Pacifism Is Easy, Peace Harder

I knew I was going to get flak for advocating no more concession to the 29 year old hereditary king of North Korea, while making clear that crushing his tyranny was worth a war.

In the last few years, outrages of North Korea have included sinking a South Korean ship and submitting South Koreans to an artillery barrage, killing dozens. The worst offense: violating UN Security Council orders about NOT becoming a nuclear ICBM armed state. This is the densest problem. Contemplate the Plutonium ring below:

Eleven centimeters (4") across. Explosive power: more than 100,000 tons TNT.

Eleven centimeters (4″) across. Explosive power: more than 100,000 tons TNT.

Yes, if it could be made magically into a ball, around five centimeters in diameter, this innocent looking ring, with neutron reflectors all around, would explode with the power of 100,000 tons of TNT. It baffles the mind. (In a so called thermonuclear bomb, much of the power can come from fission efficiently boosted by thermonuclear tricks.) 

Plutonium is the densest naturally occurring element. Plutonium is pyrophoric: it spontaneously ignites when exposed to moist air. Mr Kim Jong Un has just officially restarted one of his Plutonium making machines.

Using a Plutonium bomb as match, one can release enormous amounts of power rather easily from a mix of other elements such as deuterium, tritium, lithium deuteride and Uranium 238. (The tricks are pretty much known by all: fill the void at the center with deuterium-tritium gas,  compress lithium deuteride  around a fissionable core, within a Uranium temper, with extremely hard radiation, etc.)

Some commenters suggested I was a war monger, “over the top“. My answer:

Sorry if I left the impression that I believed Kim Jong Un was a “new Hitler”. That is not what I tried to say. My main point was otherwise subtle. It was about worldwide moods. I could have been more direct.

Kim will have 300 nuclear tipped ICBMs in ten years or so. Then what? Democracies will want to keep the overwhelming military advantage over North Korea they have now, to make sure they will not be attacked. So Japan may have 6,000 nuclear tipped rockets, South Korea, 3,000. The Nuclear Proliferation Treaty will be out of the window. China will try to have even more nukes than Korea and Japan put together.

And if you think that 100 million Vietnamese will not get nuclear armed if China is crawling with nukes, you don’t know military history. And part of India is presently occupied by China, the South China Sea is claimed by many powers, etc. Fortress USA will be projecting forward its defense lines, as it is, correctly, already doing, making China uncomfortable.

In other words, considering all the local animosities about who owns what islet in the region, nuclear war of all against all will pretty much be insured, should North Korea become a bit more of a nuclear armed power (say when it can annihilate Tokyo, as it is basically capable of doing already).

What will one say then? Those who talked about it should not have been “over the top“? (A precedent exists: Nietzsche, for condemning loud and clear what came to be known as “Nazism”, 50 years later, was himself called a Nazi, when he was in truth the enemy of the herd instinct especially around what would become the main themes of Nazism.)

Around 300 nukes in ten years for Kim Jung Un, I say. Some will sneer that I am exaggerating. Well, they need a course in (recent) physics. OK, let’s go.

***

NUCLEAR ENERGY GENESIS:

In January 1938, when, and because, war with Adolf Hitler seemed unavoidable, young Nobel Laureate Irene Curie explained to the French Ministre de la Guerre that immensely powerful nuclear bombs could be made. France hid immediately all patents related to nuclear energy.

Irene Curie had found that neutrons made Uranium 235 nuclei fission in a nuclear chain reaction. When slowed by heavy water. In June 1940, the French heavy water was loaded on a cargo ship, with some prominent nuclear physicists involved in the bomb program. The French army sank the ship during a Nazi air attack. The Nazis were satisfied.

Little did they know that everything and everybody had  been transferred secretly to another cargo ship.  The program was transferred soon to the USA. It was discovered that, one could slow down the neurons using only Boron and graphite. By nuclear transmutation (Irene’s Nobel discovery), an element could be created in nuclear reactors, Plutonium.

If one gathers enough Plutonium (isotopes 239, 240, 241) or Uranium 235 in one place, the fissioning of nuclei will create more than one neutron in the average, and thus generate ever more neurons: that’s the chain reaction, Irene’s discovery (deliberately falsely attributed to Otto Hahn by the enemies of France, and friends of sexism).

