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The Big Boom: Nukes and NATO

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on July 27, 2016 at 1:32 am

by CONN HALLINANhttp://www.counterpunch.org/2016/07/22/the-big-boom-nukes-and-nato/

“Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”-William J. Perry, U.S. Sec. Of Defense (1994-97)

Perry has been an inside player in the business of nuclear weapons for over 60 years and his book, “My Journey at the Nuclear Brink,” is a sober read. It is also a powerful counterpoint to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) current European strategy that envisions nuclear weapons as a deterrent to war: “Their [nuclear weapons] role is to prevent major war, not to wage wars,” argues the Alliance’s magazine, NATO Review.

But, as Perry points out, it is only by chance that the world has avoided a nuclear war—sometimes by nothing more than dumb luck—and, rather than enhancing our security, nukes “now endanger it.”

The 1962 Cuban missile crisis is generally represented as a dangerous standoff resolved by sober diplomacy. In fact, it was a single man—Russian submarine commander Vasili Arkhipov—who countermanded orders to launch a nuclear torpedo at an American destroyer that could have set off a full-scale nuclear exchange between the USSR and the U.S.

There were numerous other incidents that brought the world to the brink. On a quiet morning in November 1979, a NORAD computer reported a full-scale Russian sneak attack with land and sea-based missiles, which led to scrambling U.S. bombers and alerting U.S. missile silos to prepare to launch. There was no attack, just an errant test tape.

Lest anyone think the Nov. 9 incident was an anomaly, a little more than six months later NORAD computers announced that Soviet submarines had launched 220 missiles at the U.S.—this time the cause was a defective chip that cost 49 cents—again resulting in scrambling interceptors and putting the silos on alert.

But don’t these examples prove that accidental nuclear war is unlikely? That conclusion is a dangerous illusion, argues Perry, because the price of being mistaken is so high and because the world is a more dangerous place than it was in 1980.

It is 71 years since atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and humanity’s memory of those events has dimmed. But even were the entire world to read John Hersey’s Hiroshima, it would have little idea of what we face today.

The bombs that obliterated those cities were tiny by today’s standards, and comparing “Fat Man” and “Little Boy”—the incongruous names of the weapons that leveled both cities—to modern weapons stretches any analogy beyond the breaking point. If the Hiroshima bomb represented approximately 27 freight cars filled with TNT, a one-megaton warhead would require a train 300 miles long.

Each Russian RS-20V Voevoda intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) packs 10 megatons.

What has made today’s world more dangerous, however, is not just advances in the destructive power of nuclear weapons, but a series of actions by the last three U.S. administrations.

First was the decision by President Bill Clinton to abrogate a 1990 agreement with the Soviet Union not to push NATO further east after the reunification of Germany or to recruit former members of the defunct Warsaw Pact.

NATO has also reneged on a 1997 pledge not to install “permanent” and “significant” military forces in former Warsaw Pact countries. This month NATO decided to deploy four battalions on, or near, the Russian border, arguing that since the units will be rotated they are not “permanent” and are not large enough to be “significant.” It is a linguistic slight of hand that does not amuse Moscow.

Second was the 1999 U.S.-NATO intervention in the Yugoslav civil war and the forcible dismemberment of Serbia. It is somewhat ironic that Russia is currently accused of using force to “redraw borders in Europe” by annexing the Crimea, which is exactly what NATO did to create Kosovo. The U.S. subsequently built Camp Bond Steel, Washington’s largest base in the Balkans.

Third was President George W, Bush’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the decision by the Obama administration to deploy anti-missile systems in Romania and Poland, as well as Japan and South Korea.

Last is the decision by the White House to spend upwards of $1 trillion upgrading its nuclear weapons arsenal, which includes building bombs with smaller yields, a move that many critics argue blurs the line between conventional and nuclear weapons.

The Yugoslav War and NATO’s move east convinced Moscow that the Alliance was surrounding Russia with potential adversaries, and the deployment of anti-missile systems (ABM)—supposedly aimed at Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons—was seen as a threat to the Russian’s nuclear missile force.

One immediate effect of ABMs was to chill the possibility of further cuts in the number of nuclear weapons. When Obama proposed another round of warhead reductions, the Russians turned it down cold, citing the anti-missile systems as the reason. “How can we take seriously this idea about cuts in strategic nuclear potential while the United States is developing its capabilities to intercept Russian missiles?” asked Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

When the U.S. helped engineer the 2014 coup against the pro-Russian government in Ukraine, it ignited the current crisis that has led to several dangerous incidents between Russian and NATO forces—at last count, according to the European Leadership Network, more than 60. Several large war games were also held on Moscow’s borders. Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev went so far as to accuse NATO of “preparations for switching from a cold war to a hot war.”

In response, the Russians have also held war games involving up to 80,000 troops.

It is unlikely that NATO intends to attack Russia, but the power differential between the U.S. and Russia is so great—a “colossal asymmetry,” Dmitri Trenin, head of the Carnegie Moscow Center, told the Financial Times—that the Russians have abandoned their “no first use” of nuclear weapons pledge.

It the lack of clear lines that make the current situation so fraught with danger. While the Russians have said they would consider using small,tactical nukes if “the very existence of the state” was threatened by an attack, NATO is being deliberately opaque about its possible tripwires. According to NATO Review, nuclear “exercises should involve not only nuclear weapons states…but other non-nuclear allies,” and “to put the burden of the doubt on potential adversaries, exercises should not point at any specific nuclear thresholds.”

In short, keep the Russians guessing. The immediate problem with such a strategy is: what if Moscow guesses wrong?

That won’t be hard to do. The U.S. is developing a long-range cruise missile—as are the Russians—that can be armed with conventional or nuclear warheads. But how will an adversary know which is which? And given the old rule in nuclear warfare—use ‘em, or lose ‘em—uncertainty is the last thing one wants to engender in a nuclear-armed foe.

Indeed, the idea of no “specific nuclear thresholds” is one of the most extraordinarily dangerous and destabilizing concepts to come along since the invention of nuclear weapons.

