s exactly what i would hope to happen if there’s a factual error in my work.
RT: 45,000 Americans are dying every year because of lack of health insurance. Why? Because they don’t have a culture of socialized medicine. Why don’t they have a culture of socialized medicine? Big question. They spend plenty of money on “healthcare,” but millions are uninsured, and 45,000 die every year. If you think that’s good enough for the richest nation in the world then you’re dreaming. To have thousands of nuclear warheads and no state-funded healthcare is a joke. It’s a huge, depressing oxymoron. And i’m not saying this as a canadian to mock the American people, i’m saying it as a human being in disgust at the leadership of the USA and Russia the past 60 years or so.
What should they have done instead during the cold war? I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. With this comic I just wanted to characterize the arms race in a new way (new to myself, anyway). My point is that I refuse to believe that what Russia and the USA have now is a best-case scenario.
The air attack on Tokyo of March 9-10, 1945 killed more than 100,000 people. The air attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed far less than that, even if you accept the Japanese government’s figures on long-term casualties – which I don’t, since Japan has had a habit of blaming every mysterious cancer or birth defect on their national victimhood of being the only people ever attacked with nuclear weapons, while ignoring the damage their industries were doing to their crowded homeland’s environment. My point is, people spend far too much emotional energy on the scary “nuclear” word in “nuclear weapons”, when the real problem is and has always been the “weapons” part. When one people has weapons and wants to impose its will on another, the only thing that will keep that people in check is for their potential victims to have weapons of their own – and having such weapons, in a vicious circle, makes it more likely that these potential victims will see the weapons as tools to impose their own will on others. Unfortunately, the only complete solution to this will probably involve humans finding a way to stop being what we would recognize as human.
@Chris – This is sort of what I was getting at in the beginning of my post. The American portrayal of Japan’s suicide culture always feels like someone screaming as loud as they can to justify their actions. The individual accounts that I’ve always gotten feel like isolated events, and pressing for details always results in the same repetition of what’s been said, like they’d only heard it from someone else.
If devastating force could force the ruling class to surrender, how much could, say, a widowed mother witness ahead of her before deciding that the better course would be to try to get her children to safety? If now her, how about the mother and children behind her? The parents may be Japanese and subjected to the expectations of their culture, but they are still parents.
If you have something more in-depth on the subject then the flimsy second-hand accounts I’ve been subjected to, I’ll gladly give it a read.
@simon – The joke was worth a chuckle, but the whole discussion got rolling and I wanted to jump in before all the good points were taken. Calling this white noise may be appropriate, though. The people who believe that the bomb was necessary will probably never back down and the people opposing them thrive on opposing them. But it’s the internet, and if there isn’t any arguing then the whole machine grinds to a halt. If Winston feels like it’s going in a bad direction, I think WordPress gives him the power to just close the comments on this post and be done with it.
@Walt – Now you have me wondering what the implications of a long-difficult invasion would have been. Is it possible that the American military machine could have had its power sapped by a Vietnam-like occupation before the Cold War culture developed and nipped it in the bud? Or would it have just found another way?
Even if the bomb was necessary, what use is it to put such a huge part of our infrastructure towards an ever-increasing stockpile? How many missiles do we really have to be able to fire at any given time? What’s left of the urban poor would be crawling out of the rubble, doused in radiation from miles away from the blast, are they going to be comforted by the fact that the country who launched them at us is in the same situation now? I’d really prefer it if all that money go into finding a way to clean up the radiation and bomb shelters for the populace, as slim comfort as they would be.
A few points, or why I stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb:
1) Nukes are cheap, at least compared with the costs of standing armies. If you look at how much has been spent on nuclear weapons each year by the US since 1962, you’ll find that it’s never more than about 5% of the annual defense budget. (Source: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2010/assets/hist03z2.xls). The fact that the US and Russia have made a variety of poor social and economic choices has nothing to do with the costs of nuclear arsenals.
