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Mothers: ending war is the source of Mother’s Day. War is illegal. Mothers: demand justice, peace
By Carl Herman | LA County Nonpartisan Examiner | Hat Tip to Joe Azar
Ending unlawful US wars is similar to the work of the Civil Rights Movement: both are functions of transformative civic education inside and outside of classrooms, transformative media communication, and transformative political education and policy. Both are founded upon honor and enforcement of historical legislative victories. For Civil Rights, the 1868 14th Amendment to the US Constitution promised equal protection under the law and was willfully ignored.
Ending war is founded upon the 1945 legislative victory of the United Nations Charter (UN). War is illegal, except under a narrow legal definition of self-defense from another nation’s armed attack until the UN Security Council (UNSC) can act. I cite expert testimony to explain the "emperor has no clothes," and cite the law compared with the evidence for everyone to understand here. Obviously, the US is in violation.
The UNSC issued two Resolutions requiring international cooperation under the law to discover, arrest, and bring to full justice the criminals who executed the terrorist act of 9/11. The US refused Afghanistan’s request for evidence of Osama bin Laden’s complicity before extradition could begin, and initiated war upon Afghanistan.
The US violated a standing UNSC Resolution of ceasefire in Iraq that only the UNSC has authority to lift, and initiated war upon Iraq. For those concerned with UN authority, know that the UN Charter is legally binding in one area only: Wars of Aggression, are unlawful. For detailed explanation of this legislative victory of World War 2, read the above two links.
By David Swanson
Tad Daley writes, in his new book, "Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World," that he would like his book to have the impact of "Common Sense," "Uncle Tom's Cabin," or "The Jungle." Yeah, buddy, what author wouldn't? But Daley has a unique argument for the moral necessity of sharing his goal and promoting either his book or others like it: our only alternative is the annihilation of all life on earth.
By the time you've read this book, you will in fact be persuaded that if others do not grasp its central points, not just tyranny or slavery or unsafe workplaces will continue, but all trace of humanity and every other life form in the world will be eliminated.
The Triple Curse of the Corporate Climate Bill
By Harvey Wasserman
Legend says curses come in threes. Let's pray that doesn't happen with the unholy trinity of the Corporate Climate Bill.
It demands drilling for oil, digging for coal and big money for new nukes. How such a devil's brew could help save the Earth conjures a corporate cynicism beyond the scope of the human mind and soul.
It all now bears a special curse. It was meant for Earth Day. Then it slipped to the April 26 Chernobyl anniversary. But co-sponsor Lindsay Graham (R-SC) pitched a fit over immigration and pulled his support.
As did Earth herself. Just prior, more than two dozen hill country miners were killed in a veritable Three Mile Island of black carbon. This entirely avoidable accident was built on years of sloppy denial by King Coal and the tacit assent of pliant regulators. With mountains of offal being pitched into rivers and streams, and underground hell holes filled with gas and soot, coal has been slaughtering people and eco-systems here for more than a century. Now, as at TMI, the death has become visible.
Meanwhile, the undersea gusher destroying the Gulf of Mexico may soon pour up the east coast. Like Chernobyl, it defies comprehension.
Geoff Millard, Chair of Iraq Veterans Against the War, National Board Of Directors wrote:
From the 26th of March until the 9th of April I was lucky to be a part of a veterans delegation to Vietnam in order to do research in preparation for an upcoming push for legislation to alleviate the suffering of the people of Vietnam that has plagued them since we first started using agent orange in 1961.
Vietnam may seem an odd place for an Iraq vet whose parents had not even met when the last US forces retreated in defeat hanging from helicopters, but somehow I was the perfect piece to complete a very complicated puzzle. You see there are many connections to be made between the two wars but I was there because both were toxic battlefields that left veteran and civilian alike scared for many generations.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s it was not conservative veterans groups who were talking about the effects of agent orange (more specifically dioxin but for common understanding I will simply use AO as my reference), it was VVAW and CCI. As much as revisionists would love to write antiwar veterans from history or minimize them as a small force (as they are trying today with IVAW) the reality is that while the VFW would not allow Vietnam veterans to join their ranks antiwar vets were creating a new generation of leaders. These brave souls were the ones to first paint the words agent orange kills our soldiers on banners.
