Why the combination of Fear, Uncertainty, and Humanitarian Idealism may destroy most life on earth…unless We the People say ‘NO,’ and make it stick.
By James Heddle – EON. [ An earlier version of this article is on Counterpunch.org. ]
I want to say – and this is very important – in the end, we lucked out! It was luck that prevented nuclear war. Khrushchev was rational. Kennedy was rational. Castro was rational. [Holding up his thumb and forefinger slightly apart.] Rational individuals came that close to total devastation of their societies…and that danger exists today.
Former U.S. Sec. of Defense Robert McNamara – talking about the Cuban Missile Crisis – in ‘The Fog of War,” a documentary film by Errol Morris
“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.… 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…”
Former U.S. Sec. of Defense, William J. Perry, January, 2016
A nuclear war anywhere will disrupt—and possibly destroy—civilized life everywhere.
The Cuban Missile Crisis at 55 – James G. Blight and Janet M. Lang
There is such a thing as being too late…. We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation… Now let us begin… let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.
Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4, 1967
[ Editor’s’note: As this version goes to post, the Trump people have just issued a super-hawkish revised Nuclear Posture Review advocating ‘usable’ tactical nuclear weapons, and are considering a ‘tactical, Bloody Nose’ nuclear attack on North Korea.]
Present Threat Level: ‘High’
The current Silicon Valley meme is that Artificial Intelligence, or AI, may – someday – pose a danger to human existence. But plain old human intelligence already does pose that threat. And it has for some time.
Some critic reportedly quipped that “NATO exists to deal with problems created by its own existence.”
Whether or not you agree with that assessment of NATO, it’s hard to deny that this dictum accurately applies to the long much-celebrated geo-strategic system of so-called ‘nuclear deterrence.’
The creation of ‘command & control’ structures by nuclear weapons states – purportedly designed to reduce the threat of nuclear war – are more than likely to produce precisely the outcome they are allegedly created to prevent.
That’s the sobering wake-up call message of Daniel Ellsberg’s important new book THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE – Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.
Still at it, after all these years
At eighty-six years of age, Ellsberg – perhaps the world’s most celebrated whistleblower for his Viet Nam era Pentagon Papers revelations – is still going strong, and now working urgently to share even more crucial information, long kept secret from the American public and the world.
He is a man who walks his talk. I last saw him on a hot day last August, lying on the tarmac with about a hundred other protestors at the gate of Livermore Laboratory, California’s nuclear weapons design shop, which bills itself as ‘The Smartest Place on Earth.’ Their bodies were outlined in chalk, commemorating the Atomic Shadows left by the vaporized victims of the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Virtually every weapon in the U.S. Doomsday Machine’s arsenal has been at least partially designed at Livermore, under the aegis of the University of California, Berkeley. For many years, a rally, march and ‘die-in’ [ video ] has been organized there every year on Hiroshima Day by a coalition of groups headed by TriValleyCARES and its Indefatigable Director, Marylia Kelly. Ellsberg has been a long-time rally speaker and protest participant. [ video ] On this occasion, he was lying there, chatting with his old friend Fr. Louis Vitale, as they waited to get arrested – the umpteenth time for both of them.
Evolution of a Nuclear War Planner – Into the ‘realm of madness’
It started in Detroit, Michigan, where his engineer father was a designer of the long, moving assembly lines then being initiated, first for motor cars, then – as WWII geared up – for war planes. As a high school student at the up-scale Cranbrook boarding school, he was one of the first of his generation to learn about the then new concept of ‘cultural lag.’ Introduced by sociologist William Ogburn, the term drew attention to the fact that technological innovations advance faster than the cultural, moral and political systems needed to manage them. It was a concept to be epitomized in spades in the coming Atomic Age.
Later, as a Harvard graduate economist with a focus on the then hot topics of ‘decision theory’ and ‘game theory,’ as well as a former Marine officer with combat experience in Viet Nam, Ellsberg, in his late twenties, was recognized by those who notice such things as having a great set of qualification for a war planner.
Moving from an Honors Fellowship at Harvard to a consultant job at the RAND corporation, in an office with an ocean view in Santa Monica, and colleagues like the famous (or infamous) Herman Kahn, was a natural transition.
This was in the early days of the now wide-spread practice of ‘contracting’ out government functions to private corporations. RAND was one of the first of such firms, the number of which is now legion.
The young Ellsberg’s quickly demonstrated abilities soon put him into circulation as a trusted private consultant in the highest circles of the Washington national security establishment with eventually some of the highest ‘clearances’ and a unique breadth of access to information known only to a few.
What he discovered horrified him. With youthful idealism (and perhaps more than a dash of youthful hubris), he set out to change it.
This book tells the story of some of his impressive successes. But it’s also the story – as the sub-title ‘confessions’ indicates – of some of the ways he now believes his efforts may have inadvertently helped to make things worse.
“RAND analysts, of whom I was one,” he writes, “sought to bring about less insane planning for nuclear war. We failed.” As he now sees it, the institutional systems in which they were embedded, “still held us prisoners within the realm of madness.”
His purpose now is to contribute to wide public knowledge beyond the myths, deceptions and cover-ups, which we have long been fed.
“We need,” he says, “a new understanding of the real history of the nuclear age.”
Eventually moving from RAND to the Defense Department, Ellsberg once briefed presidents and high officials, and – were he to do so again today – he says the item at the top of his list would be what is, in effect, Washington’s historically consistent first-strike policy:
The basic elements of American readiness for nuclear war remain today what they were almost sixty years ago. Thousands of nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert, aimed mainly at Russian military targets including command and control, many in or near cities. The declared official rationale for such a system has always been primarily the supposed need to deter – or if necessary respond to – an aggressive Russian nuclear first strike against the United States. That widely believed public rationale is a deliberate deception….
The required U.S. strategic capabilities have always been for a first-strike force: not, under any president, for a U.S. surprise attack, unprovoked or ‘a bolt out of the blue,’ but not, either, with an aim of striking ‘second’ under any circumstances, if that can be avoided by preemption. Though officially denied, preemptive ‘launch on warning (LOW) – either on tactical warning of an incoming attack or strategic warning that nuclear escalation is probably impending – has always been at the heart of our strategic alert. [Emphasis added.]
But it gets worse.
As an advisor to Kennedy, Ellsberg had the opportunity to query the Joint Chiefs of Staff (over the President’s signature) if they had done estimates of how many human beings would be killed if U.S. nuclear war plans were carried out against the then Sino-Soviet Bloc. He was stunned by the answers.
“The total death toll as calculated by the Joint Chiefs,” he was told, “from a U.S. first strike aimed at the Soviet Union, its Warsaw Pact satellites, and China, would be roughly six hundred million dead. A hundred Holocausts.
“From that day,” he writes, “I have had one overriding life purpose: to prevent the execution of any such plan.”
A Global Machine with no ‘Off’ Switch
As part of his unusual ‘go anywhere, ask anything, see everything’ mandate, Ellsberg was told of the existence of a plan that the military kept secret from the President, the Secretary of Defense and all other civilian authorities. It was called JSCAP ( pronounced J-SCAP) for Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan. Out of it had developed, by 1960, the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), the single strategic plan governing the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal including all Strategic Air Command (SAC) bombers, land-based ICBMs and all the Navy’s submarine based nuclear missiles.
In 1961, SAC alone had around seventeen hundred bombers, each carrying thermonuclear – i.e., hydrogen, bombs – many of them between five and twenty-five megatons in explosive power, or ‘yield.’
Each twenty-five megaton bomb – with 1,250 times the yield of the fission bomb that destroyed Nagasaki – was the equivalent of twenty-five million tons of TNT, or over twelve times the total bomb tonnage we dropped in World War II. Within the arsenal there were some five hundred bombs with an explosive power of twenty five megatons. Each of these warheads had more firepower than all the bombs and shells exploded in all the wars of human history. [His italics. ]
In the event of a so-called ‘general war’ with the Soviet Union, the SIOP called for the simultaneous launch of all those world-wide systems. The pre-determined targets, he learned, would not only include every major city in the Soviet Union and all its satellite allies, but all the cities in China and all its allies
Oh, and Then There’s Nuclear Winter
Two decades later, in 1983, it was discovered what none of them – Ellsberg, his RAND colleagues, the Joint Chiefs, the President, or his science advisors – had known about in the ‘60s: the phenomenon of ‘nuclear winter.’
In retrospect he realized,
It is the smoke, after all (not the fallout, which would remain mostly limited to the northern hemisphere), that would do it worldwide: smoke and soot lofted by the fierce firestorms in hundreds of burning cities into the stratosphere, where it would not rain out and would remain for a decade or more, enveloping the globe and blocking most sunlight, lowering annual global temperatures to the level of the last Ice Age, and killing all harvests worldwide, causing near-universal starvation within a year or two…. Which meant that a large nuclear war of the kind we prepared for then or later would kill nearly every human on earth (along with most other large species.)