2) Wither France? They’re a major Nuclear power. They consistently rank high on the life expectancy and standard of living charts. They have a strong social safety net, universal health-care, the works. The two things are not incompatible. I’d argue it’s easier to cut military spending if you know you have a nuclear response ready to any invasion.
3) Nukes are the greatest defensive weapon ever created.
As DeGaulle put it about the Force de Frape: “Within ten years, we shall have the means to kill 80 million Russians. I truly believe that one does not light-heartedly attack people who are able to kill 80 million Russians, even if one can kill 800 million French, that is if there were 800 million French”
You cannot launch a successful aggressive war against a nuclear armed adversary.
I don’t like the idea of nuclear war, but I like the idea of large scale industrial war even less.
I’m firmly on the ‘butter’ side of the guns or butter question, but I still think nukes represent the most cost effective way for a nation to defend itself against aggression.
“It’s a huge, depressing oxymoron. And i’m not saying this as a canadian to mock the American people,”
Which makes mw wonder why a top gov official from Canada is coming to the US for his surgery. Because he’d have to wait too long to get it in Canada is why. We can reform health care without socialized medicine, but the politicians don’t do it cause it won’t get them votes.
On the health-care issue: I thought that the reason for lack of socialised health-care in the US was down to the widespread opposal by republicans and libertarians? I’m hardly an expert on US Politics, so my opinion’s probably not the best one (we’d need someone from the US to chip in), but I assumed that’s why there was/is all the furore about the proposed healthcare reforms.
I personally have nothing against socialised healthcare; the NHS here in Britain works well enough for my liking. But obviously people have problems with the curtailment of freedoms that socialised healthcare possesses.
Anyway. Nukes. Awesome in fiction, faintly terrifying in real life. (But still a tiny bit awesome)
I’m not convinced that the dropping of the bombs had as big an influence on the decision of the Japanese to surrender as it is often accepted. I read several articles quoting Japanese politicians and diplomats from the war which said that the impending Soviet invasion was a much bigger motivator to end the war and surrender to the Americans than the bombs were.
It makes sense when I think about it, the Americans have already shown that they could kill tens of thousands of people overnight with conventional bomb drops on Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not really anything new in that sense. And also, what would a totalitarian government fear more: their citizens dying because of atomic bombs (they died for the glory of our Emperor!) while they retained their power, or the Soviets coming in directly and taking their power from them? They also likely new that they would get better treatment and conditiongs from the US than the USSR.
Grimgrin; Well said indeed, although I would offer that France “only” has a few hundred warheads as opposed the the thousands and thousands the US has manufactured over the decades (resulting in a four trillion dollar debt, according to a book I skimmed at the store this afternoon).
EthZee: Tiny bit awesome for sure. The technology and science behind them is just astounding. Technically speaking The Bomb is really an unbelievable achievement. Technically speaking. Beyond the technical though… well, that’s what this entire debate is about i suppose.
Winston: Re: Healthcare: There are simply many, many people in the US who believe (correctly, in my view) that small government is far better than large government, and that defense is a proper domain for government action while health care is not. This is nothing new; it is a well-established trend of legitimate political thought dating back centuries. If the point of the cartoon was to protest spending on defense while neglecting health, I’m afraid you’re setting up a kind of false choice, even if it (seems to) make sense to a Canadian.
On the other hand, if you are angry at “the USA and Russia,” as you say, I’m afraid you’re on even shakier ground. Not all nations are equal. China is, and the Soviet Union was, evil and warmongering. The US, UK, and France are not. Some nations have nuclear weapons because they are aggressive; some have them because others do. There’s a big difference.
Winston: The figure I’d read for the cost of America’s nuclear arsenal was 5 Trillion (in inflation adjusted dollars) from 1940-2000. Which still works out to be about 83 billion a year.
I realize using the word “Cheap” do describe 83 billion a year is a bit crazy. However, given that the current US Defense budget is between 600 billion and 1 trillion a year depending on how you do the math. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/US_defense_budget) I’d still say it fits.
Tangentially related to nuclear weapons, there’s project Orion. Possibly the coolest thing anyone thought to do with nukes.