Assemble lots of this material together quickly, and a giant explosion will result. How quickly to assemble Pu239 or U235 was the trick question.

It was quickly discovered that Plutonium (especially Pu240) creates so many neutrons that the nuclear chain reaction starts too fast, before the entire material can be exposed to a full chain reaction, resulting in a fizzle.

***

NEW NUKE ARM RACE, THANKS TO CHEAP HEU:

Because Plutonium so readily explodes, a Plutonium bomb requires the implosion of a sphere of Plutonium. To realize that, in turn, requires very complicated math, and specialized very fast electronics, to fabricate lenses of high explosives and slow explosives shock waves to concentrate the Plutonium in a tight ball so suddenly that the entire material can bathe in the neutrons it generates all over before it predetonates in a sub-volume.

Uranium 235 is less reactive, so one has much more time to assemble a super critical mass. A simple gun, where a mass of U235 is fired deep into another U235 mass will do. This is EXTREMELY EASY to do.

However, producing enough U235 by separating it from naturally occurring U238/233 mix was an extremely time, space, energy, capital, and effort consuming process.

One made a gas, Uranium hexafluoride, and then passed it through thousands of filters, progressively leaving the U238 behind. The plants were gigantic, as big as a kilometer across, and used giant amounts of electricity.

Fabricating Plutonium in nuclear reactors by transmutation was much easier. It was much simpler, and cheaper to extract Plutonium from nuclear reactors, where it is made from the sort of nuclear transmutation process demonstrated by Irene Curie.

This is why nuclear bombs were made with imploding Plutonium spheres since 1945. Yet, the engineering looked so far-fetched, that the U.S. military required a test of the design before using it (@ Alamagordo).

Indeed, the military wanted to make sure that the first bomb used against Japan worked. The military wanted shock and awe, not  apathetic fizzle. So the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was an Uranium gun device. Even the military was sure that it would certainly work: the Hiroshima bomb was a prototype.

Uranium 235 was too expensive to make to waste it in bombs. It was much more economical to enrich natural Uranium with the U235 isotope, by a few percent, then use that in nuclear reactors and make Plutonium there. 

Nowadays, though, things are changing. This process of ENRICHMENT has become much easier with ultracentrifuges. Ultracentrifuged gas containing more of the denser U238 tends to stick to the outside. Enrichment promises to get even easier with an even newer process, laser separation.

One knows laser enrichment works, because the USA loud and clear announced to the world it was building such a plant. Talk about talking too much.

If one can produce lots of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU), cheaply, one does not need Plutonium to make bombs.

The next mystery is how rich needs to be the mix U238/U235 to make a bomb? 98% certainly works. But what about 50-50? Nobody knows. I fear that it works (using thermonuclear tricks one can fission usually placid U238; making thus not just a “H bomb” of a sort, up to megatons powerful, but also a very dirty one)…

We have therefore attained an extremely dangerous situation with the proliferation of nukes. Billions of pacifists praying the other way will not change that. The giant plants of old fashion enrichment were easy to spot. Small underground chambers with lasers will be nearly impossible to spot and destroy.

***

ANTI-WAR JIHAD REQUIRED:

One thing the Qur’an got right is that the concept of Jihad is part of core humanism. Jihad means “struggle, contest, effort,” from the infinitive of jahada “he waged war, he applied himself to.”

Kim Jong Un commands the fourth largest army in the world. However its power is quickly waning. But for the nukes.

Kim’s differences with Hitler are many: Kim was always pampered, a man of wealth, taste and vast appetite, an hereditary plutocrat, Hitler was dirt poor, and shot at by the French for four years. Kim is an overweight smoker, Hitler was a lean vegetarian, who neither drank, nor smoked. Kim has a charming wife, whereas Hitler got married at the last hour (OK, last 5 hours). Hitler was also in his forties when he got to responsibilities. Whereas Kim Jong Un is only 29 year old. Kim Jong Un also does not have a racist agenda, to my knowledge.

I was not making an analogy between Kim and Hitler, but between the way this crisis ought to be treated and the way the Hitler problem was treated… All too late. Now, of course, to this day, some are whining about the cruelty of Britain and France, coming to the rescue of Poland. Such people fondly remember Nazism. They are frequently found in the USA, a country where, when the mother of Obama got married to a Kenyan, such a depravity was unlawful in many states.