But there was more.
The SIOP included no way to separate blanket attacks on both Russia and China once the ‘Go’ order has been given…and there was no desire to do so.
Ellsberg quotes a report from the memoir of colleague John Rubel about his experience at a 1960 briefing at SAC headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska. It was attended by Defense Department officials, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and military commanders from around the world, and presided over by SAC Commander General Thomas Power. On a huge screen in the darkened command center, successive overlays portrayed the cumulative bombing of all the SIOP’s targets. In conclusion, a briefer reported that fallout alone would eventually kill half the population of China, in addition to those killed in the initial blasts.
A voice out of the gloom from somewhere behind me interrupted, saying, “May I ask a question?” General Power turned…in his front-row seat, stared into the darkness and said, “Yeah, what is it?” in a tone not likely to encourage the timid. “What if this isn’t China’s war?” the voice asked. “What if this is just a war with the Soviets? Can you change the plan?”
“Well, yeah,” said General Power resignedly, “we can, but I hope nobody thinks of it, because it would really screw up the plan.”
Ellsberg tells of leaving the Pentagon one afternoon with a colleague to do ‘operational research’ at a showing of the then just-released, now classic, Stanley Kubrick film ‘Dr. Strangelove.’ They were surprised at how accurately the film portrayed the impossibility of reversing the order, once the system has been triggered by a single, rogue commander.
Rewriting the War Plan
Ellsberg had set his sights on changing that plan, and, to some extent, he succeeded.
Under Kennedy and McNamara, he was assigned to redraft the general war section of the BSNP or Basic National Security Policy, civilian guidance for war planning.
In the late afternoon of April 7, 1961, he finished his first draft and realized it was his thirtieth birthday. “I remember thinking: for the rest of my life, I won’t have done anything more important than this.”
Among many other significant changes, the re-draft he wrote called for
- elimination of the SIOP as the single, automatic response
- elimination of the automatic inclusion of China and Soviet Satellite states
- creation of a command and control system for issuing reliable ‘stop’ or ‘recall’ orders.
A final version was sent to the Joint Chiefs on May 5, 1961. He reports,
“My” revised guidance became the basis for the operational war plans under Kennedy – reviewed by me for Deputy Secretary Gilpatric in 1962, 1963, and again in the Johnson administration in 1964. It has been reported by insiders and scholars to have been a critical influence on U.S. strategic war planning ever since.
[ For texts of related memos and drafts, see ellsberg.net/BNSP. ]
But, after all, it was still a nuclear war plan. He notes, “In years to come, the memory of this accomplishment did not bring me the same satisfaction it brought when I was thirty.”
Delegation or Decapitation? – That is the question
Given POTUS Trump’s growing reputation as a ‘malignant narcissist’ running rogue in the Oval Office, there has been much media and Congressional concern expressed of late about the presumption that just one man, – whether rational or crazed – is the only one with access to the ‘nuclear football,’ its launch codes and ‘having his finger on The Button.’
Harvard Professor Elaine Scary has written a fascinating, in depth, scholarly analysis of this notion in her impressive THERMONUCLEAR MONARCHY – Choosing Between Democracy and Doom.
But it turns out, according to another alarming revelation in Ellsberg’s book, that, from the very beginning of U.S. nuclear war planning, One-Finger-on-The-Button has by no means been the case.
According to Ellsberg, “… the hand authorized to pull the trigger on U.S. nuclear forces has never been exclusively that of the president, nor even his highest military officials.” [His emphasis.]
The operative policy, from Eisenhower and Kennedy on down, has been to delegate ‘Execute’ authority to subordinate commanders, – even, depending on circumstances, far down the chain of command – to avoid ‘decapitation’ – elimination of centralized authority.
“This delegation has been one of our highest national secrets,” writes Ellsberg. “The same was true for the Soviet Union, now Russia.”
And, one can assume, to this day, for all other nuclear weapons powers.
Ellsberg writes from three complementary perspectives:
— as an ‘insider’ with top level security clearances working to discover and mitigate what he sees as ill-conceived, omnicidal policies;
— as an analyst/historian striving to understand how such a system has come into being;
— and as a whistleblowing reformer working to alert and mobilize an informed public to dis-assemble the very system he spent much of his professional life helping create.
His is a rich and complex narrative. Here are some of its key points.
Inside the Cuban Missile Crisis – ‘The most dangerous moment in recorded history’
Ellsberg, the insider, throws new light on the myths and misinformation surrounding this pivotal historical event. It’s too complex a story – as Ellsberg’s narrative shows in depth – to do more than summarize here. [ See: Ellsberg.net/Doomsday/cubanmissilecrisis for his files. ] It happened in 1962, but it’s take-home lesson is as current as today’s headlines.
The essence of it is this: none of the participants at the time had a full and accurate picture of what was really going on.
It wasn’t until decades later that the full facts came into focus. McNamara’s thumb and forefinger, held barely apart, tell the story. Global nuclear Armageddon had been avoided by “that much.”
In retrospect, it was a tragi-comedy of errors, projections, and miscalculations on all sides – a microcosm of the Doomsday Machine Dilemma.
Yet, the fate of the earth hung in the balance…just as it does in the several nuclear confrontations emerging today.
On Monday, October 22, 1962 President Kennedy went on national TV to announce the discovery that Soviet ballistic missiles were being shipped to Cuba, and that, in response, he was imposing a naval ‘quarantine’ around the island nation. He said that the launch of any missile from Cuba “against any nation in the Western Hemisphere” would trigger “a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”
Watching Kennedy’s speech from his Malibu home, and knowing full well what “a full retaliatory response’ would mean, Ellsberg headed for Washington.
The global context was this:
In April, 1961, a CIA sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs had failed.
In August, 1961, the long-standing Berlin Crisis had ended with the partition of that German city between Soviet and Allied forces, and the erection of the Berlin Wall.
U.S. and Soviet forces were arrayed against each other across Europe, with American nuclear missiles stationed in Turkey.
The U.S. Joint Chiefs had long been itching to invade Cuba on any pretext. Remembering the Bay of Pigs, both Cuban President Castro and Soviet Premiere Khrushchev knew this and took the threat very seriously. Khrushchev had sent the missiles to prevent such an invasion. U.S. intelligence thought there were thirty-eight.
On arrival in DC, Ellsberg was tasked to “Write a memo on what thirty-eight missiles could do to our strike-back ability.” The conclusion was, given the balance of American and Soviet nuclear forces, not much. The Soviet Union would still be turned into a large smoking hole from the U.S. ‘full retaliatory response.’
Throughout the next thirteen tension-filled days, Ellsberg and most of those around him believed that Khrushchev knew he was way out-gunned and would ultimately ‘blink,’ ‘back down’ and remove the missiles. On October 27, 1962, he did.
It was the day afterward that Ellsberg discovered that Defense Secretary McNamara and others around Kennedy had put the chance of Armageddon happening much higher, like maybe 1 in 10. Later, McNamara revealed, “the Saturday before the Sunday in which Khrushchev announced withdrawal of the missiles… and a U-2 [U.S. spy plane ] was shot down…I remember leaving the White House at the end of that Saturday. It was a beautiful fall day. And thinking that might well be the last sunset I saw. You couldn’t tell what was going to follow.”
Ellsberg was appalled. “One in ten?! Nuclear war…And we were doing what we were doing?!”
‘What they had been doing’ included:
- the blockade itself, at the risk of armed conflict with Soviet warships;
- forcing Soviet submarines to surface with depth grenades
- a large-scale airborne bomber alert with significant risk of accidents involving nuclear weapons;
- continuing reconnaissance, even after several spy planes were fired on over Cuba and one shot down on Saturday; and
- full preparations(“if they were wholly a bluff,” he says, “they fooled us”) for invasion and airstrike
He thought, “Who were these people I was working for? Were they all insane?
Subsequent research by Ellsberg and others has now revealed that the real situation was much worse than any U.S. officials knew at the time.
In fact, there had been 162 Soviet missiles already in Cuba, not 38. Some of them were tactical, short-range nuclear missiles to be aimed at invading U.S. forces and the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay. Soviet submarines being bombarded with U.S. grenades were – unknown to Washington – equipped with nuclear torpedoes.
Neither Kennedy nor Khrushchev had any intention of triggering a nuclear war. They were both bluffing, hoping to get a better deal. No invasion of Cuba was planned. But none of their subordinates knew that. Castro, believing a U.S. invasion to be inevitable and that Cuba would be made to ‘disappear,’ had written to Khrushchev urging a full Soviet nuclear response on the U.S. once the expected invasion was underway.