“We’re going to make a propulsion system, it’s going to use a giant coke machine to drop nuclear shaped charges in order to blow an 8 million ton space ship to Jupiter!”
Great comic. I would love to see more use of the South African Pebble bed reactor design (no ultra high temperatures or pressures, no chance of meltdown) as I feel it would be a much cleaner form of energyu than the current use of coal is.
Also Dennis Leary just called, he told me to tell you 2 words-“Nuclear F&^%$#in Weapons!”
An excellent graphic…well-placed and deserving of wide dissemination.
However, we should remember that research on the atomic bomb began due to well-founded fears that Nazi Germany was actively researching the topic. But it is no surprise that the use of the bomb in WWII will be a source of continuing debate (as a former military dependent, I fall into the camp that approved its use to end the war).
For DoubleW, three excellent books are available, covering the range of views concerning the use of the bomb to avoid an invasion of Japan: “Invasion of Japan: Alternative to the Bomb” by J.R. Skates (2000); “Downfall: The End of the Imperial Japanese Empire” by R.B. Frank; and, most recent, “Hell to Pay: Operation DOWNFALL and the Invasion of Japan, 1945-1947” by D.M. Giangreco (2009).
Speaking as a republican-raised American who volunteered and voted for Obama; Healthcare reform is getting held up because a steady diet of Robin Hood remakes and Big-Brother-1984-style movies have convinced a large proportion of the American people that all taxes do is pay the salaries of Disney villains and that the only thing that a government should do is kick back and make tabloid drama. All you have to do is whisper ‘taxes’ and the entire upper and lower class begins shrieking like a spoiled 4-year-old being dragged away from the candy store.
Representatives in congress take advantage of this to make the bill so convoluted that it either won’t pass or be ineffective, breaking the horse’s legs while claiming that it could never run in the first place. The American people do not understand that they are the majority shareholders in the nation’s largest company, and until they do, healthcare and just about everything else will be treated like a commodity; up for only the highest bidder. There is no ‘Big Government’ or ‘Small Government’, there is only effective government, and we’ve been ignoring this to take part in a false debate in which everyone feels like the hero everyone tells them they should be.
I work a low-paying job, and my company’s health plan is expensive and utterly useless because the high deductible means that I can only benefit from it if I manage to break every bone in my body at once. Before that, I had no health insurance at all. If a higher tax means that I can have something I can rely on and actually get regular check-ups, I will gladly pay it.
Those look pretty good. I’ll try to track them down. My budget is kind of limited right now, though :\
@RT – Eve if he does come down here, it’s still on the Canadian government’s bill. As far as I know, that applies to any Canadian citizen. That’s the kind of support I’d like here.
Also, why don’t you ask the actual Canadian in the room what the waiting lines are like? My own experience is that the lines in the US are even longer.
Irradiated toast is the best toast.
To the discussion as a whole, I’m starting to think that the problem isn’t nuclear weapons, it’s that the American people have been taking part in a culture that transforms them into a bunch of children that care more about spilling the blood of a half-imagined enemy than about their own well being. Nukes are only the most visible sign of this. Even if the bomb itself was originally developed defensively, why are we constantly trying to take charge of things, even as our military is spread more thinly with every passing year? What are we moving towards? The average citizen doesn’t know, and the media pundits help them rationalize the situation by telling them what they wanted to hear in the first place; The Enemy is out there, The Enemy is jealous of us, Their hatred of Us is a sign of their jealousy. And when The Enemy has no nation, made only of the ghosts of Hubris past, who do you shoot those bombs at?
To the non-Americans, how does this sort of thing go down in Europe and other place? Some perspective would be nice.
Let me just say – From a country that is an ally of the US: most people not in the US are not jealous of it.
I often see comments to the effect of “oh, you are just criticising the US because you are jealous of how [rich/awesome/perfect/powerful/etc.] we are” and it always make the poster sound stuck-up, arrogant, and delusional. What’s disturbing is that I see such comments far too often.
This kind of attitude makes you the butt of
many jokes here. why? because it seems utterly ridiculous to most of us.
