Chris Odinaka Nwedo
It is acknowledged that proliferation of violence or military activity depended absolutely on, and the intensity is dictated by availability of effective arms. Since every soldier wants to return home after war and every commander dreams victory, no wars are planned in isolation of dependable sources of supplies of arms. Availability of weapons is the foundation for any hope of victory in war. It is the confidence that compels the soldiers to match on in the hope of triumph. No violence without weapon and no war can logically be concluded to the prosecutor’s advantage without adequate supply of arms. Access to arms inclines most dissensions to violence. ‘Since the industrial revolution, the lethality of modern warfare has steadily grown. The World War I causality was over 40 million and World War II causality were over 70 million. The use of nuclear weapons in nuclear warfare could lead to World War III nuclear holocaust that could result in billions of causalities.1
The havoc done to the society by illogical proliferation of dangerous weapons do not seem to make any impression to recalcitrant merchants who are avidly expanding their commercial interest in the production, sophistication and distribution of varied classes of potent weapons. Some national leaders have insatiable cravings for weapons of mass death and are determined to amass them at whatever cost. Today, there is a pervasive proliferation of heavy weapons and subtle killing chemical devices for violent mass death. The security of these potent instruments of death is a worrying as the spiral down ward trends in economy caused by imprudent diversion of human intelligence, economic resources, energy and time in development of war machines and laboratories for deadly vaccines. The growing tendency to war kept belligerent nations on their toes searching and researching for more effective ways of dealing summarily with ‘enemies’. The need for more weapons will continue to decree production of armaments to the point that acquisition of more complex and dangerous weapons become obsession. Countries ruled by military hawkers have not only made military-industrial complex richly profitable but fashionable.
There is nothing wrong in the production of arms for legitimate defence needs. The justification of the criticisms of arm production and procurement rises and falls in the deliberate misuse or purposeful abuse. Arm industry in United States of America is potent with pervasive influence. With the enormous political and economic influence, it over comes the challenges of any legislation against its interest and profitability. The interest naturally is the defence and the profitability is the gainful employment to the operators in the industry. It is an exercise of excessive of prudence to denigrate the endeavours of arm industries with the legitimate mandate to produce arms and ammunitions indispensable for personal security and security of the nations. These institutions are exculpated from the criticisms of proliferation. The challenges of proliferations are blamed on illegitimate merchants who provide links for illegal individuals and groups to access the weapons for wrong motives. Countries endangered by never ending violence and violent organisations need arms. Arms are violent chastising devices with unlimited capacity to deter criminals. Legitimate authority has right to bear arms subject to the provisions of the law.
With the states of many nations today, it is futile to enforce the laws no matter how good and desirable in isolation of active arms for chastisement of those thriving in anarchy. The presence of arms offers sense of security for civil life and investments. Punishment given to criminals encourages obedience to the law. It is difficult for malefactors to submit to discipline without the fear of legitimate violence. This brand of violence is impossible without the coercion of the instruments of the law, arm. Acknowledged extremist regimes that make wrong uses of arm and procure arms for vicious motives evolve from regimes guided by reason and responsibility. Bad governments thrive but lack of legitimacy challenges the longevity. Proliferation of weapons is a disturbing minus in the mandates of arm industries to do their work clear of antagonism of morally supersensitive. The objections of these groups to weaponisation of the governments are justifiable in the faces of many contradictions. Production of weapons of violence is supported by privation of sense responsibility among individual and nations. This is the phenomenon a negating negation of arm industries and the profits sustaining the industry. The entrepreneurs of arms are necessary evils. This fact is incontrovertible.
In United States of America, a disablement of nuclear weapons proposed in 1950s was discountenanced and prevented by influence and pressure from those who have much to gain by stockpiling the weapons. For instance, ‘United States preferred to continue the arms race in the hopes that it would bankrupt the Soviet Union, a policy that eventually succeeded when the USSR economy collapsed. The collapse of the Soviet Union provides an important lesson for revolutionary countries. Socialism cannot hope to compete with capitalism and imperialism by investing in a socialist culture of war, but can only succeed by developing a socialist culture of peace.2 The possibilities of perpetual security of these arsenals of dangerous weapons should and must bother everyone because at disposition of the ‘snipers’ these weapons will spare no one. The overwhelmingly outcry against the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction has been how to effectively limit the access to violent criminals, and persons whose ideology is total destruction, those whose mental illnesses lead them to massacre others.