Finally, when Khrushchev and Kennedy both realized that their brinksmanship was spiraling out of their control, they worked urgently together to defuse it. Contrary to popular myth, neither country ‘won’ or ‘lost.’
Global nuclear destruction had been averted by just ‘that much.’
A tiny country, previously attacked by the United States, believes another attack is imminent and contemplates ‘the nuclear suicide option.’ Sound familiar?
The Fire Every Time – Incinerating Civilians
Ellsberg, the historian, traces the growth of the omnicidal nuclear mindset from British and American bombing strategy evolved in WW II.
When the war began on September 1, 1939, with Hitler’s invasion of Poland, President Roosevelt issued an appeal to all of the states involved, to avoid the ‘human barbarism’ of targeting civilians, who he described as “innocent human beings who have no responsibility for, and who are not even remotely participating in, the hostilities that have now broken out….”
With then recent historical atrocities in mind, no doubt like the one immortalized in Picasso’s famous painting ‘Guernica,’ he went on,
I am therefore directing this urgent appeal to every Government which may be engaged in hostilities publicly to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents. I request an immediate reply.
Britain, then Germany, quickly agreed. In fact, none of the countries involved saw this an unusual request, for Roosevelt was simply affirming what was then considered an accepted international norm of warfare: avoid harming non-combatants.
By war’s end, this supposed norm, violated first by Britain, then the U.S., had not only been abandoned, but completely reversed.
Militarists had come to regard war from the air as the one sure path to victory, and civilian officials had come to see cities – that is, civilians – as legitimate targets.
But that was not all.
It had been discovered that – given the right atmospheric and wind conditions – saturation bombing of a city could create ‘firestorms ’ – in effect altering local weather as what would come to be called a ‘force multiplier’ – incinerating entire urban populations and destroying all existing structures.
One such event, was the firebombing of the German city of Dresden, later portrayed by an American prisoner of war survivor, Kurt Vonnegut in his novel, Slaughterhouse Five. But there were many others. More than half a million German civilians were killed. Creating intentional urban firestorms had become the principle objective of aerial warfare, under the rationale that ‘terror bombing’ would destroy moral and end hostilities sooner, thus ‘saving lives’ in the long run.
With the German defeat, U.S. attention shifted to Japan and ‘scientific’ firebombing of cities was honed to a fine art under General Curtis LeMay. Using his new approach, reports Ellsberg, “It would be possible, LeMay thought, ‘to knock out all of Japan’s major industrial cities during the next ten nights.’ And he set out to burn the next most populous seventeen cities in succession. After that, the next fifty.”
Creating firestorms, like the one that destroyed Tokyo, with ‘conventional’ explosives required many planes. With atomic weapons like those used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you could do the job with just one bomber per city. But, aside from subsequent deaths caused by exposure to radioactive fallout, the deadly results were basically the same.
Later, LeMay would boast, “we scorched and boiled and baked to death more people in Tokyo on that night of March 9-10 than went up in vapor at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.”
Firebombing and mass murder from the air – with or without nukes – had become the American way of war.
In the early 1950s, in the Korean war, LeMay recalled in a 1988 interview, “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea….”
The legendary Gen. Douglas MacArthur – no stranger to mass slaughter – testified in a 1951 Congressional hearing, “The war in Korea has already almost destroyed that nation of 20,000,000 people. I have never seen such devastation. I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man, and it just curdled my stomach, the last time I was there. After I looked at that wreckage and those thousands of women and children and everything, I vomited.”
Taking Bets on Atmospheric Ignition
The high risk attitude of what might be called – with a nod to C. Wright Mills – ‘crackpot nuclearism,’ was born in the New Mexico desert with the July 16, 1945 Trinity Test, the world first atomic bomb. It has dominated nuclear policy ever since.
Some of the Manhattan Project scientists were doing calculations aimed at predicting whether or not the planned test would ignite the planet’s entire atmosphere thus ending life on earth. There were arguments and conflicting conclusions. Nobody was quite sure either way.
On the eve of the test, Enrico Fermi offered to take bets on if atmospheric ignition would occur. “I am now in a position,” he said, “to make book on one of two contingencies: 1) that the explosion will burn New Mexico; 2) that it will ignite the whole world.”
The odds Fermi offered are not recorded, nor if anyone took his bet. The consensus apparently was that both outcomes were unlikely…but possible. The test went ahead anyway.
The Threat of Use is Use – a Terrorist Threat
The gun in the hand of the robber aimed at the victim’s head – whether or not the trigger is pulled – is being ‘used.’ The same is true of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
One often hears that The Bomb was only ‘used’ twice, by President Truman on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But, as Ellsberg documents, every president since – right down to the current occupant of the Oval Office – has used the Doomsday Machine in the same way the robber uses the gun, as a credible threat to impose his will.
Even one tactical nuclear weapon attacking a heavily populated area could kill hundreds of thousands of non-combatants. “Thus,” Ellsberg concludes, “virtually any threat of first use of a nuclear weapon is a terrorist threat. Any nation making such threats is a terrorist nation. That means the United States and all its allies, including Israel, along with Russia, Pakistan, and North Korea.”
Dissent as a Family Trait
Ellsberg discloses many institutional secrets discovered in the course of his career. But there is a personal one he saves until almost last. As noted above, his father had been a distinguished engineer and factory designer involved in the war effort. During the whistleblower days, when Kissinger had labeled him ‘the most dangerous man in America,’ Ellsberg says he had little contact with his father. Much later the two had a conversation in which the son learned that the father, too, had not only had many of the same top security clearances, and had worked on building the A-bomb, but had also been a dissenter.
At the top of his career, the elder Ellsberg had been engaged to design a plant that would produce material for an H-bomb, the hydrogen bomb. It was to be a thousand times more powerful than the A-bombs used on Japan. In fact, the A-bomb is now simply used as the detonation trigger for the H-bomb.
“That was it for me,” his father recalled at the age of 89. “I went back to my office and I said to my deputy, ‘These guys are crazy.’”
“There was another thing about it I couldn’t stand,” his father continued. “Building these things generated a lot of radioactive waste…. That stuff was deadly for ever.”
Ellsberg recalls there were tears in his father’s eyes as he went on huskily, “I couldn’t stand the thought that I was working on a project that was poisoning parts of my country for forever, that might make parts of it uninhabitable for thousands of years.”
His father – unlike the many others engaged to make the H-bomb – resigned rather than participating in the project.
Asked what had made him feel so strongly, his father responded, “You did.”
Turns out that back in 1946 the young Ellsberg had come home crying, carrying a copy of John Hersey’s just-published book Hiroshima, a report on the horrors of atomic warfare. Recalled his father, “You said, ‘Dad, you’ve got to read this. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever read.’ So I read it, and you were right.”
Non-Violent Co-existence or Violent Co-annihilation – That Is Still the Question
Being a nuclear war planner and risk analyst means developing the capacity of imagining the unthinkable. It’s a great skill set to have. Especially if, like Ellsberg (and others), you have awakened to the omnicidal danger of the doomsday machine you have participated in creating.
Now, when many despairing pessimists are concluding that the Doomsday Machine Syndrome has taken on an autonomous life of its own, and that it’s political, economic, and military institutionalization on a global level has made deconstructing it ‘realistically unthinkable,’ Ellsberg’s informed conviction that deconstruction IS not only possible, but doable within a year’s time, is invigorating to the soul. Human ingenuity has created multiple doomsday machines; human ingenuity can take them down.
Steve Bannon, Trump’s erstwhile ‘brain,’ infamously described the prime agenda item of the Trump/GOP wrecking crew as ‘deconstruction of the administrative state.’ In fact, they’re doing it as we watch. Proving precisely that, what humans have put together, humans can pull asunder.
Ellsberg’s bold, ‘unthinkable,’ essentially revolutionary agenda is nothing less than the deconstruction of the Doomsday Machine itself.
According to his vision, Truman’s proverbial ‘buck’ both stops and starts here, in America, the birthplace of the Doomsday Machinery, the only country to have not only actually dropped The Bomb, but to have ‘used’ The Bomb for the last seventy-plus years, in over two dozen credible international threats (which he documents), as a gun to the heads of other nations of the world.
He addresses the common argument that ‘You can’t uninvent nuclear weapons.’
That has been a widespread and effective argument against a total unilateral abolition over the past seventy years. True, you can’t eradicate the knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons and delivery systems. But you can dismantle a Doomsday Machine. And that, at minimum, is what we must hasten to do. There is no need or justification for us to wait for the Russians to do it to theirs first or in step with us, though that global imperative applies just well to them.