One of these young leaders would leave to form VVA but his roots are undeniably with VVAW. It is from the work of antiwar veterans that any compensation for AO has been granted. Thus it must again be antiwar vets that take up their banners and fight for compensation for the now three generations of survivors who have lived 35 years in a toxic battlefield that Americans have long since forgotten.
Chernobyl demands a REAL climate bill
By Harvey Wasserman | April 26, 2010
This week 24 years ago, untold quantities of lethal radiation began pouring into the atmosphere from the catastrophic explosion at Chernobyl Unit 4. Nearly a million people have died because of it.
And on this horrific anniversary we have now seen the stumble of a very bad climate bill. The events are directly related.
Chernobyl's death toll has been bitterly debated.
But after nearly a quarter-century of industry denial, the New York Academy of Sciences has published, Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment, the definitive catalog and analysis. Drawing on some 5,000 studies, three Russian scientists have placed the ultimate death toll at 985,000.
The authors include Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the president of Russia; Dr. Alexey Nesterenko, a biologist in Belarus; and Dr.Vassili Nesterenko, a physicist who was, at the time of the accident, director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus. The book has been edited by Dr. Janette Sherman, a toxicologist expert in the health impacts of radioactivity.
As Karl Grossman has shown, Chernobyl's death toll stretches worldwide. Its apocalyptic cloud blanketed Europe and blew across the northern tier of the United States. Sheep in Scotland and milk in New England were heavily contaminated, along with countless square miles of land and sea.
Ohio's Davis-Besse may have come within a fraction of an inch of such a disaster, and has again been found with potentially apocalyptic structural flaws. Michigan's Fermi I and the infamous Three Mile Island Unit 2 did melt.
Now the brand new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 design has been deemed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as unable to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, and has turned up with a critical generic flaw that could cause it to explode.
Which is where the climate bill comes in.
U.S. Nuclear Option on Iran Linked to Israeli Attack Threat
By Gareth Porter | IPS
The Barack Obama administration's declaration in its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that it is reserving the right to use nuclear weapons against Iran represents a new element in a strategy of persuading Tehran that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites is a serious possibility if Iran does not bow to the demand that it cease uranium enrichment.
Although administration officials have carefully refrained from drawing any direct connection between the new nuclear option and the Israeli threat, the NPR broadens the range of contingencies in which nuclear weapons might play a role so as to include an Iranian military response to an Israeli attack.
A war involving Iran that begins with an Israeli attack is the only plausible scenario that would fit the category of contingencies in the document.
The NPR describes the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in those contingencies as a "deterrent". A strategy of exploiting the Israeli threat to attack Iran would seek to deter an Iranian response to such an attack and thus make it more plausible. Read more.
Nuclear Weapons And Interceptor Missiles: Twin Pillars Of U.S.-NATO Military Strategy In Europe
Rick Rozoff Stop NATO | Blog site | April 23, 2010
The two-day NATO foreign ministers meeting in the Estonian capital of Tallinn on April 22-23 focused on the completion of the military alliance's first 21st century Strategic Concept and on the war in Afghanistan, the near-complete absorption of the Balkans into the bloc, and the expansion of operations at the Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence established by NATO two years ago in the same city.
The most important deliberations, however, were on the integrally related questions of U.S. nuclear weapons stored on air bases in five NATO member states and the expansion of the Pentagon's interceptor missile program to all of Europe west of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Discussions on the role of nuclear arms in Europe a generation after the end of the Cold War are in line with the Nuclear Posture Review released last month by the U.S. Department of Defense. NATO has never been known to deviate from American precedents and expectations. Its role is to accommodate and complement Pentagon initiatives. A nation like the Netherlands or Poland proposes, Washington disposes.
While speaking at a press conference in the ministerial meeting's host city, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen directly tied together the retention of U.S. nuclear arms in Europe and NATO's cooperation with its dominant member on a continent-wide interceptor missile system:
"NATO’s core business, its raison-d’etre, is to protect our territory and our populations....And in a world where nuclear weapons actually exist, NATO needs a credible, effective, and safely managed deterrent.
For many years, Israel's open secret is that it's one of eight known nuclear powers, including America and Russia with about 97% of the world's arsenal according to Helen Caldicott in her book "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer." The others are Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel - North Korea a declared but unverified one.
