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Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today's Threats of Nuclear War?

In recent weeks, the people of the world have been treated to yet another display of the kind of nuclear insanity that has broken out periodically ever since 1945 and the dawn of the nuclear era.

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?

Talk Nation Radio: John Burroughs on Using Law Against Climate and Nuclear Dangers

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-john-burroughs-on-using-law-against-climate-and-nuclear-dangers

John Burroughs is Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy (www.lcnp.org), based in New York City. He represents LCNP in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review proceedings, the United Nations, and other international forums. He was a member of the Marshall Islands international legal team in its nuclear disarmament cases in the International Court of Justice. He's the author of numerous publications related to nuclear weapons including contributing to a report called The Climate-Nuclear Nexus, which we discuss.

Burrough's publications include: contributor, Unspeakable suffering - the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons (2013) (available here); contributor, Assuring Destruction Forever: Nuclear Weapon Modernization Around the World (2012) (available here); author, The Legality of Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons: A Guide to the Historic Opinion of the International Court of Justice (1998). He has also published articles and op-eds in journals and newspapers including Fordham International Law Journal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Arms Control Today, the World Policy Journal, and Newsday. He has taught international law as an adjunct professor at Rutgers Law School, Newark.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

A Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact Is An Even Better Idea Than Its Author Thinks

A Georgetown Law professor named David Koplow has drafted what he calls a Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact. In an article proposing it, Koplow does something all too rare, he recognizes some of the merits of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But he misses others of those merits, as I described them in my 2011 book When The World Outlawed War.

Koplow acknowledges the cultural shift that the pact was central to, that shifted common understanding of war from something that just happens like the weather to something that can be controlled, should be abolished, and would henceforth be illegal. He acknowledges the role of the pact in motivating trials (albeit one-sided trials) for the crime of war following World War II.

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.

But How Do You Use Nonviolence Against a Nuke?

Some of the most misguided questions ever conceived by the human brain take the form of "But how do you use nonviolence against . . . ?"

For example, fill in the blank with ISIS. How do you use nonviolence against ISIS?

Now you're supposed to picture yourself with a knife at your throat trying to resist it nonviolently. Then you're supposed to burst into a fit of laughter.

But how would you resist that knife violently? A superhuman feat of martial arts seems at least as unlikely to work as speaking.

But actually possible before the knife arrives at your throat at all are such nonviolent actions as: ceasing to arm ISIS allies, ceasing to allow U.S. allies to fund ISIS, ceasing to inspire ISIS recruiting by bombing people and propping up brutal governments, ceasing to destabilize countries by overthrowing governments, negotiating an arms embargo, negotiating a cease fire, providing actual humanitarian aid on an appropriate scale, opening borders to refugees, investing in efforts to halt climate chaos, strengthening the rule of law by example, kick starting a reverse arms race, abolishing weapons of mass destruction, and -- of course -- using all the tools of nonviolence as an individual to create these policies.

Or fill in the blank with Vladimir Putin. Now you're supposed to imagine some mash up of Vladimir coming at you in a wrestling match, Russian jets flying along the border of Russia thousands of miles away from the United States, and a nuclear bomb landing on your roof. Then you're supposed to burst into a fit of patriotic singing.

But how would you resist Vladimir Putin violently? He's not really wrestling you. Attacking Russian planes might provoke an actual attack by the Russian military, and shooting at the nuke as it comes through the ceiling isn't likely to de-activate it. But actually possible steps that would help include: abolishing NATO, negotiating disarmament agreements, ending foreign wars, closing foreign bases, strengthening the rule of law by example, etc.

My favorite, however, is: "But How Do You Use Nonviolence Against a Nuke?" For this one, we don't need to invent or speculate. We can simply reply: Learn the actions of Michael Walli, Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed, and go forth and do likewise. There are thousands of other answers as well. You can lobby for the 2017 treaty to ban nuclear weapons. You can push for divestment from nuclear weapons. You can teach history. You can write articles like this one. But a central answer should be: Do something like Walli, Rice, and Boertje-Obed are doing.