Here’s his Six-Step Program:
- A U.S, no-first-use policy
- Probing investigative hearings on our war plans in the light of nuclear winter
- Eliminating our ICBMs
- Forgoing the delusion of preemptive damage-limiting by our first-strike forces
- Giving up the profits, jobs, and alliance hegemony based on maintaining that pretense
- Otherwise dismantling the American Doomsday Machine.
Being a realist, he observes that, “Both parties as currently constituted oppose every one of these measures.” Further, he admits, “the news is equally bad when it comes to the prospects of reversing American energy policy in time and on a scale to avert catastrophic climate change.” He concludes,
The steps I have indicated are only a beginning toward the ultimate delegitimation of nuclear weapons and nuclear threats. But none of the necessary changes can occur without an informed public, suitably alarmed by a situation that properly evokes horror, fear, revulsion, and incredulity, accompanied, hopefully by the determination of the highest order and urgency to eliminate it.
The White House as Madhouse
At the time Ellsberg worked at RAND, U.S. war planners had long been obsessed by belief in a series of ‘gaps:’ a ‘bomber gap;’ a ‘missile gap;’ a ‘deterrent gap.’ Kennedy himself had campaigned and been elected on the fiction of a ‘missile gap,’ with the Soviet Union being erroneously claimed to possess ‘strategic superiority.’
Ellsberg found that none of these supposed ‘gaps’ had actually existed. They were really claims cooked up by competing branches of the military aimed at securing a bigger share of the defense budget, and a more important role in the ‘Big Game.’ RAND’s whole program had been based on delusion.
He writes, “To recognize that was to face the conclusion that RAND had, in all good faith, been working obsessively and with a sense of frantic urgency on a wrong set of problems, an irrelevant pursuit in respect to national security.” Yet RAND’s program continued for years after the gap concepts had been debunked.
Donald (My-Button-is-Bigger-than-Your-Button) Trump is not only continuing the trillion dollar nuclear weapons upgrade begun under Obama, but calling for 10 times as many thermonuclear devices as are already in the US arsenal.
In 2017, American Special Forces boots were on the ground in 146 countries. A new study by the Costs of War Project maps 76 countries in which the U.S. is currently at war. That’s a lot of flash points, any one of which could potentially trigger a nuclear exchange.
One wonders what delusional ‘risk assessments’ are currently being used by today’s generation of war planners to rationalize this level of institutionalized insanity.
Toward A New Nuclear Consciousness and Abolition Movement
The five ‘original’ nuclear powers – the US, UK, France, Russia and China – have since been joined by Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. So now there are nine known national Doomsday Machines – one for every nuclear weapons state – all on hair trigger alert for some future wargasm, maybe just around the corner.
And then there are the other – presently operating – DNA-destroying radioactive, electro-magnetic and chemical pollution doomsday machines, as well as the carbonization-of-the-atmosphere doomsday machine already causing catastrophic climate change…not to mention the on-going Sixth Great Extinction.
I chose to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day immersed in Ellsberg’s book. It may not have been the most pleasant holiday season I’ve experienced, but it was definitely the most informative and enlightening.
It’s my bad habit, with a read I like, to underline sentences, star paragraphs, and dog-ear pages that seem especially important. I found myself doing that on almost every page.
Ellsberg’s website contains massive documentation supporting his book’s disclosures.
has joined former Secretaries of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger and Senator Sam Nunn to write a groundbreaking Wall Street Journal op-ed series
on the issues. They have also co-founded the Nuclear Security Project.
Toward the end of their lives, both McNamara and Castro also became ardent nuclear abolitionists.
These are good signs. Crackpot nuclearism may yet be overcome.
The Doomsday Machine – my nominee for ‘the most important book of 2017’ – is at once an empowering, and a cautionary tale about the ‘power of one’ to catalyze change in a labyrinthine, entrenched, corporate/government bureaucracy … AND, about how the many paths to doomsday can be paved with good intentions.
Get it. Read it. And don’t mourn, organize and pass the word! Spread awareness of both the risks and the mitigating possibilities. Informed, concerted public action has made a huge difference throughout the Atomic Age, and it can again.
As the UN’s recent historic vote by more than 120 nations to ban the possession, use, or threatened use of nuclear weapons, and the Nobel Peace Prize award to ICAN make clear, the once powerful no nukes abolition movement is again resurgent.
Maybe, just maybe – as Reverend King was warning way back in 1967 – it’s still not too late…
James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan. Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection is now in post-production. He can be reached at email@example.com
Democracy in Defense of DNA
EON is a 501 (c) 3 organization
Recently we attended a pot-luck meeting of the Northern Bay Area Fukushima Response team. One of the members asked how to find information about all the important and interlinked nuclear, wireless radiation and election integrity issues. “It’s certainly not being reported on in the major media,” she complained. “This is really needed information.”
We were happy to report to her that our work here at EON, through our blogs, YouTube videos and documentary production, is doing just that.
We thank all of you who've generously given us support and for wanting and acting on the news we share!
EON reports on, supports and participates in three crucial movements of our time:
- For cell phone and wireless radiation safety
- For abolishing nuclear power and nuclear weapons and dealing responsibly with their radioactive waste
- For Election Protection, or Electoral Integrity. Without repairing our corrupted and hijacked voting system, even an informed public can’t establish democratic policies on the other two issues, or on any issue.
EMR, electro-magnetic radiation (non-ionizing) from cell phones, wi-fi, etc.; and ionizing radiation from nuclear pollution can irreversibly damage the DNA of humans and all other living beings.
That’s why we say we work to support ‘democracy in defense of DNA.’
This year, despite Trumpism and overreaching corporate power, there's been several successes and breakthroughs. Amazing folks in both the EMR safety and awareness movement and in the anti-nuclear movement achieved wins.
We're still on the edge of the precipice with the telecommunications industry push to densify EMR in our neighborhoods and in the push to move lethal radioactive waste onto the beach at San Onofre and onto the highways, railways and waters towards New Mexico. Not to mention Trump's nuclear saber rattling against North Korea and Iran.
But, as we end 2017, we want to credit the intense efforts of some of the many people who've nevertheless achieved important accomplishments.
On the EMR front:
- The VETO was signed by Gov. Brown of SB 649, a blatant attempt by the telecommunications industry to subvert state and local control of telecom technology. This bill would have given a rubber stamp for AT&T and Verizon to install powerful microwave emitting antennas every couple of hundred feet along streets on any light pole, telephone pole, etc. In addition to holding meetings, giving radio interviews, writing articles and testifying in Sacramento, EON partnered with EMFSafetyNetwork and prize-winning cartoonist Brian Narelle to design and produce a postcard that many thousands of people sent to the Governor’s office. A growing alliance of committed allies throughout the state worked ceaselessly to block this bill.
By James Heddle – EON, the Ecological Options Network
Clear and Present Danger
Back in Presidential Debate days, candidate Trump revealed that he didn’t know that the term ‘Nuclear Triad’ refers to America’s three-legged nuclear arsenal of land-, sea- and air-launched nuclear missiles – of which he is now ominously in charge. But there is another, original ’nuclear triad’ now clearly in evidence.
Never before has the unbreakable connection between nuclear energy, weapons and waste been so blatantly obvious to the public eye…yet, with so little notice.
Although President Trump has threatened to obliterate North Korea and its 25 million people ‘with fire and fury the like of which the world has never seen,’ the NYT is reporting that America’s Asian allies doubt Washington’s ‘resolve’ to defend them with nuclear weapons and they want their own – an idea recently also floated by Trump himself.
In a new twist on the last century’s discredited ‘Atoms for Peace’ meme, the new nuclear delusion seems to be that the more countries that have nuclear weapons (Iran and North Korea excepted), the more ‘secure’ the world will become.
Speaking recently at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, Trump’s VP Mike Pence, a self-declared devout Christian who ‘gave my life to Jesus,’ declared “… there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal.”
Implication: every country should feel safer if they have a nuclear arsenal of their own. That seems precisely Kim Jong-Un’s own calculus, given his country’s previous horrific carpet-bombing experience with the US – “we… eventually burned down every town in North Korea,” Gen. Curtis LeMay told Congress – not to mention the recent history of Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Nuclear Circular Firing Squad
As agitation reportedly builds in South Korea and Japan for building their own nuclear arsenals, the Times reveals that, as a result of the radioactive waste output of their already existing nuclear energy reactor fleets, each of these tiny countries has accumulated enough weapons-grade plutonium to produce – respectively – 4,600 and 6,000 nuclear bombs.
How about that? Nations without their own ‘commercial power’ nukes must certainly take note.
Never mind the fact that such a triangle of nuclear-armed, mutually hostile, neighboring states would be like, say, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut each having their own nuclear arsenals, all pointing at each other. Talk about a circular firing squad. It’s the very definition of an ‘everybody loses’ situation.