There is no evidence that Russia contemplates an attack on the Baltic states or countries like Poland, and, given the enormous power of the U.S., such an undertaking would court national suicide.

Moscow’s “aggression” against Georgia and Ukraine was provoked. Georgia attacked Russia, not vice versa, and the Ukraine coup torpedoed a peace deal negotiated by the European Union, the U.S., and Russia. Imagine Washington’s view of a Moscow-supported coup in Mexico, followed by an influx of Russian weapons and trainers.

In a memorandum to the recent NATO meetings in Warsaw, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity argued “There is not one scintilla of evidence of any Russian plan to annex Crimea before the coup in Kiev and coup leaders began talking about joining NATO. If senior NATO leaders continue to be unable or unwilling to distinguish between cause and effect, increasing tension is inevitable with potentially disastrous results.”

The organization of former intelligence analysts also sharply condemned the NATO war games. “We shake our heads in disbelief when we see Western leaders seemingly oblivious to what it means to the Russians to witness exercises on a scale not seen since Hitler’s army launched ‘Unternehumen Barbarossa’ 75 years ago, leaving 25 million Soviet citizens dead.”

While the NATO meetings in Warsaw agreed to continue economic sanctions aimed at Russia for another six months and to station four battalions of troops in Poland and the Baltic states— separate U.S. forces will be deployed in Bulgaria and Poland —there was an undercurrent of dissent. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for deescalating the tensions with Russia and for considering Russian President Vladimir Putin a partner not an enemy.

Greece was not alone. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeler called NATO maneuvers on the Russian border “warmongering” and “saber rattling.” French President Francois Hollande said Putin should be considered a “partner,” not a “threat,” and France tried to reduce the number of troops being deployed in the Baltic and Poland. Italy has been increasingly critical of the sanctions.

Rather than recognizing the growing discomfort of a number of NATO allies and that beefing up forces on Russia’s borders might be destabilizing, U.S. Sec. of State John Kerry recently inked defense agreements with Georgia and Ukraine.

After disappearing from the radar for several decades, nukes are back, and the decision to modernize the U.S. arsenal will almost certainly kick off a nuclear arms race with Russia and China. Russia is already replacing its current ICBM force with the more powerful and long range “Sarmat” ICBM, and China is loading its ICBM with multiple warheads.

Add to this volatile mixture military maneuvers and a deliberately opaque policy in regards to the use of nuclear weapons, and it is no wonder that Perry thinks that the chances of some catastrophe is a growing possibility.
Conn Hallinan can be read at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com

Obama’s speech in Dallas

In Democracy, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Peace, Race on July 14, 2016 at 8:13 am

MODELS OF THOUGHT President Obama’s vision of hope amounts to a form of faith, and his Dallas speech showed the theological underpinnings for it.
By Harry Bruinius, Staff writer, Christian Science Monitor,  JULY 13, 2016

DALLAS — Again and again as president, Barack Obama has played the role of consoler-in-chief.

On Tuesday in Dallas, he incorporated another familiar role more conspicuously than usual: theologian-in-chief.

Speaking at first with a somber and quiet tone, Mr. Obama immediately invoked an idea central to monotheistic faiths, especially Christianity: In our sufferings, there is glory.

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“Because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope,” Obama said. “Sometimes the truths of these words are hard to see. Right now, those words test us because the people of Dallas, people across the country are suffering.”

That suffering was not simply because of the numbing aftermath of killings in Dallas, Minnesota, and Louisiana last week, he said, but because of the seeming intractability of the tensions beneath them.

“We wonder if the divides of race in America can ever be bridged,” he added. “We wonder if an African-American community that feels unfairly targeted by police and police departments that feel unfairly maligned for doing their jobs, can ever understand each other’s experience.”

In his speech, Obama sought to maintain a vision of meaning, even in the midst of confusion, doubt, and uncertainty – an assertion of faith.

On Tuesday, he offered a glimpse into the theological underpinnings for that faith – a belief that great things are often achieved over periods greater than human lifetimes and that the duty of each individual is to act, soberly and wisely, even in the face of enormous odds.

In Obama’s foreign policy, this longer-term view has often resulted in criticism that he has lacked urgency and “led from behind.” At home, critics have said the president promised more “change” than he delivered.

But on Tuesday in Dallas, Obama sought to turn his religious views into a rallying call: The fight to overcome racial tension is long and the progress slow, but the need endures.

“I’ve hugged too many families who have lost a loved one to senseless violence,” Mr. Obama said in front of some 2,500 public and law enforcement officials meeting in the city’s symphony hall to commemorate the five Dallas police officers shot and killed last week. “And I’ve seen how a spirit of unity, born of tragedy, can gradually dissipate, overtaken by the return to business as usual, by inertia and old habits and expediency.”

“I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change,” the president continued. “I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been. And so, I’m reminded of a passage in John’s Gospel, ‘Let us love, not with words or speech, but with actions and in truth.’ ”

Frustrations and hope
At this point in Obama’s presidency, facing a polarized Congress, words are increasingly the only action left to him. By all accounts, he has poured himself into the task of his speeches, writing and revising much of them himself, as he works with his speechwriters.

And Tuesday was the 17th address he has given as president to console the nation after a mass shooting.

Yet even the frustrations inherent in that fact speak to Obama’s theology – and the basis for his hope.

As a senator in 2007, Obama expressed admiration for Reinhold Niebuhr, an early 20th century theologian. Explaining his attraction to Niebuhr, Obama told The New York Times:

I take away the compelling idea that there’s serious evil in the world, and hardship and pain. And we should be humble and modest in our belief that we can eliminate those things. But we shouldn’t use that as an excuse for cynicism and inaction. I take away the sense we have to make these efforts knowing they are hard, and not swinging from naïve idealism to bitter realism.
The tension between hope and frustration, between unity and doubt, cascaded through Obama’s 40-minute speech, providing both a coda to the remaining months in office for the country’s first black president and a loudspeaker for the inner turmoil many Americans now feel as they seek to find a way forward.