Is this truly a widely held opinion? If so it would explain many of the problems that the US is having right now.
If you can’t see what is wrong with your own system, how can you fix it? let alone advise other countries about fixing theirs.
Many people out there who ‘hate’ the US[/”The West”] do so because they see the US or entities backed by US power as threats to their way of life, their country, their environment, or even their lives. The image of the US [and the west in general] as a great Imperial power hell-bent on taking over the entire world is used as a rhetorical prop by many despotic regimes to justify their existence.
On nuclear weapons: Does anyone else wonder if the constant presence of an existential threat makes despotic regimes WORSE? Hell, just look at the effect that a few terrorists had on freedoms and rights of citizens in the US and other western democracies!!
It seems like the main reason the US behaves the way it does on foreign policy is that some politicians use “fear of the other” as a political tool for their own ends.
How many other countries can afford to start a war [that we went along with despite popular opposition for the sake our our ‘alliance’] apparently just to show off???
The US seems like that friend who is just a little crazy, but no-one is willing to say it to their face because they are all a little scared of [him/her/whatever pronoun is suitable for a country].
Yes, nukes are terrible. Yes, the projected figures for a conventional invasion of Japan are controversial.
However – MAD prevented a third World War.
Although the United States and their allies sometimes acted reprehensibly during the Cold War (Vietnam etc), there is no question that for anyone who admires civil rights and democracy, to risk the Soviet Union and China becoming the world’s dominant powers is a chilling proposal. Stalin and Mao killed (directly or indirectly) more people than Hitler, and their respective regimes were the closest anyone’s ever come to the mindless slavery of 1984.
Yes, we didn’t need to spend as much on nukes as we did during the Cold War. We also didn’t need to massacre civilians in Vietnam, or shoot up college students at Kent State. The United States wasn’t perfect at that time in history, but consider the alternative.
Nukes saved the world. Proliferation is what we need to focus on, not the use of nuclear weapons by large countries. MAD is still in effect. We need nuclear weapons – but you’re right, we don’t need to spend as much on them as we do. At the moment, America needs to fix its internal problems, rather than try to arbitrate everyone else’s.
@DoubleW, from an entirely personal European perspective [Irish, through England, now in the Netherlands], your eloquent nailing of a thoughtful Western worry is pretty much shared here. There’s a notional thought that America’s global flank sees itself as both shield and underbelly-soft: a snoring snarler tolerating nuisance kittens with claws that can casually eviscerate.
Born Big can mean bully or benefactor I think, and the size of this playground means a juggle of both. My reading of America is that it’s an eternally pubescent orphan, blindedly self-guided and peerless, the clumsy fuckwit in the yard with an inheritance of annihilation and zero ears in fundamental respects. As a European I candidly don’t *get* America as a whole – I look at it and see a troubled, brilliant dangerous friend.
Fine work there!
somhow remodeled this would go fine on a T-shirt.
But to Nachum : “China is, and the Soviet Union was, evil and warmongering. The US, UK, and France are not.”
I still do not get it, how a lot of US-citizens manage this fiction in their heads.
Just to say this: there is only one nation on this green earth which has been – contiously – fighting wars, always on foreign soil and most of the time without plausible threat to itself, in every single legislative period, for the last 80 jears.
Wheras big bad China has had not military confrontation since the annexation of Tibet 1950, where their occupation ended a fundamentalist theocratic regime that still had slavery-like serfdom.
(Well)^3: To be fair, most of the time that was just american soldiers going somewhere to fight. The US hasn’t declared war on anyone since 1942. It’s been police actions or actions in support of of local governments or regime change or humanitarian activities. Always as a last resort of course and always because we had no choice in the matter.
“Just to say this: there is only one nation on this green earth which has been – contiously – fighting wars, always on foreign soil and most of the time without plausible threat to itself, in every single legislative period, for the last 80 jears.
You’re kidding, right? Most would see that as extraordinarily generous, sending troops to help in places that don’t threaten them. World War I, World War II…agree or disagree with any of the wars that followed, they certainly weren’t done for the US’s benefit. The US hasn’t annexed any land in about a hundred years. I imagine you live in a country that’s been a direct beneficiary of all these actions.