In her January 20, 2009 Canadian Medical Association Journal article titled, "Obama and the opportunity to eliminate nuclear weapons" Caldicott wrote:
"The Cold War is over, but the threat of nuclear war is not. Little progress has been made since 1989 when the Berlin Wall collapsed. In fact, the threat of nuclear annihilation has escalated. In 1972, when 5 nuclear nations....signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, they agreed to rapidly disarm. They have done the opposite," resulting in a greater than ever threat, the Pentagon's new Nuclear Posture Review and US-Russia deal doing nothing to reverse it.
Pentagon Claims Iran ‘Continues’ Nuclear Weapons Program
Admits No Evidence They Have Even Decided to Make Them
By Jason Ditz | AntiWar
Accusing Iran of working on a nuclear weapon is something done with very little ceremony, its almost a matter of course for most US officials when discussing the nation. So much so, it seems, that they don’t even proof their own reports to make sure they’re internally consistent in that regard.
So it seems a bit strange when the Pentagon made the usual accusations and simultaneously insisted that they haven’t even determined if Iran has decided to make such a weapon.
Iran has been working to expand their civilian nuclear program for quite some time, and it is this program which is being cited exclusively in the claims about Iran’s non-existent “nuclear weapons” ambitions. Yet the IAEA continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear materials from this program, and none of this uranium is being enriched beyond 20 percent, with most only being enriched to 3.5 percent. Nuclear weapons, to compare, would require 90+ percent enriched uranium. Read more.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in April of 1949 by a country not on the European continent, the United States, and eleven subordinates which had fought on both sides of the World War that had ended four years earlier: Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal. Greece and Turkey were added in 1952 after their service in the Korean War and West Germany joined in 1955.
Five days after the inclusion of the Federal Republic of Germany on May 9, in contravention of the 1945 Potsdam Agreement between Britain, the U.S. and the Soviet Union which explicitly demanded and meticulously detailed plans for the demilitarization of Germany, the Soviet Union established the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact) in response. Fellow members were Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland and Romania. Albania formally withdrew in 1968, though it had not been a participating member since the early 1960s, and Romania had been a member in name only for at least twenty years before the pact's formal disbandment.
With the accession of Spain into the "military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America" in 1982 the U.S.-led military bloc grew from its original 12 to 16 members. By that time the Warsaw Pact had shrunk from eight to seven members and some of the remaining ones were only selectively involved.
NATO had regularly conducted large-scale military exercises in alleged defense of Norway, Denmark and other members, but never deployed forces or conducted operations outside member states' territories, counting on the thousands of American nuclear warheads in European NATO states to respond to the Warsaw Pact's conventional military superiority in the event of armed confrontation. 
Military forces from the Warsaw Pact intervened in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and in the early 1980s it appeared they might do so again in Poland, and the Soviet Union sent troops to Hungary in 1956 after Prime Minister Imre Nagy withdrew his nation from the Warsaw Pact.
The Soviet Union's justification for those actions was that nations in Eastern Europe gravitating toward the West could be transformed into sites from which NATO, and especially its dominant member the U.S., would present a military threat on or near its borders.
"People like Richard and the Ploughshares and others are some of the most principled people I've ever been fortunate enough to meet and I believe they have a right to peaceful, non-violent, prayerful demonstration against weapons of massive destruction and genocide," Boyle said. "The future of humanity is at stake here and Richard and those like Richard out there are trying to do something."...
"It was a very thoughtful, prayerful act at an Indian reservation, I do that myself at church. I don't understand why praying on a silo is a threat to anyone it's simply mindboggling" Boyle said. "It's criminal what those missiles represent. Praying is the most effective tool we have right now to fight these Nazi-type weapons of genocide."
The man arrested Thursday at a Minuteman III launch site near Parshall will face federal charges.
James Richard Sauder, 55, of San Antonio, Texas, was arrested after allegedly scaling the fence of the H-8 missile silo southwest of Parshall to conduct a peaceful protest against nuclear weapons. He was initially charged with criminal trespass, a Class C felony, and spent the night in the Mountrail County jail in Stanley.
Special Agent E.K. Wilson of the FBI said Sauder has been charged with one count of federal criminal trespass and was taken into federal custody Friday afternoon. Wilson said a criminal complaint filed Friday morning was pending, but would not speculate on any additional charges. Read more.
As with previous discussions of the possibility, Israeli officials today reacted negatively to yesterday’s comment by President Obama in support of seeing Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“There is no room to pressure Israel to join,” insisted Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who added that it was unreasonable to ask Israel to join so long as Iran, a signatory to the NPT remains a “threat.” Read more.
