- Seuss sought input on the book from his acquaintance, marine General Victor H. Krulak.
- Like The Lorax, the story is structured as a tale from an older generation to a modern one, where the younger character is a stand-in for the reader.
- As much as Seuss was against transparent moralizing, he delighted in obvious satire, and he wasn't afraid of being too on the nose. The Chief Yookeroo, the back-room boys with their slide rules and spectacles, the butter-up band. The "Your yookery" sign. The slavic-named antagonist VanItch.
- This book is interesting to compare with Seuss' editorial cartoons decades earlier, during WWII. At that time, he was producing unabashed anti-axis propaganda. During his lifetime, he had not just observed the kind of wartime fervor the Yooks subscribed to - he had been an active participant in it.
- Writing a funny and poignant children's book about nuclear war is a hell of a challenge. The Butter Battle Book is a masterpiece.
However, look at things in terms of scale. 9/11 was considered an atrocious and unprecedented event. 2,996 lives lost in a matter of hours. Look at something like World War 2. In World War 2 the total death toll was around 75 million with a world population of about 2.3 billion. That's 248 million lives lost scaled up to today's population. Think about that. That would be the equivalent of a 9/11 event happening every single day for 83,555 days. Or a 9/11 event every single day for 229 years.
That sort of loss of life is completely unimaginable. And that doesn't even scratch the surface of lives lost. The Mongol Invasions in the 13th century killed off 35 million people. The colonization of America resulted in deaths that are difficult to measure but it was also in the high tens of millions at the minimum.
But today even if we look at places we ignore, like Iraq, the high end of the death tolls there are around 1 million. And a big part of the reason for the dramatic decline in war is because of nukes. If not for nuclear weapons we would have long since had a World War 3 as Europe, China, and the US vied to determine whose ideology would become the world ideology. And it's extremely possible we could have seen the first war with a death toll in excess of a billion. Instead we live in an era when a few hundred people being killed in one act is something that shakes the entire western world for months.
Mutually assured destruction may be MAD, but it demonstrates quite clearly peace sustained by self interest alone is vastly more effective than any peace built on words and promises.
If you total up casualties from the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia then you might be surprised at just how many violent deaths have transpired in the past decade. What's more, many of these conflicts have significantly outlived WWII in duration. Will the humpty dumpty of Syria ever be put together again? Probably not as long as it's the proxy battleground for regional powers.
What we might be seeing, rather than real peace, is a disparity of safety from violence. Some countries will be bomb-wrecked hellscapes for decades, while others fund those conflicts but don't think about them too much (except for when terrorists show up to burst our bubbles).
There hasn't been a direct conflict between two major powers since the Korean War. Such a conflict would result in unprecedented levels of death and destruction even without nuclear weapons. With nuclear weapons, it becomes impossible. Sure, sometimes there are wars between tin-pot dictators and insurgents in pickup trucks, but there have always been those wars. What we don't have anymore are modern, industrialized nations killing millions of each other's citizens in an attempt to press their respective claims on Alsace-Lorraine.
And if anything, that's a sign of hope. If Alsace-Lorraine can move beyond decades of being a bomb-wrecked hellscape, perhaps Damascus or Aleppo or Kirkuk or Mogadishu can some day achieve the same peace. Just as (fingers crossed) Sarajevo has.
When we look at the minuscule fraction of the real loss of life in the Mideast it's completely and absolutely negligible compared to the sort of wars we've had in the past. And that's largely due to the fact that modern nations no longer fight. If nations like China and the US were capable of fighting each other without mutually assured destruction, we would have. And that is a conflict that almost certainly would have drawn in the entire rest of the world to one side or the other and the death toll there would dwarf WW2 and anything else - at least until WW4.
Instead we're approaching the centennial of WW2 meaning we have had generations live, and mostly die, without ever experiencing the sort of death and destruction that used to be regularly wrought in war. And for this, we can thank nuclear weapons.
For example, the SA-6 was known as a "three sling jigger"
I wonder if they happened to come from Eielson AFB.
