Monthly Archives: August 2016
Outing California’s Doomsday Factory – ‘The Smartest Place on Earth”
Kissinger, Perry, Schultz, Chomsky, Castro, Caldicott,and Ellsberg all agree –nuclear weapons are obsolete, sooo 20th century, and have got to go.
By James Heddle, EON
It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing….
Dwight D. Eisenhower
General LeMay: The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb.
Reporter: You mean that, sir? Without the Russians and the atomic bomb?
General LeMay: The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war.
Major General Curtis E LeMay, U.S. Army Air Forces
Sept. 20, 1945, press conference
The Way It Really Happened
Contrary to widespread popular belief and official U.S. propaganda, there was no military need to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Neither densely populated city was an important center for the Japanese, and Nagasaki was chosen from the B-list of targets because the A-class target-for-the-day was clouded over and the plane was running out of fuel.
But, in the minds of two key decision-makers, President Harry S. Truman and his close friend and advisor, Secretary of State James F. Byrnes, there was a geostrategic & political consideration that, for them, overrode any all others – including moral, legal and humanitarian ones.
The Japanese were already making overtures for a face-saving surrender that would protect the Emperor, who they considered divine. The US was demanding an unconditional surrender.
The Russian army, fresh from its victory over the Nazis in Europe, was scheduled to shortly invade Japanese-occupied Manchuria and so ensure Japan’s speedy defeat.
A scheduled Big Three conference of Stalin, Churchill and Truman – to carve up war-torn Europe and the defeated Third Reich – had already been postponed by Truman.
He was waiting for something.
The historic Potsdam Conference finally did go ahead, with US negotiators feeling more than a bit vulnerable before the victorious Soviets. Truman and his team were not looking forward to going up against the formidable Joseph Stalin.
Then, with the Conference already in full swing, word came from the Manhattan Project that its atomic bomb test at Alamogordo, New Mexico, code-named ‘Trinity,’ had been a success. Witnesses reported that Truman was suddenly ‘like a changed man.’
That was because Truman and Byrnes had realized that now –as they put it, with the bomb in their pocket – they could really get tough with Uncle Joe in carving up the spoils.
The Die is Set: GeoPolitics Trumps Ethics
The Potsdam Conference was held from July 16th, 1945 to August 2nd 1945. Though they had once urged Stalin to commit to invade Manchuria and finally defeat Japan, now, in order to increase their post-war clout, Byrnes and Truman wanted to beat him to the knock-out punch.
That was why, less than a week after Potsdam had ended, against the advice of many of his top diplomatic and military officials, Truman, with Byrnes’ urging, gave the order for Nagasaki and Hiroshima to be obliterated. Not from military necessity, or to ‘save American lives’ – as the official story went – but to demonstrate and establish America’s hegemonic power in the post-war world.
There was also a secondary purpose. The Hiroshima bomb used a uranium-based detonator. The Nagasaki bomb’s detonator used plutonium. The destruction of the two cities and the mass murder of their populations was a test to compare the effectiveness of detonation methods.
The complex facts of this story are laid out in the definitive book on the subject, celebrated historian Gar Alperovitz’ meticulously documented 1995 opus The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb. In it Alperovitz also examines the question of, as he puts it, “how the American people came to believe what most still believe about the bombing…: ’To save perhaps a million lives by making an invasion unnecessary.’”
“It is an awful responsibility that has come to us,” Truman read somewhat awkwardly to a contemporary newsreel camera.
“We thank God that it has come to us instead of to our enemies, and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.” [‘Truman thanks God for the atomic bomb’ ]
“In Hiroshima,” writes Felicity Arbuthnot, “a millisecond after 8.16 a.m., on 6th August 1945, the temperature at the core of the hundreds of feet wide fireball reached 50,000,000 degrees. Flesh burned two miles distant from it’s outer parameters. 80,000 people were killed or mortally injured instantly.”
According to Wikipedia,
“The atomic bombings killed 90,000–146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000–80,000 in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occurred on the first day. During the following months, large numbers died from the effect of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. In both cities, most of the dead were civilians, although Hiroshima had a sizable military garrison.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki
Truman and Byrnes were not evil men, but they embodied what Hannah Arendt was later to term – in relation to Nuremburg war criminals – “the banality of evil.” In their own minds, like many deluded decision-makers then and now, they believed they were acting in the best interests of their country. But their misguided decisions unleashed a curse upon the world that humanity will be dealing with far into the deep future – if there is one.
Unintended consequences were immediate and far-reaching. As former Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower was later to regretfully observe, dropping the bombs destroyed the relative parity, trust and cooperation that had developed between the three allies and their leaders in the course of the war.
With the partitioning of Europe in response to Washington’s new-found aggressiveness , the Soviet ‘Iron Curtain’ went up, and soon the Cold War and the first nuclear arms race began, with its attendant atmospheric nuclear tests by all three former allies, poisoning the lands and lives of indigenous peoples from the deserts, to the tundra, to the Pacific Islands.