The actions of those three are the main focus of a new book by Dan Zak called Almighty: Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age. The book reviews useful history of the development of the bomb and of resistance to it including the Catholic Worker movement, of nuclear testing and human experimentation, and of recent developments in disarmament, armament, and activism. But the book takes as its starting point the nonviolent plowshares action that Michael, Megan (pronounced MEE-gan), and Greg took part in on July 28, 2012, at the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Their action clearly has already inspired this book, as well as much other reporting, and much other activism -- with, I hope, a lot more to come.  

These three activists made their way through the surrounding woods and a number of fences into the heart of the Y-12 facility undetected. They painted graffiti peace messages, spilled blood, and protested the creation of nuclear weapons. That they were elderly and one of them a nun was the overwhelming focus of the resulting media coverage. That the United States has nuclear facilities being run by utterly incompetent private companies living high off the tax dollar hog but endangering the globe was a secondary but important focus as well. The sensible guard who avoided escalating the situation was scapegoated and fired. Supposedly changes have been made now so that giant piles of bomb-ready uranium are guarded with at least some fraction of the care devoted to harassing you before you board an airplane.

Michael, Megan, and Greg were put on trial for sabotage or what the judge called a "federal crime of terrorism." They were convicted, imprisoned, and released when that verdict was later overturned. They have promised to continue their activism.

Meanwhile, the book they inspired offers a rich history of which we should all be aware.

Did you know that high school girls preparing the infernos for Hiroshima and Nagasaki were told and presumably believed that they were manufacturing ice cream?

Did you know that Oak Ridge employed over 22,000 people when FDR died and Germany surrendered, and that sheer bureaucratic momentum blocked any consideration of halting the creation of a nuclear bomb?

Zak's book includes gems from the Berrigans' and allies' poetry: "We wish also to challenge the lethal lie spun by G.E. through its motto, 'We bring good things to life.' As manufacturers of the Mark 12A re-entry vehicle, G.E. actually prepares to bring good things to death."

Only occasionally does the author's background as a Washington Post reporter (as opposed to a member of the peace movement he writes about) come through. For example, he recounts a moment when "opposition to the Vietnam war was reaching its ugly peak." He repeatedly suggests that Vladimir Putin has single-handedly restarted the Cold War without any contribution from the U.S. government or NATO. He claims that North Korea has been "led by a succession of madmen." And his reporting in six different places on the views of others as to whether the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was actually needed to end the war would have benefitted from the addition of his own voice on the matter (presuming him to know that the bombing was not needed).

Still, this is a wonderful book inspired by even more wonderful activism. We should have more of both.

When Charlottesville Was Nuked

Thirty-seven years ago, the United States Congress commissioned and published a work of fiction, an account of what life in Charlottesville, Virginia, might be like during a nuclear war. It's contained in a longer report called The Effects of Nuclear War which came out in May of 1979. It's widely available online.

I take an interest for 15 pretty solid reasons:

  • I live in Charlottesville.
  • The world still has enough nuclear weapons with which to destroy itself many times over.
  • We pay a lot less attention to preventing such a disaster now than we did 37 years ago.
  • More nations have nukes now and many more are close to having them.
  • We know more now about the numerous nuclear accidents and misunderstandings that have nearly killed us all over the decades.
  • India and Pakistan are actually at war.
  • The United States and Russia are as close to war as they've been in 98 years.
  • The United States is investing in newer and smaller, "more usable" nukes.
  • This Congressional best case scenario for a U.S. city during a nuclear war is deeply disturbing.
  • We now know that even a limited nuclear war would produce a nuclear winter, preventing the production of crops depicted in this tale.
  • It's not so clear to me that Charlottesville would still rank last on a list of targets for nuclear missiles. It is, after all, home to the Army JAG school, the National Ground Intelligence Center, various weapon makers, a heavily militarized university, and the CIA's underground hideout.
  • The United Nations has just set up negotiations for the coming year of a global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, and it's worth trying to understand why.
  • If we survive our possession of nuclear knowledge, we still have climate catastrophe to quickly and miraculously evade or prepare for.
  • The Republican candidate for U.S. president.
  • The Democratic candidate for U.S. president.