But he always returned to exhortations for personal actions – to the need to reject “cynicism and inaction.” Both the nation’s law enforcement officials and Black Lives Matter activists, he said, must forge consensus and find the will to change.

“Can we do this? Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other?” the president asked. “Can we see in each other a common humanity and a shared dignity, and recognize how our different experiences have shaped us? And it doesn’t make anybody perfectly good or perfectly bad, it just makes us human.”

Obama sought to show this spirit by inviting Sen. Ted Cruz, one of his fiercest Republican critics, to travel with him on Air Force One to the event in Dallas, where former President George W. Bush also made a rare official appearance.

America as a crucible for progress
In his book, “The Irony of American History,” Niebuhr wrote:

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”

President Obama echoed some of the same ideas.

“Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions. And this has strained our bonds of understanding and common purpose,” he said. “But Americans, I think, have a great advantage. To renew our unity, we only need to remember our values. We have never been held together by blood or background. We are bound by things of the spirit – by shared commitments to common ideals.”

Indeed, Obama cast America itself as a crucible for an intense inner struggle.

“We don’t always have control of things – not even a president does,” Obama said. “But we do have control over how we respond to the world. We do have control or how we treat one another.”

“America does not ask us to be perfect, precisely because of our individual imperfections, our founders gave us institutions to guard against tyranny and ensure no one is above the law,” he continued. “A democracy that gives us the space to work through our differences and debate them peacefully, to make things better, even if it doesn’t always happen as fast as we’d like. America gives us the capacity to change.”

Scottish bishops statement on nuclear weapons

In Cost, Democracy, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on July 13, 2016 at 11:53 pm

Statement on nuclear weapons

The Bishops of Scotland have for a long time pointed out the immorality of the use of strategic nuclear weapons due to the indiscriminate destruction of innocent human life that their use would cause.

The renewal of Trident is questioned not just by those concerned with the morality of nuclear weapons themselves but also by those concerned about the use of scarce financial resources.

Lives are being lost now because money that could be spent on the needy and the poor is tied up in nuclear arsenals. We endorse the words of Pope Francis: “Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations”.

The United Kingdom, permanent member of the UN Security Council and declared nuclear power, signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968. That treaty binds signatories who do not have nuclear weapons not to acquire them, but it also binds those who do have nuclear weapons to work towards the disposing and elimination of all nuclear weapons. Britain should take more decisive and courageous steps to revive that aspect of the treaty and not seek to prolong the status quo.

Signed
+ Philip Tartaglia, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, Archbishop of Glasgow
+ Joseph Toal, Vice-President, Bishop of Motherwell
+ Hugh Gilbert, Episcopal Secretary, Bishop of Aberdeen
+ Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh
+ Stephen Robson, Bishop of Dunkeld
+ John Keenan, Bishop of Paisley
+ William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway
+ Brian McGee, Bishop of Argyll and The Isles

Obama plans major nuclear policy changes in his final months

In Democracy, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy on July 11, 2016 at 11:19 am

By Josh Rogin

Washington Post.com
July 10 at 7:19 PM 
The Obama administration is determined to use its final six months in office to take a series of executive actions to advance the nuclear agenda the president has advocated since his college days. It’s part of Obama’s late push to polish a foreign policy legacy that is plagued by challenges on several other fronts.

President Obama announced his drive to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and eventually rid the world of them in his first major foreign policy speech, in Prague in 2009. In his first years, he achieved some successes, such as the New START treaty with Russia, the Nuclear Security Summits and the controversial Iran deal. But progress waned in the past year as more pressing crises commanded the White House’s attention. Now, the president is considering using the freedom afforded a departing administration to cross off several remaining items on his nuclear wish list.

In recent weeks, the national security Cabinet members known as the Principals Committee held two meetings to review options for executive actions on nuclear policy. Many of the options on the table are controversial, but by design none of them require formal congressional approval. No final decisions have been made, but Obama is expected to weigh in personally soon.

“As we enter the homestretch of the Obama presidency, it’s worth remembering that he came into office with a personal commitment to pursuing diplomacy and arms control,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told the Arms Control Association on June 6. “I can promise you today that President Obama is continuing to review a number of ways he can advance the Prague agenda over the course of the next seven months. Put simply, our work is not finished on these issues.”

Several U.S. officials briefed on the options told me they include declaring a “no first use” policy for the United States’ nuclear arsenal, which would be a landmark change in the country’s nuclear posture. Another option under consideration is seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution affirming a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons. This would be a way to enshrine the United States’ pledge not to test without having to seek unlikely Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The administration is also considering offering Russia a five-year extension of the New START treaty’s limits on deployed nuclear weapons, even though those limits don’t expire until 2021. This way, Obama could ensure that the next administration doesn’t let the treaty lapse. Some administration officials want to cancel or delay development of a new nuclear cruise missile, called the Long-Range Stand-Off weapon, because it is designed for a limited nuclear strike, a capability Obama doesn’t believe the United States needs. Some officials want to take most deployed nukes off of “hair trigger” alert.

The administration also wants to cut back long-term plans for modernizing the nation’s nuclear arsenal, which the Congressional Budget Office reports will cost about $350 billion over the next decade. Obama may establish a blue-ribbon panel of experts to examine the long-term budget for these efforts and find ways to scale it back.

Republican congressional leaders are already warning the administration not to use its final months to take actions they say would betray promises to Congress and weaken the United States’ nuclear deterrent. On June 17, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote to Obama to warn him not to unravel their deal on nuclear modernization, which they said persuaded Congress to ratify New START. They acknowledged that the current plan may be fiscally unsustainable but pledged to work with the administration to address the shortfalls.

Opponents in Congress also believe the administration is not taking into consideration how big changes in U.S. nuclear policy would affect allies that live under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, especially in Europe and Northeast Asia. But arms control advocates, Democratic lawmakers and former officials are pressing the administration to announce as many new policies as possible. For them, Obama has one last chance to make good on his nuclear promises.