This month has seen the signing of an agreement on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II by U.S. and Russian heads of state Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev in Prague on the 8th and the release of the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, both of which are being widely interpreted as heralding the downgrading of the role of nuclear weapons in American foreign policy.
In fact the new treaty on the reduction of the nuclear arsenals of the two nations that account for 90-95 percent of the world's supply of such weapons, with a commensurate cutback in the delivery systems for them, is a quantitative advance in the direction of eliminating the deadliest and most destructive weapons ever devised by man, but still leaves 3,100 deployed nuclear weapons in both nations' quivers and thousands more in storage.
Similarly, the Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), in stating for the first time that the U.S. will not employ nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states - with two notable (and critically important) exceptions, which will be examined below - also has been construed by some observers as another milestone on the road to a world free from the threat of nuclear war and in the worst case thermonuclear annihilation.
With the two-day, 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. following so closely on the START II agreement and the release of the Nuclear Posture Review, the world press is abuzz with almost millenarian optimism regarding the prospects for a planet free of nuclear weapons. American establishment news agencies and political commentators - half government ventriloquist dummies and half mock devil's advocates - are rightly celebrating the START II and the Nuclear Security Summit as victories for their nation. The first allows the U.S. to forge ahead with programs like international interceptor missile deployments and Prompt Global Strike ; the latter positions Washington as sole arbiter and main enforcer in regards to nuclear proliferation worldwide.
The only naysayers are American superhawks for whom anything other than uncontested U.S. strategic military superiority with the fervent willingness to use it is an unwarranted concession if not a treasonous capitulation.
The above are often congress persons from districts which are home to large arms manufacturers' headquarters and production facilities and others on the payroll of the military-industrial lobby.
By Dave Lindorff
If you’re like me, now that we’re in the week that federal income taxes are due, you are finally starting to collect your records and prepare for the ordeal. Either way, whether you are a procrastinator like me, or have already finished and know how much you have paid to the government, it is a good time to stop and consider how much of your money goes to pay for our bloated and largely useless and pointless military.
The budget for the 2011 fiscal year, which has to be voted by Congress by this Oct. 1, looks to be about $3 trillion, not counting the funds collected for Social Security (since the Vietnam War, the government has included the Social Security Trust Fund in the budget as a way to make the cost of America’s imperial military adventures seem smaller in comparison to the total cost of government). Meanwhile, the military share of the budget works out to about $1.6 trillion.
At the same time the Pentagon issued its new Nuclear Posture Review, Obama officially ordered the murder of a US citizen, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki - accused of terrorism and an Al Qaeda connection without evidence.
Earlier on February 4, Washington Post writer Ellen Nakashima headlined, "Intelligence chief acknowledges US may target Americans involved in terrorism," saying:
"Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair acknowledged (February 3 in testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) that government agencies (specifically CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads) may kill US citizens abroad who are involved in terrorist activities if they are 'taking action that threatens Americans," or administration officials say so.
Obama's Nuclear Posture Review - New Policy or Same Old Same Old?
In December 2001, the Bush administration issued its Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), asserting the preemptive right to unilaterally declare and wage future wars using first strike nuclear weapons.
On April 5, New York Times writers David Sanger and Peter Baker headlined, "Obama Limits When US Would Use Nuclear Arms," saying:
On Monday, Obama said "he was revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons (but) was carving out an exception for 'outliers like Iran and North Korea....' "
Israel’s Netanyahu Blows Off Obama’s Nuclear Summit
By Juan Cole | Informed Comment | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The audience at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference is said to have gone wild with applause when Liz Cheney announced the decision of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not to attend next week’s nuclear summit, called by President Barack Obama....
Netanyahu’s government recently humiliated Vice President Joe Biden when he was on a state visit to that country recently by announcing the building of 1600 new household units on Palestinian West Bank territory that Israel had unilaterally annexed to its district of Jerusalem. The announcement scuttled the talks with the Palestine Authority, the beginning of which Biden had come to celebrate. The Palestinians, have sensibly decided that they will refuse to negotiate with people who are actively stealing from them the very territory that is at stake in the negotiations. The Israeli slap in the face to Biden caused a subsequent Netanyahu visit to Washington to turn into a fiasco, with President Obama making forceful demands on the wily Netanyahu, and then leaving him on his own devices for dinner....
