TFF PressInfo # 354: Open Letter – Political responsibility in the Nuclear Age

By Richard Falk, David Krieger and Robert Laney

Prefatory Note
What follows here is An Open Letter to the American People: Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age. It was jointly written by Richard Falk in collaboration with David Krieger and Robert Laney. The three of us have been long connected with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, NAPF.

The NAPF focuses its effort on the menace posed by nuclear weaponry and the urgency of seeking nuclear disarmament. The nuclear agreement with Iran and the North Korean nuclear test explosion are reminders of the gravity of the issue, and should serve as warnings against the persistence of complacency, which seems to be the prevailing political mood judging from the policy debates that have taken place during the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign.

This complacency is encouraged by the media that seems to have forgotten about nuclear dangers since the end of the Cold War, except for those concerned with proliferation of the weaponry to countries hostile to the United States and the West (Iran, North Korea).

Our letter proceeds on the assumption that the core of the problem is associated with the possession, development, and deployment of the weaponry, that is, with the nine nuclear weapons states. The essence of a solution is to eliminate existing nuclear weapons arsenals through a phased, verified process of nuclear disarmament as legally mandated by Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968).

We would be grateful if you could help us reach the widest possible audience through reposting and dissemination via social media networks.*

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Dear fellow citizens:

By their purported test of a hydrogen bomb early in 2016, North Korea reminded the world that nuclear dangers are not an abstraction, but a continuing menace that the governments and peoples of the world ignore at their peril. Even if the test were not of a hydrogen bomb but of a smaller atomic weapon, as many experts suggest, we are still reminded that we live in the Nuclear Age, an age in which accident, miscalculation, insanity or intention could lead to devastating nuclear catastrophe.

What is most notable about the Nuclear Age is that we humans, by our scientific and technological ingenuity, have created the means of our own demise. The world currently is confronted by many threats to human wellbeing, and even civilizational survival, but we focus here on the particular grave dangers posed by nuclear weapons and nuclear war.

Even a relatively small nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan, with each country using 50 Hiroshima-size nuclear weapons on the other side’s cities, could result in a nuclear famine killing some two billion of the most vulnerable people on the planet. A nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia could destroy civilization in a single afternoon and send temperatures on Earth plummeting into a new ice age.

Such a war could destroy most complex life on the planet. Despite the gravity of such threats, they are being ignored, which is morally reprehensible and politically irresponsible.

We in the United States are in the midst of hotly contested campaigns to determine the candidates of both major political parties in the 2016 presidential faceoff, and yet none of the frontrunners for the nominations have even voiced concern about the nuclear war dangers we face. This is an appalling oversight. It reflects the underlying situation of denial and complacency that disconnects the American people as a whole from the risks of use of nuclear weapons in the years ahead.

This menacing disconnect is reinforced by the media, Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 333 – Look at nuclear weapons in new ways!

By Jan Oberg

It’s absolutely necessary to remember what happened 70 years ago in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, see the movies from then, listen to the survivors, the hibakusa. But it isn’t enough for us to rid the world of these crimes-against-humanity weapons. And that we must.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki is history and it is also the essence of the age you and I live in – the nuclear age. If the hypothesis is that by showing these films, we create opinion against nuclear weapons, 70 years of every more nuclearism should be enough to conclude that that hypothesis is plain wrong.

There is a need for a frontal attack on not only the weapons but on the nuclearism – the thinking/ideology on which they are based and made to look ‘necessary’ for security and peace.

Nuclear weapons – only for terrorists

At its core, terrorism is about harming or killing innocent people and not only combatants. Any country that possesses nukes is aware that nukes can’t be used without killing millions of innocent people – infinitely more lethal than Al-Qaeda, ISIS etc. Since 9/11 governments and media have conveniently promoted the idea that terrorism is only about small non-governmental groups and thus tried to make us forget that the nuclear ‘haves’ themselves practise state terrorism and hold the humanity hostage to potential civilizational genocide (omnicide).

Dictatorship

No nuclear state has ever dared to hold a referendum and ask its citizens: Do you or do you not accept to be defended by a nuclear arsenal? Nuclear weapons with the omnicidal -kill all and everything – characteristics is pure dictatorship, incompatible with both parliamentary and direct democracy. And freedom.

