Nuclear War: Donald Trump Is A Threat To The World, Noam Chomsky Says

In Climate change, Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on December 8, 2016 at 11:24 pm


Prominent scientist and philosopher Noam Chomsky said Tuesday the world faces great difficulties and possible threats from both nuclear war and climate change under President-elect Donald Trump. Chomsky, 87, stressed young people could reignite the middle class and labor movement while praising former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders.

“The threats and dangers are very real. There are plenty of opportunities. And as we face them, again, particularly the younger people among you, we should never overlook the fact that the threats that we now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history,” Chomsky told a crowd at Riverside Church in New York City. “They are literal threats to survival: nuclear war, environmental catastrophe. These are very urgent concerns. They cannot be delayed. They became more urgent on Nov. 8th, for the reasons you know… They have to be faced directly, and soon, if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure.”

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor and author also touched on issues like labor and foreign policy and how the country has been walled off by South American and Asian nations at Democracy Now!’s 20th-anniversary event in New York. Chomsky said the U.S. has been isolating itself for years. He said President Barack Obama’s economic “pivot” toward Asia, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and China’s glaring absence from it, has led to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and other trade agreements excluding the U.S. while its allies sign up. By extension, Chomsky said Trump’s threat of “tearing up” a nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran could only further isolate the U.S.
“Another step toward isolation may soon take place if the president-elect carries through his promise to terminate the nuclear weapons—the nuclear deal with Iran,” he said. “Other countries who are parties to the deal might well continue. They might even—Europe, mainly. That means ignoring U.S. sanctions. That will extend U.S. isolation, even from Europe. And in fact Europe might move, under these circumstances, toward backing off from the confrontation with Russia.”

Chomsky said Sanders’ campaign offered hopes for younger people, the middle class and laborers, who he said have “suffered” due to neo-liberal policies started in 1979, according to The Independent.

“Suppose people like you, the Sanders movement, offered an authentic, constructive program for real hope and change, it would win these people back,” Chomsky said. “I think many of the Trump voters could have voted for Sanders if there had been the right kind of activism and organization. and those are possibilities. It’s been done in the past under much harsher circumstances.”

Nuclear Danger Is Not Gone

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on December 6, 2016 at 11:25 pm

Dr. Bert Crain M.D., Guest Columnist, Citizen-Tines 9:12 a.m. EST December 5, 2016

The issue of nuclear weapons is a terrible problem shared by all humanity. The dangers we are facing do not loom large in the public consciousness as they did right after World War II when the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists voiced their first warnings that we should not elect to live in the dread of sudden annihilation and the publication The Nation felt strongly that it was now “one world or none”. We stumbled through the Cold War facing off the Soviet Union with a policy of mutually assured destruction. MAD worked but we were lucky. There were many close calls, the Cuban Missile Crisis being perhaps the best remembered.

Nearly 10 years ago four senior statesmen including two former secretaries of state offered a commentary in The Wall Street Journal that documented the tremendous danger, but also historic opportunity, that then existed. They emphasized the increasing hazard, the steps that should be taken, and the importance of U.S. leadership in a bold initiative consistent with our moral heritage. They emphasized that there was urgent need to amplify the gains that had been made in the Reagan-Gorbachev summits and subsequent détente of 1987. Barack Obama reinforced those leaders’ vision, calling for nuclear abolition in his speech in Prague in April 2009.

The danger now is greater than it was during the Cold War. Since the Russian Federation annexed the Crimea, invaded the Ukraine and began fighting for Bashar El Assad in Syria, the rhetoric has escalated with nuclear weapons once again being celebrated as symbols of national power. Some statesmen believe that Putin’s posture is more bravado from a fearful Russia encircled by NATO and trying to keep Ukraine in their domain.

In any case since the greatest threat we face is the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the U.S., the talk can be unnerving. In addition, all of the nuclear armed states are planning costly upgrades in violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. We are threatening to start a new arms race. Many, including the late cosmologist Carl Sagan, an eloquent advocate for science and humanity, considered nuclear proliferation as collective madness.

Those who are anchored to nuclear weapons argue that nuclear deterrence has prevented a major power conflict since 1945. The price has been millions of people held hostage to the threat of extinction. It is now critical to also realize that unlike the ideological conflict of the Cold War, when everyone wanted to live, religious extremists intent on mass murder of nonbelievers and a glorious martyrdom will not be deterred by mutually assured destruction. This chilling fact alone should push the nuclear armed states toward cooperating in verifiable reductions and securing fissile material.

Many of us have been working for decades to enable public opinion through enlightened self- interest to push governments to not do insane things, but the political-military-industrial complex is a hungry beast. The newest and most potent abolitionist movement is The Humanitarian Initiative proposed by a majority of the non-nuclear states. On Oct. 27, 123 nations at the UN General Assembly, voted in favor of adopting a resolution that sets up negotiations in 2017 to establish a legally binding instrument that abolishes nuclear weapons. Physicians for Social Responsibility urges our nation’s citizens to embrace sanity, to pressure our elected officials to support this international effort and to demand a stop to a new nuclear arms race.