But there is another possible explanation for Netanyahu staying away from a summit on nuclear security issues in Washington. It is that the Israeli prime minister is protesting a new White House policy of refusing visas to Israeli scientists, engineers and technicians who work at the Dimona Reactor/ nuclear bomb factory. Up until recently they had been free to attend technical and scientific conferences and pursue advanced classes at US universities. The visa denials were reported in the Israeli newspaper Maariv by Uri Binder on Wednesday April 7: “Nuclear Reactor Workers Not Wanted in United States.” It was translated by the USG Open Source Center. The article reports that Israeli workers at the Nuclear Research Center Negev (NRCN) in Dimona are complaining bitterly at the humiliation of being excluded from the US, saying the turn-downs are an “offense” against them “and their families.” (???) Moreover, the Dimona bomb plant is suddenly finding it difficult to import technical components and equipment from the United States. The restrictions, they say, are unprecedented. They also claim a double standard, alleging that the Obama administration is being “lenient” toward Iran. Read more.
Prompt Global Strike: World Military Superiority Without Nuclear Weapons
By Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | April 10, 2010
A war can be won without being waged. Victory can be attained when an adversary knows it is vulnerable to an instantaneous and undetectable, overwhelming and devastating attack without the ability to defend itself or retaliate.
What applies to an individual country does also to all potential adversaries and indeed to every other nation in the world.
There is only one country that has the military and scientific capacity and has openly proclaimed its intention to achieve that ability. That nation is what its current head of state defined last December as the world's sole military superpower.  One which aspires to remain the only state in history to wield full spectrum military dominance on land, in the air, on the seas and in space.
To maintain and extend military bases and troops, aircraft carrier battle groups and strategic bombers on and to most every latitude and longitude. To do so with a post-World War II record war budget of $708 billion for next year.
Having gained that status in large part through being the first country to develop and use nuclear weapons, it is now in a position to strengthen its global supremacy by superseding the nuclear option.
The U.S. led three major wars in less than four years against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq from 1999-2003 and in all three cases deployed from tens to hundreds of thousands of "boots on the ground" after air strikes and missile attacks. The Pentagon established military bases in all three war zones and, although depleted uranium contamination and cluster bombs are still spread across all three lands, American troops have not had to contend with an irradiated landscape. Launching a nuclear attack when a conventional one serves the same purpose would be superfluous and too costly in a variety of ways.
On April 8 American and Russian presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) agreement in the Czech capital of Prague to reduce their respective nation's nuclear arsenals and delivery systems (subject to ratification by the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma). Earlier in the same week the U.S. released its new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) which for the first time appeared to abandon the first use of nuclear arms.
The dark nuclear cloud that has hung over humanity's head for the past 65 years appears to be dissipating.
U.S. looks to nonnuclear weapons to use as deterrent
By Craig Whitlock | Washington Post
As the White House pushes for cuts in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the Pentagon is developing a weapon to help fill the gap: missiles armed with conventional warheads that could strike anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
U.S. military officials say the intercontinental ballistic missiles, known as Prompt Global Strike weapons, are a necessary new form of deterrence against terrorist networks and other adversaries. As envisioned, the conventional missiles would give the White House a fresh military option to consider in a crisis that would not result in a radioactive mushroom cloud.
The Prompt Global Strike program, which the Pentagon has been developing for several years, is already raising hackles in Moscow, where Russian officials predict it could trigger a nonnuclear arms race and complicate President Obama's long-term vision of ridding the world of nuclear weapons. U.S. military officials are also struggling to solve a separate major obstacle: the risk that Russia or China could mistake the launch of a conventional Prompt Global Strike missile for a nuclear one.
"World states will hardly accept a situation in which nuclear weapons disappear, but weapons that are no less destabilizing emerge in the hands of certain members of the international community," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters Tuesday in Moscow. Read more.
In readjusting U.S. policy on when to launch a nuclear strike, President Barack Obama has repudiated the use of nukes against non-nuclear states with the exception of Iran, which he termed an “outlier” along with North Korea.
However, since North Korea already possesses at least a limited nuclear arsenal, Obama’s exception singles out Iran as the only non-nuclear-weapons state that faces a threatened nuclear attack from the United States.
“The Nuclear Posture Review states very clearly, if you are a non-nuclear weapons state that is compliant with the NPT [Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty], you have a negative assurance we will not be using nuclear weapons against you,” Obama told the New York Times on Monday, outlining his changes in American policy toward the use of nuclear weapons.
