leroymoore

Former General George Lee Butler calls for nuclear abolition

In Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on May 31, 2016 at 11:46 pm

A former senior U.S. general again calls for abolishing the nuclear forces he once commanded
A new memoir by a former head of the Strategic Air Command recounts his battles inside the government to rein in a nuclear targeting plan he considered reckless
By R. Jeffrey Smith, May 27, 2016
President Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima on Friday—in a symbolic effort to close some very old wounds from America’s first nuclear detonation. In a much-anticipated speech, Obama declared that “we have a shared responsibility to look directly in the eye of history,” learn from it and “pursue a world without” nuclear weapons.

But for 76-year-old retired Air Force General George Lee Butler, a country boy from rural Mississippi who once had his finger on the trigger for thousands of nuclear warheads more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb, Obama and the rest of Washington are moving far too slowly towards a denuclearization; indeed, he believes the devastation that unfolded there is still a haunting vision of what could happen in the future.

Butler is a former bomber pilot who in 1994, after retiring from a position as commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, made the highly unusual and controversial decision to renounce his lifelong profession of preparing for cataclysmic conflict and publicly embrace the abolition of nuclear arms on the grounds that they are “immoral and therefore anathema to societies premised on the sanctity of life.”

Butler says that while he is cheered by Obama’s rhetorical embrace of denuclearization and by the agreement to cap nuclear arsenals that the president reached with the Russians in 2010, he is generally chagrined that the two largest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia, have missed opportunities to move towards much smaller nuclear arsenals and to limit the risks of a surprise or accidental nuclear attack.

In a new memoir, Butler writes that “any sense of urgency for further reductions has been lost” in part because the United States has mishandled its relations with Russia. Vladimir Putin, he writes, “is the thuggish and entirely predictable embodiment of a Russia wounded badly in pride and stature” due to some mistakes Washington has made. Russia is still far from “a great rather a feared nation, and like my own country, it is still held in thrall by nuclear weapons,” he says.

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