The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize should have been awarded to the crews of United States and British nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), not the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
Alongside Stanislav Petrov, those SSBN crews are the reason the world has not seen a military use of nuclear weapons since 1945. By threatening unstable or anti-Western regimes with a continuous, credible, and potent destructive ability, the SSBN crews have deterred those regimes against launching major wars or using their own nuclear weapons. Our enemies know that U.S. and British nuclear forces are the very best, and they know that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, 3 or 4 U.S. SSBNs and at least 1 British SSBN are lurking beneath the waves, ready to annihilate them.
It may be ironic, but through their potential of unparalleled destruction, the SSBN deterrent force is the world's greatest peacekeeper.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee sees things differently. Announcing their decision to award ICAN, Friday, they stated that "It is the firm conviction of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigor." ICAN's director, Beatrice Fihn, claimed that the award proves ICAN's push for a United Nations ban on nuclear weapons is "needed and appreciated."
Nobel and its ICAN awardee have noble ambitions, but they are delusional.
The sad reality of nuclear weapons is that they exist and are not going away. They're not going away, because nations such as China and Russia have no intention of surrendering their own nuclear forces, and North Korea and Iran want their own nuclear forces. Just as they take root in authoritarianism at home, the conception of power of leaders in Beijing and Moscow rests not on balancing foreign threats, but on dominating them.
As such, if those governments knew they could avoid nuclear retaliation in any possible scenario involving the West, they would use nuclear weapons first. Anyone who believes that Vladimir Putin would hesitate in killing millions to secure a major strategic advantage is mistaken.
And so, today as all days, we should give thanks to the ultimate peacekeepers below the waves.