Violent religionists and terrorists of all colours and backgrounds acquire weapons criminally to kill and destroy. The popular saying is that ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’ Violent people have always demonstrated that they will not be reluctant to use nuclear weapons if accessible. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency alerted the world that countries with extremist rulers aspire to acquire chemicals that can induce bleeding, blistering, and choking, as well as the bombs and artillery shells to deliver these agents. It is believed that Iran has an active biological weapons program, driven in part by its acquisition of ‘dual-use’ technologies—supplies and machinery that can be put to either harmless or deadly uses. Weapons experts say the Iranian programs started after the country’s forces were struck by Iraqi chemical attacks in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.3
There is still a lot of controversy with respect to Iran’s quest for nuclear power. Iran said it was building nuclear power plant for production of nuclear energy. However, the understanding of the country’s widespread skeptics has always been that the country is determined to develop nuclear weapon. And that nuclear energy hypothesis for civilian and research related purposes were contrived to hoodwink the world. It was a façade for sinister motives. In April 2006, the former President Ahmadinejad announced Iran had successfully enriched uranium. Experts say “Iran could have enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) to produce a bomb in three to ten years. The international community has called on Iran to stop its nuclear program.4 At the present, Iran has hundreds of Scuds and other short-range ballistic missiles. It has also manufactured and flight-tested the Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of 1,300 kilometres—enough to hit Israel or Saudi Arabia. Moreover, Iran is developing missiles with even greater range, including one that it says will be used to launch satellites, but that, experts say could also be used as an intercontinental ballistic missile. In March 2006, Iran claimed it had successfully tested a missile capable of evading radar and hitting multiple targets.5 In the past Iran has test fired multiple brands of missiles.
Science and technology apart from giving man all facilities for comfort and balance as he ‘lives’ and ‘reigns’ over the other earthly confraternities, they also gave man the potential to simply destroy himself voluntarily. With the technology, new war ships and sophisticated weapons were mass produced. Germans under the commander of Kaiser Wilhelm II evolved a formidably strong army, built new powerful submarines capable of travelling many kilometres under water to sneak up on and sink enemy ships. Also, poisonous gases, warplanes, tanks, new types of guns etc. made the first and second World Wars inevitably. The technology’s subsidy of cost of violence became maximized in the development nuclear bombs. Conflict, violence and wars cannot be stemmed or eradicated so long as there is continued uninterrupted reproduction and refinement of arms, ammunitions and vehicles for the delivery. During the World Wars, technology aided and concealed Japanese bombers as they sneaked across the continent, from Asia to America to fire at US Marine Airbases across Hawaii, and subsequently battle ships in Pearl Harbour. Eighteen ships sank, including five battleships, and a total of more than 2,000 Americans were killed in action. It was a confrontational attack to degrade and demobilize American military. But the soldiers fought the aggressors vigorously destroying only 29 of the 350 Japanese planes that carried the attack and killing about sixty of the soldiers. This was merely provisional as the terror of the repeat assault by the determined Japan’s emperor forced the American to strategize a bigger deterrent reprisal in form of acid attack, it was a deadly fight-back in a disproportionate measure. In 1945, Americans surreptitiously organised nuclear attack on Japan. On August 6, a uranium bomb by the name of Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, a major Japanese military centre, followed by a plutonium bomb by the name of Fat Man on Nagasaki on August 9. Nagasaki was an industrial centre. ‘The first impact of the atomic bombings was a blinding light, accompanied by a giant wave of heat. Dry flammable materials caught fire, and all men and animals within half a mile from the explosion sites died instantly. Many structures collapsed, in Nagasaki even the structures designed to survive earthquakes were blasted away’.6 In Hiroshima a number of small fires combined with wind formed a firestorm, killing those who did not die before but were left immobile. Within days after the blasts, radiation sickness continued the rest of the killings. In Hiroshima 100,000 were killed instantly, and between 100,000 and 200,000 died later. In Nagasaki about 40,000 were killed instantly, and between 70,000 and 150,000 died ultimately.7
Widely publicized shootings directed at high-profile individuals or crowds of civilians continue to fuel the suspicion that weapons of mass death should be avoided especially when it cannot be protected against war hawkers or killers. Access to weapon incentivizes violence. The unprovoked snipers, the shooting of innocent shoppers in the malls, the massacre of fellow students for whatever flimsy pretext were simply possible because of easy access to efficient guns. The rapidly increasing varieties and intensity of anarchy, insecurities and violence in the contemporary world are worth grieving. The heart-shredding rebellion in the family, disparagement of social and cultural values, political treachery and religious deceit culminated in the prevalence of heinous crimes and the moral disorientation pushing humanity to the points of self-ruin. The society today is progressively difficult to live in as life is toughening irrespective of resumptions to forms of security. The ‘walls’ around us that once provided feelings of safety have literally collapsed. Safety is no longer guaranteed in the comfort of highly protected mansions neither is it in exceptionally paid job and secured offices because new kinds of violence have been invented- introduction of viruses of all sorts that have shown ardour that cannot be restrained.
Ponder the astonishment, devastation and pains of corvid-19 that brought the ingenuity and pride of science virtually to nullity. With the death of approximately 500,000 people and 3.5 million infections notwithstanding allied efforts to counter the catastrophe, the virus has proved that it is unbound. Corvid-19 has introduced a new thinking, a new understanding of the utter vulnerability of man. It slumped the economy of the world, closed all churches and all other worship centres in the globe, forced postponement of all parliaments and all institutions of governments and triggered restrictions of movements with nations closing their territories and introducing compulsory lockdowns within. These are all failing endeavours to stem the rapid tides of corvid-19 infections.