“Wheras big bad China has had not military confrontation since the annexation of Tibet 1950, where their occupation ended a fundamentalist theocratic regime that still had slavery-like serfdom.”
No, Red China replaced the Republic, which was not a theocracy and had no serfdom. It was unstable, of course, but that’s another matter.
Communist apologists often make this mistake, just as in the same way that the Bolsheviks replaced not the Czar but a fledgling democracy.
In any event, China is evil, no two ways about it. Sixty-five million dead is…a lot.
Spoken like a true foreign policy realist. I’m personally a realist myself, but think there are quite a few idealists out there. I used to get into arguments with my professors about this all time, back when Bill Clinton was bombing Serbia.
The US benefits by helping Haiti? Come on, name one way. Next thing you’ll be telling me Israel harvested organs there. (Some have, unsurprisingly but maddeningly.)
Good comic. However I don’t think that the difference between life expectancies of Hiroshima and Washington can be explained solely by the drain nucleur weapons exert on domestic funding.
Age expectancy is based on many factors including genetic ones and social one. Japan’s life expectancy is believed to be higher than avergae due to their diet. To say nucleur weapons solely cause the difference seems to be a huge simplification to me.
so it wouldn’t have ANYTHING to do with their welfare state then?
ex. Australia’s life expectancy? 81.5 years, Canada? 80.7 years US? 78.1 years (World Bank 2009)
We, like Canada have government-subsidised health care (notice a trend anyone??),
but I suppose the difference is due to our diet; right??, oh btw. we also have no nukes.
@Nachum & TentacledBeast: The US benefits from helping Haiti by increased international goodwill. Obama in particular benefits by showing that he can handle crises better than some other presidents who I won’t mention, and by gaining political support from the Haitian-American community.
However, I don’t think that these benefits can or should be used to denigrate the actions of the US. Otherwise, it becomes impossible for any country (or even any individual) to be generous. If I give money to charity and people know that, then people can say that I did it to improve my image. If people don’t know that, then they won’t be saying I’m generous either because they don’t know what I did. Even then, one can say that I did it so I would feel good about myself.
I guess the real question at the end of the day, TentacledBeast, is: would you have preferred that the US had stayed out of some past wars, such as the Kosovo conflict? Or (and this is somewhat trite) how about World War II?
To get back to the issue of nuclear weapons, though, I think it’s important to focus on the question of what should be done. Rowntree makes a great point about the high economic cost of nuclear weapons, but he stops short of saying what should be done or should have been done.
Should we not have researched nuclear weapons? The Germans were, and I have a feeling that the Soviets were as well. If we didn’t discover it, someone else would have which makes the effect of researching it / not researching it minimal, and leads us to the next question.
Now that the nuclear genie is out of the bottle, how should the US have responded? Do we refuse to build any nuclear weapons at all? It seems to me that if the Soviet Union had nukes and we didn’t, then the Soviet Union would be in a better position to advance its aims. This would be bad for the US government, so it seems fairly understandable the the US government would acquire nuclear weapons. I don’t know if anyone out there is a big fan of the Soviet government, but even if you are you should understand and sympathize with why the US did what it did.
A few more points I want to make:
1. Japan, Taiwan, Germany, and many countries in Western Europe don’t have the bomb because they are under the US’s protective umbrella. They don’t need the bomb because we have it (and also possibly because we won’t let them get it).
2. Someone mentioned earlier that we didn’t test Fat Boy. I’ve heard that that was because we didn’t have very many Fat Boys, and didn’t want to waste them.
3. I kind of disagree with the destructive profile of a nuclear missile. Retaliation aside, it suggest that it’s 9 times worse to build a missile than to get hit by it. A single missile isn’t that expensive, but it does a lot of hurtin’. A more accurate representation might be to show a hurt to the the enemies of infinity, and a hurt to ourselves of infinity via retaliation. Once you push the button, you’ll have a lot more problems than no socialized healthcare.