After the massive carnage and horrific suffering caused by the dropping of the atomic bomb, it was an amazing triumph of America’s public relations and propaganda machine, when it went on to persuade the recently bombed Japanese into embracing nuclear power, and then made them into a market for American nuclear technology – including the GE Mark I reactors, known to be faulty, that melted down and blew up at Fukushima.
The 21st Century’s New Nuclear Arms Race
Fast forward to today when – despite his famous Apr 5, 2009 Prague claim that America ‘as the first nation to use the atomic bomb’ would lead the way to ‘a world free of nuclear weapons’ – 2-term President Obama has committed to a $1 trillion ‘life extension program’ for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
That pricy upgrade will include the production and deployment of the new B61-12 guided nuclear missile. Termed a ‘Long Distance Stand-off Weapon,’ the B61-12 can be air-launched from a plane flying far from its target, has maneuverable fins, can burrow deep into the earth, and sports 4 different dial-able megaton ‘yields’ – all of which, in the minds of American war planners, makes it ‘more usable’ in a tactical first strike scenario. [see: Andrei Akulov’s ‘B61: US Nuclear Weapon Nobody Needs’]
Recently, in an apparent bid to slightly burnish the out-going President’s ‘legacy,’ the Obama administration floated a test balloon about adopting a ‘no first use’ nuclear weapons policy. The idea was hailed by abolitionists. Even the New York Times editorialized in support.
The Times even went so far as advocating elimination of one leg of the ‘nuclear triad,’ land-based missiles.
Phasing out land-based missiles and shifting to a reliance on submarines and bombers would save about $100 billion over the next three decades. The elimination of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons would save billions more.
President Obama could begin the phaseout of land-based missiles before he left office by instructing the Department of Defense to remove 550 weapons from the operationally deployed category and transfer them to long-term storage, thereby reducing the operationally deployed inventory to about 1,000 strategic warheads. These missiles are surplus weapons no longer needed for deterrence.
A no-first-use policy would also reduce the risks of accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons. By scrapping the vulnerable land-based missile force, any need for launching on warning disappears. Strategic bombers can be sent aloft on warning of an apparent incoming attack, which may or may not be a false alarm, and stay up until the situation clarifies.
Strategic submarines are extremely survivable and exert no pressure on decision-makers to fire them quickly. They can patrol for months waiting for instructions. Both bombers and submarines are also less vulnerable to cyberwarfare than the strategic missiles on land.
Finally, no-first-use would help ensure that democratically elected officials maintained control over nuclear weapons.
But the suggestion caused panic in ‘defense’ circles and among some allies taking delusional shelter under America’s ‘nuclear umbrella.’ Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz all opposed the adoption of a no first use policy, according to the Wall Street Journal. [‘No First Use’ Nuclear Policy Proposal Assailed by U.S. Cabinet Officials, Allies’ http://www.wsj.com/articles/no-first-use-nuclear-policyproposal-assailed-by-u-s-cabinet-officials-allies-1471042014 ]
Keeping ‘everything on the table’ in the nuclear weapons department is vital for the
careers and profits for those whose business is war, and Washington’s aggressive posturing toward both Russia and China has triggered predictions of a booming weapons market… and a looming WW III.
This is the atmosphere in which a New Nuclear Arms race is developing. No less an authority than former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry says,
“Today we still have over 20 thousand real world nuclear weapons. Enough to blow up everybody on the planet several times over.
Those weapons pose the immediate problem of a danger of terrorism, the immediate problem of the possibility of nuclear war.
“The antagonism between Russia and the United States has reached a point now where I believe we are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race. It breaks my heart.
“Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war. Let me say that again…” http://www.planetarianperspectives.net/?p=2741
Bill Perry has teamed up with other senior statesmen of similar stature, Sam Nunn, George Schultz, and Henry Kissinger to mount a public nuclear consciousness-raising campaign aimed especially at the generation that will have to deal with the legacy of the Atomic Age.
Its impossible to miss the irony in the fact that these ‘elder statesmen’ are now finally in agreement with Noam Chomsky, Fidel Castro and long-time international nuclear abolition advocate Dr. Helen Caldicott, who has been trying unsuccessfully to get their attention for decades.
As we are all surely aware [sic], we now face the most ominous decisions in human history. There are many problems that must be addressed, but two are overwhelming in their significance: environmental destruction and nuclear war. For the first time in history, we face the possibility of destroying the prospects for decent existence – and not in the distant future. Who Rules the World? P.181.
The 90 year-old Castro, who threw capitalism out of Cuba – and, as a result, has so far survived 630 documented assassination attempts by the CIA and other nefarious U.S. agencies – puts it this way: “Humankind today faces the greatest risk of its history.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/16/the-birthday/
“It could happen tonight,” said Caldicott in a recent talk in Berkeley, CA.
