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Almost Everything in “Dr. Strangelove” Was True November 13, 2014

Posted by rogerhollander in Art, Literature and Culture, Nuclear weapons/power, War.
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Roger’s note: If you are just getting over your Halloween frights, here is something that should really scare you.  Only in a world that is controlled by politicians who follow the dictates of generals and CEOs (as opposed to “the people.” which is what democracy is supposed to be about) could such a danger to the very existence of the biosphere and humankind be put in jeopardy.  Of course, when I refer to generals and CEOs you know that I mean the capitalist economic system that will doom us if we don’t do something about it.  I hope this does not cause you to lose too much sleep.

 

JANUARY 17, 2014

BY ERIC SCHLOSSER

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This month marks the fiftieth anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s black comedy about nuclear weapons, “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Released on January 29, 1964, the film caused a good deal of controversy. Its plot suggested that a mentally deranged American general could order a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, without consulting the President. One reviewer described the film as “dangerous … an evil thing about an evil thing.” Another compared it to Soviet propaganda. Although “Strangelove” was clearly a farce, with the comedian Peter Sellers playing three roles, it was criticized for being implausible. An expert at the Institute for Strategic Studies called the events in the film “impossible on a dozen counts.” A former Deputy Secretary of Defense dismissed the idea that someone could authorize the use of a nuclear weapon without the President’s approval: “Nothing, in fact, could be further from the truth.” (See a compendium of clips from the film.) When “Fail-Safe”—a Hollywood thriller with a similar plot, directed by Sidney Lumet—opened, later that year, it was criticized in much the same way. “The incidents in ‘Fail-Safe’ are deliberate lies!” General Curtis LeMay, the Air Force chief of staff, said. “Nothing like that could happen.” The first casualty of every war is the truth—and the Cold War was no exception to that dictum. Half a century after Kubrick’s mad general, Jack D. Ripper, launched a nuclear strike on the Soviets to defend the purity of “our precious bodily fluids” from Communist subversion, we now know that American officers did indeed have the ability to start a Third World War on their own. And despite the introduction of rigorous safeguards in the years since then, the risk of an accidental or unauthorized nuclear detonation hasn’t been completely eliminated.

The command and control of nuclear weapons has long been plagued by an “always/never” dilemma. The administrative and technological systems that are necessary to insure that nuclear weapons are always available for use in wartime may be quite different from those necessary to guarantee that such weapons can never be used, without proper authorization, in peacetime. During the nineteen-fifties and sixties, the “always” in American war planning was given far greater precedence than the “never.” Through two terms in office, beginning in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower struggled with this dilemma. He wanted to retain Presidential control of nuclear weapons while defending America and its allies from attack. But, in a crisis, those two goals might prove contradictory, raising all sorts of difficult questions. What if Soviet bombers were en route to the United States but the President somehow couldn’t be reached? What if Soviet tanks were rolling into West Germany but a communications breakdown prevented NATO officers from contacting the White House? What if the President were killed during a surprise attack on Washington, D.C., along with the rest of the nation’s civilian leadership? Who would order a nuclear retaliation then?

With great reluctance, Eisenhower agreed to let American officers use their nuclear weapons, in an emergency, if there were no time or no means to contact the President. Air Force pilots were allowed to fire their nuclear anti-aircraft rockets to shoot down Soviet bombers heading toward the United States. And about half a dozen high-level American commanders were allowed to use far more powerful nuclear weapons, without contacting the White House first, when their forces were under attack and “the urgency of time and circumstances clearly does not permit a specific decision by the President, or other person empowered to act in his stead.” Eisenhower worried that providing that sort of authorization in advance could make it possible for someone to do “something foolish down the chain of command” and start an all-out nuclear war. But the alternative—allowing an attack on the United States to go unanswered or NATO forces to be overrun—seemed a lot worse. Aware that his decision might create public unease about who really controlled America’s nuclear arsenal, Eisenhower insisted that his delegation of Presidential authority be kept secret. At a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he confessed to being “very fearful of having written papers on this matter.”

President John F. Kennedy was surprised to learn, just a few weeks after taking office, about this secret delegation of power. “A subordinate commander faced with a substantial military action,” Kennedy was told in a top-secret memo, “could start the thermonuclear holocaust on his own initiative if he could not reach you.” Kennedy and his national-security advisers were shocked not only by the wide latitude given to American officers but also by the loose custody of the roughly three thousand American nuclear weapons stored in Europe. Few of the weapons had locks on them. Anyone who got hold of them could detonate them. And there was little to prevent NATO officers from Turkey, Holland, Italy, Great Britain, and Germany from using them without the approval of the United States.
In December, 1960, fifteen members of Congress serving on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy had toured NATO bases to investigate how American nuclear weapons were being deployed. They found that the weapons—some of them about a hundred times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima—were routinely guarded, transported, and handled by foreign military personnel. American control of the weapons was practically nonexistent. Harold Agnew, a Los Alamos physicist who accompanied the group, was especially concerned to see German pilots sitting in German planes that were decorated with Iron Crosses—and carrying American atomic bombs. Agnew, in his own words, “nearly wet his pants” when he realized that a lone American sentry with a rifle was all that prevented someone from taking off in one of those planes and bombing the Soviet Union.

* * *
The Kennedy Administration soon decided to put locking devices inside NATO’s nuclear weapons. The coded electromechanical switches, known as “permissive action links” (PALs), would be placed on the arming lines. The weapons would be inoperable without the proper code—and that code would be shared with NATO allies only when the White House was prepared to fight the Soviets. The American military didn’t like the idea of these coded switches, fearing that mechanical devices installed to improve weapon safety would diminish weapon reliability. A top-secret State Department memo summarized the view of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1961: “all is well with the atomic stockpile program and there is no need for any changes.”

After a crash program to develop the new control technology, during the mid-nineteen-sixties, permissive action links were finally placed inside most of the nuclear weapons deployed by NATO forces. But Kennedy’s directive applied only to the NATO arsenal. For years, the Air Force and the Navy blocked attempts to add coded switches to the weapons solely in their custody. During a national emergency, they argued, the consequences of not receiving the proper code from the White House might be disastrous. And locked weapons might play into the hands of Communist saboteurs. “The very existence of the lock capability,” a top Air Force general claimed, “would create a fail-disable potential for knowledgeable agents to ‘dud’ the entire Minuteman [missile] force.” The Joint Chiefs thought that strict military discipline was the best safeguard against an unauthorized nuclear strike. A two-man rule was instituted to make it more difficult for someone to use a nuclear weapon without permission. And a new screening program, the Human Reliability Program, was created to stop people with emotional, psychological, and substance-abuse problems from gaining access to nuclear weapons.

Despite public assurances that everything was fully under control, in the winter of 1964, while “Dr. Strangelove” was playing in theatres and being condemned as Soviet propaganda, there was nothing to prevent an American bomber crew or missile launch crew from using their weapons against the Soviets. Kubrick had researched the subject for years, consulted experts, and worked closely with a former R.A.F. pilot, Peter George, on the screenplay of the film. George’s novel about the risk of accidental nuclear war, “Red Alert,” was the source for most of “Strangelove” ’s plot. Unbeknownst to both Kubrick and George, a top official at the Department of Defense had already sent a copy of “Red Alert” to every member of the Pentagon’s Scientific Advisory Committee for Ballistic Missiles. At the Pentagon, the book was taken seriously as a cautionary tale about what might go wrong. Even Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara privately worried that an accident, a mistake, or a rogue American officer could start a nuclear war.

Coded switches to prevent the unauthorized use of nuclear weapons were finally added to the control systems of American missiles and bombers in the early nineteen-seventies. The Air Force was not pleased, and considered the new security measures to be an insult, a lack of confidence in its personnel. Although the Air Force now denies this claim, according to more than one source I contacted, the code necessary to launch a missile was set to be the same at every Minuteman site: 00000000.

* * *
The early permissive action links were rudimentary. Placed in NATO weapons during the nineteen-sixties and known as Category A PALs, the switches relied on a split four-digit code, with ten thousand possible combinations. If the United States went to war, two people would be necessary to unlock a nuclear weapon, each of them provided with half the code. Category A PALs were useful mainly to delay unauthorized use, to buy time after a weapon had been taken or to thwart an individual psychotic hoping to cause a large explosion. A skilled technician could open a stolen weapon and unlock it within a few hours. Today’s Category D PALs, installed in the Air Force’s hydrogen bombs, are more sophisticated. They require a six-digit code, with a million possible combinations, and have a limited-try feature that disables a weapon when the wrong code is repeatedly entered.
The Air Force’s land-based Minuteman III missiles and the Navy’s submarine-based Trident II missiles now require an eight-digit code—which is no longer 00000000—in order to be launched. The Minuteman crews receive the code via underground cables or an aboveground radio antenna. Sending the launch code to submarines deep underwater presents a greater challenge. Trident submarines contain two safes. One holds the keys necessary to launch a missile; the other holds the combination to the safe with the keys; and the combination to the safe holding the combination must be transmitted to the sub by very-low-frequency or extremely-low-frequency radio. In a pinch, if Washington, D.C., has been destroyed and the launch code doesn’t arrive, the sub’s crew can open the safes with a blowtorch.

The security measures now used to control America’s nuclear weapons are a vast improvement over those of 1964. But, like all human endeavors, they are inherently flawed. The Department of Defense’s Personnel Reliability Program is supposed to keep people with serious emotional or psychological issues away from nuclear weapons—and yet two of the nation’s top nuclear commanders were recently removed from their posts. Neither appears to be the sort of calm, stable person you want with a finger on the button. In fact, their misbehavior seems straight out of “Strangelove.”

Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, the second-highest-ranking officer at the U.S. Strategic Command—the organization responsible for all of America’s nuclear forces—-was investigated last summer for allegedly using counterfeit gambling chips at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa. According to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, “a significant monetary amount” of counterfeit chips was involved. Giardina was relieved of his command on October 3, 2013. A few days later, Major General Michael Carey, the Air Force commander in charge of America’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, was fired for conduct “unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.” According to a report by the Inspector General of the Air Force, Carey had consumed too much alcohol during an official trip to Russia, behaved rudely toward Russian officers, spent time with “suspect” young foreign women in Moscow, loudly discussed sensitive information in a public hotel lounge there, and drunkenly pleaded to get onstage and sing with a Beatles cover band at La Cantina, a Mexican restaurant near Red Square. Despite his requests, the band wouldn’t let Carey onstage to sing or to play the guitar.