(Not expecting you to know that, but it makes me smile knowing that it stuck)
I think the horror that war/these weapons cause will slowly drift from collective memory in mainstream western society. The warnings of the previous generation will be an endorsement of the destructive power of these weapons, instead of a deterrent of their usage.
I grew up in the '80s, and I well remember the omnipresent feeling of dread that I'm sure most people from that generation experienced on a regular basis. Everyone knew that global catastrophe was a moment away, that any moment of any day a missile could be launched and only minutes later nuclear annihilation would rain down. You can see that in the popular media at the time, of course, the Terminator movies being a particular example, but countless others expressing that feeling (some more direct than others). It's difficult to explain what that feeling and that deep-seated knowledge is like without having experienced it. At the end of the Cold War it felt like a great weight was lifted from the world. But since then, especially most recently, it's felt that that weight has been incrementally coming back.
Before Trump, I would've agreed with you. But "fortunately" he's bringing that fear to a whole new generation, now that-- for the first time in about two decades-- we're back in a situation where there's at least a single-digit annual probability of a nuclear exchange. Hooray?
There is an international campaign to ban nuclear weapons, and I hope more people learn about it. The organization won the nobel peace prize in 2017.
Many nations last year signed on to the ban. Let's encourage the rest to also sign it.
Look for what can't be done in warfare and it tends to have a direct link to strengthening (or sustaining) the established powers at the expense of 'lesser' forces.
> "...Freedom, equality and fraternity were advanced bourgeois criteria in the past. But today, since the emergence of the proletariat and more like class organized in the Communist Party, with experiences of successful revolutions, construction of socialism new democracy and dictatorship of the proletariat, has historically proven that "human rights" serve the oppressing classes and operators who run the imperialist states and landlord-bureaucratic bourgeois states in general..."
Which is the goal of any 'rules of combat' - to formalize the process in a way which reduces the actual damage done (or at least, the damage done to those writing the rules).
It's no different to the way cats will hiss and growl and spit at each other but will usually try and avoid actually fighting. Both sides have too much to lose unless a fight is really necessary.
With a ban, there are legal routes that people can take to sue their governments to enforce the law.
Unless you mean to imply the ban will be completely ineffective. I think that would be absurd thing to argue, as there are an uncountable number of instances where laws have been effective.
Chemical and biological weapons are uniquely messy and de-stabilising. Messy because it is difficult to limit the damage to targeted enemy combatants. (In World War I, the British mistakenly gassed themselves .) De-stabilising because once built, they are easy for unskilled actors to clandestinely transport and deploy.
No, it’s not. Many weapons are messy. Many weapons are de-stabilising. Few are both. HEU is difficult to enrich, difficult to transport undetected and difficult to arrange into a working bomb.
Unfortunately, this may not be true for much longer. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKQDSgBHPfY for a scare.
Stealing poison gas shells from a WW1 army's stockpile, and setting them off in a city will kill hundreds of people.
So will stealing regular explosive shells, and setting them off. For some reason, though, nobody's eager to outlaw bombs.
what's the difference between a bomb, and a big pile of demolition explosives?
My point is that claiming that arms limitation treaties counter the 'destabilizing' aspect of stolen/unauthorized use of chemical weapons is... Not true.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in '68, the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty only hit the General Assembly last year passed 122 to 1 (with the nuclear states and their cronies abstaining) and is still awaiting ratification
Let's say China (and I'm not a fan of the idiotic relations between the US and China and the foolishness on both sides) decides that Japan just has to go. What stops them? You could say the United States, sure, but what really stops them? It's not the US Army, or the Marines - the air force and navy certainly play a part in "hey we'll come try and blow your stuff up" but what really stops them is that, no matter how much manpower they have, no matter how many airplanes or tanks they build, or how many rockets or missiles they can construct, a nuclear weapons makes all of that pretty much useless. It allows countries with smaller populations to posses weapons such that big countries can't go stomping around and hurting them. Is North Korea really scared of the United States military coming from all the way across the ocean to help South Korea? Or are they scared that the United States will drop nuclear bombs on the country?
People forget how easily countries can slip into war, even between great powers. If you live in the UK or something - you better hang on to your nuclear weapons for dear life. It sounds fun and all good to have everybody disarm, until some big country decides to come after you and you're hoping other people want to help you out.