Nuclear Triplets Joined at the Hip
But, while this is clearly an illustration of a new epidemic of nuclear crackpot madness spreading around the world, it is also the latest of several clear illustrations – and blatant, though veiled, public admissions – that the DNA-destroying nuclear triplets of energy, weapons and radioactive waste are inseparably joined-at-the-hip.
In the UK:
“Military Nuclear Industry to be Supported by Payments from Electricity Consumers”
In Britian, reports the Guardian, “The government is using the “extremely expensive” Hinkley Point C nuclear power station to cross-subsidize Britain’s nuclear weapon arsenal, according to senior scientists.”
The Guardian story continues,
In evidence submitted to the influential public accounts committee (PAC), which is currently investigating the nuclear plant deal, scientists from Sussex University state that the costs of the Trident programme could be “unsupportable” without “an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructure.”
Prof Andy Stirling and Dr Phil Johnstone from the Science Policy Research Unit at the university write that the £19.6bn Hinkley Point project will “maintain a large-scale national base of nuclear-specific skills” without which there is concern “that the costs of UK nuclear submarine capabilities could be insupportable.”
Their evidence suggests that changes in the government’s policy on nuclear power in recent years will effectively allow Britain’s military nuclear industry to be supported by payments from electricity consumers.
Last June, MPs passed a motion in favour of replacing four submarines carrying Trident missiles at a cost of £40bn.
“What our research suggests is that British low-carbon energy strategies are more expensive than they need to be, in order to maintain UK military nuclear infrastructures,” said Stirling.
“And without assuming the continuation of an extremely expensive UK civil nuclear industry, it is likely that the costs of Trident would be significantly greater.”
The Hinkley Point project has been criticised for its huge cost.
… Johnstone said the decision-making process behind Hinkley raised questions about transparency and accountability, saying: “In this ever more networked world, both civil and military nuclear technologies are increasingly recognized as obsolete. Yet it seems UK policymaking is quietly trying to further entrench the two – in ways that have been escaping democratic accountability.”
In their report, entitled Some Queries over Neglected Strategic Factors in Public Accounting for UK Nuclear Power: evidence to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee Inquiry on Hinkley Point C (HPC), Stirling and Johnstone state that their “evidence submits that an undetermined part of the full costs of this expensive, controversial – but officially highly-prioritized – military infrastructure are in effect (without clear public acknowledgement or justification), being loaded into electricity prices. With costs of alternative large-scale domestic low-carbon energy resources like offshore wind power confirmed as significantly more favorable than HPC, it seems a hidden subsidy is being imposed on electricity consumers.”
They point out that, “If UK pursuit of uncompetitive nuclear power is partly justified as a means to sustain these shared civil-military specialized nuclear capacities, then availability of lower cost domestic low-carbon power means electricity prices are higher than would otherwise be the case…. It is this that would amount to an effective subsidy from electricity consumers to military nuclear infrastructures.”
They conclude, “Remarkably, this civil-military link is well documented in defense debates, but entirely neglected in energy policy discussion.” (emphasis added.)
In the US:
Chasing Nuclear Market Share
In a recent piece in Foreign Affairs, entitled Will the West Let Russia Dominate the Nuclear Market? – What the Westinghouse Bankruptcy Means for the Future, born-again ‘new environmentalists’ and new nukes enthusiasts Nick Gallucci and Michael Shellenberger argue that US taxpayers should bail out the once-powerful, now bankrupt and Japanese-owned nuclear giant Westinghouse, or risk losing both global commercial and military nuclear primacy.
In the face of documented world-wide nuclear industry collapse, these guys want to revive what they call Eisenhower’s ‘humanitarian dream’ of Atoms for Peace (which spread deadly US nuclear technology around the world in the first place ) in order to, as Ike promised, “provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.”
Now, according to nuclear true-believers Nick and Mike, with the added benefit of saving civilization from climate change with new, ‘clean’ nuclear energy will be run on what they call ‘accident tolerant fuels’ – still a completely untested ‘nukes-for-ever’ concept.
The core element in their misguided pitch is that the decline of the civilian nuclear industry in the USA “would significantly undermine U.S. and Western national security interests.”
This, despite statistics showing that global investments in non-hydro renewables are now greater than the global investments in nuclear, hydro and fossil fuels combined.
Nuclear Policy Group-Think Adrift in a Sea of Delusion
Elsewhere in the news, a report by the pro-nuclear Energy Innovation Reform Project on the future costs of new nuclear in the USA notes that: “A sustained decline in the commercial industry could also have a negative impact on the U.S. nuclear naval program.”
A 2017 report entitled The U.S. Nuclear Energy Enterprise: A Key National Security Enabler by the Energy Futures Initiative – another pro-nuke shop established by former Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz – clearly highlights the risks posed by US civilian nuclear decline to US naval supply chains.
Nukes on the Dole – Radioactive Welfare Queens
All of which may help to explain some strange recent developments.
Nuclear utilities are in trouble, fighting for life against – as Amory Lovins once predicted – ‘a massive overdose of market forces’ and the surging economics of renewables.
But wait. Whatever happened to ‘”the wisdom of the ‘free market’?” Around the country, as aging reactors reach the end of their operational and economic lives, some states like Wisconsin, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Nebraska are letting them die a dignified natural death. But other states, like New York and Illinois are putting their moribund reactors on life support at public expense. Projections suggest that state-sponsored electric ratepayer handouts in the two states could total as much as $10 billion over 12 years.
Tim Judson, Director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS),
warns that if other states follow New York and Illinois, “The price would be outrageous. If reactor subsidies go nationwide, it could cost $130-$280 billion by 2030.”
Earlier this year NukeWatch.org Directpr John LaForge reported on Counterpunch, https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/14/nuclear-power-bums-bailouts-and-bankruptcy/
“Bailout legislation for dilapidated reactors is now pending: in Connecticut, for Millstone 2 & 3; in New Jersey, for Salem 1 & 2 and Hope Creek; in Texas, for South Texas 1 & 2 and Comanche Peak 1 & 2; in Maryland, for Calvert Cliffs 1 & 2; and for nine reactors in Pennsylvania including Beaver Valley 1 & 2, Three Mile Island 1, Susquehanna 1 & 2, Limerick 1 & 2, and Peach Bottom 2 & 3.
Meanwhile America’s Trillion dollar nuclear arsenal upgrade goes forward, even as an overwhelming majority of United Nations states sign on to a treaty declaring the possession, use or threatened use of nuclear weapons illegal under international law.
In the face of the spreading renewed nuclear crackpotism noted above, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), has been the driving force behind the UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. ICAN will receive the Nobel Peace Prize Dec 10.
Atoms for Peace War
All of which suggests, you can’t advocate for nuclear reactors without indirectly advocating for nuclear weapons and radioactive waste. That’s because nuclear reactors are producers of both weapons material and radioactive waste. Ike was a nuclear conman. ‘Atoms for Peace’ have always been Atoms for War.
And, as Bennett Ramberg showed conclusively in his prescient, but tragically ignored, 1984 book Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy: An Unrecognized Military Peril, its also because every nuclear reactor and radioactive waste storage site in the world are themselves nuclear-weapons-in-place for any enterprising terrorist.
Concluded Ramberg, “Because nuclear energy facilities contain such large inventories of biologically threatening radionuclides, they can make potentially useful radiological weapons when manipulated for strategic purposes.”
James Heddle is a filmmaker and writer who co-directs EON – the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan, who contributed ideas for this article. Their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection is now in post-production. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Staring the Situation Squarely in the Face
W.C. Fields’ sage advice to “seize the bull by the tail and stare the situation squarely in the face” was being followed in Berkeley, CA Oct. 7-8, as a virtual ‘who’s who’ of voting rights advocates gathered from around the country at the 2nd Annual National Election Integrity Conference. It was sponsored by the non-partisan National Voting Rights Task Force & California Election Integrity Coalition. They looked at the many ways the US electoral system is dysfunctional and what is needed to fix it.
What follows are four brief excerpts of speakers from among a stellar line-up of presenters.
What Exit Polls Show About US Elections – Peter Peckarsky
With the distracting meme of “Russian Influence,” we are avoiding a fact-based analysis of the 2016 election – at our own peril.
By James Heddle, EON
Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason?
Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.
Sir John Harington 1561-1612 – (Also credited with being the inventor of the flush toilet.)
[ Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article is posted on ReaderSupportedNews.org and FreePress.org Also cross-posted on NoNukesCA.net ]
Tragedy, Comedy and Farce All Rolled Into One
The official mythic revisionism of the recent US electoral debacle now seems to be settling firmly into place: Putin did it – the outcome was a result of ‘Russian influence.’
One can see how the Russian Influence Mind Fogging Meme might be mutually convenient for the elites of both parties to unite behind.
