What’s the big deal with nuclear weapons? What’s with everybody wanting them lately? What’s wrong with plain old explosives? Far be it from me to understand the costs of either choice, but it does seem somewhat fair to assume that they are cheaper to produce and maintain. The warheads might be lighter due less mechanism requirements. So the rockets can go further or simpler rockets can be used. But even if the same rockets are needed, it’s still less research and development because more information is available, more professionals are in the neighborhood and it’s much easier to get around the airports in your handbag because everybody’s focus is on the nuclear weapons. Even more, “conventional” weapons (what’s with that distinction anyway?) are safer to keep around as there’s no radiation so there’s no need for as much shielding. If it’s cheaper and faster to produce, there’s an option to produce much more warheads. This allows spreading the attack wider and makes it harder on defense as it’ll need many more defensive missiles / rockets / guns / shelters / whatever. The fact is, I can never know which one is more efficient because I don’t have all the details.
That’s the problem with all of those “secret” stuff. You can never get the details you need to make your own calculations. You always have to trust the politicians that say they have the facts. But you can’t even be sure they have the facts. In fact, opposing politicians always claim their thesis is correct according to the facts. Some even claim the same facts but derive different conclusions, which they also conveniently call facts.
I am not sure I want all the facts of nuclear weapons freely available, but sometimes, even with simpler stuff, the secrecy overextends. Sometimes it seems like freedom of information only concerns keeping information already freely available as it is. I remember trying to figure out how come a local tax-funded television channel keeps buying new big-shot series no other channel has, right as their season ends in the USA. I had to use connections to get a “don’t worry, the prices are suitable” accompanied with a reasonable explanation why a tax-funded channel should have such series. I was kindly reminded our country is semi-socialistic and that even people who can’t or won’t pay for cable should get quality television. But we’re also semi-democratic, so why can’t I can get a copy of the budget? Though I have to be honest – I probably didn’t try hard enough.