“It’s pretty clear the Prague agenda has stalled,” said Joe Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, which supports groups advocating for nuclear nonproliferation. “There isn’t anything that the president does that isn’t criticized by his opponents, so he might as well do what he wants. He’s relishing his last days in office.”

By focusing on nuclear weapons, Obama sees an opportunity to cement a foreign policy legacy despite setbacks and incomplete efforts in several other areas. But by doing it unilaterally, without congressional buy-in, and in a hurried way, he risks launching policies that might not last much longer than his presidency.

Satyagraha Institute, August 7-19, 2016

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on July 11, 2016 at 7:15 am

Satayagraha is Gandhi’s Hindi word for nonviolence. Sat means truth and agraha means strength or power. Satyagraha, or nonviolence, is the power of truth. For Gandhi, nonviolence was a search for truth. Carl Kline, a devotee of Gandhian nonviolence, recently established the Satyagraha Institute. The next session is August 7-19, 2016, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I will make two presentations, one on nonviolence and the nuclear weapons industry with a focus on Rocky Flats, the other on the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. The following just arrived from Carl Cline.

 
The 2016 Mexico Satyagraha Institute has concluded in a spirit of solidarity and commitment. The hospitality of the Cuetzalan cooperative, Tosepan Kali, was superb and the persons who gathered from all over Mexico exceptional. I’m confident folks returned to their work and witness with a new sense of inspiration and energy.

One of the marks of a successful Institute is when people who participate are convinced it should continue. Participants from Mexico 2016 have already convened a group of 20 persons in Monterrey to begin plans for Mexico Satyagraha Institute #2, to be held in April or March of 2017. Six people volunteered to begin the planning and development process.

We anticipate three people from Mexico will join us for the Black Hills Institute from August 7-­19. We are also hoping to have (depending on securing visas) international participants from Tibet, Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana. If all goes well, we will have a full group.

In order to make sure it goes well, we still need your financial support. If you gave before and might spare a bit more, please send it our way. If you haven’t given this year, now would be the time. Our requests for financial aid are close to $5,000. which is above and beyond our budget, which we have yet to make.

You can keep up with developments at the web site (some Mexico pictures are up) at satyagrahainstitute.org/mexico-gallery Or you can check out our Facebook page.

Please know that we’re grateful for your intentions and support at a time when violence is in the headlines, but also seldom in the news, as it is all too common and accepted. Help us help others turn it around.

Gratefully,

Carl Kline, Coordinator

Why the Sanders ‘Revolution’ Must Take On the Permanent War State

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on July 5, 2016 at 10:11 pm

by Gareth Porter, July 04, 2016, TruthOut

The People’s Summit in Chicago June 17-19 dramatically displayed both the strengths and the vulnerabilities of what has emerged in 2016 as one of the most potentially powerful movements for fundamental change in the United States in many decades. The event, which brought together 3,000 committed movement activists to rally in support of the “political revolution” given impetus by Bernie Sanders’ campaign, was an opportunity to ensure that the movement will not dissipate in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s clinching the Democratic nomination.

The leaders of the movement sought to use the summit to reconcile conflicting activist views on the relationship between movement organizations and electoral politics. The summit may have succeeded in keeping the coalition of those who privilege electoral politics and those who see it as a distraction from their local struggles from splitting up. But despite the political sophistication and pragmatism of the organizers, the gathering failed to deal seriously with the problem of the “permanent war state” – the central power bloc in the US government that looms menacingly over everything the movement hopes to accomplish.

The permanent war state is the 800-pound gorilla in US society and political life. As the old joke goes, the answer to the question, “Where does an 800-pound gorilla eat?” is, “Anywhere he likes.” As long as the organs of “national security” continue to retain the extraordinary power to appropriate budgetary resources and to involve the United States in foreign conflicts without real accountability, US politics will be grotesquely distorted to the profound disadvantage of the movement for fundamental change. The Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Agency will continue to control most of the $1.1 trillion federal discretionary spending budget, crowding out programs that would benefit people. And beyond wielding that obvious financial power, by maintaining the premise that the United States must continue to make war indefinitely, they will also wield an ideological weapon that helps the economic elite maintain the status quo.

But that fundamental obstacle to change was not even mentioned by any of the speakers who introduced the main themes of the conference on the first night. On the second day, US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) strongly denounced moves by powerful interests for a new war for regime change in Syria, but she did not address the underlying system of institutional interests and power that keeps the United States at permanent war. There was one breakout session entitled “Healthcare Not Warfare,” which highlighted what people already know – that spending for war and preparation for war robs the people of resources needed to build a more prosperous and equitable society. But it was evidently an afterthought for conference organizers, and did not interest many of the attendees, drawing perhaps 30 people.

The Sanders campaign never explicitly raised the issue of the permanent war state during the primary election contest, either. He did present a sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton when they debated foreign policy, effectively demolishing her position urging a more militarily aggressive policy in Syria. He called for a policy that “destroys ISIS” but “does not get us involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East.”But he never talked about ending the unprecedented power that national security institutions have seized over the resources and security of the American people.

It is not difficult to see why Sanders did not take on that larger issue. The power of the military-industrial-congressional complex that has morphed into a permanent war state has long been the real “third rail” in US politics, which anyone aspiring to national office touches only at the risk of being branded “anti-American.” News media coverage constantly reinforces the idea that US global military presence and aggressiveness are legitimate responses to foreign threats. So, for politicians, explaining why the power of that combination of institutions is a danger not only to people’s economic interests, but also to their physical security is seen as extremely difficult and fraught with political risk. Sanders, who had no problem opposing specific wars, undoubtedly feared that an effort to deal with the interests and power behind the wars that most Americans oppose would force him to respond to attacks from the Clinton camp and the corporate media, and thus interfere with his populist message.

The permanent war state also appears to be outside the political comfort zone of National Nurses United, the single most influential organization in planning and funding the People’s Summit. As a senior official of National Nurses United explained, the organization is able to talk about corporate control of the health care system because nurses constantly see the consequences in their own work, but most have no such personal experiences enabling them to talk about the war system.