While drinking beer in the executive lounge at Moscow’s Marriott Aurora during that visit, General Carey made an admission with serious public-policy implications. He off-handedly told a delegation of U.S. national-security officials that his missile-launch officers have the “worst morale in the Air Force.” Recent events suggest that may be true. In the spring of 2013, nineteen launch officers at Minot Air Force base in North Dakota were decertified for violating safety rules and poor discipline. In August, 2013, the entire missile wing at Malmstrom Air Force base in Montana failed its safety inspection. Last week, the Air Force revealed that thirty-four launch officers at Malmstrom had been decertified for cheating on proficiency exams—and that at least three launch officers are being investigated for illegal drug use. The findings of a report by the RAND Corporation, leaked to the A.P., were equally disturbing. The study found that the rates of spousal abuse and court martials among Air Force personnel with nuclear responsibilities are much higher than those among people with other jobs in the Air Force. “We don’t care if things go properly,” a launch officer told RAND. “We just don’t want to get in trouble.”

The most unlikely and absurd plot element in “Strangelove” is the existence of a Soviet “Doomsday Machine.” The device would trigger itself, automatically, if the Soviet Union were attacked with nuclear weapons. It was meant to be the ultimate deterrent, a threat to destroy the world in order to prevent an American nuclear strike. But the failure of the Soviets to tell the United States about the contraption defeats its purpose and, at the end of the film, inadvertently causes a nuclear Armageddon. “The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost,” Dr. Strangelove, the President’s science adviser, explains to the Soviet Ambassador, “if you keep it a secret!”

A decade after the release of “Strangelove,” the Soviet Union began work on the Perimeter system—-a network of sensors and computers that could allow junior military officials to launch missiles without oversight from the Soviet leadership. Perhaps nobody at the Kremlin had seen the film. Completed in 1985, the system was known as the Dead Hand. Once it was activated, Perimeter would order the launch of long-range missiles at the United States if it detected nuclear detonations on Soviet soil and Soviet leaders couldn’t be reached. Like the Doomsday Machine in “Strangelove,” Perimeter was kept secret from the United States; its existence was not revealed until years after the Cold War ended.
In retrospect, Kubrick’s black comedy provided a far more accurate description of the dangers inherent in nuclear command-and-control systems than the ones that the American people got from the White House, the Pentagon, and the mainstream media.

“This is absolute madness, Ambassador,” President Merkin Muffley says in the film, after being told about the Soviets’ automated retaliatory system. “Why should you build such a thing?” Fifty years later, that question remains unanswered, and “Strangelove” seems all the more brilliant, bleak, and terrifyingly on the mark.

You can read Eric Schlosser’s guide to the long-secret documents that help explain the risks America took with its nuclear arsenal, and watch and read his deconstruction of clips from “Dr. Strangelove” and from a little-seen film about permissive action links.

Eric Schlosser is the author of “Command and Control.”

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Was Hiroshima Necessary? August 11, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in History, Nuclear weapons/power, War.
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 Roger’s note: The “official” justification for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that it saved countless thousands of lives by avoiding a full-scale invasion of Japan to end the war.  American soldiers heaved a sigh of relief when they saw the war was ended without further need for military action and the consequent loss of American lives.  The following article debunks this view of history.  From it one can only conclude that the bombing of these two civilian populated cities that had no strategic military value was an act of barbarism.  From Hiroshima through to Vietnam through to today’s predator drone missiles, we see the logical extension of the American experiment, whose lofty an oft cited humanitarian and democratic goals are belied by its origins in the genocide of the First Nations’ peoples and the forced enslavement of Africans.  And what do we see today?  The astute leaders of both political parties of the first and only nation to use atomic weaponry, a nation with stockpiles of nuclear weapons that could blow up the entire planet several times over — we see this so-called leader ship leading us into the possible holocaust of  nuclear war in the Middle East via the demonization of a country, Iran, which does not yet possess a single nuclear warhead.  A deadly irony.

 Why the Atomic Bombings Could Have Been Avoided

By Mark Weber

On August 6, 1945, the world dramatically entered the atomic age: without either warning or precedent, an American plane dropped a single nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The explosion utterly destroyed more than four square miles of the city center. About 90,000 people were killed immediately; another 40,000 were injured, many of whom died in protracted agony from radiation sickness. Three days later, a second atomic strike on the city of Nagasaki killed some 37,000 people and injured another 43,000. Together the two bombs eventually killed an estimated 200,000 Japanese civilians.

Between the two bombings, Soviet Russia joined the United States in war against Japan. Under strong US prodding, Stalin broke his regime’s 1941 non-aggression treaty with Tokyo. On the same day that Nagasaki was destroyed, Soviet troops began pouring into Manchuria, overwhelming Japanese forces there. Although Soviet participation did little or nothing to change the military outcome of the war, Moscow benefitted enormously from joining the conflict.

In a broadcast from Tokyo the next day, August 10, the Japanese government announced its readiness to accept the joint American-British “unconditional surrender” declaration of Potsdam, “with the understanding that the said declaration does not compromise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.”

A day later came the American reply, which included these words: “From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the State shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers.” Finally, on August 14, the Japanese formally accepted the provisions of the Potsdam declaration, and a “cease fire” was announced. On September 2, Japanese envoys signed the instrument of surrender aboard the US battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

A Beaten Country

Apart from the moral questions involved, were the atomic bombings militarily necessary? By any rational yardstick, they were not. Japan already had been defeated militarily by June 1945. Almost nothing was left of the once mighty Imperial Navy, and Japan’s air force had been all but totally destroyed. Against only token opposition, American war planes ranged at will over the country, and US bombers rained down devastation on her cities, steadily reducing them to rubble.

What was left of Japan’s factories and workshops struggled fitfully to turn out weapons and other goods from inadequate raw materials. (Oil supplies had not been available since April.) By July about a quarter of all the houses in Japan had been destroyed, and her transportation system was near collapse. Food had become so scarce that most Japanese were subsisting on a sub-starvation diet.

On the night of March 9-10, 1945, a wave of 300 American bombers struck Tokyo, killing 100,000 people. Dropping nearly 1,700 tons of bombs, the war planes ravaged much of the capital city, completely burning out 16 square miles and destroying a quarter of a million structures. A million residents were left homeless.

On May 23, eleven weeks later, came the greatest air raid of the Pacific War, when 520 giant B-29 “Superfortress” bombers unleashed 4,500 tons of incendiary bombs on the heart of the already battered Japanese capital. Generating gale-force winds, the exploding incendiaries obliterated Tokyo’s commercial center and railway yards, and consumed the Ginza entertainment district. Two days later, on May 25, a second strike of 502 “Superfortress” planes roared low over Tokyo, raining down some 4,000 tons of explosives. Together these two B-29 raids destroyed 56 square miles of the Japanese capital.

Even before the Hiroshima attack, American air force General Curtis LeMay boasted that American bombers were “driving them [Japanese] back to the stone age.” Henry H. (“Hap”) Arnold, commanding General of the Army air forces, declared in his 1949 memoirs: “It always appeared to us, atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.” This was confirmed by former Japanese prime minister Fumimaro Konoye, who said: “Fundamentally, the thing that brought about the determination to make peace was the prolonged bombing by the B-29s.”

Japan Seeks Peace

Months before the end of the war, Japan’s leaders recognized that defeat was inevitable. In April 1945 a new government headed by Kantaro Suzuki took office with the mission of ending the war. When Germany capitulated in early May, the Japanese understood that the British and Americans would now direct the full fury of their awesome military power exclusively against them.

American officials, having long since broken Japan’s secret codes, knew from intercepted messages that the country’s leaders were seeking to end the war on terms as favorable as possible. Details of these efforts were known from decoded secret communications between the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo and Japanese diplomats abroad.

In his 1965 study, Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam (pp. 107, 108), historian Gar Alperovitz writes:

Although Japanese peace feelers had been sent out as early as September 1944 (and [China’s] Chiang Kai-shek had been approached regarding surrender possibilities in December 1944), the real effort to end the war began in the spring of 1945. This effort stressed the role of the Soviet Union …

In mid-April [1945] the [US] Joint Intelligence Committee reported that Japanese leaders were looking for a way to modify the surrender terms to end the war. The State Department was convinced the Emperor was actively seeking a way to stop the fighting.

A Secret Memorandum

It was only after the war that the American public learned about Japan’s efforts to bring the conflict to an end. Chicago Tribune reporter Walter Trohan, for example, was obliged by wartime censorship to withhold for seven months one of the most important stories of the war.

In an article that finally appeared August 19, 1945, on the front pages of the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Times-Herald, Trohan revealed that on January 20, 1945, two days prior to his departure for the Yalta meeting with Stalin and Churchill, President Roosevelt received a 40-page memorandum from General Douglas MacArthur outlining five separate surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. (The complete text of Trohan’s article is in the Winter 1985-86 Journal, pp. 508-512.)

This memo showed that the Japanese were offering surrender terms virtually identical to the ones ultimately accepted by the Americans at the formal surrender ceremony on September 2 — that is, complete surrender of everything but the person of the Emperor. Specifically, the terms of these peace overtures included:

  • Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.
  • Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
  • Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.
  • Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.
  • Release of all prisoners of war and internees.
  • Surrender of designated war criminals.

Is this memorandum authentic? It was supposedly leaked to Trohan by Admiral William D. Leahy, presidential Chief of Staff. (See: M. Rothbard in A. Goddard, ed., Harry Elmer Barnes: Learned Crusader [1968], pp. 327f.) Historian Harry Elmer Barnes has related (in “Hiroshima: Assault on a Beaten Foe,” National Review, May 10, 1958):

The authenticity of the Trohan article was never challenged by the White House or the State Department, and for very good reason. After General MacArthur returned from Korea in 1951, his neighbor in the Waldorf Towers, former President Herbert Hoover, took the Trohan article to General MacArthur and the latter confirmed its accuracy in every detail and without qualification.

Peace Overtures

In April and May 1945, Japan made three attempts through neutral Sweden and Portugal to bring the war to a peaceful end. On April 7, acting Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu met with Swedish ambassador Widon Bagge in Tokyo, asking him “to ascertain what peace terms the United States and Britain had in mind.” But he emphasized that unconditional surrender was unacceptable, and that “the Emperor must not be touched.” Bagge relayed the message to the United States, but Secretary of State Stettinius told the US Ambassador in Sweden to “show no interest or take any initiative in pursuit of the matter.” Similar Japanese peace signals through Portugal, on May 7, and again through Sweden, on the 10th, proved similarly fruitless.

By mid-June, six members of Japan’s Supreme War Council had secretly charged Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo with the task of approaching Soviet Russia’s leaders “with a view to terminating the war if possible by September.” On June 22 the Emperor called a meeting of the Supreme War Council, which included the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the leading military figures. “We have heard enough of this determination of yours to fight to the last soldiers,” said Emperor Hirohito. “We wish that you, leaders of Japan, will strive now to study the ways and the means to conclude the war. In doing so, try not to be bound by the decisions you have made in the past.”