So, here are a few excerpts that I encourage you to consider:

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?

We got 8 years of change, but not much hope: President Barack Obama’s Crappy Legacy

By Dave Lindorff

 

Barack Obama came into the White House on a wave of passionate new voters, many of them black or young and white, becoming the nation's first black president and promising a new era of "hope and change."

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.

This Is Our Lucky Day

This is our lucky day for quite a few reasons. We haven't yet rendered the climate of this planet uninhabitable for our species. For those of us who are not in prison: we're not in prison -- and not because of some significant difference between us and many who are. For those of us not hungry or scared . . . (see note above re prisons). But there's another big reason that this is our lucky day -- a reason that is different in kind from these.

This is our luck day and we've had about 25,965 of them and counting. Ever since the creation of nuclear weapons there have been thousands of accidents, incidents, and close calls. Nuclear bombs have been accidentally dropped on the United States by the United States and come very close to detonating. The United States and the Soviet Union / Russia have come very close to believing the other had begun the nuclear apocalypse. In one case, the decency of a single Russian sailor, Vasili Arkhipov, probably saved the globe. Nuclear weapons have been lost in the ocean, been flown unwittingly across the country and left unguarded, and -- in an incident that is the chief focus of a new film -- accidentally blasted out of a bunker in Arkansas to land in a nearby field where the "warhead" did not explode in great part because September 19, 1980, was one of our lucky days.

Command and Control, a film based on a book by Eric Schlosser, tells the story of one weapon 600 times as powerful as the one dropped on Hiroshima. One weapon and one worker who chose one wrong tool causing him to drop one small part, causing a nuclear weapon to launch, not to hit the Soviet Union where it would have killed huge numbers of human beings and triggered an apocalypse, but instead to launch into a nearby field. As Schlosser points out, a system in which such a thing is possible is itself broken. Blaming one maintenance worker misses the problem.

The film plays out the suspenseful minute-by-minute response in Damascus, Arkansas. We watch the people who invented the term SNAFU, the U.S. military, confront the possibility that they may be about to nuke Governor Bill Clinton's Arkansas. Nobody with much useful knowledge of the weapon can apparently be found, but numerous people far removed from Arkansas get involved, and the most distant of them call the shots. The Keystone Cops, taking orders from afar, having locked themselves out of the missile silo, break their way back in but fail to prevent an explosion, after which they have to begin a search for the weapon, because -- like the U.S. Army's recently reported 6.5 trillion unaccounted for dollars -- they don't know where it went.

Harold Brown, then-Secretary of so-called Defense, is shown in the film saying that "accidents were not unusual in the Defense Department. There must have been several every day." Most were, no doubt, not nuclear. But a "Defense" Department report lists thousands of those over the years.

A television newscast from 1980 informs us that "The Titan is not to blame. It was human error." The Titan, apparently treated as an actual titan from ancient Greece, greater than a god, is the name of the inanimate weapon. The Pentagon and its media echo chamber defend the weapon from blame, choosing instead to put all the blame on members of the military.

This history of near misses with catastrophes is a well-kept secret. That the problem is structural rather than one of "a few bad apples" is a carefully avoided realization. And here's an even better buried secret: this problem is not in the past. The United States still has some 7,000 nuclear weapons, and as this film shows us, and as is generally agreed, oversight and attention to safety have gotten worse, not better, over the years.

The non-nuclear nations of the world are pushing for a ban on nuclear weapons. The United States is expanding its nuclear arsenal. Which is the right way to go? In the words of that model of lawless U.S. violence Dirty Harry, you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?"