But despite these understandable reasons for taking a pass on the issue, the leadership of the movement inspired by the Sanders campaign is making a big mistake by failing to take on the problem of the permanent war state. The popular organizations represented in Chicago understand this, but they have hesitated to go up against the most powerful combination bureaucratic interests the world has ever known, in part because they have not had any clear idea about how those interests could be defeated. What has been not been tried, however, is a strategy that attacks the war system where it is most vulnerable – the fact that the war system bureaucrats have systematically pursued their own personal and institutional interests at the expense of the American people.

The publicly available records of US intervention and war, especially since the beginning of the Cold War, reveal an endless succession of policies and programs that were utterly useless and provoked reactions from states and from non-state actors that threatened the safety of the American people. But the policy makers preferred those policies, because they gave them and their organizations more power, more budgetary resources, more people under their command, more new technology, more foreign bases and perquisites, and more lucrative jobs and contracts when they leave the government for private companies.

All the services were looking for a boost in military appropriations when they pushed Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to intervene militarily in Vietnam. The US Air Force sold its “shock and awe” strategy for regime change in Iraq to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in order to capture a larger share of the military budget. The CIA got control over a major new mission when it convinced President George W. Bush to launch a drone war in Pakistan.

But the American people suffered the direct and indirect consequences of these wars in each case.

The fundamental conflict between the national interest and the personal and bureaucratic interests of the policy makers of the permanent war state explains why the system has continued to produce uniformly disastrous policies decade after decade.

So the strategy of the movement that the Sanders campaign has mobilized must include a broadly concerted campaign that explains to young people, disaffected working-class people and others how the permanent war state produces winners and losers. The winners are the national security organs themselves, as well as those who make careers and fortunes from the permanent state of war. The losers are those who must suffer the socioeconomic and other consequences of such reckless policies. Such a campaign should aim at nothing less than taking away the flow of money and the legal authority that the permanent war state has seized on the pretext of “threats” that are largely of its own making.

Even though the permanent war state seems to be at the peak of its power, like all essentially hollow institutions, it has a serious political vulnerability. Millions of Americans know that the wars the war-state agencies have wrought over the past half century – from the Vietnam War to the war in Afghanistan – were worse than useless. So the legitimacy of the permanent war state is extremely tenuous. A determined campaign to challenge that legitimacy, carried out with sufficient resources over a few years with the participation of a broad coalition, could shake it to its roots. Such a campaign must be included in the work to open up new political spaces and propel the movement for change.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. He can be contacted at porter.gareth50@gmail.com.

 

A Positive Look at BREXIT — from Johan Galtung

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Nuclear abolition on June 29, 2016 at 11:44 pm

On Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 4:00 PM, Antonio C. S. Rosa <antonio@transcend.org> wrote:
Brex’it, So Be’it; And Then What?
Nº 434 | Johan Galtung, 24 Jun 2016 – TRANSCEND Media Service

Brex’It, So Be’It; And Then What?

The vote turned out like the two referenda held in Norway in 1972 and 1994. And much for the same reason: Protestant break with Rome–Catholic, imperial–Henry VII made himself head of the Anglican Church in 1534. Religion was not the only reason, there are Protestant Nordic members of EU, closer to the continent and closer to Russia. World history, a short while after Pope Francis-Patriarch Kirill also made world history, bridging the Catholic-Orthodox 395-1054 gap.
The Disunited Queendom is now London with surroundings; England. The implications are enormous, for UK-GB and the British Isles in general, for EU and Europe in general, USA and the world in general. The US Trojan horse decided to leave the EU on 23 June 2016.
* UK-GB and the British Isles in general.
Goodbye United Kingdom, UK, we may get United Ireland, UI, instead.
Goodbye Great Britain, GB, we may get Scotland in EU instead.
Welcome to Britain of England-Wales, if they care for that vocabulary.
Welcome to new-born England, 23 June being the Day of Independence.
Independence? Washington, having lost its inside EU ally, will soon remind London of their “special relationship” as unsinkable aircraft carrier also doing the killing job–maybe some wanted that. And yet. England had the whole Global Establishment, if there ever was one, mobilized to pressure them to remain. They did not. There is something very impressive in that, however bad the campaign.
And yet. There is something to those British Isles, a shared and twisted history between Anglo-Saxons and Celts–Vikings, Normans–an enormous impact on the world now torn to pieces, torn into new pieces. Maybe time has come for something this author proposed in an NGO encounter at the Houses of Parliament on Northern Ireland-Ulster right before the Good Friday Agreement: CBI, a Confederation of the British Isles, with United Ireland, Scotland, England-Wales and smaller islands.
* EU and Europe in general.
On the possible positive side is EU independence of the USA, not choosing US foreign-military (and university system!) policy instead of working out its own. EU can now follow France-Germany in a Ukraine they know much better than the USA. They nay one day meet Russia in some “European House”–may Gorbachev see that before he passes away–and they may one day, hopefully soon, have a European Parliament recognizing Palestine as a state, making it clear this is not anti-Semitic, anti-Israel, but pro the other Semitic, pro-Palestine.
On the possible negative side is Germany winning the two “world wars” in Europe over who shall run Europe: Germany or England-France. Germany had visions of something close to an EU with economic center in Brussels and political in Berlin. After 1945 it was France, not England that stretched out a hand to beaten Germany, the 1950 coal and steel handshake that morphed into the Treaty of Rome (what a bad choice of name). France will have to do that again, but this time not from the strong position of being on the winning side of a war, but the weak position of being in layer 3 of the present 5 in EU with Germany on top and Greece at the bottom, the Nordics no 3, then the Latins, then Eastern Europe. This pyramid has to be flattened; many of the exit movements derive their momentum from that sad EU reality.
But also from a boring EU in spite of having to its credit, “acquis” open borders, the euro, a Europe with war held unthinkable. Could some of that come from not being masters in their own house, always listening to His Master’s Voice? Could healthy regionalism inspire a new deal, like healthy nationalism could for England? Freed from fighting US wars, liberated to build peace all over, like in EU?
Making an ever stronger or weaker union? Maybe stronger in peace policy. And maybe with the euro as common, not single currency, and not pressing members into a solidarity with no historical basis?
USA and the world in general.
This might be one more wake-up call for the USA, at a time with everybody but Hillary already awake. Talk about NATO as out of date, Europe and the Middle East taking care of their own affairs, wars as non-affordable, as counter-productive, some awareness that there are other victims than Americans in the wars, had been unthinkable, unspeakable. But old addictive habits are hard to change.
That opens for a possible widening slit between USA-England and EU-Europe. There is a model: the split between the West Roman (Catholic) and East Roman (Orthodox) empires in 395, the former lasting about 81 more years, the latter more than a thousand. This time the religious split would be between evangelical-protestant in the West and catholic-orthodox in the East, with a smart federation at the border, Ukraine, as a possible solution. A major test.
Another: defensive defense against IS brutality, negotiations with them, recognizing their right to have an IS when Europe has EU, and a Caliphate when Christianity has Vatican and the Patriarchy(ies). Learning from Islam about togetherness and sharing, how to overcome loneliness and alienation, admitting that the West needs to learn.
And China? Learning from them like they do from the West, inviting them to join the world from “between heaven and earth”.
The world in general? Moving away from states, toward regions. Be a good, caring Mother of regions, sharing solutions and problems generously with other regions around the world. With Latin America-Caribbean, Anglo-America–maybe with Mexico as MEXUSCAN–the African Union, the European House, SAARC, ASEAN. And the three badly missing ones in Asia: West Asia with Israel and Palestine, Iraq and Syria; Central Asia with Afghanistan, and Northeast Asia with the two Chinas, the two Koreas, Far East Russia and Japan now at nuclear logger-heads.
EU: a wake-up call! Don’t despair, grow, and help the world.
_________________________________
Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