By early July the US had intercepted messages from Togo to the Japanese ambassador in Moscow, Naotake Sato, showing that the Emperor himself was taking a personal hand in the peace effort, and had directed that the Soviet Union be asked to help end the war. US officials also knew that the key obstacle to ending the war was American insistence on “unconditional surrender,” a demand that precluded any negotiations. The Japanese were willing to accept nearly everything, except turning over their semi-divine Emperor. Heir of a 2,600-year-old dynasty, Hirohito was regarded by his people as a “living god” who personified the nation. (Until the August 15 radio broadcast of his surrender announcement, the Japanese people had never heard his voice.) Japanese particularly feared that the Americans would humiliate the Emperor, and even execute him as a war criminal.

On July 12, Hirohito summoned Fumimaro Konoye, who had served as prime minister in 1940-41. Explaining that “it will be necessary to terminate the war without delay,” the Emperor said that he wished Konoye to secure peace with the Americans and British through the Soviets. As Prince Konoye later recalled, the Emperor instructed him “to secure peace at any price, notwithstanding its severity.”

The next day, July 13, Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo wired ambassador Naotake Sato in Moscow: “See [Soviet foreign minister] Molotov before his departure for Potsdam … Convey His Majesty’s strong desire to secure a termination of the war … Unconditional surrender is the only obstacle to peace …”

On July 17, another intercepted Japanese message revealed that although Japan’s leaders felt that the unconditional surrender formula involved an unacceptable dishonor, they were convinced that “the demands of the times” made Soviet mediation to terminate the war absolutely essential. Further diplomatic messages indicated that the only condition asked by the Japanese was preservation of “our form of government.” The only “difficult point,” a July 25 message disclosed, “is the … formality of unconditional surrender.”

Summarizing the messages between Togo and Sato, US naval intelligence said that Japan’s leaders, “though still balking at the term unconditional surrender,” recognized that the war was lost, and had reached the point where they have “no objection to the restoration of peace on the basis of the [1941] Atlantic Charter.” These messages, said Assistant Secretary of the Navy Lewis Strauss, “indeed stipulated only that the integrity of the Japanese Royal Family be preserved.”

Navy Secretary James Forrestal termed the intercepted messages “real evidence of a Japanese desire to get out of the war.” “With the interception of these messages,” notes historian Alperovitz (p. 177), “there could no longer be any real doubt as to the Japanese intentions; the maneuvers were overt and explicit and, most of all, official acts. Koichi Kido, Japan’s Lord Privy Seal and a close advisor to the Emperor, later affirmed: “Our decision to seek a way out of this war, was made in early June before any atomic bomb had been dropped and Russia had not entered the war. It was already our decision.”

In spite of this, on July 26 the leaders of the United States and Britain issued the Potsdam declaration, which included this grim ultimatum: “We call upon the government of Japan to proclaim now the unconditional surrender of all Japanese armed forces and to provide proper and adequate assurance of good faith in such action. The alternative for Japan is prompt and utter destruction.”

Commenting on this draconian either-or proclamation, British historian J.F.C. Fuller wrote: “Not a word was said about the Emperor, because it would be unacceptable to the propaganda-fed American masses.” (A Military History of the Western World [1987], p. 675.)

America’s leaders understood Japan’s desperate position: the Japanese were willing to end the war on any terms, as long as the Emperor was not molested. If the US leadership had not insisted on unconditional surrender — that is, if they had made clear a willingness to permit the Emperor to remain in place — the Japanese very likely would have surrendered immediately, thus saving many thousands of lives.

The sad irony is that, as it actually turned out, the American leaders decided anyway to retain the Emperor as a symbol of authority and continuity. They realized, correctly, that Hirohito was useful as a figurehead prop for their own occupation authority in postwar Japan.

Justifications

President Truman steadfastly defended his use of the atomic bomb, claiming that it “saved millions of lives” by bringing the war to a quick end. Justifying his decision, he went so far as to declare: “The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”

This was a preposterous statement. In fact, almost all of the victims were civilians, and the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (issued in 1946) stated in its official report: “Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as targets because of their concentration of activities and population.”

If the atomic bomb was dropped to impress the Japanese leaders with the immense destructive power of a new weapon, this could have been accomplished by deploying it on an isolated military base. It was not necessary to destroy a large city. And whatever the justification for the Hiroshima blast, it is much more difficult to defend the second bombing of Nagasaki.

All the same, most Americans accepted, and continue to accept, the official justifications for the bombings. Accustomed to crude propagandistic portrayals of the “Japs” as virtually subhuman beasts, most Americans in 1945 heartily welcomed any new weapon that would wipe out more of the detested Asians, and help avenge the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For the young Americans who were fighting the Japanese in bitter combat, the attitude was “Thank God for the atom bomb.” Almost to a man, they were grateful for a weapon whose deployment seemed to end the war and thus allow them to return home.

After the July 1943 firestorm destruction of Hamburg, the mid-February 1945 holocaust of Dresden, and the fire-bombings of Tokyo and other Japanese cities, America’s leaders — as US Army General Leslie Groves later commented — “were generally inured to the mass killing of civilians.” For President Harry Truman, the killing of tens of thousands of Japanese civilians was simply not a consideration in his decision to use the atom bomb.

Critical Voices

Amid the general clamor of enthusiasm, there were some who had grave misgivings. “We are the inheritors to the mantle of Genghis Khan,” wrote New York Times editorial writer Hanson Baldwin, “and of all those in history who have justified the use of utter ruthlessness in war.” Norman Thomas called Nagasaki “the greatest single atrocity of a very cruel war.” Joseph P. Kennedy, father of the President, was similarly appalled.

A leading voice of American Protestantism, Christian Century, strongly condemned the bombings. An editorial entitled “America’s Atomic Atrocity” in the issue of August 29, 1945, told readers:

The atomic bomb was used at a time when Japan’s navy was sunk, her air force virtually destroyed, her homeland surrounded, her supplies cut off, and our forces poised for the final stroke … Our leaders seem not to have weighed the moral considerations involved. No sooner was the bomb ready than it was rushed to the front and dropped on two helpless cities … The atomic bomb can fairly be said to have struck Christianity itself … The churches of America must dissociate themselves and their faith from this inhuman and reckless act of the American Government.

A leading American Catholic voice, Commonweal, took a similar view. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the magazine editorialized, “are names for American guilt and shame.”

Pope Pius XII likewise condemned the bombings, expressing a view in keeping with the traditional Roman Catholic position that “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man.” The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano commented in its August 7, 1945, issue: “This war provides a catastrophic conclusion. Incredibly this destructive weapon remains as a temptation for posterity, which, we know by bitter experience, learns so little from history.”

Authoritative Voices of Dissent

American leaders who were in a position to know the facts did not believe, either at the time or later, that the atomic bombings were needed to end the war.

When he was informed in mid-July 1945 by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson of the decision to use the atomic bomb, General Dwight Eisenhower was deeply troubled. He disclosed his strong reservations about using the new weapon in his 1963 memoir, The White House Years: Mandate for Change, 1953-1956 (pp. 312-313):

During his [Stimson’s] recitation of the relevant facts, I had been conscious of a feeling of depression and so I voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of “face.”

“The Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing … I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon,” Eisenhower said in 1963.

Shortly after “V-J Day,” the end of the Pacific war, Brig. General Bonnie Fellers summed up in a memo for General MacArthur: “Neither the atomic bombing nor the entry of the Soviet Union into the war forced Japan’s unconditional surrender. She was defeated before either these events took place.”

Similarly, Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, later commented:

It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan … The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

If the United States had been willing to wait, said Admiral Ernest King, US Chief of Naval Operations, “the effective naval blockade would, in the course of time, have starved the Japanese into submission through lack of oil, rice, medicines, and other essential materials.”

Leo Szilard, a Hungarian-born scientist who played a major role in the development of the atomic bomb, argued against its use. “Japan was essentially defeated,” he said, and “it would be wrong to attack its cities with atomic bombs as if atomic bombs were simply another military weapon.” In a 1960 magazine article, Szilard wrote: “If the Germans had dropped atomic bombs on cities instead of us, we would have defined the dropping of atomic bombs on cities as a war crime, and we would have sentenced the Germans who were guilty of this crime to death at Nuremberg and hanged them.”

US Strategic Bombing Survey Verdict

After studying this matter in great detail, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey rejected the notion that Japan gave up because of the atomic bombings. In its authoritative 1946 report, the Survey concluded:

The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs did not defeat Japan, nor by the testimony of the enemy leaders who ended the war did they persuade Japan to accept unconditional surrender. The Emperor, the Lord Privy Seal, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Navy Minister had decided as early as May of 1945 that the war should be ended even if it meant acceptance of defeat on allied terms …

The mission of the Suzuki government, appointed 7 April 1945, was to make peace. An appearance of negotiating for terms less onerous than unconditional surrender was maintained in order to contain the military and bureaucratic elements still determined on a final Bushido defense, and perhaps even more importantly to obtain freedom to create peace with a minimum of personal danger and internal obstruction. It seems clear, however, that in extremis the peacemakers would have peace, and peace on any terms. This was the gist of advice given to Hirohito by the Jushin in February, the declared conclusion of Kido in April, the underlying reason for Koiso’s fall in April, the specific injunction of the Emperor to Suzuki on becoming premier which was known to all members of his cabinet …

Negotiations for Russia to intercede began the forepart of May 1945 in both Tokyo and Moscow. Konoye, the intended emissary to the Soviets, stated to the Survey that while ostensibly he was to negotiate, he received direct and secret instructions from the Emperor to secure peace at any price, notwithstanding its severity …

It seems clear … that air supremacy and its later exploitation over Japan proper was the major factor which determined the timing of Japan’s surrender and obviated any need for invasion.

Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945 and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945 [the date of the planned American invasion], Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.

Historians’ Views

In a 1986 study, historian and journalist Edwin P. Hoyt nailed the “great myth, perpetuated by well-meaning people throughout the world,” that “the atomic bomb caused the surrender of Japan.” In Japan’s War: The Great Pacific Conflict (p. 420), he explained:

The fact is that as far as the Japanese militarists were concerned, the atomic bomb was just another weapon. The two atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were icing on the cake, and did not do as much damage as the firebombings of Japanese cities. The B-29 firebombing campaign had brought the destruction of 3,100,000 homes, leaving 15 million people homeless, and killing about a million of them. It was the ruthless firebombing, and Hirohito’s realization that if necessary the Allies would completely destroy Japan and kill every Japanese to achieve “unconditional surrender” that persuaded him to the decision to end the war. The atomic bomb is indeed a fearsome weapon, but it was not the cause of Japan’s surrender, even though the myth persists even to this day.