If France and Britain had not intervened, not only would the Nazis have killed all the Jews, and many other minorities, but also they would have killed all the Poles, maybe all the Slaves, etc.  The Nazis did organized the holocaust of the Poles, even setting up Auschwitz for them. But the pressures of the world war distracted the Nazis from that task, and, in spite of a good start in 1939-1940, they killed only six millions Poles in the end.

The racist, fascist MOOD that arose in Europe, starting before 1914, was not barred until August 1939. Nietzsche pointed out that crazy militaristic racist fascism was well started in Germany by 1880. There was, especially in the 1930s, an infection of fascism, worldwide. Japan, Germany, Spain, among others, fell to fascism in the 1930s. In the USA, the country nearly did fall into fascism, and then its plutocrats took command in lots of countries, including Italy, Germany and Spain.

Ultimately, fascism had to blocked, with ultimate violence. This is what Poland, France and Britain did in August 1939. They refused to give another inch to Hitler.

Right now we are facing the potential rise of something similar. The rise of a MOOD OF NUCLEAR BLACKMAIL. Worldwide. That was my main point. To pretend that I said: Hitler = Kim, frankly is a smokescreen masking my main idea.

If Kim Jong Un is not struck down, nuclear blackmail will be rewarded. Other fascist regimes will be inspired. China, right now, is opposed to what North Korea is doing.

Said Xi, the new Chinese president, April 6 2013: “No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains. While pursuing its own interests, a country should accommodate the legitimate interests of others.”

Yet, if leaders see that nuclear blackmail is rewarded, some are bound to feel that it works.

Kim Jung Un is a typical plutocrat: he speaks several languages, and has two billion dollars stashed in Swiss banks alone.

He thinks he knows his fellow plutocrats well, just as Hitler did. Hitler had been told by his hyper wealthy advisers that democracies would never find the will to block him. He came to believe that deeply. There is little doubt that Kim Jung Un believes something similar.

The worldwide plutocracy has actually NO interest to a full blown war with North Korea. Be it only because, when the mood of blowing up a few plutocrats has been adopted, it may prove persistent, and they may be the next ones to be blown. Something like that happened after WWII in Europe, and the USA.

Indeed, a full blown (world, or not) war would probably lead to a great equalitarian wave, as happened, in Europe or the USA, after WWII.

The question of tax avoiding hyper rich corporations and individuals is indeed related. it can only come from those to whom jihad is natural. 

After World War Two eleven million GIs required to be served. The government could not argue with the 7% of the population, the war ready young men, who had just been trained to kill, in the name of civilization. So taxes on the hyper rich were brought up to 92.5% in the following decade. In the USA.

This why, when Roman plutocracy grew, it tended to employ foreign troops. They were unlikely to require a revolution at home, and if they did, it did not matter, as their home was out there. 

The Romans used to say that, if you want peace, prepare for war (Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum). But the truth is even worse. When maximizing peace, do not prioritize the minimization of war.

Nobody said life was not tough. But there is nothing like it.

***

Patrice Ayme

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17 Responses to “Pacifism Is Easy, Peace Harder”

  1. bowtiejack Says:

    Nicely done. The problem is not North Korea’s current capability/actions, but what ignoring it leads to. And what it encourages others to do.

    If one thinks of all this as some sort of sports event (soccer, basketball) where one obstreperous, minor player keeps fouling and getting away with it, you realize it won’t be long before some other players figure out that there’s no reason for them to obey the rules either.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Bowtiejack! Glad you liked it! Your sport analogy is excellent. Cheating can lead to a chain reaction of its own.

      Something I did not insist upon is that the Korean War never ended: it was just a ceasefire. So when North Korea says it’s in a state of war, it proclaims a triviality. Should massive hostilities start again, it’s the local US commander, who would be the United Nations general in charge… In theory giving orders to the South Korean army.
      PA

  2. Dominique Deux Says:

    Very clear and carefully articulated presentation of the basics of nuke production. With a bleak, unavoidable conclusion: with laser separation, nation-state monopoly on hi-tech plutonium warheads is over. The long feared nuclear capacity of any moderately organized and skilled group of creeps now is a certain, rather than possible, development. Dirty uranium bombs will be a dime a dozen. Any rusty ship flying a flag of convenience or hauling truck with fake papers will be a potential vehicle. Any nut with money and a grudge will be able to make history.