For the Dems it deflects attention away from their terminal corruption and incompetence.
For the GOP it deflects attention away from their gargantuan election theft apparatus, patiently assembled by the ruthless radical right-wing billionaires over the past decades .
For the deluded and dis-informed members of the American populace it provides someone to hate besides themselves and each other.
For nuclear crackpots and war profiteers, it inches us all closer to self-obliteration.
The only parties not served by the meme are the bemused and beleaguered President-Select Himself and his converging wrecking crew of nabobs and knuckleheads. Not only have they no mandate, but their entire tenure will now be indelibly tarred by the Putin brush.
As for the GOP, it’s hard to imagine how they’ll really be comfortable with being known henceforth as the Putative Party of Putin.
All this brought to us thanks to ‘the intelligence community,’ whose professional stock-in-trade, after all, is propaganda and ‘psyops’ mind-fogging operations and whose recent reputation is rife with examples of falsified evidence, screw-ups and failures.
Why not just declare the election a ballsup and do it all over again? (No one can hear your screams.)
Anything but the facts, M’am
Unfortunately for the future prospects of democracy in America, the claim that ‘Russian influence’ was more determinative of the election’s outcome than the vast GOP vote rigging complex, the Dems’ own incompetence, and the systematic disenfranchisement of millions of voters does not fit the easily available, verifiable ‘facts- on-the-ground.’
It is well known common practice, in the rough and tumble, cloak and dagger machinations of normal geopolitics, for governments to seek to influence the outcomes of foreign elections in ways favorable to their own interests.
Washington is a past master at this game, so is Russia, and so are all the other players having the capacity. This is not news, this is history.
So, with the latest ‘revelations’ – shown at this writing only to Obama, top officials and the President-Select – the intelligence community has reportedly concluded that ‘Russia developed a desire to influence the election in favor of Trump.’ Given the candidates’ respective publically declared attitudes toward Russia – Hillary, bellicose; Donald, friendly – that’s no surprise there either.
But were whatever ‘influences’ the Russians attempted to unleash on public perceptions so effective that – although Hillary won the popular vote by over 3 million ballots – Trump carried the key states that gave him the Electoral College victory?
Was the Russian ‘influence’ on the election outcome more significant than the systematic gerrymandering since 2011 of those key battleground states by GOP operatives using the REDMAP computer software and strategy, as documented in David Daley’s Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy?
Was it more effective than the massive voter suppression, purging and disenfranchisement tactics carried out by the Crosscheck computer program and discriminatory ID laws in battleground states, which blocked hundreds of thousands – if not millions – from voting, as documented by investigative reporter Greg Palast in his new documentary The Best Democracy Money Can Buy? https://thebestdemocracymoneycanbuy.com/
Was it more ‘influential’ than the $ billions in strategically targeted investments of the Koch donor network over the last decade and its multi-state army of astro-turf front-groups revealed in Jane Mayer’s Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right and on the interactive site Koch Cash – Tracking the Single Largest Source of Private Money Corrupting Democracy published by the International Forum on Globalization (IFG)? https://kochcash.org/the-kochtopus/
Was it more determinative than the partisan private ownership of the secretly programed, ‘Black Box’ electronic poll books, voting, ballot scanning and central tabulating machines that tallied the ‘official’ count, as predicted in Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman’s prescient book THE STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft?
[Their important post-election analysis can be found at https://freepress.org/
The EON YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/eon3/videos
See also Bev Harris’s invaluable https://blackboxvoting.org/ ]
Was it more significant than the unvarifiable, ‘adjusted exit polls’ supplied by the suspect Edison Research organization hired by the mainstream media consortium to ‘verify’ the vote, as revealed in Jonathan Simon’s CODE RED: Computerized Election Theft and The New American Century: Election 2016 Edition? The U.S. State Department and the U.S. Agency on International Development treat un-adjusted exit polls as the gold standard of election integrity… everywhere but here at home.
If you can believe the ‘Russian influence’ meme after examining just those few easily available sources, I have a bridge to sell you, cheap.
And, if such gullibility is widespread, there is little hope that the massively corrupted US electoral system will ever be unfixed.
Onward Through the MindFog
Since he famously doesn’t need to read much, Mr. Trump could well have groped his way into the White House without even knowing about the vast vote rigging apparatus painstakingly constructed over the years by the GOP and the ruthless radical rich who have now taken it over. But he and his billionaire band of crackpots and scoundrels are for sure taking advantage of it now. And so are the GOP operatives happily consolidating control over the states caught up in the nationwide ‘Red Sweep’ that has resulted from the most flawed election in US history.
But that history is a sine wave, not an arc. Progressives at home and abroad can still effectively resist the worst effects of the emerging Trumpocalypse, but our elections will never have integrity unless we arm ourselves with a fact-based understanding of what really went wrong in our electoral system provided by just those few sources listed above.
Meanwhile, goaded by the Russian Hacker scare, President Obama has imposed sanctions on Russia and expelled 35 of its diplomats on suspicion of being ‘enemy agents.’ The chorus of Putin bashing rises in volume and intensity…as does the likely possibility of crackpot nuclearists pushing the US toward nuclear war with Russia, even China.
All this because we are unwilling or incapable of facing the fact-based reality of our systematically U.S. insider-compromised elections system.
The Assent of the Trumpskyite Ruthless Radical Rich Wrecking Crew
While all this is going on President-Select Trump – described by one European observer as ‘the latest “bobble head doll on the dashboard of real [U.S.] power,”’ has been busy appointing an administration peopled by the largest assembly of ideologically extremist billionaires and rabid militarists that have ever been gathered under one roof.
Cabinet appointees will work to pervert, hamstring or abolish the departments and regulatory agencies which they now head. https://commondreams.org/news/2017/01/06/new-resource-exposes-corporate-chieftains-filling-trump-cabinet
Simultaneously, the Captured Congress got off to an inglorious start, first revealing its true nature by attempting unsuccessfully to gut ethics oversight, then debating the abolition of Obamacare and the dismantling of Medicare.
The Planetarian Perplex – Surviving in the Nuclear Antropocene
Because of the widespread willful ignorance about our radically rigged election system, we are now about to be ruled for an indefinite – possibly terminal – period by an extremist regime of climate change denialists, fossil fuel moguls, crackpot nuclearists and racist neo-fascist billionaires.
No less an authority than Noam Chomsky tells us that the twin converging threats of nuclear war and climate change now present the greatest peril to survival ever faced by our species. Scientists have now identified human activity as the main factor in geological change and dubbed this new geologic era the ‘Anthropocene.’ Given recent developments, it might better be called the Nuclear Anthropocene. https://www.democracynow.org/2017/1/2/noam_chomsky_with_trump_election_we
President-select-without-a-mandate Trump recently tweeted “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” In a subsequent interview he added, “Let it be an arms race… we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” This from the guy who believes climate change is a Chinese hoax, while the Forces of Fossil Fuels have – at least temporarily – captured the machinery of government.
If all this doesn’t worry you much, check out Bill Perry Is Terrified. Why Aren’t You?
John F. Harris and Bryan Bender’s Politico interview with a former US Defense Secretary turned nuclear abolitionist. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/william-perry-nuclear-weapons-proliferation-214604
Thus do we find ourselves in a domestically triggered existential crisis, global in scope, ripe with danger and opportunity, in which the question is starkly posed: can we, working with others at home and abroad, avert apocalypse and planetary ecocide in the Nuclear Anthropocene?
Since all that now seems left of ‘American exceptionalism’ is our nation’s overarching negative impacts on the planet and all its beings and ecosystems, it seems incumbent on those of us who have experienced the trauma of awakening to the realities of our situation to devote the rest of our lives to that planetarian purpose.
Don’t Mourn, Organize
Maybe the current crisis is triggering the immune cells in the body politic into action. Whether or not they have parsed all the contributing causes, people are clear they don’t like the result. Protests and campaigns of resistance are taking form across the nation and around the world.
One example is a Plan currently circulating in progressive circles called Indivisible:
A practical guide For resisting the Trump agenda, in which ‘Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen.’
Indivisible, with no apparent sense of irony, calls for the adoption of Tea Party tactics – “If a small minority in the Tea Party can stop President Obama, then we the majority can stop a petty tyrant named Trump.” Unlike the radical right they plan to mount “a resistance built on the values of inclusion, tolerance, and fairness….”
Others, who do view Trump as “the latest bobble head doll on the dashboard of real [U.S.] power,” are counting on non-compliance at home and international opposition abroad to precipitate transformative system-wide change and forestall a self-imposed extinction event.
[See: ‘Social Self-Defense’: Protecting People and Planet Against Trump and Trumpism by Jeremy Brecher
Margaret Mead famously advised, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
The rigging of the US electoral process by a relatively small network of the ruthless, the radical, and the rich has shown that Maggie’s aphorism can cut both ways.