In a trenchant new book, The Decision to Drop the Atomic Bomb (Praeger, 1996), historian Dennis D. Wainstock concludes that the bombings were not only unnecessary, but were based on a vengeful policy that actually harmed American interests. He writes (pp. 124, 132):

… By April 1945, Japan’s leaders realized that the war was lost. Their main stumbling block to surrender was the United States’ insistence on unconditional surrender. They specifically needed to know whether the United States would allow Hirohito to remain on the throne. They feared that the United States would depose him, try him as a war criminal, or even execute him …

Unconditional surrender was a policy of revenge, and it hurt America’s national self-interest. It prolonged the war in both Europe and East Asia, and it helped to expand Soviet power in those areas.

General Douglas MacArthur, Commander of US Army forces in the Pacific, stated on numerous occasions before his death that the atomic bomb was completely unnecessary from a military point of view: “My staff was unanimous in believing that Japan was on the point of collapse and surrender.”

General Curtis LeMay, who had pioneered precision bombing of Germany and Japan (and who later headed the Strategic Air Command and served as Air Force chief of staff), put it most succinctly: “The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war.”


From The Journal of Historical Review, May-June 1997 (Vol. 16, No. 3), pages 4-11.]


 

Truman Lied, Hundreds of Thousands Died August 8, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in History, Nuclear weapons/power, Peace, War.
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Monday 8 August 2011
by: David Swanson, War Is A Crime                 | Op-Ed
www.truthout.org, August 8, 2011

On August 6, 1945, President Harry S Truman announced: “Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT  It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British ‘Grand Slam’ which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.”

When Truman lied to America that Hiroshima was a military base rather than a city full of civilians, people no doubt wanted to believe him. Who would want the shame of belonging to the nation that commits a whole new kind of atrocity? (Will naming lower Manhattan “ground zero” erase the guilt?)  And when we learned the truth, we wanted and still want desperately to believe that war is peace, that violence is salvation, that our government dropped nuclear bombs in order to save lives, or at least to save American lives.

We tell each other that the bombs shortened the war and saved more lives than the some 200,000 they took away. And yet, weeks before the first bomb was dropped, on July 13, 1945, Japan sent a telegram to the Soviet Union expressing its desire to surrender and end the war. The United States had broken Japan’s codes and read the telegram. Truman referred in his diary to “the telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace.” Truman had been informed through Swiss and Portuguese channels of Japanese peace overtures as early as three months before Hiroshima. Japan objected only to surrendering unconditionally and giving up its emperor, but the United States insisted on those terms until after the bombs fell, at which point it allowed Japan to keep its emperor.

Presidential advisor James Byrnes had told Truman that dropping the bombs would allow the United States to “dictate the terms of ending the war.” Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote in his diary that Byrnes was “most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in.” Truman wrote in his diary that the Soviets were preparing to march against Japan and “Fini Japs when that comes about.” Truman ordered the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th and another type of bomb, a plutonium bomb, which the military also wanted to test and demonstrate, on Nagasaki on August 9th. Also on August 9th, the Soviets attacked the Japanese. During the next two weeks, the Soviets killed 84,000 Japanese while losing 12,000 of their own soldiers, and the United States continued bombing Japan with non-nuclear weapons. Then the Japanese surrendered.

The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that,”… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”  One dissenter who had expressed this same view to the Secretary of War prior to the bombings was General Dwight Eisenhower. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral William D. Leahy agreed: “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

Whatever dropping the bombs might possibly have contributed to ending the war, it is curious that the approach of threatening to drop them, the approach used during a half-century of Cold War to follow, was never tried.  An explanation may perhaps be found in Truman’s comments suggesting the motive of revenge:

“Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense of obeying international law of warfare.”

Truman could not, incidentally, have chosen Tokyo as a target — not because it was a city, but because we had already reduced it to rubble.

The nuclear catastrophes may have been, not the ending of a World War, but the theatrical opening of the Cold War, aimed at sending a message to the Soviets. Many low and high ranking officials in the US military, including commanders in chief, have been tempted to nuke more cities ever since, beginning with Truman threatening to nuke China in 1950. The myth developed, in fact, that Eisenhower’s enthusiasm for nuking China led to the rapid conclusion of the Korean War. Belief in that myth led President Richard Nixon, decades later, to imagine he could end the Vietnam War by pretending to be crazy enough to use nuclear bombs. Even more disturbingly, he actually was crazy enough. “The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes,” Nixon said to Henry Kissinger in discussing options for Vietnam.

President George W. Bush oversaw the development of smaller nuclear weapons that might be used more readily, as well as much larger non-nuclear bombs, blurring the line between the two. President Barack Obama established in 2010 that the United States might strike first with nuclear weapons, but only against Iran or North Korea. The United States alleged, without evidence, that Iran was not complying with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), even though the clearest violation of that treaty is the United States’ own failure to work on disarmament and the United States’ Mutual Defense Agreement with the United Kingdom, by which the two countries share nuclear weapons in violation of Article 1 of the NPT, and even though the United States’ first strike nuclear weapons policy violates yet another treaty: the UN Charter.

Americans may never admit what was done in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but our country had been in some measure prepared for it. After Germany had invaded Poland, Britain and France had declared war on Germany.  Britain in 1940 had broken an agreement with Germany not to bomb civilians, before Germany retaliated in the same manner against England — although Germany had itself bombed Guernica, Spain, in 1937, and Warsaw, Poland, in 1939, and Japan meanwhile was bombing civilians in China. Then, for years, Britain and Germany had bombed each other’s cities before the United States joined in, bombing German and Japanese cities in a spree of destruction unlike anything ever previously witnessed. When we were firebombing Japanese cities, Life magazine printed a photo of a Japanese person burning to death and commented “This is the only way.”

By the time of the Vietnam War, such images were highly controversial. By the time of the 2003 War on Iraq, such images were not shown, just as enemy bodies were no longer counted. That development, arguably a form of progress, still leaves us far from the day when atrocities will be displayed with the caption “There has to be another way.”

Combating evil is what peace activists do. It is not what wars do. And it is not, at least not obviously, what motivates the masters of war, those who plan the wars and bring them into being. But it is tempting to think so. It is very noble to make brave sacrifices, even the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life, in order to end evil. It is perhaps even noble to use other people’s children to vicariously put an end to evil, which is all that most war supporters do.  It is righteous to become part of something bigger than oneself. It can be thrilling to revel in patriotism. It can be momentarily pleasurable I’m sure, if less righteous and noble, to indulge in hatred, racism, and other group prejudices. It’s nice to imagine that your group is superior to someone else’s. And the patriotism, racism, and other isms that divide you from the enemy can thrillingly unite you, for once, with all of your neighbors and compatriots across the now meaningless boundaries that usually hold sway.

If you are frustrated and angry, if you long to feel important, powerful, and dominating, if you crave the license to lash out in revenge either verbally or physically, you may cheer for a government that announces a vacation from morality and open permission to hate and to kill. You’ll notice that the most enthusiastic war supporters sometimes want nonviolent war opponents killed and tortured along with the vicious and dreaded enemy; the hatred is far more important than its object. If your religious beliefs tell you that war is good, then you’ve really gone big time. Now you’re part of God’s plan. You’ll live after death, and perhaps we’ll all be better off if you bring on the death of us all.

But simplistic beliefs in good and evil don’t match up well with the real world, no matter how many people share them unquestioningly. They do not make you a master of the universe. On the contrary, they place control of your fate in the hands of people cynically manipulating you with war lies.

And the hatred and bigotry don’t provide lasting satisfaction, but instead breed bitter resentment.

This is excerpted from “War Is A Lie”

David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie.”

War, Debt and the President August 3, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Economic Crisis, War.
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Published on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 by TruthDig.com

  by  Amy Goodman

President Barack Obama touted his debt ceiling deal Tuesday, saying, “We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have borne the biggest brunt of this recession.” Yet that is what he and his coterie of Wall Street advisers have done.

In the affairs of nations, Alexander Hamilton wrote in January 1790, “loans in times of public danger, especially from foreign war, are found an indispensable resource.” It was his first report as secretary of the treasury to the new Congress of the United States. The country had borrowed to fight the Revolutionary War, and Hamilton proposed a system of public debt to pay those loans.

“President Obama’s debt ceiling deal is widely considered a historic defeat for progressives, a successful attack on the New Deal and Great Society achievements of the past century.” (photo: U.S. Army / Staff Sgt. Brendan Stephens)

The history of the U.S. national debt is inexorably tied to its many wars. The resolution this week of the so-called debt ceiling crisis is no different. Not only did a compliant Congress agree to fund President George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with emergency appropriations; it did so with borrowed money, raising the debt ceiling 10 times since 2001 without quibbling.

So how did the Pentagon fare in the current budget battle? It looks like it did fine. Not to be confused with the soldiers and veterans who have fought these wars.

“This year is the 50th anniversary of [Dwight] Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech,” William Hartung of the Center for International Policy told me while the Senate assembled to vote on the debt ceiling bill. Speaking of the late general turned Republican U.S. president, Hartung said: “He talked about the need for a balanced economy, for a healthy population. Essentially, he’s to the left of Barack Obama on these issues.”

Michael Hudson, president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, explained the history of the debt ceiling’s connection to war:

“It was put in in 1917 during World War I, and the idea was to prevent President Wilson from committing even more American troops and money to war. In every country of Europe—England, France—the parliamentary control over the budget was introduced to stop ambitious kings or rulers from waging wars. So the whole purpose was to limit a government’s ability to run into debt for war, because that was the only reason that governments ran into debt.”

The Budget Control Act of 2011 assures drastic cuts to the U.S. social safety net. Congress will appoint a committee of 12, dubbed the “Super Congress,” evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, to identify $1.2 trillion in cuts by Thanksgiving. If the committee fails to meet that goal, sweeping, mandatory, across-the-board cuts are mandated. Social services would get cut, but so would the Pentagon.

Or would it? The Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus opposed the bill. Congressional Black Caucus Chair Emanuel Cleaver called it “a sugarcoated Satan sandwich.” For fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the discretionary funding approved is split between “security” and “nonsecurity” categories. “Nonsecurity” categories like food programs, housing, Medicare and Medicaid (the basis of any genuine national security) will most likely be cut. But the “security” budget will get hit equally hard, which Democrats suggest would be an incentive for Republicans to cooperate with the process.