4. I do want to point out that Rowntree made a good point about the willingness of the US to ignite the atmosphere to test a bomb. I hear that it was one of the reasons that the German programmed lagged behind. On the other hand, we did run the Large Hadron Collider even though some people said it would end all life.
5. This is, by far, the best strip yet. Congratulations, Mr. Rowntree.
“Wheras big bad China has had not military confrontation since the annexation of Tibet 1950″
Someone has forgotten their history, or just never bothered to research. Ever heard of the Korean War, where china attacked the US forces after we defeated the North Koreans? Plus the large amount of assistance that they gave to North Vietnam during that conflict?
I think we’re getting off-track here. Nations the world over have sent troops here and there, often out of obligations to allies, and the US is no different. It’s just that the US is managing to bankrupt itself financially and socially in the process and we are becoming less and less safe as a result. Comparing rap sheets isn’t going to answer anything.
I think the questions we should be focusing on are;
1) How much is the US spending on its war machine (sorry, GrimGrin, your link hasn’t worked for me since you posted it). Are Nukes really the cheapest defense? A picket fence that explodes and extinguishes all life?
2) What other nations are protected by the US’s military? Where do other nations get their military tech? Are they buying it from American firms?
3) What obligations do we have to third-world governments that are clearly corrupt? Are we trying to stabilize these places for our own alliances and trade agreements, or to prevent them from accepting those things from someone else? Is there the possibility that, perhaps, our policing actions are propping up regimes that really ought to collapse because they are incompetent/not acting in their public’s interest? (I know that last one sounds loaded, but I really don’t know at all and it may be impossible to know, because of what I mentioned earlier about the victor recording history.)
Let’s drop the “he did it/no HE did it!” dialogue, ok?
I still think nukes are the cheapest weapon, as well as being the most fundamentally defensive weapon invented.
The kind of army, navy and air force that could stand up to a first world military attack, is both incredibly expensive and inherently destabilizing, since as Rumsfeld put it in his inimitable way “What’s the point of having an army if you’re not going to use it?”. Eventually large armies are always used, either on your own people or your neighbors.
Using a nuke means inviting total destruction. It is difficult to imagine using nuclear weapons as a tool of domestic oppression or as a means of conquering a neighbor. (We have annexed the radioactive hellscape formerly known as southern Moldavia!)
Now… lest I seem like a latter day Hermann Kahn or Edward Teller, I’ll repeat. These things scare me, the consequences of their use are horrific and should be avoided if at all possible.
I just think that given what happened the last time we had a prolonged bout of industrial nation state warfare, their existence is preferable to their non existence.
“I guess the real question at the end of the day, TentacledBeast, is: would you have preferred that the US had stayed out of some past wars, such as the Kosovo conflict? Or (and this is somewhat trite) how about World War II?”
Yes, I would have preferred that the US had stayed out of these conflicts. Especially concerning Kosovo; you do not stop an oppressive regime’s crimes against a minority by commiting an even greater crime against the majority. As for World War 2, there is a great example in history of how you can end a war without actually having to fight it: After the bolshevic revolution, Russia’s tactic in World War 1 consisted mainly of propaganda to the german soldiers, calling them to desert. Even though Russia eventually had to give up some of its lands, it is noteworthy that their propaganda worked to a surprising extent, with massive desertions and mutinies in the german army. Despite this success, though, noone tried the same tactic in WW2, even though the Nazi regime was many times more oppressive and ruthless, which means we could have expected better results from appealing to the common soldier.
About Haiti: It has nothing to do with “looking good”. The United States are currently taking advantage of Haiti’s predicament to make money. They are investing in Haiti’s rebuilding and loaning to the Haitians on bogus terms. I’ve read a couple of articles on the subject, but none of them is in English… I’ll look for more sources if you insist.
you are right, but at the same time the October Revolution itself was a means of warfare of the German Reich: Lenin was brought from Switzerland via Germany to Russia on order of the Kaiser and Reichswehr supreme army command in order to disrupt Russia, and eventually he could overthrow the tsaristic government and agreed to a very unfavourable peace treaty in March 1918. Maybe, without the help of the German Reich, there would have never been a Soviet Union.