Talk Nation Radio: Judy Bello on Syria, Gar Alperovitz on Ending War

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-judy-bello-on-syria-gar-alperovitz-on-ending-war

Judy Bello (pictured) is on the Administrative Committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and is a founding member of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.   In the previous decade she has traveled with Peace Delegations to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. She has just returned from a fact finding mission in Syria with a delegation from the U.S. Peace Council.

Gar Alperovitz has had a distinguished career as a historian, political economist, activist, writer, and government official. He's been a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, and is a former Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University and Harvard’s Institute of Politics. He is the author of critically acclaimed books on the atomic bomb and atomic diplomacy. Alperovitz has served as a legislative director in both houses of Congress and as a special assistant in the State Department. He is also the president of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives and is a co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative and co-chair of the Next System Project. And he will be speaking at No War 2016, a conference we are organizing in September in Washington DC through World Beyond War. See worldbeyondwar.org.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

Pacifica stations can also download from Audioport.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

The Pro-Nuclear War Party

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the following people and entities would like the United States to begin a nuclear war: Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the U.K., France, Japan, South Korea, and Germany. If any of those people or entities believe they can prove a case of libel, it might be a huge one. (Are you listening, Rupert?)

According to Mr. Murdoch's newspaper, the White House has been discussing the possibility of declaring that the United States no longer has a policy of engaging in the first use of nuclear bombs. The trouble is that those individuals and nations named above object. They insist, we are told, that the United States should have the policy of beginning a nuclear war.

Have the people of the UK, France, Japan, South Korea, Germany, or the United States itself been polled on this? Has any legislature pretending to represent any of those populations voted on this? Of course not. But what we could do, perhaps, is amend the policy to read: "When the United States begins the nuclear war, it shall announce that it is doing so in the name of democracy." That should be good.

Has Mr. Kerry, Mr. Carter, or Mr. Moniz been evaluated by a psychiatrist? Was Mr. Kerry against this before he was for it? The important question, I believe, is whether they want to start the nuclear war with any hatred or bigotry in mind. If what they intend is a loving, tolerant, and multicultural nuclear war, then really what we ought to be worrying about is the unfathomable evil of Donald Trump who has said that he'd like to kill families -- and particular types of families.

Now, I am not claiming to have fathomed the evil of Mr. Trump, but it has been U.S. policy since before there was a United States to kill families. And it is my strong suspicion that a nuclear war and the nuclear winter and nuclear famine it would bring to the earth would harm at least some families of every existing type.

The non-nuclear nations of this off-its-axis planet have been moving forward on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. That sort of strong and sane proposal could have something to do with the White House interest in advancing something as weak as a statement of no longer planning to be the first to start the apocalypse. But you can see the logic of the profiteers quite clearly. The same White House has laid out a plan to dump a trillion dollars in the coming years into building smaller, more "usable," nukes. If the United States commits to not using them first, as other nuclear nations have already done, and if that commitment becomes universal, well, then nobody will ever use them, and at some point in the 23rd century it might occur to some bureaucrat that if nobody's ever going to use them, it might not be the best use of unfathomable levels of spending to keep building them, and then where would we be?

But, not to worry, the Wall Street Journal and a pair of aspiring politicians have got you covered, because "a decision by Mr. Obama to press ahead with the declaration appears unlikely in his remaining months, given the controversy it would stir in the midst of a presidential election." If you believe Mr. Obama is against controversy in the election, I've got an argument for the deterrent value of nuclear weapons to sell you. If Hillary Clinton were against first-use, so would Obama be. But she isn't. Neither is His Huckstership, the Republican nominee.

Opening presidential election debates to include Jill Stein would create the controversy on this and other issues that Mr. Murdoch and his fellow media overlords would prefer to avoid. And Obama would find himself on the same side of that controversy as anyone else who has completely and utterly lost all sense of human decency.