The security category includes “Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the intelligence community [and] international affairs.” This sets up a dynamic where hawks will be trying to cut as much as possible from the State Department’s diplomatic corps, and foreign aid, in order to favor their patrons at the Pentagon and in the weapons industry.

Hartung explained that the contractors, in addition to having the support of Speaker of the House John Boehner, “had Buck McKeon, the head of the House Armed Services Committee, whose biggest contributor is Lockheed Martin, who’s got big military facilities in his district, [and] Randy Forbes, whose district is near the Newport News Shipbuilding complex, which builds attack submarines and aircraft carriers. They used their influence to get people on the inside, their allies in the House, to push their agenda.”

President Obama’s debt ceiling deal is widely considered a historic defeat for progressives, a successful attack on the New Deal and Great Society achievements of the past century. Congresswoman Donna Edwards, D-Md., summed up the disappointment, in which half the Democrats in the House voted against their president, tweeting: “Nada from million/billionaires; corp tax loopholes aplenty; only sacrifice from the poor/middle class? Shared sacrifice, balance? Really?”

The Project on Government Oversight says of the “Super Congress” that “the creation of the committee doesn’t come with many requirements for transparency.” Who will be the watchdog? With the 2012 election coming up, promising to be the most expensive ever, expect the committee’s deficit-reduction proposal, due by Thanksgiving and subject to an up-or-down vote, to have very little to give thanks for.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.

© 2011 Amy Goodman

Government Report: Rich White Men Are Most Likely to Survive Nuclear Blast December 30, 2010

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Monday 27 December 2010

by: Ira Chernus, AlterNet | Op-Ed

Government Report: Rich White Men Are Most Likely to Survive Nuclear Blast
(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: quinet, Department of Energy image)

Good news! You’ve got a pretty good chance of surviving a terrorist’s nuclear blast in your city — especially if you’re a rich white man. Women, ethnic minorities and lower socioeconomic classes are more likely to be “stricken by psychiatric disorders,” and once they start going crazy they’re less likely to survive.

That’s just one of the startling revelations in the new second edition of “Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation,” a 130-page report produced, thanks to your tax dollars, by the Obama administration’s National Security Staff Interagency Policy Coordination Subcommittee for Preparedness and Response to Radiological and Nuclear Threats. (I’m not making this up, honest.)

And there’s more good news. Even if you are not rich, white and male, a nuke detonated in a major U.S. city is “is more survivable than most people think.” That’s what “an official deeply involved in the planning” told the New York Times’ William Broad, that intrepid reporter of all things nuclear, who broke the story.

If you are a fan of Kafka or Alice in Wonderland, you might want to read the whole report for yourself (though first you’ll have to memorize the 50-plus acronyms it uses). For the rest of you, here are just a few of the more surreal tidbits:

If a terrorist detonates a nuclear weapon in your city, you’ll have “a few seconds” after seeing the flash “to take limited protective measures.” But “five seconds … is enough time for a person with the right information to seek basic shelter (e.g., duck and cover),” the authors assure us, although they admit that when the government promoted “duck and cover” during the Cold War era it left the public “skeptical of preparedness messages.” Are you skeptical yet?

You can get “the right information” from this report, stuff you might not have figured out on your own, like “Survivors should not seek shelter in buildings that are on fire.”

And there will be plenty of buildings on fire, especially in the MD (Moderate Damage) zone, estimated to be a half-mile to a mile from the blast point. (The SD [Severe Damage] zone, within a half-mile of ground zero, will be obliterated, so it gets little attention in this manual for emergency responders.) In the MD “fires fed by broken gas lines, ruptured fuel tanks, and other sources will be prevalent … a major threat to survivors” and to responders rushing to the rescue.

Nevertheless, “search and rescue missions should be practicable in the MD zone,” and “many casualties will survive.” The MD will be “the focus of early life-saving operations,” since that’s where survivors “will benefit most from urgent medical care.”

Responders apparently won’t be deterred by the fires, nor by the “elevated radiation levels, unstable buildings and other structures, downed power lines, ruptured gas lines, hazardous (perhaps airborne) chemicals, sharp metal objects, broken glass … substantial rubble and crashed and overturned vehicles in streets.”

“Passage of rescue vehicles [will be] difficult or impossible” in the MD. “It will take a concerted effort to get responder resources to keep pushing forward.” Their path will have to be cleared by “heavy equipment and debris removal capabilities.” Oh, and “radiation levels in the MD zone may be very high.” All in all, “responder units within one or two miles from ground zero may be compromised or completely nonfunctional” while thousands lie dying.

The responders will be moving in from the LD (Low Damage) zone, where the streets will be filled with broken glass, but anyone wounded by the flying glass will be ignored as long as they are “ambulatory.” Of course responders will face that pesky little problem of EMP (electromagnetic pulse): “Communications equipment (cell towers, etc.) electronics destroyed or disrupted, computer equipment electrical components destroyed, control systems electrical components destroyed, water and electrical system control components destroyed or disrupted, and other electronic devices damage.” Up to four miles from ground zero, “it may be days before communications capabilities are reestablished. Within this area, all communications capabilities will be destroyed or severely hindered.”

Yet the report is filled with detailed plans for “search and rescue missions” and “urgent medical care” somehow being carried out in the MD, all supposedly coordinated with impressive precision by “incident commanders,” because “delays in issuing and implementing recommendations (or orders) could result in a large number of unnecessary fatalities.” How they’ll get all those orders issued with no functioning communication system remains unexplained.

As the Citizen Corps Web site points out, “given the daytime population density of a large modern city, the number that would be hurt by prompt effects of the blast or threatened by fallout particles could be in the hundreds of thousands.” And it’s obvious that in the real world — as opposed to the report’s fantasy world — the vast majority would get no medical care and thus would die.

But wait. There is still more good news: “Response capabilities more than five miles away from ground zero are likely to be only nominally affected by blast and EMP and should be able to mobilize and respond, provided they are not within the path of dangerous fallout levels.” And the DF (Dangerous Fallout) zone will extend only a mere “10 – 20 miles” (though there will be a “larger contaminated area beyond the DF zone” too). What’s more, all the dangerous fallout will come down “within about 24 hours.” So the millions in that zone will be pretty safe if they quickly get inside the closest “robust shelter” and stay there for more than a day. (That includes survivors in the MD, apparently — if they can find any robust buildings that aren’t burning.)

Of course “effective decontamination” is required before entering a shelter. What’s “effective”? At one point, the report says that “simply brushing off outer garments will be sufficient to protect oneself and others.” But at other points the advice is quite different: “Remove clothes and shower … place your clothing in a plastic bag and seal or tie the bag … put on clean clothing, if available.”

No clean clothes (and probably no showers) in that handy shelter building? Don’t worry. All those naked folks can “assume that the dominant behavioral response will likely be … pro-social, altruistic behaviors.” Why, it might even be fun.

Sooner or later, “effective decontamination methods that are easiest to implement” will begin: vacuuming, fire hosing, steam cleaning, and the like. If that doesn’t work, the authorities will proceed to “sandblasting” and “road resurfacing.” As they say in Australia, no worries, mate.

To be fair, the report does admit there are some big problems to solve: “People will not be able to discern which shelters are more adequate than others.” Plus there’s “the natural instinct to run from danger” rather than duck into the nearest building. The answer is advance education, now: “Response planners should implement public messaging prior to the disaster.”

One good way to get the word out is to target “grade school students who can bring the information home … in the form of school calendars and book bags labeled with safety tips.” And parents should be informed about schools’ plans to keep their kids “sheltered-in-place” — even though (in bold letters) “procedures that separate children from parents will be unsuccessful.”

By the way, all this planning assumes only a 10-kiloton explosion, which puts “several hundred thousand people at risk of death” if they don’t get the word about shelter within a few minutes. Of course 10K is a mere firecracker in terms of today’s nuclear arsenals. But the study assumes terrorists won’t be able to manage anything bigger.

Why make such an assumption? I found a clue in my research on President Eisenhower’s approach to nuclear danger. Ike was determined that in case of a nuclear attack the U.S. should be prepared for “digging ourselves out of ashes, starting again,” and winning a nuclear war. “If we assumed too much damage,” he told subordinates, “there would be little point in planning.” So he directed civil defense planners to keep their “assumptions as to the extent of damage within limits which provide a basis for feasible planning,” rather than dealing with what would really happen. Maybe the same unreality prevails in the Obama administration?

Today’s planners certainly sound a lot like Eisenhower, who wanted to teach Americans to be “resolute survivors… a concerted national effort at patriotic renewal and spiritual advance.” The big problem, in his view, was “how you get people to face such a possibility without getting hysterical.”

In 2010, the head of FEMA told the Times’ William Broad: “We have to get past the mental block that says it’s too terrible to think about. … We have to be ready to deal with it.” The director for preparedness policy at the National Security Council declared that the administration wants “to enhance national resilience — to withstand disruption, adapt to change and rapidly recover.”

Broad seems eager to promote the upbeat message: “The big surprise was how taking shelter for as little as several hours made a huge difference in survival rates. ‘This has been a game changer,’ Brooke Buddemeier, a Livermore health physicist, told a Los Angeles conference.” If everyone living a mile or more from ground zero of an attack took shelter “at the core of a big office building or in an underground garage, ‘We’d have no significant exposures,’ Mr. Buddemeier told the conference, and thus virtually no casualties from fallout.”

Of course they’d actually have to stay sheltered for at least 24 hours and maybe “several days,” according to the report — without food, many bleeding from the flying glass, some blinded from seeing the flash. Then there would be all those women, ethnic minorities, and lower socioeconomic folks who would be going crazy. Oh, and did I mention that “many people will be relocated for months to years at great distances downwind?” The report mentions it only very incidentally. No worries, mate.

Reading this report reminded me of my days doing research in the Eisenhower Library, trying to master the art of laughing and crying at the same time. The tragedy of Eisenhower was that, as he created an image of a president pursuing peace, he blocked possibilities for disarmament and Cold War reconciliation at every turn. Instead he expanded the nuclearized military-industrial complex (and then on his last day in office fooled history into thinking he opposed it) while making fantasy plans for surviving and winning a nuclear war.

Now the Obama administration wants us to learn to accept the prospect of a major American city destroyed. Its report never even mentions the possibility of averting disaster by changing the U.S. policies that enrage people, whether abroad or at home. Maybe the administration has another interagency task force working on that problem.

But I doubt it. They would have to treat those who dream of using nukes as monstrous people who may nonetheless have rational grievances worth paying attention to. Remember that our own government has reams of plans to use nukes in the worst-case scenario if its grievances are ignored. But the fundamental principle of U.S. foreign policy since World War II has been to divide all humanity into two groups: people like us, the good guys, who are by definition rational even when planning to use, or actually using, nuclear weapons; and the bad guys, the irrational evildoers bent on wreaking destruction for the sake of destruction. In that scenario, there’s no point in even thinking about the bad guys’ motivating grievances, much less trying to address them constructively.

