Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

NATO: Increasing the role of nuclear weapons

In Environment, Nuclear Guardianship, Human rights, Peace, Nuclear Policy, Justice, Nuclear abolition on July 25, 2016 at 1:59 am

July 21, 2016 ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear  Weapons)

By Susi Snyder, PAX

The Heads of State and Government that participated in the NATO summit in Warsaw Poland on 8-9 July 2016 issued a series of documents and statements, including a Summit Communiqué and the Warsaw Declaration on Transatlantic Security. Whereas the majority of countries worldwide are ready to end the danger posed by nuclear weapons and to start negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons, both NATO documents reaffirmed the NATO commitment to nuclear weapons, and the Communiqué included a return to cold war style language on nuclear sharing.

Setting a bad example: NATO weakens commitment to nuclear disarmament

The summit documents weaken previously agreed language on seeking a world without nuclear weapons by tacking on additional conditions. Instead of simply saying that NATO is seeking to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons, now NATO is seeking to create the conditions “in full accordance with the NPT, including Article VI, in a step-by-step and verifiable way that promotes international stability, and is based on the principle of undiminished security for all.” Not only that, but instead of creating conditions for further reductions, now the alliance only remains “committed to contribute to creating the conditions for further reductions in the future on the basis of reciprocity” (emphasis added).

NATO member states needs to address the inherent proliferation push that results from their own refusal to end their reliance on nuclear weapons. With three nuclear armed member states, five states hosting US nuclear weapons, at least 15 states actively involved in NATO exercises practicing nuclear attacks, and a consensus document reemphasising the intention to keep the ability to threaten others with nuclear weapons as long as nuclear weapons exist – NATO continues to set a bad example.

Tightening the nuclear noose on the host states

The last several summits, since about 2010, had effectively removed language that explicitly linked the concept of ‘burden sharing’ with nuclear weapons, and had no direct reference to the forward deployed US nuclear weapons in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. This document however adds new language and says:

NATO’s nuclear deterrence posture also relies, in part, on United States’ nuclear weapons forward-deployed in Europe and on capabilities and infrastructure provided by Allies concerned. These Allies will ensure that all components of NATO’s nuclear deterrent remain safe, secure, and effective. That requires sustained leadership focus and institutional excellence for the nuclear deterrence mission and planning guidance aligned with 21st century requirements.

This puts pressure on NATO members not only to make sure that they’re meeting the agreed target of spending 2% of GDP on defence, but also to make sure that they remain actively ready to participate in decisions to use nuclear weapons. By agreeing to this language, NATO heads of state and government have acknowledged that they are not acting in good faith towards a nuclear weapons free world, but instead will invest significantly in this weapon of mass destruction. It also means that despite efforts by several host countries, there is less scope for an alliance wide decision to remove the US nuclear weapons from Europe. This is not surprising though, the removal of forward deployed nuclear weapons has happened in the past, with host countries asking forgiveness for changing the posture, instead of permission to do so beforehand. The fact that this escalatory language was agreed at the highest level by NATO members shows that there is significantly less interest in taking any disarmament or non-proliferation responsibility at this time, reaffirmed by the Communiqué itself which says “We regret that the conditions for achieving disarmament are not favourable today”.

Leaving it up to Russia to make the next nuclear move

Through the repeated emphasis throughout the documents on reciprocity, NATO almost looks as if it is handing over decision making power over its nuclear weapons future to the Russian Federation, instead of leading the way towards de-escalation. For an alliance responsible for 60% of global defense spending, this relinquishing of control is plain peculiar. The document suggests that any future reductions are dependant on reciprocal action by the Russian Federation. Even the issue of transparency, a priority issue for a number of host countries (particularly the Netherlands & Germany,) is now contingent on reciprocal action by the Russian Federation.

And then there’s Turkey

The recent coup attempt in Turkey brings additional, and clearly unanticipated, concerns to the continued nuclear sharing practices in the alliance. Turkey has a slightly different situation than the other host countries. Turkey hosts the most American bombs (about 50) of the approximately 180 in Europe, but Turkish planes are not currently certified to drop the bombs in the same way the others are. Instead, use of nuclear weapons from Incirlik (the Turkish base where they are stored) would be done by US pilots. Currently, US (and German) pilots are stationed there, as Incirlik is used to fly (non nuclear) bombing missions over Syria. The chances that the nuclear weapons on the base could be stolen or used is slim, but it is not zero.

Opportunities for disarmament in times of tensions: the humanitarian initiative

In the last three years, nearly all NATO members (the exception being France) have participated in at least one of the conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. These conferences have reaffirmed that nuclear weapons are unique, and that there is no way to adequately prepare for or mitigate the consequences of their use. While the majority of state have seen this as an impetus to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate the weapons, the small group of NATO states have instead chosen to ramp up the rhetoric on nuclear weapons instead, saying:

If the fundamental security of any of its members were to be threatened however, NATO has the capabilities and resolve to impose costs on an adversary that would be unacceptable and far outweigh the benefits that an adversary could hope to achieve.

