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Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age

Political Responsibility in the Nuclear Age

Richard Falk, David Krieger

Dear fellow citizens:

By their purported test of a hydrogen bomb early in 2016, North Korea reminded the world that nuclear dangers are not an abstraction, but a continuing menace that the governments and peoples of the world ignore at their peril. Even if the test were not of a hydrogen bomb but of a smaller atomic weapon, as many experts suggest, we are still reminded that we live in the Nuclear Age, an age in which accident, miscalculation, insanity or intention could lead to devastating nuclear catastrophe.

“… this planet, unique in all the universe in supporting life, …”

The authors are the good guys and I absolutely agree with their concerns but when I got to that I felt like I had carelessly driven my car off the road. I’ll speculate that the sentiment they were hinting at is that should we turn this planet into a radioactive cinder there is no place in the solar system or nearby solar systems to which to flee, if any survivors could even muster the technical competence or necessary energy to do so.

Absolutely right that the danger now is becoming greater than it has been in the recent past. Once again the neocons, those Dr. Strangeloves of the 21st century played a major role in ratcheting up the danger. In their manifesto of 2000 the PNAC identified the end of the cold war through the economic and bureaucratic exhaustion of the Soviet Union and the resultant possibility of a “peace dividend” as a threat to all of their cherished beliefs and stock portfolios.

In effect, the authors of Strategies for Rebuilding Americas Defenses just threw away like yesterday’s trash everything that had been learned and agreed upon after two devastating multi-continental wars. And then they engaged in a PR campaign to convince the smug beneficiaries on the winning continent (that would be the US) that their radical suicidal plans were the height of pragmatism. The protection and the promotion of “American values, beliefs, and way of life” were cited repeatedly as justifications for commandeering the national wealth and purpose.

And so what do we see of American values in this year of 2016? We see an American President, who won the Nobel Prize for not being George Bush, midwifing global trade deals which are the very antithesis of democratic rule and human dignity. We see a stable of wanna-be POTUS replacements preaching fire and brimstone with missiles and bombs in their darkening nightmare of guilt-driven fear. And in o-so-many unexceptional ways we see a powerful dark state working to choke off dissent, resistance, and change.

And so the MIC is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the rest of the nuclear-armed world. A conventional offensive military far outnumbering any other pursues the age-old quest for empire on the gambit that no sane people would initiate nuclear Armageddon over these global military transgressions. So much for nukes being a deterrent. They are what they will always be: the end of life as we know it just waiting for the right (wrong) individual to come along and press the buttons.


I’m all for abolishing nuclear weapons, but we need to abolish war first.

We humans come from the jungle, and are still living there when it comes to international relations. We can’t successfully eliminate nuclear weapons (or other potential horrors like bioweapons or nanoweapons that could be equally destructive to human life) without establishing a framework where different countries and peoples can work out their differences fairly and peacefully.

I recently read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Einstein and was impressed that Einstein was saying similar things 80 years ago. He believed that a world government was the only way to ensure a peaceful world. He also said “The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking.”

We need to start thinking of ourselves first as human beings and citizens of the planet, ahead of our nationality or ethnicity. I agree with the conservatives that the idea of world government is scary – so it has to be done wisely and with tons of checks and balances. But however scary it is, it’s not nearly as scary as the alternative.

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You are talking about the relatively short historical footprint of patriarchy and the hierarchical force-based structures it builds.

There were earlier societies that predated patriarchy that were not predicated on war. It’s important to grant them witness, otherwise, those who traffic in the frame that human “nature” is by nature violent foreclose on any arguments outside of those that purport that war is a natural part of the human condition.

The reason that the nuclear weapons threat is not spoken about is due to a sort of religious homage to Mars, god of war, that takes place on subliminal levels within any militaristic state. The U.S., since the demise of the former Soviet Union, developed into an unchecked military empire where MARS RULES.

This is what’s key, and its the 3rd rail in any discussion since no one is supposed to question the hegemonic presence of the military industrial complex:

“While ridding the world of nuclear weaponry is our primary goal, we are mindful that the institution of war is responsible for chaos and massive casualties, and that we must also challenge the militarist mentality if we are ever to enjoy enduring peace and security on our planet.”