No administration can even hint at challenging that principle and hope to get its leader re-elected. Politically it’s so much safer just to spread the good news that a nuke in your city is more survivable than you thought — especially if you’re a rich white man.

Ira Chernus is professor of religious studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and author of “The Real Eisenhower. Read more of his writing on his blog: http://chernus.wordpress.com

Just Don’t Call It “Defense” May 7, 2010

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Friday 07 May 2010

by: John Lamperti, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

photo
(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: The U.S. Army, m.a.r.c., NedraI)

The Pentagon “base budget” request for fiscal year 2011 (beginning on October 1) calls for about $549 billion, an increase of $18 billion over the appropriation for the current fiscal year. That’s nowhere near the whole story. The administration is also requesting about $160 billion for “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO) that goes to pay for wars and occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. There’s also $25 billion or more in military spending outside the “Department of Defense,” much of that for nuclear weapons included in the Department of Energy’s budget. (This $25 billion could be much larger, depending on what is included.) The grand total – and it is grand – comes to at least $734 billion. There is an additional $33 billion “emergency supplemental” appropriation to pay for the Afghanistan escalation; it’s said to cost $1 million to maintain one soldier there for a year. That $33 billion would be counted as part of FY 2010 spending, and, of course, there may be a supplemental in 2011 as well. The total has more than doubled in the last decade and continues to rise.

How can we understand such numbers? It’s usual to consider how many schools, clinics, or other necessary things could be built with some of that money, how many teachers and doctors could be paid or hungry children fed. If that military money were spent for ordinary, useful things it could go a very long way. For example, food stamps are this country’s most important anti-hunger program, and the need for them has jumped during the economic crisis. An all-time high of almost 40 million people, about one of every eight Americans, are now receiving this form of help, half of them are children, and a third are elderly or disabled. The food stamps program cost $56 billion in FY 2009 (it’s somewhat more this year), less than one tenth of the military’s base budget. Food stamps are responsible for making severe hunger rare in America, and surely that’s a far greater contribution to “homeland security” than the occupation of Iraq.

Another example: A UN report several years ago called on the United States and other rich nations to spend more on overseas development assistance in order to meet their commitment to cut extreme global poverty in half over ten years. The amount of money needed for that goal, from all the developed world together, would have been $48 billion per year – again less than one tenth of annual US military spending.

There is another cost, the effect on global climate and resources. The United States military is a huge source of pollution and environmental destruction. This country, with about 5 percent of the world’s population, consumes some 25 percent of its oil. Somewhere around 2 percent of that oil, some 400,000 barrels every day, is burned by the military. About 70 percent of that is in the form of jet fuel, around 14 percent of the nation’s total. Fuel efficiency does not rank high among the design criteria for new tanks or jet fighters.

Military spending is always a tragedy of lost opportunities. In the words of former President Dwight Eisenhower, the great general of World War II, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.”

Even so, that can’t be the last word. If devoting so many resources to the US armed forces were really necessary to preserve our safety and independence – to defend our freedom – this wealthy nation would have to bear the burden. Is that the case? Another comparison, the international perspective, suggests a very different answer.

In 2003, the United States was preparing to invade Iraq. To justify that war, the American people and Congress were told that Iraq was a serious threat because of its powerful military machine and its “weapons of mass destruction.” Was that ever credible? According to the CIA’s World Factbook, Iraq’s military spending was then about $1.3 billion per year, roughly 300 times less the US spent on its military! If they could threaten us with such a small military budget, the Iraqi soldiers must have been supermen – or else the vast US spending was largely wasted. Of course, everyone now knows that there was no military threat from Iraq.

Iran and North Korea were the other two members of Bush’s ridiculous “axis of evil,” and the threat posed by Iran, which might some day have a nuclear weapon, has been much in the spotlight of late. How do these countries stack up today as military powers? Again, according to the CIA, Iran now spends about $22 billion on its armed forces. North Korea is secretive as to its military budget and the Factbook declines to speculate. It does peg North Korea’s entire economy (GDP) at around $40 billion. South Korea, the only nation that might fear aggression from the North, spends almost that much just on its armed forces. Military spending represents only 2.7 percent of South Korea’s GDP, leaving room for increases in an emergency. South Korea, of course, is a firm US ally, and nearly 30,000 US troops are still stationed there. Perhaps, North Korea feels a little threatened itself.

Some see a potential danger in Cuba, “only 90 miles off our shores” and, understandably, not friendly to the US government. But Cuba spends a smaller percentage of its GDP on defense than does the United States, amounting to about $4.2 billion dollars. In Cuba’s case, using the word “defense” is probably justified.

The more compelling military comparison, of course, is with bigger countries. Some of the world’s larger armed forces, such as those of Great Britain, France, Germany and even Russia, are relatively easy to assess and their budgets are comparable to one tenth of ours; the CIA’s estimates for their military spending are $51.6 billion, $55 billion, $44 billion and $82.5 billion, respectively. Of course, the first three are US allies, and Russia is no longer considered a dangerous enemy. Evaluating the military budget of China is much harder and estimates differ widely. China’s official total, considered by all outsiders to be too low, is $78 billion. The CIA puts it almost five times higher, at $378 billion. Others, including the World Bank, give far lower estimates ranging from 1 and one-half to 3 times the official figure. However, there is general agreement that China’s military spending has been rising during recent years, but that its spending and capabilities remain very far below those of the United States. It is hard to imagine China becoming an actual military threat to this country.

The CIA’s Factbook and the World Bank estimate that the entire world spends around one and a half trillion dollars ($1,500,000,000,000) per year on weapons and war, and the United States alone is responsible for roughly half of that incredible and shameful figure. The money we spend is not for the “defense” of this country against any conceivable attacker, should one exist. Much of it maintains and even enlarges forces designed for the former cold war, when the USSR was considered a threatening superpower. Some pays for the 750 to 800 US military bases overseas, located in at least 40 countries. A great deal of the total buys what the Pentagon calls “power projection forces,”‘ such as aircraft carrier battle groups. (The US Navy operates 11 large carriers, all nuclear powered. No other country has any comparable ships.) And a lot is wasteful “pork,” spent for unneeded or unworkable – but very profitable – weapons systems like the untested anti-missile defenses in Alaska.

Why do we spend so much, year after year, decades after the end of the cold war? Part of the answer lies in interservice rivalry and institutional inertia. The culture of militarism, and with it the assumption that US interests must be defended worldwide, has become self-perpetuating. Moreover, there is the great political power of the many industries that profit from maintaining, enlarging and operating our military system; together they form a major part of the US economy. It was again President Dwight Eisenhower who famously warned, “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military/industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Today, that “misplaced power” is not “potential,” but an all too present reality.

Probably, most Americans believe that the United States should continue to maintain the most powerful military forces of any nation in the world. That should be enough for our defense! But if the benchmark for US military power were merely to remain number one, two-thirds of current spending could be converted to peaceful purposes. The US military institution is not a “defense” force, nor are the hundreds of billions it costs in “defense” spending. It is simply not accurate to use such terms; this is an institution and a budget for world domination. It will be very difficult to change that reality.


John Lamperti is a Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Dartmouth College. He is the author of several books on the theory of probability and on random processes. Since 1985 one of his main interests has been Central America and what the United States has been doing there. He is the author of “Enrique Alvarez Cordova: Life of a Salvadoran Revolutionary and Gentleman” (MacFarland, 2006).

“I Like Ike:” Eisenhower’s “Cross of Iron” Speech December 14, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in History, Peace, War.
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(Roger’s Note: I have posted below Dwight D. Eisenhower’s famous “Cross of Iron” Speech.  Eisenhower was an enigmatic figure.  A Republican President of the 1950s, known more for his affection for the golf course than for managing the presidency.  His era was the Dulles era in foreign policy, one of post-war Cold War entrenchment.  Yet, Eisenhower, World War II war hero, had a side to him that goes beyond the surface image of a complacent Republican.  He opposed the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  He nixed the plan of his Secretary of State, the notorious anti-Communist war-hawk John Foster Dulles, who wanted to nuke the Vietnamese to prevent the defeat of the French army at Dien Bien Phu.  In his classic Farewell Address, he warned the nation against the dangers of the “military-industrial complex.”

In reading the “Cross of Iron” speech one needs to take the Cold War anti-Soviet rhetoric with a grain of salt.  I have highlighted in bold some of the phrases he used that can only be considered to be of a humanitarian nature, and I ask you to compare and contrast them to the policies and rhetoric not only of the predatory Bush era, but to that of the current pseudo-liberal Obama regime.  The speech was given only months after the death of the Soviet dictator Stalin and was an appeal to the new Soviet leadership to take a new direction.  Although the speech is full of  typical American jingoism, arrogance and self-justification, I think it can be inspirational, if not instructive, to look at some of Eisenhower’s rhetoric that never would get past the censors, for example, who would review an Obama speech before it was approved for delivery — the military-industrial complex simply wouldn’t allow it.)

Address by President Dwight D. Eisenhower “The Chance for Peace” delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16,1953.

In this spring of 1953 the free world weighs one question above all others: the chance for a just peace for all peoples.

To weigh this chance is to summon instantly to mind another recent moment of great decision. It came with that yet more hopeful spring of 1945, bright with the promise of victory and of freedom. The hope of all just men in that moment too was a just and lasting peace.

The 8 years that have passed have seen that hope waver, grow dim, and almost die. And the shadow of fear again has darkly lengthened across the world.

Today the hope of free men remains stubborn and brave, but it is sternly disciplined by experience. It shuns not only all crude counsel of despair but also the self-deceit of easy illusion. It weighs the chance for peace with sure, clear knowledge of what happened to the vain hope of 1945.

In that spring of victory the soldiers of the Western Allies met the soldiers of Russia in the center of Europe. They were triumphant comrades in arms. Their peoples shared the joyous prospect of building, in honor of their dead, the only fitting monument-an age of just peace. All these war-weary peoples shared too this concrete, decent purpose: to guard vigilantly against the domination ever again of any part of the world by a single, unbridled aggressive power.

This common purpose lasted an instant and perished. The nations of the world divided to follow two distinct roads.

The United States and our valued friends, the other free nations, chose one road.

The leaders of the Soviet Union chose another.

The way chosen by the United States was plainly marked by a few clear precepts, which govern its conduct in world affairs.

First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

Second: No nation’s security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only ineffective cooperation with fellow-nations.