To paraphrase a recent statement by ninety-year-old activist-icon Harry Bellefonte, we have some serious ass kicking to do in the Nuclear Anthropocene. Lets get started….
[ https://www.democracynow.org/2017/1/2/noam_chomsky_harry_belafonte_in_conversation ]
James Heddle co-directs EON, the Ecological Options Network with Mary Beth Brangan. https://eon3.net/
They blog at https://planetarianperspectives.net/
Their popular YouTube channel has featured video reports on vote rigging and the election protection movement since 2004. https://www.youtube.com/user/eon3/videos
They are currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection. https://www.shutdowndoc.tv/
Thanks for Your Help in Engaging the Key Issues of Our Time in 2016.
Please Make a Year-End Donation to Help Us in 2017!
Tax-deductible contributions can be made on-line
Just a quick scan of this past year’s video reports on our popular YouTube Channel [on left] will give you a taste of the topics and events we’ve covered – with your support – in 2016:
- The biological effects of the on-going Fukushima disaster;
- The emergence of a New Nuclear Arms Race;
- The fight to shutdown Diablo Canyon before the Big One hits;
- The links between nuclear energy, weapons and waste;
- Former Japanese PM Koizumi’s support for Fukushima-injured US sailors:
- The trans-pacific solidarity of Japanese and US nuclear abolitionists;
- Corruption our election system by the ruthless, radical rich .01%.
But that would only be part of the story. You would also need to look at our blogs – PlanetarianPerspectives.net, NoNukesCA.net, and eonEMFblog.net. And don’t forget checking out our daily posts on FaceBook and Twitter.
We’re also proud of our fiscal sponsorship of organizations like Positive News, EMFAnalysis and the EMF Safety Network, and our cooperation with the latter in flow-funding other US groups working on wireless electromagnetic pollution issues.
Yet even that wouldn’t give you the full picture. That’s because our major, on-going focus since 2011 has been on an 2017 premiere of our documentary SHUTDOWN – The California-Fukushima Connection.
Six years in the making – and now in its post-production phase – this timely, empowering documentary telling California’s nuclear stories also exposes the myths about the usefulness of nuclear power to confront climate change and the usefulness of nuclear weapons to resolve conflict.
President-select Trump recently tweeted “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes….Let it be an arms race… we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” This documentary is a passionate call to consciousness by nuclear war protesters and activists from local reactor communities who have recognized the looming existential threat of nuclear energy, weapons and waste – the real ‘nuclear triad.’ Their hard won knowledge is now even more necessary than ever – crackpot nuclearism is on the rise.
Please continue to contribute what you can to help us raise the $50,000 needed to bring SHUTDOWN to the fine-cut stage by early 2017 and keep the rest of our operation going.
EON – the Ecological Options Network is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. Tax-deductible contributions can be made on-line at EON3.net/donate. Checks may be made out to EON and mailed to EON, PO Box 1047, Bolinas, CA 94924. For more information please call 415-868-1900.
EON Co-Directors Mary Beth Brangan and James Heddle,
ably assisted by the multi-talented Morgan Peterson, are now at work on their forthcoming documentary
SHUTDOWN – The California-Fukushima Connection
The Woodward and Bernstein of Election Integrity
Every presidential election since 2004, we have traveled to Columbus, in key swing state of Ohio, to video document election protection efforts by Harvey Wasserman, Bob Fitrakis and the Columbus Free Press team (FreePress.org). We made the trip again this year and have just returned from filming post-recount interviews with both of them in Columbus last week.
Harvey Wasserman – an author, historian, celebrated journalist and lifelong activist, and Bob Fitrakis – a practicing attorney who holds doctorates in both political science and law – are also both popular professors in Columbus colleges.
Dubbed by admirer Jesse Jackson as ‘the Woodward and Bernstein of election integrity’ – after the Washington Post reporters that famously broke the Watergate story in the Nixon era – Fitrakis and Wasserman’s research and reporting on election theft has twice won Project Censored awards.
The Free Press and its sponsoring organization the Columbus Institute of Contemporary Journalism (CICJ) has been in operation since 1970 and run since the ‘90s by life-partners Bob Fitrakis and Suzanne Patzer and their colleague Harvey Wasserman. Their work has been a vital epicenter not only of local community organizing and investigative reporting, but also of the national US Election Protection movement.
At the same time, they have either been consistently ignored or repeatedly denounced by mainstream media as “conspiracy theorists.”
Nevertheless, their ground-breaking findings have consistently been validated by subsequent developments. They were unfortunately right on target with their prescient analysis of the 2016 election in their book “The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows and Electronic Election Theft,” published in early 2016, months before the Nov. 8 vote.
For more than a decade, from their unique vantage point in one of the country’s main ground zero’s of vote rigging, they‘ve documented the multiple methods by which America’s elections have been stolen…and helped to galvanize grassroots awareness and resistance not only in Ohio, but across the country.
EON is proud to help give their important work wider exposure. Here are four recent video interviews done as the election saga unfolded, and links to recent articles.
[ In the works: A report from inside the recount saga and post-Electoral College analysis. ]
Losers Win, Winners Lose
Bob Fritakis and Harvey Wasserman on the seriously flawed US voting and electoral college system and the outcome of the 2016 election. The FreePress,org reporting team that Jesse Jackson dubbed the Woodward and Bernstein of Election Protection comment on the outcome of the 2016 presidential election and why the American election system needs a total overhaul from top to bottom.
The Illegitimate Election 2016
What are the legitimate grounds for calling the recent election awarding the Presidency to Donald Trump illegitimate? Political scientist and attorney Dr. Robert Fitrakis and investigative historian Harvey Wasserman – editors of FreePress.org – summarize the evidence in this exclusive EON interview.
They are the co-authors of the book STRIP & FLIP SELECTION OF 2016 – Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft, available here –
Greg Palast interviews Bob Fitrakis on Voter Purges
How did the Ohio Republican Sec. of State purge and disenfranchise so many voters from the voter rolls? A conversation between Bob Fitrakis and Greg Palast, two of the leading investigative reporters on the many vote rigging methods at work in US elections.
Palast Interviews Fitrakis on Election Theft
Why before the Nov. 8, 2016 election, did Republican authorities in key swing state Ohio turn off the safety features for ballot records even though this security measure is already programmed into their electronic voting machine software?
A conversation between Bob Fitrakis and Greg Palast, two of the leading investigative reporters on the many vote rigging methods at work in US elections.
Clips from this interview were aired as part of Greg Palast’s report on Democracy Now
Election Coverage Links
If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.
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’ https://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…” https://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.” https://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 https://lcnp.org/
and Nuclear Zero https://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: https://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. https://eon3.net/ with Mary Beth Brangan. They are currently at work on a new documentary SHUTDOWN: The California-Fukushima Connection. https://www.shutdowndoc.tv/
If you like EON’s work, you can support it, whatever your budget level, here.
“If its accidents do not end nuclear power, its economics will.” Ralph Nader 1992
Nine More Years
On June 28, 2016, the California State Lands Commission (SLC) voted unanimously to extend a lease agreement that will allow PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear generating station to run for nine more years until its operating license runs out in 2025.
Both celebrated and condemned by groups on virtually all sides of the nuclear energy issue, the decision essentially gives the go-ahead to a Joint Proposal drafted by a group of parties including PG&E, Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Environment California, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, and the Alliance For Nuclear Responsibility.
CEQA Si, CEQA No?
The issue before the SLC was essentially whether or not continued operation of the aging plant – seriously impacting sealife and located over 13 earthquake faults – by a company currently under Federal indictment for safety violations, should require an environmental assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In saying ‘no,’the Commission, which includes Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and state Comptroller Betty Yee, chose not to exercise its prerogatives under public trust doctrine and the CEQA law. Some groups are reportedly planing to sue the Commission on those issues, claiming that its decision will allow PG&E to run out the remainder of Diablo’s license virtually without oversight and regulation, while enjoying ‘full cost recovery.’
Seen from afar, the shutdown plan can be seen as confirmation that nuclear energy is not cost effective and will eventually be phased out – a blow to nuclear proponents. But for local and regional stakeholders, who will be living with the existential risks posed by the two aging reactors for the next decade, the slow motion shutdown plan seems like playing nuclear roulette with their lives, livelihoods and property. A recent study shows links between radiation spikes in Bakersfield and refueling shutdowns and restarts at Diablo.