“It could happen right now. We are closer now to nuclear annihilation than ever, even closer than we were during the Cold War. North Korea and Iran cannot end the world. But the sociopaths in charge of our nuclear weapons can. For instance, Clinton has never seen a war that she doesn’t like.”
She pointed out that every single city in America is targeted by the Russians right now.
“Twelve H-bombs are targeted on New York City alone. Every city in America is targeted with at least one nuclear missile. And Russian cities are targeted the same way by America. And all this insanity is at the mercy of human fallibility too.”
Helen Caldecott: “America Still Thinks It Can Win a Nuclear War”
Protesting ‘The Smartest Place on Earth”
All this was in the minds of the over 200 people who assembled at 9am, on August 9 at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.
The one-mile square facility in Livermore, CA – which bills itself on its website as “the smartest square mile on Earth” – is a key hub in the new nuclear arms race. Though it claims to have worked for 60 years ‘to make the world a safer place,’ the Lab is California’s bomb factory. https://www.llnl.gov/about
The two main sponsors of the yearly protest event are Tri-Valley CAREs, led by Marylia Kelly and the Western States Legal Foundation headed by Jacqueline Cabasso, have labored for years to keep the issue of nuclear weapons and Livermore’s part in it clearly in the public eye.
It’s a hard sell, despite the clear and present danger, in an information environment beset by delusions, distractions, disinformation and news of multiple looming disasters.
The theme of this year’s event, was “Disarm Now: We Stand With Nuclear Survivors for Global Justice.”
A banner across the back of the stage read “Failure to Disarm: Holding Our Government Accountable.” A second banner hanging from stage front, by the celebrated artist Mayumi Oda, portrayed the ‘Two-Headed Dragon” of nuclear weapons and power, which have remained inextricably connected from the birth of the Atomic Age into the present day.
The well-organized event, with a dynamic line-up of speakers including Daniel Ellsberg, went like clockwork. Here are the event’s speakers and its dramatic conclusion (including a moving interview with celebrated artist/activist Mayumi Oda) in eight viewable video segments.
Pt. 1 – Welcome & Purpose Statement – Patricia St. Onge & Wilson Riles, Jr.
Two long-time Bay Area activists set the context and purpose of a rally, march and non-violent civil disobedience action at Livermore Lab, California’s bomb factory. Patricia St. Onge is Founder of Seven Generations Consulting. Wilson Riles, Jr. is a Former Oakland City Council Member. Together they founded the Nafsi ya Jamii Retreat Center.
Pt. 2 – Nagasaki Remembered – Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka
Nagasaki A-bomb survivor and retired United Methodist Church minister Rev. Nobuaki Hanaoka talks about the personal and spiritual aspects of his experiences and why humankind must evolve beyond nuclear weapons and war.
Pt. 3 – Making the Connections – Chizu Hamada
Chizu Hamada, Coordinator of No Nukes Action Committee, traces the links between the human suffering caused by the dropping of the atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, the current situation in post-Fukushima Japan, and the nuclear policies of the Obama Administration – in which Livermore Lab plays a key role.
Pt. 4 – The Livermore Connections – Tara Dorabji
Young mother Tara Dorabji, Board Member and former Outreach Director of Tri-Valley CAREs, talks about the local human and environmental impacts of California’s bomb factory on the surrounding community and region.
Pt. 5 – Challenge to Disarm: The Marshall Island Lawsuits – John Burroughs
John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, gives the context and update of the historic lawsuits he is currently arguing before the International Court of Justice and a the U.S. Federal District Court on behalf of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the still genetically devastated site of 67 U.S. nuclear tests in the 1940s and ’50s. He is part of a team of attorneys representing the tiny Pacific Island nation’s landmark lawsuits against the nine nuclear-armed nations for failing to comply with their obligations under international law to pursue negotiations for the worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons.
For more info: Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy http://lcnp.org/
and Nuclear Zero http://www.nuclearzero.org/
Pt. 6 – The Growing Dangers of Nuclear Wars – Jackie Cabasso
Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation, lays out the Growing Dangers of Wars Among Nuclear-Armed States.
For more info: http://www.wslfweb.org/
Pt. 7 – Daniel Ellsberg – Politics, Trump & U.S. Nuclear Policy
Celebrated Pentagon whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg compares official American nuclear weapons policy with the campaign statements of Donald Trump.
Pt. 8 – March, Die-In & Arrests – The Nagasaki-Livermore Connection
Nuclear disarmament supporters march and risk arrest at the gate of Livermore Lab, California’s nuclear bomb factory, in solidarity with Nagasaki and Hiroshima victims and survivors – featuring a moving interview with celebrated international artist and activist Mayumi Oda.
James Heddle co-directs EON, The Ecological Options Network. http://eon3.net/ with Mary Beth Brangan. They are currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection. http://www.shutdowndoc.tv/
If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.