Confession of a nuclear weapons expert

In Democracy, Human rights, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on August 23, 2017 at 9:52 am

Anonymous, August 13, 2017

OK, let’s get straight to the point.
The events of this past week make one thing entirely clear — a few small-minded egotistical men with serious issues have the power to launch a war that will result in the death of hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people.
At present, the small minded egotistical men in question are Donald Trump (God fucking help us) and Kim Jung Un (!?), but this status quo is so comprehensively insane that this aspect is almost incidental. It could just as easily be Vladimir “creepy vacation pictures” Putin vs. Trump, in which case damn near everyone would be screwed, or some unhinged generals in Pakistan or India, in which case global food supplies would be at risk, in addition to the millions of casualties.
Let’s be clear — I have worked professionally in the field of nuclear arms control for more than 30 years. It has literally been my full-time job to know everything about nuclear weapons policy. I can talk to you about “the counter-force doctrine,” or “Article 6 of the nonproliferation treaty,” or nuclear “modernization,” or the technical differences between submarine launched Trident D5 missiles and B61 gravity bombs, and I can do it until you and I are blue in the face. It is, of course, self-aggrandizing to say this, but I know this issue and I know it deeply, more deeply than most people will ever want to know it.
And here’s the deal: It is all bat-shit crazy.
There is a vast vocabulary of acronyms and a complex universe of organizations with nuanced policy positions. Washington, DC is loaded with institutions known without a hint of irony as “think tanks” that bandy this stuff around with thoughtful panel discussions that would make Franz Kafka proud. I have heard every possible rationalization.
I don’t care whether you’ve got a PhD in international relations or what congressional committee you worked for — there is no possible intellectually defensible position that makes this state of affairs acceptable.
You cannot look at me with a straight face and argue that Donald Trump should decide on any given day whether the bulk of humanity lives to see the next sunrise. Don’t even try because we both know that’s pure bullshit.
If you think the problem is limited to just a few Strangeloves, I’m afraid you’re seriously wrong. I’ve also spent countless hours on Capitol Hill talking to Members of Congress and their staff and the bad news is that almost none of them really comprehend the subject. The most common interaction with a congressional office involves vague ideas and talking points that someone provided them so that they might sound informed, but the reality is that they are mostly clueless. To be fair, there are some legitimate heroes, but you could literally fit the number of people in the US Congress that are committed to addressing this problem into a Volkswagon bus.
In the end (hopefully not), it’s totally whacked. That’s the dirty little secret.
Which brings us to the real question and the hardest one — why for fuck’s sake do we allow this to continue?
Think about it. There are roughly 6 billion people in the world and roughly 9 of them have the power to end the lives of millions of their fellow human beings on any given afternoon. That means that .0000000015% of the human population controls the fate of the other 99.9999999985% of humanity. That includes you, your children, your parents, your lover, your friends, your entire community.
Could anything be more undemocratic? Or indefensible? I think not.
The people you hold close are worth everything to you. They are worth fighting for. It’s time.
Many of us reckon that this is all too confusing and that we need to “leave it to the experts,” but I can absolutely promise you — the experts are never going to solve the problem. NEVER. And waiting for “the other side” to take action first will mean waiting until it is too damn late.
It’s probably worth saying something about the money at about this point. The US alone is poised to spend more than $1 trillion dollars on a new generation of nuclear weapons over the next 15–20 years. And where do you suppose that money is coming from? Your paycheck, plain and simple. You might think it’d be nice to send that on your kids’ tuition. You might want to use the money to rebuild our country’s infrastructure. You might want it in your own damn wallet to pay for the most killer vacation ever. But tough shit. It’s going to new nuclear weapons and I’m guessing they weren’t at the top of your list. And the people from other nuclear countries? They are in the same shitty boat.
It is time for humanity to say no. It is time for the passengers to storm the cabin and fight like hell to survive. Waiting it out in our seat belts is not OK.
I mean this metaphorically of course — but not entirely. We live in a free country. We have a voice.
The situation at hand calls for a revolution. And in this case, I don’t speak metaphorically. I don’t mean a violent revolution, but a revolution in the sense that the existing order needs to be overthrown and overturned by the people that it screws, which you’ll recall, is 99.9999999985% of the people on this planet. It calls for a revolution of the heart and a revolution in our behavior which has allowed this to continue. It calls for a revolution in which the old order is fundamentally discarded and a new order replaces it.
We can do it and we are not alone. We live in a world with 2 billion Facebook users. The patterns of power are changing. Yes, the good people of Russia, or China, or North Korea, or the US might not want to challenge Vladimir, or Xi Jinping, or Kim Jung Un, or the Donald, but we can and we must. Fighting for our survival is not without risks, but it is better than helplessly watching while someone else determines our fate.
Here in the United States if only 10% of the population went on strike and demanded that Congress take much more aggressive steps to control nuclear weapons we could do it. Of course that is an enormously high bar to set but are we so powerless? Setting the bar lower, suppose the same 10% called their Representatives and Senators every day for a month. It takes about 5–10 minutes. It isn’t hard.
Too crazy? Then let’s start smaller and build momentum from there. Senator Ed Markey and Representative Ted Lieu have introduced legislation that would require Trump to obtain congressional approval before launching a nuclear attack. This is a small step in the right direction but it is a step. If you’ve spent more than 10 seconds thinking that this nuclear escalation with North Korea is nuts, than you should absolutely demand that your Senators and your Representative support this bill. Don’t roll over.
Frankly, there are thousands of way to solve this problem and we share a planet filled with smart and inventive people who can put their collective mind to ending this madness. Personally, I don’t claim to know all the answers. But I know one thing with absolute certainty — the “experts” aren’t going to solve the problem, the politicians aren’t going to solve the problem, the talking heads on TV aren’t going to solve the problem, and the 9 people who control the world’s nuclear weapons are literally the last people on earth that are going to solve the problem.
You and I have to do it. We have to seize power over our own fate.

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