Iran is a signatory to the NPT and has vowed to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes only, but has not complied with some punitive resolutions that the United States has pushed through the United Nations Security Council. Iran also is in apparent technical violation of some requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
For instance, Iran has been criticized for failing to disclose a planned enrichment site near Qum before construction began. Iran revealed the site last September, arguing that the disclosure was adequate since the plant was not operational, but the delay appeared to fall short of the IAEA rules.
Thus, In Obama's view, Iran is not "compliant" and can still be targeted for nuclear annihilation by the United States. Read more.
TomDispatch: Believe It or Not (2010 Imperial Edition), U.S. War-Fighting Numbers to Knock Your Socks Off
From TomDispatch this afternoon: A Ripley's Believe It or Not tour of America's Afghan and Iraq wars -- and of an American style of war so profligate it sets your mind spinning: Tom Engelhardt, "Believe It or Not (2010 Imperial Edition), U.S. War-Fighting Numbers to Knock Your Socks Off"
SPECIAL FEATURE: Today, TomDispatch is also offering the first TomCast audio interview not linked to a TomDispatch piece. In it, Jonathan Schell and I have a wide-ranging discussion of the war he covered in Vietnam, the Afghan War, and U.S. nuclear policy from the 1960s to the present. Schell has just written the Nation magazine cover story, “Reaching Zero.” Check the TomCast out here.
In my 1950s childhood, Ripley’s Believe It or Not was part of everyday life, a syndicated comics page feature filled with mind-boggling stats. With our Afghan and Iraq wars on my mind, I’ve been wondering whether Ripley’s moment hasn’t returned. After all, from the approximately 3 million items of equipment that will have to be removed from Iraq in any draw down of U.S. forces and the hundreds of bases to close to the 1.1 million hamburger patties now being shipped into Afghanistan monthly and the 400 bases already opened there, the numbers are staggering.
As I write in my latest post on America's war-fighting "footprint": "These sorts of figures define the U.S. military in the Bush era -- and now Obama's -- as the most materiel-profligate war-making machine ever. Where armies once had baggage trains and camp followers, our camp followers now help plant our military in foreign soil, build its housing and defenses, and then supply it with vast quantities of food, water, fuel, and god knows what else. In this way, our troops carry not just packs on their backs, but a total, transplantable society right down to the PXs, massage parlors, food courts, and miniature golf courses." Read it now.
Excerpt: The new policy comes just two days before Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev are scheduled to sign a new START treaty, a bilateral agreement that will cut the number of strategic warheads and missiles maintained by the world's two largest nuclear powers.
The White House's nuclear initiatives are intended to encourage other nations to reduce their stockpiles of atomic weapons or forgo developing them.
The U.S. officials said the administration's new policy would stop short of declaring that the United States would never be the first to launch a nuclear attack, as many arms control advocates had recommended. But it would describe the weapons' "sole purpose" as "primarily" or "fundamentally" to deter or respond to a nuclear attack.
That wording would all but rule out the use of such weapons to respond to an attack by conventional, biological or chemical weapons. Previous U.S. policy was more ambiguous.
The review of nuclear weapons policy is the first since 2001 and only the third since the end of the Cold War two decades ago. Read more, see graphic showing US/Russian nuclear arsenals.
Normally, if two countries with powerful nuclear arsenals were openly musing about attacking a third country over mere suspicions that it might want to join the nuclear club, we’d tend to sympathize with the non-nuclear underdog as the victim of bullying and possible aggression.
You might think that – unless you were told that the two nuclear-armed countries are Israel and the United States and the non-nuclear country is Iran. Then, different rules apply, especially it seems in leading American news outlets like the New York Times.
In what reads like a replay of the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Times and other major U.S. news media appear onboard for war, again happy to make the likely aggressors the “victims,” and to turn the prospect of a bloody conflict in a Muslim country into a parlor game.
Indeed, the New York Times on March 28 presented the idea of “imagining a strike on Iran” as “Washington’s grimmest but most urgent parlor game,” assessing how a military strike by Israel, “acting on its fears that Iran threatens its existence,” would play out. Read more.