NATO continues to say that its deterrence is based on a mix of nuclear and conventional forces, but this language boldly returns to cold war style rhetoric, and increases the ongoing escalation that is leading to a new nuclear arms race.

While the majority of the world recognizes that nuclear weapons should never be used again, under any circumstances the minority – those within NATO and Russia- are increasing the possibility of use. It is important to remember that all significant nuclear weapons treaties that are currently in force were negotiated during the Cold War. The increased perception of threat inspired creative action by those not engaged in the conflict, resulting in multilateral agreements with positive global ramifications. Multilateral negotiations on nuclear weapons have not progressed during decades of reduced great power tension leaving one to wonder if the rising threats now are the incentive needed to galvanize the international community to finally negotiate the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

Without clear milestones, timelines, and consequences there is no incentive for progress on nuclear disarmament or penalty for failure to disarm. This shows how the step-by-step approach advocated by NATO members has effectively become a delaying tactic. A nuclear ban treaty would eliminate the distinction between recognised nuclear weapon states and nuclear armed states, and put the focus on the illegality of the weapons, regardless of who possesses them. This would facilitate the delegitimizing of the weapon, and provide the legal underpinning to complete all of the ‘steps’ necessary to achieve and maintain a nuclear weapons free world.

In the past we’ve seen that rising tensions can force countries to reconsider the role of nuclear weapons. Most of the major disarmament and nonproliferation treaties were negotiated in times of heightened tensions: The Partial Test Ban Treaty (1963), the NPT (1970), the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (1987) and bilateral treaties such as the SALT and first START agreement. It is in those moments that governments seem to most aware of the insane dangers posed by the continued possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons by some states. The idea of the NPT, the cornerstone of multilateral nuclear weapons disarmament was introduced by Ireland, a small non-aligned country that changed the world for the better. NATO has never been a leader when it comes to international law or international humanitarian law, but it always manages to adapt to whatever the rest of the world decides. Although these nuclear weapons addicted NATO states are not likely to join negotiations on a new treaty in a positive and cooperative manner, as the global context is changed through new multilateral negotiations to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, all NATO heads of state (and the democratic countries they represent) will take notice and find ways to embrace the change, as they always do.

We May Be at a Greater Risk of Nuclear War than During the Cold War

In Environment, Nuclear Guardianship, Human rights, Peace, Nuclear Policy, Justice, Nuclear abolition on July 25, 2016 at 1:45 am

Astounding increases in the danger of nuclear weapons have paralleled provocative foreign policy decisions that needlessly incite tensions between Washington and Moscow

by Conn Hallinan, July 23, 2016, Foreign Policy in Focus

“Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War,” warns William Perry, “and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”

A former U.S. defense secretary from 1994 to 1997, 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’s also a powerful counterpoint to NATO’s current European strategy, which envisions nuclear weapons as a deterrent to war: The purpose of nukes “is to prevent major war, not to wage wars,” argues the Alliance’s magazine, NATO Review.

But as Perry points out, it’s 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 Soviet Union and the United States.

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 US bombers and alerting US missile silos to prepare to launch. But it turned out there was no Soviet attack – just an errant test tape.

Lest anyone think the incident was an anomaly, a little more than six months later NORAD computers erroneously announced that Soviet submarines had launched 220 missiles at the United States. 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.

A Worsening Climate

It’s been 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 packs 10 megatons.

What’s made today’s world more dangerous, however, aren’t just advances in the destructive power of nuclear weapons, but a series of actions by the last three US 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’re not “permanent” or large enough to be “significant.” It’s a linguistic slight of hand that doesn’t amuse Moscow.

Second was the 1999 U.S.-NATO intervention in the Yugoslav civil war and the forcible dismemberment of Serbia. It’s somewhat ironic that Russia has been accused of using force to “redraw borders in Europe” by annexing Crimea, which is exactly what NATO did to create Kosovo. The US 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 antimissile systems in Romania and Poland, as well as Japan and South Korea.

Last is the decision by the current 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.

Strategic Uncertainty

The Yugoslav War and NATO’s move east convinced Moscow that the U.S.-led alliance was surrounding Russia with potential adversaries, and the deployment of antimissile systems, or ABMs – supposedly aimed at Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons – was seen as a threat to Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

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 antimissile 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 US endorsed 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 making “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 US 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’s the lack of clear lines that makes 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 US 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.

Cold Wars of Choice

There is currently no evidence that Russia contemplates an attack on the Baltic states or countries like Poland. Given the enormous power of the United States, which offers a security guarantee to NATO members, such an undertaking would court national suicide.