Bert Crain, M.D. is a member of Western North Carolina Physicians for Social Responsibility. For more see http://www.psr.org and http://www.wncpsr.org

Trump Should Halt US Missile-Defense Plans in Europe

In Democracy, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on November 29, 2016 at 11:43 pm

The new president seems determined to woo Russia. Here’s one way he can serve American and NATO security goals as well.

The one constant in Donald Trump’s foreign-policy views has been his desire to improve relations with Moscow. “There’s nothing I can think of that I’d rather do than have Russia friendly, as opposed to the way they are right now,” he said in July, a theme he has since reprised in various ways.

It is no secret that Russian President Vladimir Putin favored Trump in the election. But a Putin-Trump bromance and shared business interests can only take this so far. To transform relations, Trump will have to address Russia’s deep concerns about U.S. missile defense in Europe.

Missile defenses are weapons whose purpose is to destroy enemy missiles before they reach their target. Some of the systems designed to shoot down short-range weapons, such as Scuds, work well in tests. But despite hundreds of billions of dollars spent on various long-range interceptor concepts over the past 30 years, the U.S. has little to show for the effort. The existing systems are widely considered ineffective. However, future technological development might theoretically make missile interceptors more reliable. For Russia’s leaders, this is a scary prospect. They fear effective defenses could undermine their country’s nuclear deterrent, making it vulnerable to a U.S. first strike.

Russia is particularly irked by the U.S.-NATO missile defense project in Europe. Moscow has long called for legal guarantees that the system not be directed against Russia, to no avail. Its frustration has grown in recent years. As Putin said in May, “Nobody listens to us…we do not hear anything but platitudes, and those platitudes mainly boil down to the fact that this is not directed against Russia…Let me remind you that initially there was talk about thwarting a threat from Iran…Where is the Iranian nuclear program now?”

He has a point. The original rationale for NATO’s anti-missile system was defense against long-range, nuclear-armed missiles Iran might develop. As President Obama said in 2009, “If the threat from Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile program is eliminated, the driving force for missile defense in Europe will be eliminated.” And indeed, thanks to the 2015 nuclear accord, Iran is currently unable to produce material for a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, previous missile threat estimates have also been proven wrong: Iran’s missiles remain limited to medium-range, and there is no indication of its intention to extend their reach.

However, like Wile E. Coyote running past the end of the cliff into thin air, NATO’s missile defense project keeps going even as its grounds disappear: in May, construction of a new missile defense site began in Poland, with the purpose of extending the capacity against the nonexistent threat of intermediate-range missiles.

Although Iran could break out from the nuclear deal, it would take at least two years for it to produce one nuclear warhead, and even longer to develop long-range missiles. This would leave ample time for NATO to respond later, as the current phase in Poland is scheduled to take only two years.

NATO officials now justify the project in terms of the generic threat of missile proliferation, referring to 30 countries possessing or seeking missiles that could carry WMD. They fail to mention that the only country with intermediate-range missiles capable of reaching Europe is Israel. In short, there is no security rationale behind NATO’s current missile defense policy.

Most Europeans do not care, because it has always been the Russian bear rather than the Iran scare that drives their anti-missile enthusiasm. Countries like Poland want to host missile defense components because a U.S. military presence eases their anxieties about Russia. Unfortunately, missile defenses provide a false sense of security, as they invite more tensions with Russia – which recently placed Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad to target the Polish site.

Europeans also tend to dismiss Russian concerns. Americans, who placed Soviet missile defenses on their Cold War nuclear target lists, should know better. However, particularly after the George W. Bush administration withdrew the U.S. from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, the White House has downplayed this problem, viewing missile defenses as inherently benign.

Trump has a unique opportunity to start correcting past mistakes by halting the construction of the unnecessary Polish missile interceptor site. Showing long-overdue restraint on this key strategic issue would improve European security and save hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, both of which might appeal to a president-elect who believes U.S. allies are freeloaders. And there are less costly ways to reassure the Poles, such as stationing U.S. troops in Poland as a tripwire.

This could also pave the way for dramatic nuclear reductions. As Steven Pifer from the Brookings Institution recently noted, “A future U.S. administration interested in a treaty providing for further cuts in strategic nuclear forces may find that it can go no further if it is not prepared to negotiate a treaty on missile defense.” Trump might want to check in with Henry Kissinger on the interrelationship between strategic arms limitation and the ABM Treaty in the 1970s.

There are too many unknowns to predict what Trump will do in office. However, if the president-elect is serious about changing U.S. relations with Russia – and if he comes to understand the value of the Iran nuclear accord – he might be able to conclude a deal that eluded Obama and improve NATO security.

Joe Cirincione is president of Ploughshares Fund and the author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late. FULL BIO
Tytti Erästö is a Roger L. Hale Fellow at Ploughshares Fund with a doctorate in International Relations from the University of Tampere in Finland.