I mean, I'm not saying it's good we still have nukes pointed at oneanother, but we're still alive, and that's the best historical evidence I've found that humans aren't completely self-destructive.
The United States of America was the world's sole nuclear superpower between July 16th, 1946  and August 29th, 1949 . Towards the end of that nuclear monopoly we had the means to vaporize the competition with minimal risk of retaliation. That we did not is the greatest testament I can think of to the natural temperance of our democratic institutions, ruddy and war-mongering as they can sometimes be.
It's probably more of an affirmation that humans behave better when accountable for their actions. Two nukes were dropped when the enemy of the bomber had no way to retaliate in kind, and no more have been dropped since that stopped being true.
All historical evidence before this was that state actors could not be restrained by the mere threat of overwhelming force; before this, it seemed that nation state, even the big advanced ones needed to 'give it a shot' and be restrained by the reality of devastation, even when it was pretty obvious from the outset that they were biting off more than they could chew (c.f. the Schleffen plan in World War One, Japan's attack on America in World War Two.)
Post world-war two? it seems humanity, or at least the big advanced nations, can be restrained by credible threats of devastation, which is a huge step forward over requiring actual devastation.
Soviet nukes were not why the U.S. held back in Korea. It was the unpleasant prospect of a war with China (albeit a non-nuclear China).
And it didn't use them in Vietnam because it was thought to require so many (dozens/hundreds) as to be the antithesis of reunification.
In short, the US avoided nukes for decades in the hope of peace, not because there were any nukes sighted on D.C. (MAD).
only if it lasts. I agree and like to think the same way but the past 85~ years are not proof yet as we could still be proved oh-so-very wrong.
Reading it, it was immediately apparent to me that it was a cold war allegory, which was a bit of a surprise to me. I didn't recall Dr. Seuss books having much in the way of sociopolitical commentary, and I still don't, outside stories like Yertle the Turtle or The Lorax. If the politics apparent in Yertle the Turtle went over my head as a child, it's possible that other allegories went over my head as well. I should go back and read those books again.
My son asked for butter side down bread at lunch and my daughter asked for butter side up.
Best comment in this entire thread - brought a terrified smile to my face!
And then there's the Seuss WWII political cartoons that I've seen recently due to their criticism of the America First movement of the time... which is interesting to juxtapose against the brazenly racist depictions of Japanese people that Seuss also did during that era.
* Thidwick the big hearted moose
* Anything with Horton
* How the Grinch stole Christmas
E.g., the dude at the beginning uses a slingshot which has the consequence of breaking one other dude's stick. Not so fragile. But by the end neither dude can use their weapon at all without destroying everything on both sides of the fence. And the capabilities to use the weapon is put directly in the hands of the two dudes and no one else. Extremely fragile.
Is this a studied phenomenon? For example, does the auto industry measure fragility wrt putting networked self-driving cars on the highway?
Metaphor for a bomb? Maybe. But I doubt Dr. Seuss was trying to put forward the lesson to children that when you're out of ideas, the thing to do is blow it all up. I honestly think he was being silly for the sake of whimsy and amusement.
It's where my thoughts immediately went on first reading.
His 'adult' "The 7 Lady Godivas' with, shock! nudity ....
And my favourite - 'The Kings Stilts':
However, no person or nation is ever given THAT choice. The choice is always between 'A lot of countries have nuclear weapons, and yours does, too' and 'A lot of countries have nuclear weapons, but not yours'.
Given that choice, I would probably pick the former. It doesn't make you immoral to not want to be the country without nuclear weapons when others have them.
Geopolitically making your own nukes is a huge win for a country. Sure every other country is angry with you and may even impose sanctions, but chances are you are already under sanctions anyway and now their rage is mostly impotent because you have the bomb.
You can have a big agreement for everybody to dismantle their weapons and live in peace, but it only takes one cheater to run it for everybody and it's very very difficult to verify that they are complying and/or don't have a secret facility hidden somewhere to make new ones.
Also, allegories have nothing to do with "talking down". There's plenty of artwork for adults with allegories. Plato wasn't writing for toddlers.