Nor do Russia’s recent border conflicts suggest otherwise. 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 United States, 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 group Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity argued as much. “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,” the members insisted. “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 that followed. “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 ‘Unternehmen 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 – along with separate US forces in Bulgaria and Poland – there was an undercurrent of dissent. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for de-escalating the tensions with Russia and for considering Russian President Vladimir Putin a partner rather than an enemy.

Greece was not alone. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier 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 as well.

Rather than recognizing the growing discomfort of a number of NATO allies and that beefing up forces on Russia’s borders might be destabilizing, US Secretary 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 US 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 own missiles 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’s no wonder that Perry thinks that the chances of some catastrophe is a growing possibility.

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan can be read at http://www.dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and http://www.middleempireseries.wordpress.com.

Uranium mining: Health Dangers, Radioactive Tailings, and Nuclear Bombs

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Nuclear powere on July 16, 2016 at 6:15 am

In this three-part interview with a Danish woman, Canada’s foremost nuclear critic, Gordon Edwards of Montreal, explains in detail that uranium mining cannot be done without contributing to health dangers, radioactive waste and nuclear bombs. I invite you to read the full interview with one of the most knowledgeable students of nuclear matters anywhere.

Part 1

Anne: Canada is and always has been one of the biggest producers and exporters of uranium in the world. Nevertheless, three of Canada’s ten provinces have outlawed uranium mining, and health professionals have played an important role in each case. Could you please explain why these medical professionals are opposed to uranium mining?

Gordon Edwards: This is a great question. The answer hinges on the remarkable properties of uranium, and the unprecedented nature of the health dangers that it poses. In order to answer the question properly, a good deal of explanation is required.

For Edwards’ complete response see the following link.
Part 2

Anne: Danish experts Gert Asmund and Violeta Hansen from the Danish Center for Environment and Energy University of Aarhus have mentioned to me that Cluff Lake is a good example of uranium mining remediation. Do you agree?

Gordon Edwards: It is much too early to determine the long-term success or failure of remediation efforts at Cluff Lake. There has already been one spectacular failure at that site, and there may be more to come.

For Edwards’ complete response see the following link.

Part 3

Anne: Danish authorities say that they will prevent the uranium from Kvanefjeld to be used in nuclear weapons. Is this possible according to you?
Gordon Edwards: There are at least four different ways in which Greenland’s uranium can end up in nuclear weapons, as discussed below. Can the Danish Government successfully block all these avenues?

For Edwards’ complete response see the following link.

Nuclear Waste: Keep out for 100,000 years.

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Public Health on July 15, 2016 at 11:32 pm

Financial Times has published an article (July 14, 2016) on France’s effort to store nuclear waste underground in the eastern part of the country. Because the waste will remain highly radioactive for millennia they have commissioned artists to prepare signs and symbols that will inform future generations of the danger. The article (on line at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/db87c16c-4947-11e6-b387-64ab0a67014c.html#axzz4EOZHpVil ) is well worth reading for how well it discusses the problem of what to do with nuclear waste. The Nuclear Guardianship program of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center takes a wholly different approach regarding this exceedingly dangerous material. See Nuclear Guardianship Ethic on our web site (http://www.rockyflatsnuclearguardianship.org/#!about/c8de ).


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.


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

Rocky Flats Downwinders Health Survey

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear Guardianship, Plutonium, Public Health on June 27, 2016 at 7:45 am

If you lived within 10-Miles of Rocky Flats from 1952-1992, please take the Rocky Flats Downwinders Health Survey.


NATO Provocation of Russia: The Political Establishment’s Hubris in American Imperialism

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on June 27, 2016 at 3:21 am

This article by Ron Forthofer was published June 21, 2016,  in Countercurrents.org. Below it are other sources of information on this issue. Thanks to Carolyn Bninski of the RMPJC staff.

There are dangerous provocations along Russia’s western border that have received little or incredibly one-sided coverage by the U.S. media. Thus the U.S. public is not aware of the possibility of a major conflict between two nuclear-armed powers occurring due to an accident or misinterpretation. The genesis of this current situation goes back in ancient history to 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

After the fall, the U.S. along with the West German leader Helmut Kohl, pushed for the reunification of West and East Germany. The Soviet Union allowed reunification based on the promise made by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker (under President H.W. Bush). Baker said if the Soviets would allow reunification, that NATO would not expand “one inch” further east.

This promise was key for the Soviets who remembered previous devastating invasions by Western European nations. For example, during WWII estimates are that the Soviet Union lost over 26 million people, about 13% of its 1939 population. The Soviet Union was thus understandably concerned about a possibly hostile military group coming closer to its border.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the U.S. had unchallenged military power. Given this situation, the Washington establishment increased the risk of a new cold war and the possibility of an eventual war with Russia. President Bill Clinton started this process when, in violation of the promise made to the Soviets, he supported the eastward expansion of NATO.