    This really puts nuclear dissuasion upside down. What do you do when a nuke takes out a major city, and no clue – let alone proof – exists as to its origin? Retaliate against the nasty country of the day, who’ll be screeching innocence while threatening counter-strikes? take out a dozen identified laser separation sites at random? The mind reels. Even taking out the nuke fatso will not change this.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Thanks Dominique! Thanks for the bleak conclusion, That needed to be drawn. Striking down Mr. Fatso will not solve the problem, but will certainly avoid an imminent spectacular deterioration of the situation. The only conclusion is that international controls will have to become much more strict, and countries or organizations that act as international police better be doing their job well.

      That was one of the reasons to be against what the USA did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Where a parody of goodness was at play, for truly evil reasons. At this point, ever since Rwanda (!) and Bosnia, the prime force de frappe of the UN has been… France. As presently done in Mali.

      There are already international radiation controls on ships (at least those entering the USA). But they better be done well, because using a lot of lead will stop much radiation. (Besides, lead has even been used as a temper in nukes… to keep the power down, while still compressing well!)

      France has already warned that massive terrorism could rewarded by nuclear counter-strikes. The fact is that the present (rough) world peace rests on implicit terrorism by the 5 permanent security council members. They rarely disagree (Georgia is a rare example of momentary disagreeement). At this point a pacific way out would be for China to cut off fuel and food to North Korea. But all too many in the Chinese army love NK…

      As with the problem with Europe, the way out is more government, more regulations, controls, international cooperation. So, out of the HEU threat, one can make a better future.
      PA

  3. de Foucaud Paul Says:

    Patrice,
    Your post is well documented and long to ingest.
    Then, at the end, i will be pleased to have a “synthèse” of it as a conclusion.
    M’y best regards.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Paul: I occasionally write “conclusions”. But I also got lots of complaints that my essays are too long… I think Dominique drew an excellent conclusion (see his comment)… Which was pretty much implicit in the 11 centimeters across Plutonium ring. We live in a world where individuals have more and more physical power at their disposal. That has to be carefully managed.
      PA

      • de Foucaud Paul Says:

        Hi Patrice !
        You are fully right when sugesting the best conclusion is provided by Dominique.
        Awfull then !
        BTW, I always be a strong partisan to get the most modern conventional garbage and well trained men to counter any form of asymetrical actions.
        A very difficult task ! But the way not to put all the eggs in one net.

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Cher Paul: We are just being forced into world government. Not a bad thing. Otherwise, we will have to contemplate anti-missile systems in the middle of cities as the Japanese just did in Tokyo. I hope that, if North Korea fires anything, they shoot it down. Except, of course, if it’s going towards a tax haven.
          PA

  4. Hazxan Says:

    Patrice, thanks for taking your time to make these extensive replies. I respect your opinion, but I still can’t agree with you though! You’re hypothising that PDRK “could” have 300 nuclear warheads at some point, reminds me too much of the speculation of those terrible Weapons of Mass Destruction that Iraq actually *did* have. Only they didn’t…Crying Wolf?

    Since when did threats ever amount to much anyway? If you look to actual invasions of sovereign nations, PDRK have a score of 0, I believe. If only the US, UK and France(democracies? No, plutocracies as you keep telling us) were so innocent in their foreign policies.

    We are being told stories. Over simplistic tales of Goodies and Baddies, Just perhaps the story isn’t really of Kim “for no reason” getting bellicose all of a sudden. Perhaps he just feels justifitably under threat from a nation that has a track record – proven history, not just rhetorical words – of invading and destabilizing dozens of smaller nations to exert it’s dominance?