Best regards, in solidarity,
Antonio Carlos da Silva Rosa, M.A. antonio@transcend.org
– Assistant to Prof. Johan Galtung
– Editor, TRANSCEND Media Service http://www.transcend.org/tms
– Secretary of the International Board of TRANSCEND
Porto/Portugal –Office: +351 226 065 617 –Cellular: +351 914 945 965
Twitter: @transcend_media – LinkedIn

“Capitalism and State sovereignty are goners. Bankism rules the world in all respects now.” “Militaries are the ultimate manifestation of direct, structural and cultural violence—a cancer that must be extirpated from humanity.” — Antonio C. S. Rosa

Europeans Contest U.S. Anti-Russian Hype

In Democracy, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on June 28, 2016 at 9:41 am

Europeans Contest US Anti-Russian Hype
June 27, 2016

Besides the Brexit rejection of U.S.-style neoliberal economics, some European voices are protesting, finally, the U.S.-led, anti-Russian propaganda campaign that has justified an expensive new Cold War, notes Joe Lauria.
By Joe Lauria
A significant crack has been unexpectedly opened in the wall of Europe’s disciplined obedience to the United States. I’m not only referring to the possible long-term consequences for U.S.-European relations in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, but the unlikely blow against Washington’s information war on Moscow delivered by Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who a week ago shockingly accused the North Atlantic Treaty Organization of “war-mongering” against Russia.