In 1996, George Kennan, architect of the U.S. containment policy towards the Soviet Union after WWII, warned that NATO’s expansion into former Soviet territories would be a “strategic blunder of potentially epic proportions.” In 1998, Thomas Friedman solicited Kennan’s reaction to the Senate’s ratification of NATO’s eastward expansion. Kennan said: “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.”

Unfortunately, Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama failed to heed Kennan’s wisdom and continued NATO’s eastward expansion. Given Russia’s weakened state in the 1990s, the political establishment thought there was little risk. However, while the U.S. was destroying Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia rebuilt its military. Blinded by its hubris, the U.S. political establishment was slow to grasp the impact of the rebirth of a strong rival.

In April 2008 at a NATO summit in Bucharest, NATO temporarily postponed discussion of membership for Georgia and Ukraine. At the summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly opposed NATO membership for both of these nations on Russia’s border, viewing their membership as a security threat.

Reinforcing this point, later in 2008 Russia used military force to protect two breakaway provinces of Georgia with the goal of preventing Georgia from joining NATO. Despite Putin’s strong warning and military action, after the 2010 election of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the U.S. increased its support of Ukrainians who favored connections with the West.

Removing Yanukovych, who opposed NATO membership, was the first step. In February 2014 after months of nonviolent protests, Yanukovych reached an agreement, mediated by EU foreign ministers, with the nonviolent political opposition for early elections. However, immediately following this compromise, members of the far right used violence and intimidation to oust Yanukovych. George Friedman, CEO of Stratfor, a U.S. firm known as the ‘Shadow CIA’, said: “It really was the most blatant coup in history.”

In response, in late February and early March 2014, Russia deployed some of its forces already in Crimea under a treaty and took control, conducted a vote that showed overwhelming support for rejoining Russia, and then annexed Crimea. The results of a vote in this situation may be suspect. However, it is likely that a vote conducted without the presence of the Russian troops would have yielded similar results. The U.S. also alleges that Russia provided militarily support to the Ukrainians in breakaway areas who opposed the far-right coup. There was initially intense fighting in these breakaway areas. Even though there have been ceasefire agreements, attacks by the Kiev government continue today with neo-Nazis playing an important role in the violence against the coup opponents.

Since these events, the U.S. and NATO have raised the ante by placing additional weapons systems and planning on rotating thousands of additional troops in Eastern Europe. The U.S. and NATO claimed their actions were prompted by Russia’s actions in Crimea and the breakaway areas. In response to these moves, Russia announced plans to create three new divisions.

Posturing continues by both sides. During U.S. military exercises with Poland in the Baltic Sea in April 2016, two unarmed Russian jets came dangerously close to the USS Donald Cook, a guided missile destroyer. Adding to the tension, NATO recently concluded military exercises in the Baltic Sea area and also a massive military exercise with approximately 30,000 troops in Poland. The U.S. also has temporarily deployed a guided missile destroyer, the USS Porter, to the Black Sea for a brief tour there.

A mistake or misinterpretation could spark a conflict that no one wants. Given this possibility, why does the U.S. continue along this path when further expansion of NATO is not vital to U.S. security? Of particular importance and relevance, remember that this expansion is in violation of a U.S. promise not to expand NATO to the east. Since Russia views the expansion as a major threat to its security, Putin and Russia cannot back down. Amazingly, when we need statesmen, the geniuses in our political establishment think provoking another nuclear-armed power is a sane policy. If this establishment doesn’t face reality soon, Kennan’s worst fears could be realized.

Ron Forthofer, Ph.D. is retired Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston, Texas; former Green Party candidate for Congress and for Governor of Colorado. Email: rforthofer@comcast.net

Resources on the dangers of war with Russia 6/22/16:
American Committee for East-West Accord: http://eastwestaccord.com/ There are new postings every day.
Stephen Cohen video (6/8/16): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8VP0vb9mP0
Richard Sakwa video: https://newcoldwar.org/interview-richard-sakwa-nato-exercises-encircling-russia-u-s-might-sleepwalking-doomsday-scenario/
Video on Russian Response to NATO expansion: http://thesaker.is/foreign-policy-diary-russias-responses-to-nato-expansionism/
Stephen Cohen video (6/22/16): https://www.thenation.com/article/is-the-us-pursuing-a-rogue-policy-by-waging-undeclared-war-against-russia/
Article by Noam Chomsky: http://ecowatch.com/2016/06/13/doomsday-clock-noam-chomsky/2/
Testimony by former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jack Matlock: http://eastwestaccord.com/prepared-testimony-jack-f-matlock-jr-house-foreign-affairs-committee-june-14-2016

If You Value Life, Wake Up! — Paul Craig Roberts


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.



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