The United States and Russia reached agreement on a new START treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) to lower their count of deployed atomic warheads from 2,200 each to between 1,500 and 1,675. They would also cut their stocks of strategic bombers and land- and sea-based missiles from a current level of 1,600 each to 800. The treaty replaces the 1991 START agreement, which expired last December. Since each country still has about 10,000 weapons, mostly undeployed and in storage, the new START is a modest step forward. It is, however, a down payment on improved U.S.-Russia relations and a possible prelude to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. Presidents Obama and Medvedev will sign the new treaty in Prague, the site of President Obama’s groundbreaking speech one year ago in which he set out a vision for a nuclear free world.
There are 23,000 nuclear bombs on the planet, all but 1,000 of them in the U.S. and Russia. To convince the other nuclear weapons states (the U.K., China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea) to join negotiations for their total elimination, it is imperative that the U.S. and Russia cut their enormous arsenals first.
Obama and Medvedev pledged to negotiate these weapons cuts as a step towards “a nuclear free world.” The talks almost ran aground when the U.S. announced it was putting new missile defenses in Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland, after it had canceled plans to site them in the Czech Republic. Russia views the expansion of U.S. missile defenses as a threat to the integrity of its nuclear arsenal. The parties agreed to finesse their differences by settling for language in the treaty’s preamble—which the U.S. argues is not binding—acknowledging that the size of offensive arsenals must be tied to the number of anti-missile defenses.
Powerful forces are arrayed against Obama’s vision. Forty-one Republican senators wrote to him warning that they would not ratify the START treaty if the president made any moves to cut back on the U.S. missile defense program. They have also exacted a stiff price by requiring an increase in the nuclear weapons budget, including plans for a new facility to manufacture plutonium cores for new bombs. And the nuclear weapons labs are raising questions about the soundness of the nuclear arsenal without further money spent on testing and weapons development. Read more.
U.S. and NATO military expansion along Russia's western and southern flanks diminishes the need for Cold War era nuclear arsenals and long-range delivery systems appreciably. Washington can well afford to reduce the number of its nuclear weapons and still maintain decisive worldwide strategic superiority, especially with the deployment of an international interceptor missile system and the unilateral militarization of space. And the use of super stealth strategic bombers and the Pentagon's Prompt Global Strike project for conventional warhead-equipped strike systems with the velocity and range of intercontinental ballistic missiles to destroy other nations' nuclear forces with non-nuclear weapons.
On March 26th U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev reached an agreement on a successor to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START 1) of 1991.
The new accord, if it is ratified by the U.S. Senate, will reportedly reduce U.S. and Russian active nuclear weapons by 30 per cent and effect a comparable reduction (to 800 on each side) in the two nations' delivery systems: Intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic long-range bombers and ballistic missile submarines.
After a phone conversation between the two heads of state to "seal the deal," Obama touted it as "the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades." 
The START 1 agreement expired almost four months earlier, on December 5 of last year, and its replacement has been held up by, among other matters, Russian concerns over increasingly ambitious American interceptor missile system plans for Eastern Europe, on and near its borders.
Judging by the lengthy ordeal that has been the Obama administration's health care initiative - so far the bill has only been passed in the House (by a 219-212 vote) where his party has a 257-178 majority - and the opposition it confronts in the Senate, a new nuclear arms accord with Russia will be a captive to domestic American political wrangling at least as much as less important and potentially controversial issues traditionally are.
NATO's chief is cheering the new agreement on arms control between the United States and Russia.
Speaking at a security forum in Brussels on Saturday, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the new treaty could be a spark for additional cooperation between Russia and NATO countries.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday the U.S. and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades.
The landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty reduces by about one-third the number of long-range nuclear weapons the world's two largest nuclear powers will deploy.Read more.
ALICE SLATER, Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, said today: "It's wonderful that they finally reached this agreement to cut their nuclear arsenals, which had turned into a real cliffhanger as to whether the deal would get done. What has been holding things up is that Russia feels very threatened by U.S. plans to ring central Europe with missile defenses. Bush walked out on the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- Clinton had started to violate it when he broke ground for missile defenses in Alaska. Russia had wanted to cut the nuclear bomb arsenals further under Putin which would have enabled us to call all the parties to the table to negotiate for their abolition, but no agreement was reached -- with the U.S. insisting on having its so-called missile defense systems and plans to dominate space. The U.S. and Russia have about 23,000 nuclear weapons. All the other countries combined have about 1,000. We're not going to make progress unless the U.S. and Russia make more substantial cuts." (via Institute for Public Accuracy).