    I found a couple of articles filling in some information that the Murdoch Empire is not telling the masses. These could be just stories too, who knows? Personally, I feel the threat of fascism growing much closer to home, in the hearts and minds of the people polarised by the elites who pull all the strings and will pull more strings to manufacture ever more wars that are good for their business and distract us from the real enemy.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/04/09/whats-annoying-the-north-koreans/

    http://www.salon.com/2013/04/05/north_korea_whats_really_happening/

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Well Hazxan, I do not just repeat what I read somewhere. The extensive essay “Pacifism is Easy, Peace Harder” was partly an answer to your own questions. If you cannot understand my own reasoning about why Kim will have lots of nukes within a few years, I can’t do more.

      I was 100% against the Iraq War. You can consult my older site, Tyranosopher, about that. It was clear that Saddam did not have nukes. It was certain he did not have even a nuclear program (anymore). It makes me hyper angry, though, to be compared to those I think belong to prison for the next twenty years like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and all the miserable Neo-Cons and CIA creeps, re-introducers of official torture after more than two centuries without.

      I am also a dedicated enemy of the drones-to-kill-people-out-of-battlefield, a la Bushama. (Although I DO approve of drones, and aerial bombing, as used presently in Mali).

      As far as plutocracies are concerned, there is even a way to (partly) measure plutocracy, the index invented by Mr. Gini (an Italian). The gist is that, although plutocracy and democracy are enemies, countries can be be more or less plutocratic. Brazil now is (rather) a democracy, whereas it was mostly a plutocracy in the 1960s, 1970s…

      Kim, as I explained, is a big time plutocrat. That’s actually why he thinks he can get away with anything because, like Hitler (more a plutocrat of the nasty side rather than the wealthy side), he thinks he knows his fellow plutocrats well, and he overestimates how much they control their attending democracies.

      Thoughts are not all the same, that’s all. Kim the creep as I explained thoroughly is not just threatening “Thermonuclear War” (as his TV informed us was coming). He is threatening the faculty of reasoning of the commons. Just like what happened in the 1930s.
      PA

  5. Frederick A. Green Says:

    August 1914?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The aggression by fascist imperial Germany on August 1, 1914, took everybody by surprise. This is absolutely not the case here. Kim Jong Un does not want to invade anybody either. He just wants to get concessions, using nuclear blackmail.
      So it’s time for the democracies to act firmly and show all potentially similarly inspired dictatorship that nuclear blackmail does not work. As Japan seems to be doing.
      PA

  6. SANDRA MANN Says:

    Un may have gone too far and over played his hand. He is too young to appreciate what he is setting in motion. The world is getting ready for war. The slightest misstep could spark it.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Not making war to Kim Jong Un is becoming quickly, and irresistibly, the worst outcome. Getting ready for war is becoming optimal. That’s a point I made in my essays. Another point is that, as the example of Germany amply showed, no half measure will do.
      PA

  7. James Lane Says:

    Ms. Ayme:
    In the first place, Germany was not a “fascist” state in 1914 or at any time prior to about 1934. Secondly, the outbreak of hostilities was hardly a surprise. Please read a history book.
    James Lane

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      @ James Lane: A state with an emperor, more exactly, a “Caesar” (“Kaiser”), and four generals (plus two reluctant admirals) who decide secretly to make a world war not later than summer 1914 during a secret conference in December 1912, certainly qualifies as a fascist state.
      As far as the racism against Jews in Prussia, please learn about the eighteenth century. After 1815, Metternich and other racist creeps removed all the French Right-Of-man stuff, and massively mistreated Jews, as if they were dogs. Also returned Poland to slavery.

      Yeap, Hitler was no accident. Hitler was just what Prussians did, Mister. Probably you read Nazi history books? Anyway, that’s why Prussia was terminated in 1945. Learn. Before using big sentences like an oversized parrot. And putting out what is, in my eyes, just Nazi propaganda.

      BTW, the conspirators of December 1912 left a written document behind, rediscovered by a German historian in the 1970s.

      The war was a total surprise. Read the British press seven days before: Germany is mentioned nowhere, it’s all about troubles in Ireland.

      The entire French government was on vacation, completely out of touch. The undersecretary of agriculture in Paris had to order the mobilization of the army.

      I know history extremely well, Mr. Lane. As luck has it, Von Molkte, the chief of the Prussian staff, the conspirator in chief, is a relative by alliance of mine, so I had the inside track, by the age of six, hahaha…
      PA

  8. Ethan Says:

    What a material of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable familiarity on the topic of
    unpredicted feelings.

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