Third: Any nation’s right to form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

Fourth: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

And fifth: A nation’s hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.

In the light of these principles the citizens of the United States defined the way they proposed to follow, through the aftermath of war, toward true peace.

This way was faithful to the spirit that inspired the United Nations: to prohibit strife, to relieve tensions, to banish fears. This way was to control and to reduce armaments. This way was to allow all nations to devote their energies and resources to the great and good tasks of healing the war’s wounds, of clothing and feeding and housing the needy, of perfecting a just political life, of enjoying the fruits of their own free toil.

The Soviet government held a vastly different vision of the future.

In the world of its design, security was to be found, not in mutual trust and mutual aid but in force: huge armies, subversion, rule of neighbor nations. The goal was power superiority at all costs. Security was to be sought by denying it to all others.

The result has been tragic for the world and, for the Soviet Union, it has also been ironic.

The amassing of the Soviet power alerted free nations to a new danger of aggression. It compelled them in self-defense to spend unprecedented money and energy for armaments. It forced them to develop weapons of war now capable of inflicting instant and terrible punishment upon any aggressor.

It instilled in the free nations-and let none doubt this-the unshakable conviction that, as long as there persists a threat to freedom, they must, at any cost, remain armed, strong, and ready for the risk of war.

It inspired them-and let none doubt this-to attain a unity of purpose and will beyond the power of propaganda or pressure to break, now or ever.

There remained, however, one thing essentially unchanged and unaffected by Soviet conduct: the readiness of the free nations to welcome sincerely any genuine evidence of peaceful purpose enabling all peoples again to resume their common quest of just peace.

The free nations, most solemnly and repeatedly, have assured the Soviet Union that their firm association has never had any aggressive purpose whatsoever. Soviet leaders, however, have seemed to persuade themselves, or tried to persuade their people, otherwise.

And so it has come to pass that the Soviet Union itself has shared and suffered the very fears it has fostered in the rest of the world.

This has been the way of life forged by 8 years of fear and force.

What can the world, or any nation in it, hope for if no turning is found on this dread road?

The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated.

The worst is atomic war.

The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealthand the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

These plain and cruel truths define the peril and point the hope that come with this spring of 1953.

This is one of those times in the affairs of nations when the gravest choices must be made, if there is to be a turning toward a just and lasting peace.

It is a moment that calls upon the governments of the world to speak their intentions with simplicity and with honest.

It calls upon them to answer the questions that stirs the hearts of all sane men: is there no other way the world may live?

The world knows that an era ended with the death of Joseph Stalin. The extraordinary 30-year span of his rule saw the Soviet Empire expand to reach from the Baltic Sea to the Sea of Japan, finally to dominate 800 million souls.

The Soviet system shaped by Stalin and his predecessors was born of one World War. It survived the stubborn and often amazing courage of second World War. It has lived to threaten a third.

Now, a new leadership has assumed power in the Soviet Union. It links to the past, however strong, cannot bind it completely. Its future is, in great part, its own to make.

This new leadership confronts a free world aroused, as rarely in its history, by the will to stay free.

This free world knows, out of bitter wisdom of experience, that vigilance and sacrifice are the price of liberty.

It knows that the defense of Western Europe imperatively demands the unity of purpose and action made possible by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, embracing a European Defense Community.

It knows that Western Germany deserves to be a free and equal partner in this community and that this, for Germany, is the only safe way to full, final unity.

It knows that aggression in Korea and in southeast Asia are threats to the whole free community to be met by united action.

This is the kind of free world which the new Soviet leadership confront. It is a world that demands and expects the fullest respect of its rights and interests. It is a world that will always accord the same respect to all others.

So the new Soviet leadership now has a precious opportunity to awaken, with the rest of the world, to the point of peril reached and to help turn the tide of history.

Will it do this?

We do not yet know. Recent statements and gestures of Soviet leaders give some evidence that they may recognize this critical moment.

We welcome every honest act of peace.

We care nothing for mere rhetoric.

We are only for sincerity of peaceful purpose attested by deeds. The opportunities for such deeds are many. The performance of a great number of them waits upon no complex protocol but upon the simple will to do them. Even a few such clear and specific acts, such as the Soviet Union’s signature upon the Austrian treaty or its release of thousands of prisoners still held from World War II, would be impressive signs of sincere intent. They would carry a power of persuasion not to be matched by any amount of oratory.

This we do know: a world that begins to witness the rebirth of trust among nations can find its way to a peace that is neither partial nor punitive.

With all who will work in good faith toward such a peace, we are ready, with renewed resolve, to strive to redeem the near-lost hopes of our day.

The first great step along this way must be the conclusion of an honorable armistice in Korea.

This means the immediate cessation of hostilities and the prompt initiation of political discussions leading to the holding of free elections in a united Korea.

It should mean, no less importantly, an end to the direct and indirect attacks upon the security of Indochina and Malaya. For any armistice in Korea that merely released aggressive armies to attack elsewhere would be fraud.

We seek, throughout Asia as throughout the world, a peace that is true and total.

Out of this can grow a still wider task-the achieving of just political settlements for the otherserious and specific issues between the free world and the Soviet Union.

None of these issues, great or small, is insoluble-given only the will to respect the rights of all nations.

Again we say: the United States is ready to assume its just part.

We have already done all within our power to speed conclusion of the treaty with Austria, which will free that country from economic exploitation and from occupation by foreign troops.

We are ready not only to press forward with the present plans for closer unity of the nations of Western Europe by also, upon that foundation, to strive to foster a broader European community, conducive to the free movement of persons, of trade, and of ideas.

This community would include a free and united Germany, with a government based upon free and secret elections.

This free community and the full independence of the East European nations could mean the end of present unnatural division of Europe.

As progress in all these areas strengthens world trust, we could proceed concurrently with the next great work-the reduction of the burden of armaments now weighing upon the world. To this end we would welcome and enter into the most solemn agreements. These could properly include:

The limitation, by absolute numbers or by an agreed international ratio, of the sizes of the military and security forces of all nations.
A commitment by all nations to set an agreed limit upon that proportion of total production of certain strategic materials to be devoted to military purposes.
International control of atomic energy to promote its use for peaceful purposes only and to insure the prohibition of atomic weapons.
A limitation or prohibition of other categories of weapons of great destructiveness.
The enforcement of all these agreed limitations and prohibitions by adequate safe-guards, including a practical system of inspection under the United Nations.
The details of such disarmament programs are manifestly critical and complex. Neither the United States nor any other nation can properly claim to possess a perfect, immutable formula. But the formula matters less than the faith-the good faith without which no formula can work justly and effectively.

The fruit of success in all these tasks would present the world with the greatest task, and the greatest opportunity, of all. It is this: the dedication of the energies, the resources, and the imaginations of all peaceful nations to a new kind of war. This would be a declared total war, not upon any human enemy but upon the brute forces of poverty and need.

The peace we seek, founded upon decent trust and cooperative effort among nations, can be fortified, not by weapons of war but by wheat and by cotton, by milk and by wool, by meat and by timber and by rice. These are words that translate into every language on earth. These are needs that challenge this world in arms.

This idea of a just and peaceful world is not new or strange to us. It inspired the people of the United States to initiate the European Recovery Program in 1947. That program was prepared to treat, with like and equal concern, the needs of Eastern and Western Europe.

We are prepared to reaffirm, with the most concrete evidence, our readiness to help build a world in which all peoples can be productive and prosperous.

This Government is ready to ask its people to join with all nations in devoting a substantial percentage of the savings achieved by disarmament to a fund for world aid and reconstruction. The purposes of this great work would be to help other peoples to develop the underdeveloped areas of the world, to stimulate profitability and fair world trade, to assist all peoples to know the blessings of productive freedom.

The monuments to this new kind of war would be these: roads and schools, hospitals and homes, food and health.

We are ready, in short, to dedicate our strength to serving the needs, rather than the fears, of the world.

We are ready, by these and all such actions, to make of the United Nations an institution that can effectively guard the peace and security of all peoples.

I know of nothing I can add to make plainer the sincere purpose of the United States.

I know of no course, other than that marked by these and similar actions, that can be called the highway of peace.

I know of only one question upon which progress waits. It is this:

What is the Soviet Union ready to do?

Whatever the answer be, let it be plainly spoken.

Again we say: the hunger for peace is too great, the hour in history too late, for any government to mock men’s hopes with mere words and promises and gestures.

The test of truth is simple. There can be no persuasion but by deeds.

Is the new leadership of Soviet Union prepared to use its decisive influence in the Communist world, including control of the flow of arms, to bring not merely an expedient truce in Korea but genuine peace in Asia?

Is it prepared to allow other nations, including those of Eastern Europe, the free choice of their own forms of government?

Is it prepared to act in concert with others upon serious disarmament proposals to be made firmly effective by stringent U.N. control and inspection?

If not, where then is the concrete evidence of the Soviet Union’s concern for peace?

The test is clear.

There is, before all peoples, a precious chance to turn the black tide of events. If we failed to strive to seize this chance, the judgment of future ages would be harsh and just.

If we strive but fail and the world remains armed against itself, it at least need be divided no longer in its clear knowledge of who has condemned humankind to this fate.

The purpose of the United States, in stating these proposals, is simple and clear.

These proposals spring, without ulterior purpose or political passion, from our calm conviction that the hunger for peace is in the hearts of all peoples–those of Russia and of China no less than of our own country.

They conform to our firm faith that God created men to enjoy, not destroy, the fruits of the earth and of their own toil.

They aspire to this: the lifting, from the backs and from the hearts of men, of their burden of arms and of fears, so that they may find before them a golden age of freedom and of peace.

Note: The President’s address was broadcast over television and radio from the Statler Hotel in Washington.

Address by President Dwight D. Eisenhower “The Chance for Peace” delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16,1953.

‘Just War’ Is Just Words December 12, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Published on Saturday, December 12, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

by Ralph Nader

President Obama, the Afghan war escalator, received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, and proceeded to deliver his acceptance speech outlining the three criteria for a “just war” which he himself is violating.The criteria are in this words: “If it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.”

After 9/11, warmonger George W. Bush could have used the international law doctrine of hot pursuit with a multilateral force of commandoes, linguists and bribers to pursue the backers of the attackers. Instead, he blew the country of Afghanistan apart and started occupying it, joined forces with a rump regime and launched a divide-and-rule tribal strategy that set the stage for a low-tiered civil war.

Eight years later, Obama is expanding the war within a graft-ridden government in Kabul, fraudulent elections, an Afghan army of northern tribesmen loathed by the southern and south-eastern tribes of 40 million Pashtuns, an impoverished economy whose largest crop by far is a narcotic, and a devastated population embittered by foreign occupiers and non-existent government services.

