[ by Charles Cameron — trying to catch up with posts here when working on book proposals ]
Consider these two statements made in recent days:
How does a war game — or game theory, for that matter — deal with the differenes, similarities, or continuum between threats and exercises on the one hand, and the actions they threaten or game on the other?
I have eagerly forgotten what temperature a nuclear strike inflicts on its human victims, and just how quickly they arrive there from room temperature. A sahih (trustworthy) hadith found in Tirmidhi tells us that the Prophet reserved the burning of infidels for God in the hereafter, and rejected its use by his followers in carrying out a death sentence:
That ‘Ali burnt some people who apostasized from Islam. This news reached Ibn ‘Abbas, so he said: “If it were me I would have killed them according to the statement of Messenger of Allah (saw). The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘Whoever changes his religion then kill him.’ And I would not have burned them because the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: ‘Do not punish with the punishment of Allah.’ So this reached ‘Ali, and he said: “Ibn ‘Abbas has told the truth.”
I lasck specific knowledge of contemporary commentary on this hadith, but it occurs to me that in the time of the early Muslim community’s war for survival, apostasy would be equivalent to desertion. The US sentence for desertion in time of war, to this day, is described thus in the US Manual for Courts-Martial:
Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct,
The death penalty for desertion in time of war was last administered by US authorities in 1945.
Don’t we have something pretty close to a taboo on the use of nuclear weaponry?