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Why Should Trump--or Anyone--Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?

The accession of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency brings us face-to-face with a question that many have tried to avoid since 1945:  Should anyone have the right to plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust?

Should We Keep Wasting Money on Missile Defense--or Invest in Something Useful?

When Americans criticize wasteful government spending, they often fail to realize that the biggest sinkhole for public funds is what’s described as “national defense”―a program that, all too often, does little or nothing to defend them.

A Peace Agenda for the New Administration

The looming advent of the Trump administration in Washington threatens to worsen an already deeply troubling international situation.  Bitter wars are raging, tens of millions of refugees have taken flight, relations among the great powers are deteriorating, and a new nuclear arms race is underway.  Resources that could be used to fight unemployment, poverty, and climate change are being lavished on the military might of nations around the world―$1.7 trillion in 2015 alone.  The United States accounts for 36 percent of that global total.

Given this grim reality, let us consider an alternative agenda for the new administration―an agenda for peace.

Let's Reduce the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

At present, nuclear disarmament seems to have ground to a halt.  Nine nations have a total of approximately 15,500 nuclear warheads in their arsenals, including 7,300 possessed by Russia and 7,100 possessed by the United States.  A Russian-American treaty to further reduce their nuclear forces has been difficult to secure thanks to Russian disinterest and Republican resistance.

Yet nuclear disarmament remains vital, for, as long as nuclear weapons exist, it is likely that they will be used.  Wars have been fought for thousands of years, with the most powerful weaponry often brought into play.  Nuclear weapons were used with little hesitation by the U.S. government in 1945 and, although they have not been employed in war since then, how long can we expect to go on without their being pressed into service again by hostile governments?

Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?

In early September 2016, Donald Trump announced his plan for a vast expansion of the U.S. military, including 90,000 new soldiers for the Army, nearly 75 new ships for the Navy, and dozens of new fighter aircraft for the Air Force.  Although the cost of this increase would be substantial―about $90 billion per year―it would be covered, the GOP presidential candidate said, by cutting wasteful government spending.

Isn't It Time to Ban the Bomb?

Although the mass media failed to report it, a landmark event occurred recently in connection with resolving the long-discussed problem of what to do about nuclear weapons.  On August 19, 2016, a UN committee, the innocuously-named Open-Ended Working Group, voted to recommend to the UN General Assembly that it mandate the opening of negotiations in 2017 on a treaty to ban them.

Are We in for Another Increase in Military Spending?

At the present time, an increase in U.S. military spending seems as superfluous as a third leg.  The United States, armed with the latest in advanced weaponry, has more military might than any other nation in world history.  Moreover, it has begun a $1 trillion program to refurbish its entire nuclear weapons complex.  America’s major military rivals, China and Russia, spend only a small fraction of what the United States does on its armed forces―in China’s case about a third and in Russia’s case about a ninth.  Furthermore, the economic outlay necessary to maintain this vast U.S. military force constitutes a very significant burden.  In fiscal 2015, U.S.

The Trillion Dollar Question

Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates?

"Modernizing" the Opportunities for Nuclear War

A fight now underway over newly-designed U.S. nuclear weapons highlights how far the Obama administration has strayed from its commitment to build a nuclear-free world.

American Casualties of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program

When Americans think about nuclear weapons, they comfort themselves with the thought that these weapons’ vast destruction of human life has not taken place since 1945—at least not yet.  But, in reality, it has taken place, with shocking levels of U.S. casualties.

After the Iran Nuclear Agreement: Will the Nuclear Powers Also Play by the Rules?

When all is said and done, what the recently-approved Iran nuclear agreement is all about is ensuring that Iran honors its commitment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) not to develop nuclear weapons.

But the NPT—which was ratified in 1968 and which went into force in 1970—has two kinds of provisions.  The first is that non-nuclear powers forswear developing a nuclear weapons capability.  The second is that nuclear-armed nations divest themselves of their own nuclear weapons.  Article VI of the treaty is quite explicit on this second point, stating: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Rogue States and Nuclear Dangers

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

Tomgram: Susan Southard, Under the Mushroom Cloud -- Nagasaki after Nuclear War

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, 

Tomgram: Christian Appy, America's Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 Years Later

 This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week,

Are Nuclear Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements of Any Value?

The recent announcement of a nuclear deal between the governments of Iran and other major nations, including the United States, naturally draws our attention to the history of international nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements.  What accounts for their advent on the world scene and what have they accomplished?

Ever since 1945, when the atomic bomb was built and used by the U.S. government in a devastating attack upon Japanese cities, the world has lived on the brink of catastrophe, for nuclear weapons, if integrated into war, could cause the total destruction of civilization.

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