From what I’ve heard it took almost a week for any US aid to reach Haiti. Iceland had their guys there within 24 hours, even though they had a few 1000 more miles to go.
I get that nuclear weapons are a good defensive weapon, but who is it a defense against, exactly? The Chinese are not about to attack the US, that’d mean they’d never get back any of the money they’ve poured into the place. It’d devastate their economy most likely.
I’d also have to agree with considering healthcare a human right. Preventive medicine is a lot cheaper than people going to the doctor when the other option is death. Of course the cost would probably rise if the US got public healthcare, since a lot of people that couldn’t afford treatment would get it. Then I’d imagine that the number of chronically sick would go down (slowly), people would be healthier overall and the costs for people paying insurance would go down as well (assuming the system is anything like the one we have here in Sweden, that is).
Any tax raise would be less than what is payed for a good health insurance anyway.
And regarding cues: I had to wait an hour or so to get my broken finger looked at. Perfectly fine, since the most serious injuries/illnesses go first. It wasn’t fun or anything, but I wasn’t exactly dying either.
And even students can afford it, so it isn’t expensive either.
I’d like to stress that I’m by no means sure about a lot of the things I’ve heard, so it’s entirely possible that I’m off the deep end here.
Oh, and praise to the Entlord, of course.
@tentacledbeast: you are right, you cannot foresee or plan a revolution like a weekend trip, but I wouldn´t say it´s far-fetched, since you can always plan (or further) a tendency. Sending Lenin to Russia was an act of warfare, the revolution itself was pure luck (but induced by ths act nonetheless). I would say, it´s the difference between a certain outcome and a specific impetus. In these terms, you cannot plan a certain outcome (such as the successful October Revolution), but you can influence and further an impetus aiming for a specific direction. Revolution or not, Lenin for sure would have become a pain in the ass for the Tsar (thats why he was brought to Russia, because the Kaiser was definitely no fan of communism), and at that point, anything of this kind would have helped the German Reich. In the long run, of course, it illustrates again how horribly short-sighted such decisions are made….
… but at the same time the October Revolution itself was a means of warfare of the German Reich: Lenin was brought from Switzerland via Germany to Russia on order of the Kaiser and Reichswehr supreme army command in order to disrupt Russia, and eventually he could overthrow the tsaristic government and agreed to a very unfavourable peace treaty in March 1918…
The February antimonarchic revolution of 1917 had finished with the monarchy in Russia actually, you can’t blame Lenin for this ;)
>> the revolution itself was pure luck
yeah, millions of deserters, who fought for the bolsheviks after the October revolution were pure luck
*pardon my poor English, I just can’t stay calm, when I see my precious Vladimir Ilyich spuriuosly blamed for destroing the old good Russian Empire :) *
You folks are “surprised” that Japan has a higher life expectancy than the United States? Where’s the rock you’ve been living under?
It has nothing to do with nuclear weapons, and to insinuate otherwise is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. If you were merely aiming at comedy then this would be excusable but since you are obviously attempting to make a political point, it isn’t. The rest of your little doodles are nothing but buzzwords like “Military-industrial complex” written on a missile. Provocative, but in the end, hollow and unimpressive.
I think it was Radio Lab that had an interesting podcast. I think it was about DNA or some such stuff. Anyway, the survivors of Hiroshima suffered effects of radiation exposure and their children had many birth defects. However, the children of the children and so on didn’t necessarily have the related health issues. The conclusion is that DNA repairs itself nicely. Just because your ancestors got irradiated in the past doesn’t mean all the descendants are forced to be mutants.
I just can’t put myself in the mindset of someone who honestly believes in nuclear disarmament. I think if we could feasibly get EVERY government to agree that NO government will build nuclear weapons, then yes, it’s a great plan. But the naivete (where’s my diacritics?) of such a plan is astounding. Only if you can honestly believe first that there is no such thing is evil, that there are no enemies that would like to cause others destruction, can you begin to press disarmament as a reasonable solution to ANY problem.