Events at Diablo Canyon do closely fit with the beta radiation spikes. The start of the spikes begins as they power up unit 2 from a refueling outage. The other spikes match power up or power down events including the known feedwater pre-heater leak. Radiation releases are known to increase during refueling outages. Purges of decay tank gasses or areas of the reactor building during shutdown and startup activities have the potential to release radioactive contamination to the air. Leaking equipment such as a feedwater pre-heater (what leaked at Diablo Canyon #1) could potentially lead to leaks to the environment. Diablo Canyon May Have Leaked Significant Radioactivity In Recent Years
Seems like this finding alone should trigger a CEQA review.
Some say now that the shutdown has been agreed to in principle, it can and should be sped up with a more rapid transition to renewables – to which Diablo’s continued operation is a serious barrier.
In the interest of casting some light on the complex issues involved, EON offers the following video clips about this important decision making process.
[For more on this issue see: Anatomy of a nuke closure: How PG&E decided to shutter Diablo Canyon In a policy environment that prizes renewables, PG&E saw no cost-effective route to keeping the giant nuclear plant open
Mothers for Peace Rally for an Enviro Review of Diablo Canyon
San Luis Obispo, CA – June 28, 2016 – Mothers for Peace holds a rally calling for a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review of Diablo Canyon’s environmental impacts.
The rally was held ahead of a California State Lands Commission meeting on a Joint Proposal by PG&E and environmental and labor groups to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant running until its licenses run out nine years from now.
Mothers for Peace Spokeswomen Linda Seeley and Jane Swanson make the case for a CEQA environmental impact review, given the plant’s aging components, seismic risks and PG&E’s Federally indicted safety record. They are joined by Dr. Jerry Brown and Rinaldo Brutoco from the Santa Barbara-based World Business Academy.
PG&E’s Geisha J. Williams on Diablo Shutdown Proposal 6-28-2016
California State Lands Commission – June 28,2016 – PG&E President, Electric, Geisha J. Williams describes a Shutdown Proposal for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant which the company arrived at in negotiation with a small group of environmental and labor organizations.
The Joint Proposal – provisions of which must still be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) – plans for the nuclear facility to be shut down at the end if its operating license, nine years from now.
Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.
The full California Lands Commission meeting for Jun 28, 2016 is available on-line at https://www.cal-span.org/media.php?folder=CSLC
PG&E’s Geisha J. Williams – Q&A on Diablo Shutdown Proposal
July 28, 2016 – PG&E President, Electric, Geisha J. Williams responds to State Land Commission questions on the shut down Proposal for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which the company arrived at in negotiation with a small group of environmental and labor organizations.
Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.
John Geesman & Rochelle Becker on Diablo Shutdown Proposal 6-28-2016
Attorney John Geesman and Executive Director Rochelle Becker of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility (A4NR.org) speak at the July 28, 2016 State Lands Commission meeting about the Joint Proposal to shut down Diablo Canyon at the end of nine years. The Alliance is one of the Parties in the Joint Proposal with PG&E.
Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.
Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.
Betty Yee on the Diablo Shutdown Proposal – 6-28-2016
At the June 28, 2016 meeting of the California State Lands Commission, Chairwoman Betty Yee had this to say before she voted in favor of extending PG&E’s lease on Diablo Canyon land controlled by the Commission.
Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.
Gavin Newsom on the Diablo Shutdown Proposal – 6-28-2016
At the June 28, 2016 meeting of the California State Lands Commission, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom had this to say before he voted in favor of extending PG&E’s lease on Diablo Canyon land controlled by the Commission.
Video by Cal-Span.org Excerpted by EON as a public service.
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NEXIT: WHY NATO NEEDS TO EXIT
Guest Blog by Cecile Pineda
[ Author of Apology to a Whale: Words to Mend a World, available from Wingspress.com
“An urgent re-framing of current ecological thinking, Apology To A Whale addresses what the intersection of relative linguistics and archeology reveals about the present world’s power relations, and what the extraordinary communication of plants and animals can teach us.” ]
The North Atlantic Treat Organization (that’s NATO to you) is scheduled to hold a three-day summit in Warsaw, Poland starting July 8. U.S. Peace organizations have been contacted to join the international protest.
Why we urgently need to get involved:
The U.S. through its NATO surrogates, has established bases fronting Russia’s western borders, furnishing them with troops, and equipping them with long range missiles targeting Moscow and other Russian Cities, sharply increasing the very real risk of all-out nuclear war.
Polish and all other International Organizers are calling for:
•No troops or maneuvers at Russia’s Western border
•No further armament of NATO member states, especially at the expense of health, education and welfare
•No new nuclear weapons and no modernization of existing arsenals worldwide
•No missile defense system in Eastern Europe
•No NATO operations against refugees
The SF-BAY AREA SAYS ‘NO’ TO NATO.
In solidarity with European protesters, and in coalition with other peace and anti-nuclear organizations, Code Pink will focus its monthly Bridge Walk for Peace to protest NATO’s increasingly threatening maneuvers on the West’s border with Russia. All Bay Area peace organizations are invited to join the events and to help spread the world.
When: Sunday, July 10. Rally and March at Noon (gather at 11:45 AM)
Where: Golden Gate Bridge. Gather at South End plaza for a rally; followed by a bridge walk.
Parking (carpooling highly recommended): arrive by 11:15 to grab a parking spot in either lot to the east or west side south bridge lots. OR park at Crissy Field and climb the stairs to the South End Plaza. The Plaza is also accessible by Muni bus route #28. To co-sponsor this event and for more information or: Toby Blome, email me
BAITING THE BEAR,POKING THE PANDA: NATO at 67 years old
It’s time to retire NATO, which has been kicking around since 1949, 67 years of making sure the world is ready-or-not for democracy – U.S. style. Even dwarves start small. The original Western European Defense Organization of 5 countries prompted the U.S. to step in and enter into diplomatic/military talks resulting in the North Atlantic Treaty. Newly constituted, NATO, added 7 more countries, the U.S., Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. The 12-nation NATO’s goals articulated by Lord Ismay were “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, and the organization became the NATO 14. When the USSR proposed joining the organization only to be rejected, the snub resulted in the Warsaw pact, signed in 1955, which aligned the non-NATO countries including the USSR, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and East Germany in a defense pact of their own.
The geopolitical power struggle seems to have had no choice but to escalate. In response, NATO added more arrows to its quiver. Shortly thereafter West Germany was included., and, following the formation of the apparently chummy NATO-Russia Permanent Joint Council, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland were invited to join, and parlaying the breakup of the Czech and Soviet Republics, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania joined to become the NATO-25.
Starting in 2004, as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing program, jet fighters were deployed in countries bordering the former USSR, including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, culminating in the 2006 Riga Summit, the first NATO summit to be held in a former part of the Soviet Union. Another such summit, in 2008 held in Bucharest, expanded NATO-now-26 to include Albania and Croatia, and both the Ukraine and Georgia were told they eventually could become members (but, ah, ah, ah, not before the Ukrainian coup!) and provided for an anti-ballistic missile system to be deployed in Poland and the Czech Republic, provoking harsh criticism from Russia.
World War/Nuclear war
The 1954 North Atlantic Council document, MC 48, emphasized that NATO would have to use atomic weapons from the outset of any war with the then-USSR whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first, i.e. a First-Strike policy. So far, NATO has intervened by declaring no-fly zones and with bombings in the 1992 Bosnian War in 1999 in Kosovo, and in 2001, invoking Article 5, it responded with several official actions, culminating in its 2003 agreement to take command of the International Security Assistance Force including troops from 42 countries, eventually expanding its control of military operations throughout Afghanistan.
During the Iraq war, NATO provided trainers to assist the Iraqi security forces. It provided warships protecting maritime traffic from incursions by Somali “pirates,” whose aims were to prevent illegal fishing in their own Somali waters; and it was alert and ready to intervene in Libya by enforcing a no-fly zone, and supporting an arms embargo, going so far as to interdict any vessel suspected of carrying either illegal arms or mercenaries.
Running out of bullying energy?
But in June of 2011, then-U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates noticed that some member nations were sloughing off. He accused Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Turkey and Germany of not pulling their weight. Subsequently Norway scaled down, Danish fighters were (horrors!) running out of bombs., and the UK Royal Navy opined the Libya conflict was “unsustainable.”
Is it time for NATO to EXIT? Some speculations are in order:
1) Could the incursions of the NATO-28 amount to World War III under a rosier name?
2) Although NATO presents itself as a peace-keeping operation, its various commissions and subsidiaries all qualify as military operations; no peace commissions form any part of it.
3) Its pattern of expansion suggests conquest by a game of “Baby Steps” as in mother-may-I swallow up the Balkanized states of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union one by one in a slow dance toward total domination.
4) The not-entirely-surprising BREXIT vote seems to indicate popular opinion senses that bloated geopolitical amalgamations such as the European Union may have outlived their usefulness. Can BREXIT signal the eventual collapse an imperial enterprises such as NATO?
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