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Monday, July 02, 2007

History lesson: You can't put the lid back on Pandora's box

39 years ago on July 1st, 62 nations put pen to paper and promised that the nuclear haves would not spread the lethal wealth to the have-nots. A couple major power players didn't sign on to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty until well after 1968 (France and China finally played nice in 1992), and some never have (Israel, India and Pakistan, for example).

Unfortunately, the lure of joining the nuclear club was too great for a few "rogue" nations, and the clique has gotten a little less exclusive in the intervening years. Recently, we've seen two more prospective members knocking on the clubhouse door, hoping to add more menace to their reputation as evildoers. There are also the non-state agents trolling the blackmarket in search of some filth to add to their dirty bombs. Technology isn't an easy thing to keep a lid on, especially when the possession of it gives the owners a distinct advantage in the global political arena.

As our Defense department pursues cutting-edge research through its DARPA arm to gain military advantage over potential adversaries, we should keep in mind how hard it was to put the nuclear genie back in the bottle. Once we open a new Pandora's box of laser wielding drones or killer nanobots or morphing chembots (see DARPA Seeks Shape-Shifting War Robots), there will be bad guys out there who want to get their hands on the technology. A piece of paper signed by international diplomats isn't going to do much to stop them.

Back in the 1970s, the Weirdos wrote a lovely little punk ditty about the joys of weapons ownership. Sometimes you just can't keep a good (or bad) thing to yourself.

We Got The Neutron Bomb
by The Weirdos

We got the neutron bomb,
We got the neutron bomb
We got the neutron,
Gonna drop it all over the place
Yer gonna get it on yer face
Foreign aid from the land of the free
But don't blame me

We got the neutron bomb,
We got the neutron bomb
We got the neutron,
Don't understand, you don't know what you mean
We don't want you we want your machines
United Nations and NATO won't do
It's just the red, white and blue

We got the neutron bomb,
We got the neutron bomb
We got the neutron,
That's the way it's gotta be
Survivial of the fittest is the way it's gonna be
We don't want it, we don't want it,
Don't blame me
We don't want it, we don't want it,
Don't blame me
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