Citizens generally have more, or better, morals than governments and do not wish to see themselves, their neighbours or fellow human beings around the world burn up in a process that would make the Holocaust look like a cozy afternoon tea party. In short, nuclear weapons states either arrange referendums or must accept the label dictatorship.

The idea that a few hundred politicians and military people in the world’s nuclear states have a self-appointed right to play God and decide whether project humankind shall continue or not belongs to the realm of the civilisational perverse or the Theatre of the Absurd. Such people must run on the assumption, deep down, that they are Chosen People with a higher mission. Gandhi rightly called Western civilisation diluted fascism.

Unethical

Why? Because – simply – there can be no political or other goal that justifies the use of this doomsday weapon and the killing of millions of people, or making the earth uninhabitable.

Possession versus proliferation

The trick played on us all since 1945 is that there are some ‘responsible’ – predominantly Christian, Western – countries that can, should, or must, have nuclear weapons and then there are some irresponsible governments/leaders elsewhere that must be prevented by all means from acquiring them. In other words, that proliferation rather than possession is the problem. However, it is built into the Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, that those who don’t have nuclear weapons shall abstain from acquiring them as a quid pro quo for the nuclear-haves to disarm theirs completely.

That is, the whole world shall become a nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ).

Those who have nuclear weapons provoke others to get them too. Possession leads to proliferation.

The recent negotiations with Iran is a good example of this bizarre world view: the five nuclear terrorist states, sitting on enough nukes to blow up the world several times over and who have systematically violated international law in general and the NPT in particular, tell Iran – which abides by the NPT and doesn’t want nuclear weapons – that it must never obtain nuclear weapons. Simultaneously, they turn a blind eye to nuclear terrorist state, Israel’s 50+ years old nuclear arsenals.

And it is all actively assisted by mainstram media who seem to lack the knowledge and/or intellectual capacity to challenge this whole set-up – including the racist belief structure that “we have a God-given right and are more responsible than everybody else – particularly non-Christians…”

But what about deterrence?

You’ve heard the philosophical nonsense repatedly over 70 years: Nuclear weapons are good to deter everyone from starting the ‘third world war’. That nukes are here to never be used. That no one would start that war because he/she would know that there would be a mass murder on one’s own population in a second strike, retaliation. But think! Two small, simple counterarguments:

a) You cannot deter anyone from doing something unless you are willing to implement your threat, your deterrent. If A knows that B would never use his nukes, A would not be afraid of the retaliation. Thus, every nuclear weapons state is ready to use nukes under some defined circumstance; if not there is no deterrence whatsoever.

b) The United States has long ago done two things (as the only one on earth): 1) decided on a doctrine in which the use of small nukes in a conventional role is fundamental, thus blurring the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons; 2) its missile defence (that it also wants in Europe) is about preventing a second strike back – shooting down retaliatory missiles – so it can start, fight and win a nuclear war without being harmed itself. Or so it can hope.

There are many other aspects – but let’s mention just one more:

Nuclear weapons have already caused wars

The war on Iraq is a good example. If Iran will be bombed – which can’t be excluded at all – it’s about nuclear weapons. Ukraine is about expanding nuclear-based NATO and nuclear-based EU right up to the border of Russia. The enemy image of North Korea – where war can also not be excluded in the future – is mainly about it being a nuclear weapons state. The conflicts surrounding Israel are intimately connected with its nuclear weapons threatening everyone – non-nuclear – around it.

Hope

No, let’s rid the world of this civilisational mistake. Nuclearism and nuclear deterrence is the world most dangerous ideology comparable to slavery, absolute monarchy and cannibalism that we have decided – because we are humans and civilised and can think and feel – to put behind us.

There is no co-existence possible between nuclear weapons on the one hand and democracy, peace and civilisation on the other.

It’s time to regai hope by looking at all the – civilised – non-nuclear countries and follow their example. Thus, 99% of the southern hemisphere landmass is nuclear weapons free. 60% of the 193 states, with 33% of the world population, are included in this free zone.

And here are the countries which have contemplated to obtain – but decided to abstain from – nuclear weapons (including those who have had them and gotten rid of them): Sweden, Switzerland, Yugoslavia, South Africa, Libya, Austria, Mongolia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Japan, Antartica, the Seabed, Outer Space. Finally, dozens of countries have the technical capacity but would not dream of joining the nuclear club.

The West, the U.S. in particular, that started the terrible Nuclear Age should now follow the far majority of humanity, apologise for its nuclearism and move to zero.