Since the Bush administration’s twisting of events in the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, which the E.U. blamed on Georgia, Western populations have been subjected to the steady message that Russia is a “threat” to the West and is guilty of “aggression.” This reached a peak with the false narrative of events in Ukraine, in which blatant evidence of the West’s complicity in a violent coups d’état was omitted from corporate media accounts, while Russia’s assistance to eastern Ukrainians resisting the coup has been framed as a Russian “invasion.”
The disinformation campaign has reached the depths of popular culture, including the EuroVision song contest and sports doping scandals, to ensure widespread popular support for U.S. hostile intentions against Russia.
The Russian “aggression” narrative, based largely on lies of omission, has prepared the way for the U.S. to install a missile-shield in Romania with offensive capabilities and to stage significant NATO war games with 31,000 troops on Russia’s borders. For the first time in 75 years, German troops retraced the steps of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
U.S. Designs on Russia
The U.S. is eyeing a post-Putin Russia in which a Wall Street-friendly leader like Boris Yeltsin can be restored to reopen the country to Western exploitation. But Vladimir Putin is no Yeltsin and has proven a tough nut for the U.S. to crack. Washington’s modus operandi is to continually provoke and blame an opponent until it stands up for itself, as Putin’s Russia has done, then accuse it of “aggression” and attack in “self-defense.”
In this way, Washington builds popular support for its own version of events and resistance to the other side of the story. Unfortunately it is not a new trick in the U.S. playbook.
“The statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception,” wrote Mark Twain.
So suddenly, after many years of an air-tight, anti-Russia campaign believed unquestioningly by hundreds of millions of Westerners, comes Steinmeier last week blurting out the most significant truth about Russia uttered by a Western official perhaps in decades.
“What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through saber-rattling and warmongering,” Steinmeier stunningly told Bild am Sontag newspaper. “Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken.”
Instead Steinmeier called for dialogue with Moscow. “We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation,” he said, saying it would be “fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence.”
In keeping with the U.S. propaganda strategy, the U.S. corporate media virtually ignored the remarks, which should have been front-page news. The New York Times did not report Steinmeier’s statement, but two days later ran a Reuter’s story only online leading with the U.S. military’s rejection of his remarks.
NATO General: Russia is No Threat
Just a day after Steinmeier was quoted in Bild, General Petr Pavel, chairman of NATO’s military committee, dropped another bombshell. Pavel told a Brussels press conference flat out that Russia was not at a threat to the West.
“It is not the aim of NATO to create a military barrier against broad-scale Russian aggression, because such aggression is not on the agenda and no intelligence assessment suggests such a thing,” he said.
What? What happened to Russian “aggression” and the Russian “threat?” What is the meaning then of the fear of Russia pounded every day into the heads of Western citizens? Is it all a lie? Two extraordinary on-the-record admissions by two men, Steinmeier, the foreign minister of Europe’s most powerful nation, and an active NATO general in charge of the military committee, both revealing that what Western officials repeat every day is indeed a lie, a lie that may be acknowledged in private but would never before be mentioned in public.
Two years ago I was in a background briefing with a senior European ambassador at his country’s U.N. mission in New York and could hardly believe my ears when he said talk about Russia’s threat to Eastern Europe was “all hype” designed to give NATO “a reason to exist.” Yet this same ambassador in public Security Council meetings would viciously attack Russia.
But the hype is about more than just saving NATO. The fear campaign feeds the American and European military industries and most importantly puts pressure on the Russian government, which the U.S. wants overthrown.
Were these remarks made out of the exasperation of knowing all along that the Russian threat is hype? Were they made out of genuine concern that things could get out of hand under reckless and delusional leaders in Washington leading to a hot war with Russia?
Neither man has been disciplined for speaking out. Does this signal a change in official German thinking? Will German businessmen who deal with Russia and have opposed sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine, which were forced on Germany by the U.S., be listened to?
Were Steinmeier’s remarks a one-off act of rebellion, or is Germany indeed considering defying Washington on sanctions and regime change in Moscow? Is the German government finally going to act in Germany’s own interests? Such a move would spark a European defiance of the United States not seen since the days when Charles de Gaulle pulled France out of NATO in 1966 to preserve French independence.
The last time European governments broke with Washington on a major issue was the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Then France and Germany joined Russia on the U.N. Security Council in blocking the war’s authorization (although Britain supported it). But France and Germany then voted for a resolution several months later that essentially condoned the invasion.
It’s Up to the European Public
One has to ask whether a conditioned German public is ready to see through the lies about Russia. Last November, I flew from St. Petersburg to Berlin and discussed this very question with a number of well-educated Germans.
Russian marchers honoring family members who fought in World War II. (Photo from RT)
Russian marchers honoring family members who fought in World War II. (Photo from RT)
I had visited Russia for the first time since 1995, 20 years before to the month. Those were the days of the Yeltsin-Jeffery Sachs Russia, of the unbridled neoliberal capitalism of the Wall Street-oligarch alliance that plundered the country leaving millions of Russians destitute. Outside train stations I saw homeless encampments replete with campfires. Policemen were stopping motorists for bribes. I ran from two men intent on robbing me until I lost them in a Metro station. That’s the Russia the neocons in Washington and the knaves and buccaneers on Wall Street want to see again.
The Russia I saw in St. Petersburg and Moscow, 20 years later, was orderly and prosperous, as modern as any European city. It is a testament to Russia’s resistance to American attempts to restore its political and financial control. Russia is a capitalist country. But on its own terms. It is fully aware of American machinations to undermine it.
In Berlin I met several Germans, educated, liberal and completely aware, unlike most Americans, of how the United Sates has abused its post-World War II power. And yet when I asked them all why there are still U.S. military bases in Germany 70 years after the war and 25 years after the Cold War ended, and who the Americans were protecting them from, the universal answer was: Russia.
History shows European fears of Russia to be completely overblown. Germany and other Western powers have invaded Russia three times in the last two centuries: France in 1812, U.S., Britain and France in the 1918 Russian Civil War, and Germany again in 1941. Except for Imperial Russia’s incursion into East Prussia after war was declared on it in 1914, the reverse has never been true.
In his memoirs Harry Truman admitted that false fear of Russia was the “tragedy and shame of our time” during the Cold War that he had much to do with in part to revive the U.S. post-war economy with military spending. George Kennan, the State Department official who advised a non-military containment of the Soviet Union, conceded as early as 1947 that Soviet moves in Eastern Europe were defensive and constituted no threat. In the 1990s, Kennan also decried NATO’s expansion towards Russia’s borders.
With its vast natural resources, Russia has been the big prize for the West for centuries, and is still today in neocon-driven Washington. But Germany, especially, has benefited from trade with Russia and has no need to join the U.S. imperial project.
The British voters’ decision, days after Steinmeier’s extraordinary remark, could herald significant change in Europe, which may be approaching an historical junction in its relationship with the United States. Growing anti-E.U. sentiment has spread across the continent, including calls for similar referenda in several countries.
British voters evidently saw through the hype about the Russian “threat,” as a majority did not buy British Prime Minister David Cameron’s scare tactic ahead of the vote that Brexit would make it harder to “combat Russian aggression.”
Britain has been called Washington’s Trojan horse in the E.U. The thinking is that without Britain, the E.U. would be freer to chart its own course. But as Alexander Mercouris explained here, Obama bypasses London to call Merkel directly with his demands. Still, removingBritain’s voice from the E.U., though more crucially not from NATO, opens space for more independent voices in Europe to emerge.
“I worry that we will have less clout on our own,” former British Ambassador to the United States Peter Westmacott told The New York Times. “In the future, we won’t have as much influence on Europe’s response to Putin’s transgressions, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, or the E.U.’s foreign and security policy. … And we will be less able to ensure it is U.S.-friendly.”
But that could be a good thing. If German leaders conclude the United States is pushing Europe into a disastrous war with Russia, could we see a Charles de Gaulle moment in Berlin? Merkel doesn’t seem to have it in her. Three days after Steinmeier’s remarks, she told a news conference she favored increased German spending for NATO to counter Russian “threats.”
Instead it will require a revolt by an awakened citizenry against the E.U. and elected European governments that refuse to stand up to Washington, mostly because it benefits their own class interests, to the detriment of the majority.
The Future of the EU
European social democracy had been probably the best social and political system ever devised on earth, maybe the best that is humanly possible. Europe could have been a model for the world as a neutral power committed to social justice. As late as 1988, Jacques Delors, then president of the European Commission, promised the British Trades Union Congress that the E.U. would be a “social market.”
Instead the E.U. allowed itself to be sold out to unelected and unaccountable neoliberal technocrats now in charge in Brussels. European voters, perhaps not fully understanding the consequences, elected neoliberal national governments slavishly taking Washington’s foreign policy orders. But Brexit shows those voters are getting educated. Unity is a great ideal but E.U. leaders have refused to accept that it has to benefit all Europeans.
The E.U.’s Lisbon Treaty is the only constitution in the world that has neoliberal policies written into it. If it won’t reform — and the arrogance of the E.U.’s leaders tells us it won’t — it will be up to the people of Europe to diminish or dismantle the E.U. through additional referenda. That would give liberated European nations the chance to elect anti-neoliberal national governments, accountable to the voters, which can also chart foreign policies independent of Washington.
The danger is that the right-wing sentiment that has driven a large part of the anti-Establishment movements in Europe (and the U.S.) may elect governments that grow even closer to Washington and impose even harsher neoliberal policies.
That is a risk that may need to be taken in the hope that the anti-Establishment left and right can coalesce around shared interests to put an end to the elitist European project.
Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached atjoelauria@gmail.com and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.