Arms are everywhere and violence has come to stay. No one is safe even in the comfort of the home, the streets are ravaged by fierce predators ready to gun down any one without provocation. Days ago, one of the myriads of the predators Gabriel Wortman slaughtered at least 22 people in a killing spree in Nova Scotia, Canada. The shooting was triggered by violent domestic dispute. Prior to the massacre, Wortman burned down his own home and made his way to his ex-partner’s residence and killed anyone at sight. The “complexity of the tactics involved in the incident—specifically the impersonation of law enforcement with both a vehicle and a uniform, the use of fire as an additional weapon during the shooting, and the high number of fatalities” showed proper plan and deliberate execution.8 The crime was evidently premeditation. The banning of assault weapons in Canada has once again questioned the wisdom in permission given to individuals to play with very powerful weapons of violence.
Canada has realized that it was in grave error when it included possession of lethal weapons as part of its civilization. Today, the banning of military-style assault weapons after the country’s deadliest mass-shooting in history is representing a step in making illegitimate what was made legitimate and applauded decades ago. The fun was over with the disillusionment and the admission by the Prime Trudeau that “These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada”. 9 Trudeau said in a briefing where he announced the decision that “the ban is effective immediately and includes 1,500 models of military-style assault weapons. “It is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade assault weapons in Canada”.10
The Prime Minister expressed realization that “there is no need in Canada for guns designed to kill the largest amount of people, in the shortest amount of time.11 Last year New Zealand banned all military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles after a deadly shooting killed more than 50. This kind of killing is more prevalent and recurrent in United States, Brazil and Europe. In Africa, Middle East and some countries in Asia, communities are surreptitiously invaded and massacred by groups or individuals loyal to strange values and ideologies. There are countless terror groups killing and causing endless destructions as the only way of playing with ubiquitous heavy weapons of violence. Individuals are disparaged, deprived of the rights, privileges and treated shamefully as a result of gender disparity, race or ideological differences. Recently, a lady was offered for sale and price tag was 1000 dollars. The auctioneer described the lady as sane and clean- beautiful. There are daily chronicles of migrants kidnapped on their way and sold to merchants dealing on human organs. These individuals are butchered and resold in parts. Many are those knocked down and beaten to death with heavy sticks not because they are guilty of any crime but because of their race or creed.
The capacity given to man by virtue of his ‘marriage’ with science and technology abridged every distance to things but amplified the differences between one man and another. As man progresses his advancement in technology, he involuntarily finds himself gradually isolated from the other. The false idea is that his ‘marriage’ with material progress is all he needs for contentment, and so he forced himself to live in a cage of an unending repugnance of the other. The successes of the work of his hands intensified his hatred and repulsion of the being of the other.
In his continually drift off the course of his strictly natural orientation, he reconciled the disparities between the elements of nature and forced them to live collaboration not only with themselves but with him. The comfort things give him encourages his refusal to look straight in the mirror of the other’s eye to see himself. This perpetually refusal to see himself in the other-self is the logic for the contemporary ideology of massacre. In the killing spree, he has decidedly slaughtered all he refused to understand with the active support of his spouse, technology. Hannah Arendt believed that the new form of terror-based bureaucratically centralized violence was made possible by twentieth-century technology in the service of nineteenth-century ideology. The man’s need for solely himself and what are his alone can only lead to speed up his ruin. The remedy is to the basis, to humaneness in collectivity. Collectivity despises neither progress, science nor technology, rather it enhances them with its heritage of many. If one can push two, two with no trouble push four.
For Arendt this phenomenon has root in revolutionary and Napoleonic times, as a reaction to the threatened disintegration of the nation state as a source of collective power for its members. The shared sense of common occupancy of, and responsibility for, a national territory had been gaining headway steadily since the time of Charlemagne. As well, for many centuries the perception of membership of one human race had been encouraged by the spread of universalizing philosophies. Additionally, the Enlightenment, with its ideal of empowerment of the individual through the use of reason and the senses, accompanied by joint participation in the civic society, perhaps represented the pinnacle of this evolution away from tribalism. But, with the onset of the terrible insecurity of the early nineteenth century caused by changing national borders and political liaisons, people turned for comfort and support to the family, and to the clan or tribe. They began to revert once more to the older notion of blood ties and of mystical tribal ‘oneness’ as the criterion for separating groups from one another, and as the source of the only collective power that could now be relied upon to protect them. Values were changing as well. Differences were sought and celebrated, rather than commonalities.12 In effect, ‘the enlightenment’s genuine tolerance and curiosity for everything human was being replaced by a morbid lust for the exotic, abnormal and different as such.13
- Nwedo C.O. Nigerian Society and Politics
- Hannah Arendt on the Concept of Power op.cit
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- See “Canada bans assault-style weapons” in Dailyupdates.news May 1 2020
- Arendt, H. (1951) ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, p.68