To those who read my stuff, thank you. I haven’t written Anything in a while. I am tempted to write about the news of the primary elections, and I did have one article on Donald Trump, but I had to do that, because he had criticized the Pope, whom I respect immensely. But I have decided to keep this blog free of any mention of it, as much as I can. Let this be a campaign-free zone. It may be one of the few left.
Believe it or not, there are more pressing matters to discuss. I speak of the threat of nuclear war, it being one of the two biggest threats to the health of the very planet upon which we live. The other is environmental degradation and the subsequent global warming, sea-level increase, and so on.
Journalists and commentators usually strive to avoid what might be called “alarmist” writing. That is fine for those who want to retain their gravitas, or their professional demeanor. But I believe it is such an urgent risk, I think it’s time to be as alarmist as possible about the possibility of a nuclear war. The nuclear arsenals of the world are on a ‘hair-trigger’, and there are those in positions of power who have an ‘itchy finger’ on that trigger. Whether these leaders sincerely wish to avoid the a-bomb trigger or not, there are dangerous scenarios that could possibly, even accidentally, lead to destruction.
Obama made a good speech in Prague, a few years ago, speaking of the need to reduce the worlds arsenal of nuclear weapons. We applauded. We thought he was serious. But either he wasn’t, or he changed his mind. He has turned in the other direction. This is from a report by Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now! television report:
President Obama delivered his first address on the U.S. nuclear arsenal on April 5, 2009, in Prague: “Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. More nations have acquired these weapons. Testing has continued. Black-market trade in nuclear secrets and nuclear materials abound,” he said.
As with his pledge to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, his pledge to move the U.S. toward nuclear disarmament seems to have been abandoned.
Despite the lofty rhetoric, President Obama has launched what the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability calls the “Trillion Dollar Trainwreck.” That is the title of a new report on Obama’s massive plan to modernize the U.S. nuclear-weapons arsenal, to be released next Monday. Marylia Kelley is one of the report’s authors. She serves as executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, or Communities Against a Radioactive Environment, a partner organization with the Alliance.
This is about our recent steps, as a nation, to re-start a nuclear arms race, a nuclear build-up. It is being spoken of as sort of a ‘refurbishment’, as if it were simply maintenance of existing weapons; it is NOT.
Amy quoted from Ms. Marylia Kelly, who was a guest on her show recently. I hope it’s alright if I cut and paste a few lines from that broadcast:
So, for listeners who think that perhaps nuclear weapons are a thing of the past, unfortunately they are not. They’ve left the 6:00 news—and thank God for Democracy Now!—but they have not left us. The United States has about 7,300 nuclear weapons. We’re in the process of designing and developing new ones and also new platforms and delivery vehicles—new bombers, new submarines, new missiles. And this, together, is the trillion-dollar trainwreck. It’s estimated to cost a trillion dollars, at least, over the next 30 years.
My words: But this is not the worst part of it. In my mind, the worst is the news of our development of new smaller nuclear weapons. I’ve heard them referred to as “battlefield nukes”. The stated purpose would be to do less collateral damage than, say, just incinerating an entire city. But, ironically, having small nuclear warheads, together with new precision guidance systems, would have the effect of making them more ‘usable’. The temptation to use such a weapon is increased. That last sentence could be the key to the end of our world, as we know it.
Now, add to that another feature of these new mini-nukes; they can be delivered with smaller, conventional-weapons-style missiles. So, on top of the fact that the military generals would be more apt to push for the use of these, the ‘enemy’ in our sights wouldn’t be able to determine if this incoming missile is a conventional weapon, or a goddamn NUKE! So, why wouldn’t they just assume the worst, and launch a retaliatory nuclear strike, one that would not be a mini, but a full-sized nuclear attack! This, to me, is the most worrisome damn news I have heard in my life.
More from Marylia Kelly, on Democracy Now!:
So we’re on the precipice of a new arms race, not exactly like the old one with the Soviet Union, because it’s not going to be about huge numbers and throw rates—throw weights, sorry, but a new kind of a nuclear arms race that’s about capabilities, about precision guidance, about dial-a-yield options down to very low yields to make them militarily usable in conflict. These things may actually—and I believe they are—be more dangerous than the arms race that was on the 6:00 news all during the ’50s and the ’60s.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the U.S. designing smaller nuclear weapons? I want to turn to a quote of General James Cartwright, retired vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told The New York Times, “what going smaller does is to make the weapon more thinkable.”
MARYLIA KELLEY: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Your thoughts about this, Marylia Kelley?
MARYLIA KELLEY: This is extraordinarily dangerous. When I talk about adding new dial-a-yield options, that’s what I’m talking about, where you can actually—and they’re dials—you can actually change what the yield will be in the field before it’s used, so that it will now be militarily thinkable, militarily usable in conflict. This is a—we’ve had dial-a-yield, but these new precision guidance—the new precision guidance that’s going into nuclear weapons, so that a nuclear weapon will now be very precise, so that you can get extraordinary damage at low yields, these are all making them more thinkable, in General Cartwright’s words, more usable, in the words that I use.
(My words now). I may sound quite alarmist, as I write. But I am not alone in my convictions. The following is from The Guardian, the words of a former U.S. Secretary of defense.
[from ‘The Guardian’]The risks of a nuclear catastrophe – in a regional war, terrorist attack, by accident or miscalculation – is greater than it was during the cold war and rising, a former US defence secretary has said.
William Perry, who served at the Pentagon from 1994 to 1997, made his comments a few hours before North Korea’s nuclear test on Wednesday, and listed Pyongyang’s aggressive atomic weapons programme as one of the global risk factors.
He also said progress made after the fall of the Soviet Union to reduce the chance of a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia was now unravelling.
“The probability of a nuclear calamity is higher today, I believe, that it was during the cold war,” Perry said. “A new danger has been rising in the past three years and that is the possibility there might be a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia … brought about by a substantial miscalculation, a false alarm.”
Over the next decade, the Pentagon is planning a $355bn (£243bn) spending spree to fund 12 new nuclear-armed strategic submarines, as many as 100 new strategic bombers, new land-based, intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of deployment on mobile launchers, and more than 1,000 nuclear-capable cruise missiles.
The missiles are described as uniquely destabilising, as they come in conventional and nuclear variants, so an adversary would have no way of knowing which was being launched. The UK rejected a cruise-based deterrent in 2013 because, as the then defence secretary Philip Hammond said, it “would carry significant risk of miscalculation and unintended escalation”.
Perry said: “In the cold war, we and Russia were in the process of dismantling nuclear weapons … Today, in contrast, both the Russia and the US are beginning a complete rebuilding of the cold war nuclear arsenals. And today Russia is threatening the use of nuclear weapons … Those are very dramatic steps between today and the 90s. That is a major difference.”
This article is getting a little long, so I will only mention one more thing. Obama’s recent nuclear summit was obviously boycotted altogether by Russia. This means one thing: the summit was crap.
In conclusion, I suggest that we get hold of our Congressmen and Congresswomen, and try to wield some influence over them, toward DISARMAMENT. That is, IF they have any time for us after attending A.L.E.C. meetings, and other Koch sponsored events.
Also, and I know I said this was a campaign-free zone, but we could elect representatives that voice support for nuclear disarmament; not idiots that speak of using them.