The Golden Rule at Ground Zero: A Meditation Interrupted

By Gerry Condon

I am sitting in the middle of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on the Hood Canal near Poulsbo, Washington. It is a large and beautiful piece of property, partly forested. There is a beautiful, ample house, with a sprawling lawn and garden space, protected by tall pine and cedar trees. At the far end of the lawn is a large stone marker engraved with a Buddhist prayer for peace. As I scan this idyllic scene, small bunny rabbits come into focus on the lawn. Enjoying this space all by myself for a few hours restores a sense of inner peace.

What About Theresa May Plagiarizing Genghis Kahn?

There are scandals and then there are the things that should be scandals. Melania Trump gave a speech on Monday plagiarizing a speech by Michelle Obama, not to mention a song by Rick Astley (that, like these speeches, someone else wrote). Yes, that's funny. The accented immigrant spouse campaigning for the xenophobic bigot is funny in itself. So are her pornographic photos in the context of the Republican Party's denunciation of pornography as a major threat. But, between you and me, if you base your voting on someone's spouse's mindless cynical blather about "values," you've got worse problems than trying to choose between two parties that can swap such blather word-for-word with each other -- and so, consequently, do we all.

And if you can take a look at opening night of the Republican Convention and worry more about Melania's nonsense than about the endless repetition of the dogma that holds 96% of humanity in contempt, that declares the United States to be the only place in the world that matters, then you're missing the forest for the trees and the arsenal for the guns. Go back and watch Virginia Foxx suggesting that only in the United States does anyone value families. Or watch a crazed looking Michael Flynn declare that "the destructive pattern of putting the interests of other nations ahead of our own will end." Then please devote some moments to trying to identify all the nations whose interests the United States puts ahead of its own. Flynn, by the way, said he favored "a new American century." Should the fact that he didn't call it "the project for" really get him off the hook? Yes, yes, it's too short and common a phrase to truly count as plagiarism, but it has already killed a lot more people than Michelle's/Melania's "your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise."

Also on Monday the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May declared that she would be willing to kill a hundred thousand innocent men, women, and children, and that she would be willing to do it using a weapon that in reality is likely to kill several times that many. How is that not a scandal? If she'd said "American" men, women, and children, you can bet your fat french-fry ass it'd be the biggest roaring scandal of the week. That she is assumed to have meant some other variety of men, women, and children avoids any scandal in the U.S. media, as other people must surely be a bit more deserving of dying. However, there's a problem with that unarticulated thought process, namely that the modifier May did use was precisely this: "innocent." You can't get any more innocent than "innocent," and that's who she's willing to slaughter.

And for what purpose is Theresa "Seven Days in" May, just seven days into her prime ministership, willing to commit mass murder? In order, she says, to ensure that her enemies know she is willing to, because that knowledge will deter them from something or other. Of course, Tony Blair was warned that attacking countries would create anti-UK violence, not deter it. And that warning proved accurate. Imagine how many enemies Theresa May would have if she started nuking people? She'd have the whole surviving world for enemies. ISIS could blow its whole recruitment budget on self-flagellation or whatever ISISers do for fun. May would have it covered. In trying to defend her nuclearism, May is not just plagiarizing Genghis Kahn, but plagiarizing the false claims of her U.S. and UK predecessors, and doing so just as mindlessly as Melania Trump.

When Spain was victimized by a terrorist attack it pulled out of the war on Iraq, and the terrorist attacks stopped. That's an important lesson. And the lesson is not to do whatever a bully demands. The lesson is to stop being a bully if you don't want your victims to hit back. Spain didn't agree to commit some new crime. It just agreed to stop committing a larger crime. This was the lesson when George W. Bush pulled the U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia or Ronald Reagan pulled them out of Lebanon. But pulling out of Saudi Arabia and moving into Iraq was not well thought through, unless the goal was chaos.

