Tag Archives: atomic weapons

Chuck Spinney warns that we’re sleepwalking into a new arms race

Summary: One of the “an echo not a choice” aspects of the election was the war on Russia. Clinton’s team was well-stocked with cheerleaders for restarting the cold war. Trump won, so we have an administration stocked with cheerleaders for restarting the cold war. McMaster as National Security Advisor completed the roster. Here Chuck Spinney describes how the Deep State has managed this impressive feat, and how this game looks like from Russia.

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it. That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”

— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about how to start the Cold War. On 12 March 1947 Truman did exactly that. From “Put yourself in Marshall’s place” by James P. Warburg (1948). In 1941 Warburg helped develop our wartime propaganda programs.

Atomic bomb explosion

Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia.

By Franklin “Chuck” Spinney and Pierre Sprey.
From his website, The Blaster. 24 February 2017.
Posted with his generous permission.

The Nuclear Question is becoming increasingly obfuscated by spin and lobbying as the West sleepwalks into Cold War II — a walk made all the more dangerous when the loose lips of the U.S. tweeter-in-chief announced that another nuclear arms race is a great idea (see linklinklink).  Two Cold War II issues are central and almost never addressed: What will be the Russians’ understanding of all the propaganda surrounding the Nuclear Question and the looming American defense spendup? And how might they act on this understanding?

Background

Barack Obama first outlined his vision for nuclear disarmament in a speech in Prague on 5 April 2009, less than three months after becoming President.  This speech became the basis for what eventually became the New Start nuclear arms limitation treaty.  But Mr. Obama also opened the door for the modernization of our nuclear forces with this pregnant statement:

“To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same. Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies –- including the Czech Republic.”

Why call for nuclear disarmament while opening the door to nuclear rearmament?

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Stratfor explains why Russia won’t join our arms race

Summary: Here Stratfor examines the arms race, one aspect of the propaganda campaign seeking to start a new cold war with Russia. Spoiler: it’s bogus, like the rest of the campaign. Stratfor

An Arms Race Russia Will Not Run

Stratfor, 30 December 2016.

Summary

In the 25 years since the Soviet Union fell, Russia has punctuated military buildups on its border with the occasional rattle of its nuclear saber in response to U.S. provocations. But a muted reaction to President-elect Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that the United States should expand its nuclear weapons arsenal reflects a different military and economic reality for Russia, one in which the Kremlin realizes it could not afford to keep up in a new nuclear arms race.

Trump’s Dec. 23 pronouncement that the U.S. nuclear arsenal should be beefed up came as President Barack Obama signed a wide-ranging $618.7 billion defense spending bill. Trump’s remarks, particularly his quip about reigniting an arms race, elicited criticism from the Kremlin. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov responded that his country would not take part in any arms race, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the United States for trying to spend Russia to death.

In years past, Russia used news of U.S. arms buildups to justify expanding its own arsenals, but echoes of the disastrous Soviet defense spending spree in the 1980s have given Moscow pause. Russia’s more moderate tone does not mean it will pull back on its defense plans, but rather that the Kremlin does not want to repeat a history of military overspending that helped accelerate the demise of the Soviet Union.

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The success of the NAZI atomic bomb program can inspire us today

Summary: Why did NAZI Germany not build an atomic bomb, despite their long head start? This is a powerful story of individuals under intense pressure, with conflicting moral obligations and facing great personal risk, deciding to do what’s bestt for America. It is one of the great success stories of WWII, and can inspire us today. Perhaps future historians will ask why America’s scientists built the bomb, unleashing the horrors of the atomic age (with its several close encounters with WWIII).

Atomic bomb explosion

One of the mysteries of WWII is why Germany did not build the atomic bomb. By summer 1939 they had two development programs running. In September they combined under the leadership of Werner Heisenberg, perhaps the world’s most qualified scientist to lead the program in terms of reputation, experience, and skill. Germany had the industrial resources, uranium ore (in Czechoslovakia), scientific talent, and financial resources (see the last section) to build the bomb. But they didn’t.

The US shifted the Manhattan Project into high gear two years after the German program began, on 9 October 1941 when FDR decided to build the bomb. We had an operational reactor in December 1942, which the NAZI’s never accomplished. We exploded the first bomb in July 1945, after three years and nine months of work.

Most of the senior scientists in the NAZI bomb program shared five goals, which produced this disparity of results between their results and ours. First, to not build a bomb. Second, to avoid questions from the Gestapo about treason. Third, to keep their younger scientists out of the army (their enlistment would follow the program’s end). Fourth, to continue their atomic research. Fifth, to avoid persecution by the German people after the war for failing to build the bomb. They accomplished all five goals, one of the rare moral successes of WWII. This demonstration of what individuals can do should inspire us today.

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For 50 years Republicans have fought against treaties that brought peace

Summary:  To understand the dynamics and stakes of the Iran deal we should look at our past, rather than conservatives’ confident warnings about the future. The peace we’ve enjoyed for decades results in part from 50+ years of arms control treaties — all strenuously fought by the Right. We can learn much from their false predictions, as they’re repeated today about Iran.

Atomic bomb explosion

Contents

  1. Unceasing war.
  2. Clinton takes a turn.
  3. Obama negotiates a New START.
  4. Reagan the peacemaker.
  5. Conclusions.
  6. For More Information.

(1)  Unceasing war

The far-right’s grand strategy since WWII has been one of unceasing war and rigid opposition to all arms control treaties (we are always in 1938 Munich; are foes are always NAZI Germany). We see that in their opposition to a deal with Iran (where the likely alternative is war), just as we saw in their support for the continued above ground nuclear testing that was blanketing the world with radioactive fallout. Even after a full-court press by Kennedy, 19 Senators voted in 1963 against the first Nuclear Test Ban Treaty JFK negotiated in 1963. Fortunately saner people prevailed.