The best way to end terrorism, and evil as you put it, is to stop participating in it.
The concept of evil is kind of naive here, though. There aren’t groups of people who simply do evil things for their own sake, and we cant begin to subvert “evil” until we really understand what causes people to take actions we deem evil.
Thanks for your reply charlie, I still check this from time to time.
I’m not sure I get what you’re saying, though. Let’s take the obvious example, the extremists who attacked America on 9-11. Now I obviously don’t understand what caused those men to hijack the planes, or more importantly what caused the men who came up with the plan to do so. I do however, believe that the only way to stop an enemy that dedicated to killing Americans is to kill them first or at the very least lock them away forever. You can’t give them anything they want, if they want anything, because you can’t send the message that if you just murder enough people someone will cave in to your demands.
Maybe you’d say that their environment had something to do with it. And maybe you’re right. Perhaps if we could go over there and fix the poverty and education situation they wouldn’t behave the way that they do. Is that possible though?
@Jimmy [December 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm]
“the only way to stop an enemy … dedicated to killing [us] is to kill them first”
urmm…… isn’t that the kind of mindset promoted by terrorist propaganda??
“Good” and “Evil” are next to useless as concepts in international relations. there is no comic-book style “Evil Mastermind” or “Devil” secretly controlling everything from behind the scenes. Every person is capable of “good” or “evil” acts under certain circumstances. Both are part of “human nature”.
Not really too impressed by this at all coming from an anti-statist viewpoint.
How to say.. Ironic that a comic against nuclear deterrents and the unjustified use of force is written by an author supporting socialised medicine.
All state action is coercive and underpinned by violence. Socialised medicine and nuclear bombs are equally vampiric on the body politic. You can argue till your blue in the face for socialised medicine because X americans don’t have Y insurance etc etc, but it doesn’t change the fact it’s a system built on violent coercion.
Socialised medicine, like nuclear bombs, are state monopoly programs. Monopolies in free markets are bad enough but naturally fragment due to economic law. State coercion absolves these institutions of the laws of supply and demand, so they’re naturally inefficient and incredibly destructive.
Only the market can create doctors and healthcare, the states only product is violence. American healthcare is so excessively expensive because of the dog collars of licencing (The AMA) and a consequence of a state monopoly.
Because socialised healthcare is a coercive monopoly, it is equally cancerous on the body politic. By not being subject to supply and demand through inefficient votingism and being decoupled from the needs of consumers, it genuinely begins to stagnate as an institute and becomes more and more inefficient to the point where it is ultimately useless, as there is no downward pressure on spending and no motive to provide a good service, or for that matter, any service at all.
Infact, I would argue that nuclear deterrents are BETTER than socialised healthcare, because the money simply disappears into a silo somewhere, where’as socialised healthcare (Coercive monopoly) is an intervention into the healthcare economy and demands endless violent coercion into quashing the natural variety free markets provide, and undercuts and destroys the voluntarily provided infrastructure of healthcare insurance.
Currently, canadian government members all use private healthcare, or queue jump to the front of the waiting queue.. here in the UK, hospitals are regularly infested with rats and life threatening diseases. Deaths caused by criminal negligence of hospital staff regularly crop up on the newspapers.
I stopped reading a while back (becoming quite disgusted with your misanthropy) and returned to browse the archives. Echoing the comments on the Reagan/Thatcher Monster Mash, I think your political commentary is far too overt and often unreasonable and ugly in the almost adolescent frustration that seeps into them.
Ultimately, I’m saddened that someone with so much insight and talent is betrayed by such a misunderstanding of the nature of the state, and economic illiteracy.
Buck up W. You’re better than this teenagery Nukes R Bad Healthcare R gud naivety.
I hope the library wasn’t a downer for the trouble of having cracked out this. Even so, a first strike against infoporn (and handy info for the young leading nuclear technicians of Pakistan and Iran) is its own reward. Mark up in SVG for sales to EMEA!