There was a bit of a scandal on Monday in the UK. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that mass murder is not a good way to handle international affairs. It would have been nice last December if the Democratic or Republican Party in the United States had had a Jeremy Corbyn in it. That was when CNN's Hugh Hewitt asked Republican candidate Ben Carson if he would be willing to kill hundreds and thousands of children. To Carson's great credit, he responded by answering a question from an exam he'd taken in medical school for which the answer had only just occurred to him, and then wandered off into recounting a dream or something. But the asking of the question, the assumption that a president's basic duty is mass murder created no scandal, and won't unless someone answers it by plagiarizing Ben Carson.

Mayors Tell President to Take Money Out of Nukes

U.S. Conference of Mayors Unanimously Adopts Resolution “Calling on the Next U.S. President to Pursue Diplomacy with Other Nuclear-Armed States; Participate in Negotiations for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons; Cut Nuclear Weapons Spending and Redirect Funds to Meet the Needs of Cities”

Sponsors include NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser,

Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola

Gorbachev Disagrees With Obama on Nukes

Mikhail Gorbachev and Barack Obama have radically different views on what is involved in doing away with nuclear weapons.

Reading Gorbachev's new book, The New Russia, is a bit disappointing, but it contains some key insights. It may also be a cure for insomnia; it's no page turner. It's part decades-long diary and travelogue, part petty self-aggrandizement (by someone in no need), and part ill-informed conservatism.

Gorby claims that Obama "honoured his promise to withdraw from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan." In fact, both are still raging, the never completed withdrawal from Iraq fell wildly short of the campaign-promise schedule, and Obama actually promised to escalate in Afghanistan, which he did, tripling the U.S. presence and making that war primarily his own in terms of deaths, days, and dollars. The fact that smart well-informed people abroad, like Gorbachev, fall for common U.S. myths is an indication of how very difficult foreign relations can be.

Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Tick... Tick... Tick...

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

The Finger on the Button

By Winslow Myers

If we had a nickel for everyone who has muttered some variation on “I worry about Donald Trump’s finger on the nuclear button,” we could finance an anti-Trump Super-PAC.

Obviously the temperament of the leader of any nuclear nation matters deeply. But there will be moments when it matters not whether the leader is sober and restrained, because the action will be elsewhere, further down the chain of military command and control. Thousands of military personnel around the world have access to nuclear weapons. We are told that battlefield commanders of the Pakistani army deployed in Kashmir are free to unleash their tactical nukes without the command and control of their political leaders.

One of the lesser-known pivotal moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred on a Soviet submarine deep beneath the Atlantic. From an article in the Guardian, October 2012: “In late October, 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, the decision to sidestep WWIII was taken, not in the Kremlin or the White House, but in the control room of a Soviet submarine under attack by the US fleet. The submarine’s batteries were failing, air conditioning was crippled, communication with Moscow was impossible, and Savitsky, the captain of the ship, was convinced that WWIII had already broken out. He ordered the B-59's ten kiloton nuclear torpedo to be prepared for firing against the USS Randolf, the giant aircraft carrier leading the task force. The launch of the B-59's torpedo (2/3 the power of Hiroshima) required the consent of all three senior officers aboard. Vasili Arkhipov, one of the three, was alone in refusing permission. It is certain that Arkhipov's reputation was a key factor in the control room debate. The previous year the young officer, son of peasant farmers near Moscow, had exposed himself to severe radiation in order to save K-19, a submarine with an overheating reactor. That radiation dose eventually contributed to his death in 1998. What saved us was not only Arkhipov’s clear-headedness under great stress, but the established procedures of the Soviet navy, which were respected by the officers aboard the B-59.”

How bizarre, this barely acknowledged truth: we all owe our lives to one ethical Russian man, a man already sick unto death with nuclear radiation.

Veterans For Peace Calls for Nuclear Disarmament in Our Lifetime

Obama at Hiroshima: “We must change our mindset about war itself.”

President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima has been the subject of much commentary and debate.  Peace activists, scientists and even the New York Times called on Obama to use the occasion to announce meaningful steps toward worldwide nuclear disarmament, as he famously promised before receiving his premature Nobel Peace Prize.

At Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Barack Obama delivered the kind of eloquent speech he is known for – some say his most eloquent yet.  He called for an end to nuclear weapons.  He said that the nuclear powers “…must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”  Incisively, Obama added“We must change our mindset about war itself.” 

President Obama announced no new steps, however, to achieve nuclear disarmament.  Disappointingly, he stated, “We may not realize this goal in my lifetime.” 

Certainly not if Obama hands the next administration his initiative to “modernize” the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal.  That is a 30-year program estimated to cost One Trillion Dollars, or $1,000,000,000,000.  Smaller, more precise and “usable” nukes would be in the mix.

There are other bad signs.  Standing next to Obama at Hiroshima was Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who is shredding Article 9 of the Japanese constitution,the “pacifist” clause that bars Japan from sending troops abroad or engaging in war.  The alarmingly militaristic Abe has even hinted that Japan itself should become a nuclear power. 

The Obama administration is encouraging Japan to have a more aggressive military posture, as part of a U.S. backed regional response to China’s assertion of primacy in the South China Sea.  That is also the context for Obama’s announcement that he is lifting the U.S. embargo of weapons sales to Vietnam.  The U.S. “normalizes” relations by selling weapons of war.

The so-called Asia Pivot, which would see 60% of U.S. military forces stationed in the Pacific, is only one current assertion of U.S. global hegemony.  The U.S. is involved in multiple wars in the Middle East, it continues its longest war in Afghanistan, and it is pushing NATO, including Germany, to station significant military forces on Russia’s borders.

The U.S. nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which killed 200,000 civilians, were inexcusable and morally reprehensible, especially since, according to many U.S. military leaders, they were absolutely unnecessary,as the Japanese were already defeated and were looking for a way to surrender.

 

Veterans For Peace Apologizes to Japanese People and the World

U.S. presidents may never apologize for what our country did at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But we do.  Veterans For Peace expresses our deepest condolences to all those who were killed and maimed, and to their families. We apologize to the Hibakusha,the survivorsof the nuclear bombings, and we thank them for their courageous, continuing witness. 

We apologize to all the Japanese people and to all the people of the world.  This hugely atrocious crime against humanity should never have happened.  As military veterans who have come to see the tragic futility of war, we promise that we will continue working for peace and disarmament.  We want to see nuclear disarmament in our lifetime.

It is a miracle that that there have been no nuclear wars since the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We now know that the world has been close to nuclear annihilation on several occasions.  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty calls on the nuclear powers (nine nations and growing), to negotiate in good faith to reduce and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons.  Nothing of the sort is taking place. 

The aggressive U.S. military posture, including its development of new nuclear weapons, has prompted China and Russia to respond in kind.  China will soon be launching nuclear-armed submarines to cruise the Pacific Ocean.  Russia, threatened by the placement of “defensive” U.S. missile systems near its borders, is upgrading its nuclear capacities, and is touting new submarine-fired nuclear-armed cruise missiles.  U.S. and Russian missiles remain on a hair-trigger alert.  The U.S. reserves the right to a first strike. 

Is Nuclear War Inevitable?

India and Pakistan continue to test nuclear weapons and to fight over the territory of Kashmir, constantly risking the possibility of a greater war in which nuclear weapons might be used.

North Korea, threatened by the presence of nuclear weapons on U.S. Navy ships, and by the refusal of the U.S. to negotiate an end to the Korean War, brandishes its own nuclear weapons. 

Israel has as many as 200 nuclear weapons with which they intend to maintain their dominance in the Middle East. 

The possession of nuclear weapons earned the former colonial powers Britain and France their seats at the UN Security Council.

Iran does not have nuclear weapons, was not even close to acquiring them, and they claim they do not want them.  But one could certainly understand if they and other countries who feel threatened by nuclear powers might want to acquire the ultimate deterrent.  If Saddam Hussein had actually had nuclear weapons, the U.S. would not have invaded Iraq.

There is a very real possibility that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of terrorist organizations, or just be inherited by governments that are more militarist than the last.