To get an idea of the results if the conservatives had won, read the National Institute of Health’s pages about exposure to radioactive Iodine-131 from fallout. These debates would play out repeatedly during the next 6 decades, but not always with a happy ending.

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Martin van Creveld asks: the more, the better for nuclear proliferation?

Summary:  For over a decade the US and Israel have scared us with stories about the imminent threat of Iran’s nukes, a louder version of a game they’ve played since 1984. Here Martin van Creveld gives a very different view of the problem.  (1st of 2 posts today.}

Nuclear Kraken

Release the Kraken! Art by lchappell

 

More May Be Better

By Martin van Creveld
From his website, 2 April 2015

Here with his generous permission

 

Spread of Nuclear Weapons: More May be Better was the title of an article published back in 1981 by the redoubtable political scientist Kenneth Waltz. Going against the prevailing wisdom, Waltz argued that nuclear proliferation might not be all bad. Nuclear weapons, he wrote, had prevented the US and the USSR from going to war against each other; as, by all historical logic since the days of Athens and Sparta in the fifth century BC, they should have done. Instead they circled each other like dogs, occasionally barking and baring their teeth but never actually biting. Such was the fear the weapons inspired that other nuclear countries would probably follow suit.

To quote Winston Churchill, peace might be the sturdy child of terror.

Since then over thirty years have passed. Though Waltz himself died in 2013, his light goes marching on. At the time he published his article there were just five nuclear countries (the US, the USSR, Britain, France, and China). Plus one, Israel, which had the bomb but put anybody who dared say so in jail. Since then three (India, Pakistan, and North Korea) have been added, raising the total to nine. Yet on no occasion did any of these states fight a major war against any other major, read nuclear, power.

And how about Iran? First, note that no country has taken nearly as long as Iran did to develop its nuclear program. Started during the 1970s under the Shah, suspended during the 1980s as the Iranians were fighting Saddam Hussein (who had invaded Iran), and renewed in the early 1990s, that program has still not borne fruit. This suggests that, when the Iranians say, as they repeatedly have, that they do not want to build a bomb they are sincere, at least up to a point. All they want is the infrastructure that will enable them to build it quickly should the need arise. That is a desire they have in common with quite some other countries such as Sweden, Japan, and Australia.

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Madness walks the streets of America. We can defeat it.

Summary: The front pages of major American newspaper these days read like the community newsletter for a high-class asylum, written by and for educated but mentally dysfunctional people. Those of the far Right read like the Arkham Asylum newsletter, written for and by brilliant but deranged people. While a natural reaction, it’s wrong. They prey upon our fears because it works, and generates cash for their patrons.  Understanding that is the first step to reform. This post gives two unusually clear examples.   {2nd of 2 posts today}

No Fear

Contents

  1. ISIS: a threat as big as the NAZIs!
  2. We must risk a nuclear war!
  3. For More Information.

(1)  The Islamic State poses a threat as serious as NAZI Germany

To our warmongers it’s always 1939. Threats are always like NAZI Germany. Negotiation always risks a repeat of Munich. Why don’t we laugh at the work of these people — such as “The Evil of our time” by Frederick W. Kagan at the American Enterprise Institute, 10 June 2015 — Excerpt…

The Islamic State (ISIS) is not a terrorist organization. It is an army of conquest destroying all traces of civilization in the lands that it holds. It has taken root in Iraq and Syria, but its evil threatens the whole world. The US must find an answer.

The greatest evil of our time has taken root in Iraq and Syria. … Comparing ISIS to the early Nazis is not hyperbole. … The threat of ISIS is more complex and insidious than that of Nazism.

… It is causing a humanitarian catastrophe on a scale not seen since World War II.

… There is no easy answer to the question: “What should we do?” But we must find the hard answer soon and gird ourselves for the pain and effort it will require. If not us, who? If not here, where? If not now, when?

Political rhetoric masquerading as analysis is the tool of choice for modern warmongers, and it has worked well. After 15 years of almost uniformly bad advice, the Kagan clan still has a prominent role in American geopolitics — a remarkable demonstration of our inability to learn from experience.

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What is Iran’s 9-point plan to destroy Israel?

Summary:  As Obama’s deal with Iran comes home for review it’s important to understand not just how we see Iran (inaccurately), but why. Here’s a case study of the news given us. It’s from a leading Israeli newspaper, but that’s where so much of our perspective on Iran originates. As you read it please remember that we can do better.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

War between Israel and Iran

Iran supreme leader touts 9-point plan to destroy Israel

Ayatollah Khamenei says West Bank should be armed like Gaza, and
Jewish population should return to countries it came from.

From the Times of Israel, 10 November 2014.

Quite horrific headlines from the Times of Israel. It’s the usual fare of course, showing us that Iran is the implacable irrational enemy. I wonder how many people read the article (it’s an oddity of the western press that the story’s text so often contradicts the headline, understandable when you remember that the headline must sell the papers). The opening:

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called over the weekend for the destruction of Israel, stating that the “barbaric” Jewish state “has no cure but to be annihilated.”

So what means does he recommend to destroy Israel? Nukes? Terrorism? Jihad?  The article refers us to a tweet.

Tweet  from Iran

Iran's 9 negotiating points

What are the horrific actions he recommends that justifies our bombing Iran as a follow-up to our cyberattacks, economic sanctions, and Israel’s assassinations of their scientists?

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