Jock Cobb, MD, pioneer activist on Rocky Flats dies at age 96

In Democracy, Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Plutonium, Public Health, Rocky Flats on June 27, 2016 at 1:35 am

When I learned about Rocky Flats in 1979 I joined people occupying the railroad tracks entering the facility because I wanted to stop production of nuclear bombs and bring an end to a possible nuclear war. But very soon I attended a seminar on radiation health effects, done by Jock Cobb of the CU medical school. He was a spectacular teacher, able to make complex matters clear even as he presented the moral necessity of action. I learned from him to pay attention to the public health and environmental sides of the nuclear weapons enterprise.

Jock Cobb just died. The link to a Denver Post article about him is http://www.denverpost.com/2016/06/25/john-c-cobb-obituary/

I earlier posted to this blog an article describing Jock Cobb’s effort to study the effect of plutonium in the gonads. He collected samples but they were never analyzed, as you can see from reading the following: Rocky Flats plutonium in the gonads? Samples collected but never analyzed — entry dated August 11, 2014.

 

A nuclear weapon that American doesn’t neeed

In Democracy, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy on June 19, 2016 at 2:00 am

A NUCLEAR WEAPON THAT AMERICA DOESN’T NEED
New York Times Op Ed — June 18, 2016
by Dianne Feinstein and Ellen O. Tauscher

President Obama spoke last month in Hiroshima about charting a course to a future free of nuclear weapons. He discussed the “persistent effort” necessary to eliminate the threat of nuclear war.

To advance that goal, the president should reconsider the Defense Department’s effort to develop a new nuclear weapon called the Long-Range Standoff Weapon.

The Air Force is set next year to accelerate the development of this new nuclear cruise missile. It would carry an upgraded W-80 nuclear warhead and be able to penetrate the world’s most advanced air-defense systems.

We agree that a safe, reliable nuclear stockpile is needed. Our backgrounds, voting records and entire careers show that we understand and value the deterrent effect of our nuclear stockpile. However, building new nuclear weapons like this one could be unnecessary, costly and dangerous.

Like our current nuclear cruise missile, the Long-Range Standoff Weapon could strike an adversary’s territory from great distances. But there are compelling reasons not to introduce a cruise missile that could increase the risk of nuclear war.

As former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and Andy Weber, a former assistant defense secretary, wrote last year, “Cruise missiles are a uniquely destabilizing type of weapon” because “they can be launched without warning and come in both nuclear and conventional variants.” We can reduce the risk of setting off accidental nuclear war by retiring nuclear cruise missiles and instead rely on conventional weapons.

Unfortunately, Congress has shirked its duty to carefully evaluate the need for new nuclear weapons capable of immense destruction. The decision to build the Long-Range Standoff Weapon should be thoroughly and publicly debated.

There are three key questions that remain unanswered.

First, does the military need a new nuclear cruise missile? In other words, are there any enemy targets we can no longer “hold at risk” using existing nuclear and conventional weapons and the platforms used to deliver them? We are aware of no such military necessity.

Next, what role does the military intend this weapon to serve? The Pentagon says it would “provide the president with uniquely flexible options in an extreme crisis.” This suggests a lowering of the threshold for nuclear war, a perilous approach that would endanger not only America but allies that we are pledged to protect, like Japan and South Korea.

Finally, what is the weapon’s cost? The Defense Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration have yet to provide concrete estimates for the program, but the Federation of American Scientists has reported that it could cost as much as $30 billion.

At a time when the Defense Department is set to modernize every leg of the nuclear triad, investing $30 billion in an unnecessary and dangerous new nuclear weapon is irresponsible.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter needs to address these issues. He should provide Congress with an analysis of alternatives to this missile. In particular, we want to know if the Defense Department has studied whether existing nuclear and conventional weapons are sufficient to strike enemy targets.

He should also certify that the sole objective of the weapon is nuclear deterrence. We want to eliminate any ambiguity that this new missile would be an offensive weapon.

And he should provide a public cost estimate. If taxpayers are expected to foot the bill, the price should not be shrouded in secrecy.

Instead of devoting our limited resources to a new nuclear weapon, President Obama would be wise to follow one of the main conclusions of the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and reduce the role of our nuclear arsenal by developing advanced conventional weapons capacities.

The Air Force’s Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile and the Navy’s Tomahawk cruise missile both provide conventional alternatives to nuclear cruise missiles. Each can attack enemy targets from tremendous distances without the risk of nuclear escalation.

The United States must lead the way to a nuclear-free world. We may not realize this goal in our lifetime, but we embrace the president’s call for “persistent effort” in that endeavor.

– Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, is the vice chairwoman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. Ellen O. Tauscher is a former Democratic representative from California and former under secretary of state for arms control and international security.

 

For the online version and many comments, see: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/18/opinion/a-nuclear-weapon-that-American-doesn’t-need.html?_r=O

 

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