In short, the danger of nuclear war, or even multiple nuclear wars, has never been greater.  Given the current trajectory, nuclear war actually appears inevitable. 

Nuclear disarmament will likely occur only when the powers that be, beginning with the United States, are pressured by millions of peace-loving people into abandoning militarism and adopting a peaceful, cooperative foreign policy.  President Obama is right when he says that “we must rethink war itself.” 

Veterans For Peace is committed to opposing U.S. wars, both overt and covert.  Our Mission Statement also calls on us to expose the true costs of war, to heal the wounds of war, and to push for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.  We want to abolish war once and for all.

The Golden Rule Sails for a Nuclear-Free World

Last year Veterans For Peace (VFP) dramatically stepped up our efforts to educate people about the dangers of nuclear weapons when we relaunched the historic antinuclear sailboat, the Golden Rule.  The 34-foot peace boat was the star of the VFP Convention in San Diego last August, and stopped in ports along the California coast for unique public events.  Now the Golden Rule is beginning a 4-1/2 month voyage (June – October) throughout the waterways of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.  The Golden Rule will be sailing for a nuclear-free world and a peaceful, sustainable future.

We will make common cause with many people in the Pacific Northwest who are concerned about the devastation of climate change, and are organizing against dangerous coal, oil and natural gas infrastructure in their port towns.  We will remind them that the risk of nuclear war is also a threat to the very existence of human civilization.

Veterans For Peace will encourage climate justice activists to work also for peace and nuclear disarmament. The peace movement, in turn, will grow as it embraces the movement for climate justice.  We will build a profound international movement and work hopefully together for a peaceful, sustainable future for all.

Statement Opposing US President Barack Obama’ Visit to Hiroshima

Action Committee for the 71st Anniversary of the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima on August 6th
14-3-705 Noborimachi, Naka ward, Hiroshima City
Telephone/Fax: 082-221-7631 Email: hiro-100@cronos.ocn.ne.jp

 

 

We oppose the planned visit of the US President Barack Obama to Hiroshima on May 27th after Ise-Shima Summit.

 

North Korea, Following China and India, Pledges No-First-Use of Nuclear Weapons. So Could Obama

By John LaForge

North Korea’s May 7 declaration that it would not be first to use nuclear weapons was met with official derision instead of relief and applause. Not one report of the announcement I could find noted that the United States has never made such a no-first-use pledge. None of three dozen news accounts even mentioned that North Korea hasn’t got one usable nuclear warhead. The New York Times did admit, “US and South Korean officials doubted that North Korea has developed a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile that would deliver a nuclear payload to the continental United States.” 

Nuclear “first use” means either a nuclear sneak attack or the escalation from conventional mass destruction to the use of nuclear warheads, and presidents have threatened it as many as 15 times. In the build-up to the 1991 Persian Gulf bombing, US officials including then Def. Sec. Dick Cheney and Sec. of State James Baker publicly and repeatedly hinted that the US might use nuclear weapons. In the midst of the bombardment, Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., and syndicated columnist Cal Thomas both explicitly promoted nuclear war on Iraq.

Hysterical Cold-War Style US Reporting as 2 Unarmed Russian Jets Buzz US Destroyer Sailing Near Russian Port

By Dave Lindorff

 

US news reports on an incident Tuesday in which two Russian jet fighters buzzed very close to a US destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, in the Baltic Sea, make it sound like a serious threat in which the US might have been justified in defending itself against a simulated attack on the high seas.

Nowhere in the reports in the US was it mentioned that the Cook was itself engaging in provocative behavior.

Why I won’t be voting for Hillary in November: A Neolib Posing as a Progressive vs. a Reality TV Star Posing as a Fascist

By Dave Lindorff

 

            I won’t be voting for Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic Party nomination for president, and I won’t heed Bernie Sanders if, as he has vowed to do, he calls on his supporters to “come together” after the convention, should he lose, to support Clinton and prevent Donald Trump or another Republican from becoming president.

 

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