President Obama’s national security adviser, former Marine General James Jones, said two months ago: “The al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.”

Since Mr. Obama repeats George W. Bush’s reason for going into Afghanistan-to destroy al-Qaeda-why is he sending 30,000 soldiers plus an even greater number of corporate contractors there in the near future at a cost stated by the White House of one million dollars per solider per year? Is this “proportional force”?

Always small in number, al-Qaeda has moved over the border into Pakistan and anywhere its supporters can in the world-east Africa, north Africa, Indonesia. The gang is a migrant traveler.

Is Obama pouring soldiers into Afghanistan so that they and our inaccurate, civilian-destroying drones can start fighting across the border in Pakistan, as indicated by The New York Times? Beyond the violations of international law and absence of constitutional authorization involved, this could so roil Pakistanis as to make the U.S. experience next door look like a modest struggle.

Obama has emphasized weakening the Taliban as the other objective of our military buildup with its horrible consequence in casualties and other costs. Who are the Taliban? They include people with different causes, such as protecting their valleys, drug trafficking to live on, fighters against foreign occupiers or, being mostly Pashtuns, protecting their tribal turf against the northern Tajiks and Uzbecks.

How many Taliban fighters are there? The Pentagon estimates around 25,000. Their methods make them unpopular with the villagers. They have no air force, navy, artillery, tanks, missiles, no bases, no central command. They have rifles, grenade launchers, bombs and suiciders. Unlike al-Qaeda, they have only domestic ambitions counteracted by their adversarial tribesmen who make up most of the Afghan army.

Robert Baer, former CIA officer with experience in that part of Asia, asserted: “The people that want their country liberated from the West have nothing to do with al-Qaeda. They simply want us gone because we’re foreigners, and they’re rallying behind the Taliban because the Taliban are experienced, effective fighters.”

To say as Obama inferred in his Oslo speech that the greater plunge into Afghanistan is self-defense, with proportional force and sparing civilians from violence is a scale of self-delusion or political cowardliness that is dejecting his liberal base.

For as President Eisenhower stated so eloquently in his 1953 “cross of iron” speech, every dollar spent on munitions and saber-rattling takes away from building schools, clinics, roads and other necessities of the American people.

The Afghan War and the Iraq war-occupation-already directly costing a trillion dollars-are costing the American people every time Washington says there is not enough money for neonatal care, occupational disease prevention, cleaner drinking water systems, safer hospitals, prosecution of corporate criminals, cleaner air or upgrading and repairing key public facilities.

Even the hardiest and earliest supporters of his presidential campaign in 2008 are speaking out. Senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus, such as John Conyers (D-MI) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) have recently criticized the President for not doing enough to help African-Americans weather the hard times.

In a stinging ironic rebuke to the first African-American President, Rep. Waters declared “We can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.”

According to Congressman Conyers, an upset Barack Obama called to ask why the Michigan lawmaker was “demeaning” him. Conyers has been increasingly turned off by the President’s policies-among them health care reform, the war in Afghanistan, slippage on Guantanamo and the extension of the Patriot Act’s invasive provisions.

The 80-year old Congressman spent most weekends in 2007 and 2008 tirelessly on the campaign trail trying to get Obama elected.

White House aides are not troubled by the rumblings from the moderate Left. They said they have all of 2010 to bring them back into the fold by the November Congressional elections. Besides, where else are they going to go?

Well, they could stay home. Remember 1994 and the Gingrich takeover.

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book – and first novel –  is, Only The Super Wealthy Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.

America Owned by Its Army November 9, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, History, Iraq and Afghanistan, War.
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Published on Monday, November 9, 2009 by CommonDreams.orgby William Pfaff

It is possible that the creation of an all-professional American army was the most dangerous decision ever taken by Congress. The nation now confronts a political crisis in which the issue has become an undeclared contest between Pentagon power and that of a newly elected president.

Barack Obama has yet to declare his decision on the war in Afghanistan, and there is every reason to think that he will follow military opinion. Yet he is under immense pressure from his Republican opponents to, in effect, renounce his presidential power, and step aside from the fundamental strategic decisions of the nation.

The officer he named to command the war in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, demands a reinforcement of forty thousand soldiers, raising the total US commitment to over 100 thousand troops (or more, in the future). He says that he cannot succeed without them, and even then may be unable to win the war within a decade. Yet the American public is generally in doubt about this war, most of all the president’s own liberal electorate.

President Obama almost certainly will do as the the general requests, or something very close to it. He can read the wartime politics in this situation.

The Vietnam war was opposed by the public by the 1970s, when according to the Pentagon Papers, the government itself knew that victory was unlikely. Today the public doubts victory in the war in Afghanistan. However the version of Vietnam history most Americans (who were not there!) read today says there really was no defeat at all.

It is argued that there was only a collapse of civilian support for the war, caused by the liberal press, producing popular disaffection both at home and inside the conscript army, with a breakdown of military discipline, “fraggings” (murders) of aggressive combat leaders, and demoralization in the ranks. This is the version most military officers believe today.

It is an American version of the “stab in the back” myth believed in German military and right-wing political circles after the first world war.

In the US case, the Vietnam defeat was painfully clear at the time, and few believed that either the US Congress or the Nixon Administration (which signed the peace agreement with North Vietnam) were parties to any betrayal of the United States.

Today the revised interpretation of the Vietnam war, claiming that it actually was a lost victory, has become an important issue because most Pentagon leaders are committed to the “Long War” against “Muslim terrorism.” An Obama administration order to withdraw from Afghanistan, Iraq (or Pakistan) would be attacked by many in Congress and the media, and by implicitly insubordinate elements in the military community, as “surrender” by an Obama government lacking patriotism and unfit to govern.

Conservative politicians are convinced that any policy not set on total victory for the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan – and in coming months, perhaps in Somalia, Yemen, or possibly in Palestine, or sub-Saharan Africa, (or even in an Iran determined to pursue its nuclear ambitions) – would mean American humiliation and defeat.

After Vietnam, Congress ended conscription (which in that war had become heavily corrupt: the poor and working classes were drafted, while many of the privileged had influential families and found complacent doctors or college deans willing to hand over unjustified draft exemptions to those – like the future Vice President Richard Cheney – who had “other priorities” than patriotism and national service.

Congress created a new all-volunteer army. The sociology of the new army was very different from the old citizens’ army. The new one was also composed of people who wanted to be soldiers, or wanted the college education that an enlistment could earn you, or often were high-school graduates who didn’t have much in the way of other career choices, but since 9/11, and the Iraq invasion, the new army has increasingly relied on immigrants or other young foreigners who can earn permanent US residence by way of a US Army enlistment. The US also increasingly has relied on foreign mercenaries hired by private companies.

Its professional character is fundamentally different from the old army. In the old army, career West Point officers were during wartime largely outnumbered by war-service-only officers, the graduates of Officer Candidate schools or Reserve Officers trained in universities (where much of the cost of higher education could be earned in exchange for a fixed term of duty afterwards as a junior commissioned officer).

Thus the US army from the start of the Second World War to the end of Vietnam was effectively a democratic army, with civilian conscripts, and the majority of its non-commissioned and commissioned officers peacetime civilians, with solid commitments to civilian society, often with families at home – doing their temporary (or “for the war’s duration”) patriotic duty.

Professional armies have often been considered a threat to their own societies. It was one of Frederick the Great’s own officers who described Prussia “as an army with a state, in which it was temporarily quartered, so to speak”. The French revolutionary statesman Mirabeau said that “war is Prussia’s national industry”. Considering the portion of the US national budget that is now consumed by the Pentagon, much the same could be said of the United States.

The new army also has political ambitions. It now dominates US foreign relations with a thousand bases worldwide and regional commanders like imperial proconsuls. Both General McChrystal and his superior, General David H Petraeus, have been mentioned as future presidential candidates. The last general who became American president was Dwight Eisenhower. He is the one who warned Americans against “the military-industrial complex”.

© 2009 Tribune Media Services International

William Pfaff is the author of eight books on American foreign policy, international relations, and contemporary history, including books on utopian thought, romanticism and violence, nationalism, and the impact of the West on the non-Western world. His newspaper column, featured in The International Herald Tribune for more than a quarter-century, and his globally syndicated articles, have given him the widest international influence of any American commentator.

Nine Steps to Peace for Obama in the New Year January 1, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Peace, War.
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DENMARK ANTIWAR IRAQ(AP Photo/Scanpix, Carl Redhead)

01 January 2009, www.truthout.org

by: Deepak Chopra, AlterNet

Steps the incoming president can take to build a peace-based economy.

    The following is a memo to Barack Obama from Deepak Chopra.

    You have been elected by the first anti-war constituency since 1952, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected after promising to end the Korean War. But ending a war isn’t the same as bringing peace. America has been on a war footing since the day after Pearl Harbor, 67 years ago. We spend more on our military than the next 16 countries combined. If you have a vision of change that goes to the heart of this country’s deep problems, ending our dependence on war is far more important than ending our dependency on foreign oil.

    The most immediate changes are economic. Unless it can make as much money as war, peace doesn’t stand a chance. Since aerospace and military technologies remain the United States’ most destructive export, fostering wars around the world, what steps can we take to reverse that trend and build a peace-based economy?

    1. Scale out arms dealing and make it illegal by the year 2020.

    2. Write into every defense contract a requirement for a peacetime project.

    3. Subsidize conversion of military companies to peaceful uses with tax incentives and direct funding.

    4. Convert military bases to housing for the poor.

    5. Phase out all foreign military bases.

    6. Require military personnel to devote part of their time to rebuilding infrastructure.

    7. Call a moratorium on future weapons technologies.

    8. Reduce armaments like destroyers and submarines that have no use against terrorism and were intended to defend against a superpower enemy that no longer exists.

    9. Fully fund social services and take the balance out of the defense and homeland security budgets.

    These are just the beginning. We don’t lack creativity in coping with change. Without a conversion of our present war economy to a peace economy, the high profits of the military-industrial complex ensures that it will never end.

    Do these nine steps seem unrealistic or fanciful? In various ways, other countries have adopted similar measures. The former Soviet army is occupied with farming and other peaceful work, for example. But comparisons are rather pointless, since only the United States is burdened with such a massive reliance on defense spending. Ultimately, empire follows the dollar. As a society, we want peace, and we want to be seen as a nation that promotes peace. For either ideal to come true, you as president must back up your vision of change with economic reality. So far, that hasn’t happened under any of your predecessors. All hopes are pinned on you.

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    Deepak Chopra is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest leaders in the field of mind-body medicine. He is the author of over 50 books, including “Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment” and “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind