Mission Statement

This blog is dedicated to tracking current events and developments that exemplify, support or discredit the
themes of City, Save Thyself! Nuclear Terror and the Urban Ballot.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Questions for the Targeted Multitudes

Some one thousand missiles around the world are targeted on short alert. Additional targeting, as we learned on 9/11, is done by terrorists. Here are a few questions for targeted Americans.

If you learn that young people are taught to hate Americans and terrorism is a result, who should you send to better inform those young people, soldiers or civilians?

If cities are targeted by terrorists, given that all people, including terrorists, have common needs - to make a living, raise children, care for the sick and aged, conserve and protect living space, and experience life’s pleasures - how might we make something useful of this?

Which would you choose, between a war where your city is destroyed but your nation wins, or war where your city remains intact but your nation loses? How do we avoid this choice?

If terrorists get nuclear weapons as they are trying to do and security experts predict they will do, will the American nuclear arsenal deter them?

What groups are fomenting misunderstanding and distrust around the world? Any in the U.S.?

What power centers have greater influence on nations’ foreign policies - cities and their populations, or corporations that produce oil, mineral ores, agricultural products, vehicles, machinery, and weapons?

How might cities influence national policy toward law enforcement and away from war?

If you were elected in your city or town to meet with representatives elected in cities and towns of other countries to discuss mutual vulnerability, which of these would you put on the agenda:

- Sources of conflict
- Trade
- Exploitation of labor and natural resources
- Weapons targeting
- Territorial disputes
- Military Alliances
- Zero nuclear weapons
- How to replace the war system with enforced law
- Pledge to teach school children the history, language, culture of all major cultures

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rules of War

I see the Geneva Convention on the Rules of War is up for revision. Rules for war was a great idea - throw a little humanity at Armageddon. It is time, though, to try something more ambitious and prevent war! Time was, in 1918 and 1945, after each World War, when to prevent war was the preeminent objective of nations. Why is it off national agendas? Today’s marvels of communication and transportation make global law enforcement, war’s alternative, finally, blessedly, feasible.

The missing ingredient is political feasibility. Activists by the millions are available to create the feasibility, but they mill around instead of going after political power. As the result, Presidents and Prime Ministers get boxed in by arms makers, profiteers, and assembly line workers at the missile factories, not to mention generals, patriotic yahoos, haters, revengers, and pessimists.

Try an experiment. Imagine that a brief fifty years have passed and you live in a secure world - no war - no nuclear weapons - no national fighting arsenals. Jot down the necessary components of that world. I come up with two:- first, global institutions of law enforcement, with administrative, judicial, and policing branches; second, democratic oversight to keep the enforcement accountable. Where is a proposal or plan to achieve this, never mind how long it might take to achieve. Where is our survival instinct?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

End Time or New Beginning?

Mass delusion seldom approaches reality as closely as today’s religious/sci-fi End Time enthusiasts approach nuclear holocaust. Given nuclear proliferation and the prospect of terrorists with WMD, wild imaginings and history are converging.

Would that End Time fervor prompted more effective effort to prevent nuclear holocaust. Consider that war and law always have been history’s opposing alternatives for controlling events. Problem is, the nation system, which evolved to provide populations with a first-line military defense, is a war system, unable to achieve reliable law enforcement because it’s always, you go first, and my sovereignty is sacred. Nations are hopelessly enmeshed, politically, ideologically, and economically, in preparing for and fighting wars.

Populations, millions of living, feeling, individual humans, are the beginning and end of values, purpose, and existence. All of our institutions, theories, and habits are directed to conserving and carrying on human life. Humans have lost control of the nations, and now need alternative, or additional, institutions through which to conduct public business on the global scale to which science and technology have brought them. With the nation configuration for human endeavor and security enmeshed in an uncontrollable web of private greed and group antagonism, it is time for supplemental configurations.

Sixty-five years after Hiroshima what are the alternatives to the crippled nation system?

International law’s enforcement power is beyond reach because of economic protectiveness, racial biases, chauvinism, greed, pride, and sovereignty concern. In the nuclear age the survival of civilization and avoidance of unimaginable suffering depend on some sizable number of individuals in many nations self-selecting themselves to employ a power configuration that works across national borders and pressures all nations to switch from the war system to enforced law.

The new political configuration must be both sub-national and supra-national. It must give the targeted populations access to political power, and at the same time work across national boundaries. The configuration that meets this test is the municipalities of the world, united for mutual security and able to pressure all their nations at the same time.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life Span - Our Glory and Curse

The human glory and curse is life span - too short to gain enough wisdom, short enough not to lock in mistakes. Life span kills us off, but two redeeming qualities ennoble the species - intellect and social instinct. Every newborn is endowed with inventive potential and a collective instinct.

Democracy was invented to make the most of these twin endowments, but the instinct for common cause has been collectivized into group think that defeats the intellect. Intelligence gets overwhelmed by the torrent of entertainment and information that usurp time and attention.

Group think also breaks the chain of empathy, compassion, and cooperation, the hallmarks of social instinct.

The hope remains that, destructive as the past has been, new folks will do it differently if even a few think hard enough about what to do instead of surrendering to what’s wrong. It can go the other way, though, if in any generation too few lay the groundwork for the doing that takes generations.

John Adams once wrote: “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study paintings, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” (McCullough, p. 236)

I doubt Adams meant that politics, war, and mathematics ever would be dispensed with. The necessity for generations to build on one another is the point. We have lost sight of what the Founders saw so very well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Doctrine of (unrealistic) Realism

Security for the United States is taken to mean winning wars. To the limited degree we take security to mean preventing war, it means intimidating opponents by arms superiority, and diplomacy based on weapons and wealth.

What security no longer means is in fact the only possible source of authentic security, which is enforced law. Authentic security is not sought, because the United States does not want to submit to law. The curse of super power is to rely on power solely.

MIT’s Security Studies Program displays a six panel announcement about its mission, in the first paragraph of which one finds, “...the avoidance of war where possible, and the achievement of victory when necessary.”

MIT is the heart of the war establishment’s academic arm. We see in this sentence how security and war are inextricably bound, regardless of history, logic, creative intelligence, and any life sustaining survival instinct. The sentence denies authentic security in every word. War is to be avoided, not prevented, i.e., its eternal and unpreventable menace is taken for granted. The only alternatives are victory or defeat, not prevention. It is a militarized view of human existence, depending on contentions of force, violence, and cruelty to the exclusion of enforced law and the global democracy that would make enforced law accountable and feasible.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to Lobby for START

The Senate must ratify START by a two-thirds vote. Arms control advocates are being urged to lobby their Senators, but Senators would listen to city and town governments much, much faster than to individual voters. Hundreds of cities around the world remain targeted by ICBMs, twenty years after the Cold War ended. Cities are therefore the logical entities to demand de-targeting. They can speak on behalf of their populations, not to mention their targeted hospitals, libraries, parks, office buildings, and city halls.

A Mayor, City Councilor, Alderman, or Town Selectman is readily accessible for an appointment, especially for an appointment of a group three or six or ten, or representatives of a neighborhood organization. Ask your governing body to hold a public hearing. Local media will be there.

160 American municipalities belong to Mayors for Peace, started by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, numbering 4144 communities in 144 countries. Go to the Mayors for Peace website and see whether your municipality belongs. If it does belong, that will give you a leg up in getting your state’s Senators to vote to ratify START. Mayors for Peace has adopted the 20-20 Vision Campaign, calling for eradication of nuclear weapons by 2020. START is just the start of that.

In my state, Massachusetts, fifteen cities and towns belong to Mayors for Peace, and Republican Senator Scott Brown’s vote is in doubt. Brown should receive resolutions from all those communities, and many more besides.

What you are asking your local governing body for is a resolution addressed to your two Senators, making these points:

1. 65 years have passed since Hiroshima.

2. Twenty years after the Cold War, some one thousand Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles remain targeted at cities around the world, on fifteen minute alert.

3. START is the next step in universal, progressive, verifiable nuclear arms reductions. Slowness in ratifying the Treaty is blocking further progress.

4. This city (or town), on behalf of its targeted population, says ratify START now!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eisenhower's Goals for Americans - Fifty Years Later

Fifty years ago, as his second term was ending, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed a bipartisan group of the country’s smartest people to tell Americans what goals they should pursue. It goes without saying, of course, that Americans are not advice takers and not long term thinkers.

Export more than you import, Goals for Americans advised. Since then, for decades we’ve run trade deficits. Avoid too great concentrations of economic power. The rich have gotten richer and now the richest 1% enjoys a quarter of the income and 44 million live in poverty. Avoid impractical and unnecessary military projects. Reagan’s Star Wars has cost over $100 billion and remains a steady drain without having improved security.

Plan roads, rapid transit, housing, parks, and urban renewal regionally. With some exceptions, urban sprawl prevails, with home foreclosures rife and affordable housing falling ever further behind the need. Extend medical insurance through public and private agencies, and control health costs. Today 46 million are uninsured, and the 2010 battle to take the Commission’s advice 50 years later may have destroyed Obama’s presidency.

Support and strengthen the UN, International Court of Justice, and world law. We’ve treated all of these with disdain, withholding UN dues, limiting ICJ jurisdiction, and refusing to join the International Criminal Court. Create an informed public through better newspapers and television. Newspapers are going out of business and television is a wasteland. Above all, above all, control nuclear weapons by ensuring no nation is in a position of significant advantage, and imposing universal inspections. The world is on the brink of expanded nuclear proliferation and nuclear weapons are seen by many as a standard part of national arsenals.

Interestingly, the first section of Goals for Americans is entitled The Individual and the last is entitled The United Nations. The Commission thus framed the goals, looking forward from World War II, in the context of citizens on the one hand and the world on the other. The nation fell in between. One reason so few of the goals have been realized is that Americans glorify their nation, denigrate the UN, and deny personal responsibility. They endow a disembodied construct, their nation, with all responsibility, and relieve themselves of any responsibility.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

War, Limited War, and Nuke War

Americans are being revved up for war on Iran. The strategy may be to increase pressure on Iran. Or it may be to see what kind of opposition develops. Or it may be for real.

As one example of many, Republican Senator Scott Brown returned from a Congressional tour of Israel and Jordan to tell journalists at a 9/11 gathering, according to The Boston Globe, that terrorists and Iran are the two big dangers. Iran with nuclear weapons would start a nuclear arms race similar to the U.S./U.S.S.R. Cold War race.

The Atlantic September edition carries a dramatic cover illustration with Jeffrey Goldberg’s article title, “Israel is Getting Ready to Bomb Iran.” Scarier yet is the piece that follows Goldberg’s, by the incendiary Robert D. Kaplan, “Living With Nuclear Iran.”

Kaplan starts out sounding like a cautious alternative to Goldberg, urging containment of a nuclear Iran. He goes on, though, to parade out Henry Kissinger’s Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy, and conclude, “We must be more willing, not only to accept the prospect of limited war but, as Kissinger does in his book a half century ago, to accept the prospect of a limited nuclear war between states.”

Wow, but what he is saying is that when Iran has nuclear weapons, nuclear war with Israel may follow, or that if Goldberg is right and Israel bombs Iran and follows that up as it would, by telling Iran, “Don’t retaliate for our bombing or we will nuke you,” the U.S. must be ready to accept the possibility of limited nuclear war.

Kaplan is a barn burner from way back. In City, Save Thyself! I quote this from Kaplan’s 2001 The Coming Anarchy: “Peace, as a primary goal, is dangerous because it implies that you will sacrifice any principle for the sake of it. A long period of peace in an advanced technological society like ours could lead to great evils, and the ideal of a world permanently at peace and governed benignly by a world organization is not an optimistic view of the future but a dark one.”

You won’t find the media, whether mainstream or other, permitting exploration of globally enforced law as the alternative to the war system, even as a new war draws closer. The threatened populations hear no constructive proposals, because the media keeps them off limits and anti-war protesters, who trumpet “Peace!” and “Out of Afghanistan!” seem afraid to voice the radical shifts that ending the war system must entail. Kaplan is left free to posit dark global enslavement as the only alternative to glorious war.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Countdown to Zero - the film

I saw Countdown to Zero opening night at Kendall Square Cinema, Cambridge, MA. A great opportunity for the already-convinced to get on the same page, and for doubters who still think of nuclear weapons as a useful part of the defensive arsenal to rethink.

Interesting emphasis on the centrality of nuclear material as opposed to hardware and technology. 90% of the Manhattan Project, it seems, was getting and preparing the material, not the bombs themselves. And this has not changed.

Nice to give leaders of the arms control movement a platform, but they offer no political strategy, i.e., strategy to get the power to change things.  Their imaginations falter when it comes to political action other than persuading other leaders, their counterparts in national government.  Leaders love talking to Presidents and Congress Members.  But lobbying doesn’t do it, whether in the form of learned discussions or writing letters and marching. Sixty-five years and counting. Lobbying doesn’t do it. 

For all the film’s rich content on the creation and the numbers and peril of the weapons, its scope is narrow, both as to history and solutions. Like most of the anti-nuke effort, it is clueless about solutions other than saying no to nukes. This makes sense if the film is understood simply as a collaboration with the President’s announced goal of Zero. Ultimately, though, a secure world requires an alternative way of doing things. Zero Weapons is like Peace.  It is the absence of something rather than an alternative.

This weakness was most evident in the movie’s powerful review of the Iranian menace.  I thought the only conclusion to be drawn was to attack Iran, not something I favor. Ditto re the huge dangers posed by Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. 

Granted there is only so much one motion picture can try to do. Still, the makers should have tried harder for some of the important background that one needs to be effective, including background on the history. The references to Hiroshima should have noted the doubts about our true motivations in dropping the first two bombs. The references to Reagan and Gorbachev at Reykjavik should have noted that they failed because Reagan insisted that Star Wars was solely a peace effort rather than another chapter in the arms race (like missile defense today!)

Nuclear weapons are not going to be eradicated until the nations decide to prevent war. The question is whether the nations make that decision before or after nuclear weapons are used again. The passage of 65 years, not to mention the current missile defense race, prove that the nations will not substitute enforced law for war absent a political revolt by the targeted populations. The only imaginable staging area for a political revolt is the targeted cities and towns of the world, cooperating across national borders through a directly elected Security Congress of Municipalities. That would give the targeted populations the power to force nations to substitute enforced law for war.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Warheads, Human Heads, and Mixed Motives

The START ratification blackmail gets more blatant. In the NYT yesterday Senator Kyl was demanding first year nuclear “modernization” money, second year money, and long-range money.

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker wants an “appropriate and thoughtful modernization program.” (thoughtful - that’s sweet)

Administration officials, reported the Times, say they will pay the price,. 

The House of Representatives does not vote on ratification but appropriates money..  So Kyl and the rest want to control House votes.  Vice President Biden lobbied House members to produce the first year modernization money, only to see a House Subcommittee cut it back $99 million. 

The frantic rush for nuclear arms race billions, when the United States is leagues ahead of all the rest of the world, and when Republicans and Democrats are screaming deficit, deficit, has to be measured against two probable motives on the part of Kyl, Corker and the others:

    - to facilitate squeezing money for health, conservation, climate control, recreation, and education out of the budget, the tactic brazenly admitted by Reagan’s Budget Director David Stockman.

    - to keep weapons profits bubbling.

These two ever-present motives have disabled rational discourse on security for a half century.

In Britain a parallel weapons modernization battle is raging, at the moment over Trident missile submarines. Do they need modernization?  Might there be a cheaper deterrent?  And so on.

Just what do our supposedly moldering warheads (that an independent scientists’ group called JASON say have years of remaining shelf life), these rusty, musty derelicts of outmoded warfare point to, these Twentieth Century counterparts of spears, cross-bows, muskets, and cannon?  At you and me, of course.  Over a thousand around the world, on hair trigger alert, programmed for the downtowns, the malls and city halls, hospitals, and schools.

Anthropologists one day will ask why human evolution weakened our survival instinct just as humans invented  the ultimate killing machinery and needed a survival instinct as never before.

The answer, seems to me, is that evolution gave us more and more brain power to make up for our increasingly awkward inability to dodge and weave.  Question is, can democracy mobilize modern humans’ undoubted intelligence, or does our disuse of brainpower consign democracy and other hallmarks of progress to defeat?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Price of Benignity

Looks as if the Senate might ratify START.  Arizona Senator Jon Kyl, the pivotal Republican Senate Whip, called the treaty “benign” in his Wall Street Journal op ed article on Friday.

This unexpected blessing was followed, of course, by the Republican blackmail list.  Kyl acknowledged that part of the price for ratification has been paid - continuation of the triad, U.S./Russian agreement to negotiate further reductions, recitations about the importance of deterrence, and pledges to spend over $100 billion to maintain and modernize nuclear delivery systems and $80 billion to modernize warheads and infrastructure.

Not enough, says Kyl.  Add a next-generation bomber, ballistic missile, and air-launched cruise missile, replace two facilities that produce plutonium and uranium, approve the weapons items in the FY 2011 budget, and provide evidence that the FY 2012 budget will include “adequate” nuclear weapons funding.

Kyl is disturbed, as well, by some of President Obama’s ideas, like the “utopian” goal of zero nuclear weapons, restrictions that he thinks the Nuclear Posture Review places on the freedom of military and scientific experts to dream up new weapons designs, and the pledge to pursue another new U.S.-Russian treaty, that would achieve further nuclear weapons reductions.

Kyl contradicts the last of these objections when he complains that START does not address tactical weapons, which is exactly what would be addressed in a further treaty.

My OED offers five meanings when “benign” is applied to “things”:  favorable, kind, fortunate, salutary, and propitious.  Sorry I can’t say the same about Kyl’s doomsday list.  There ought to be a law (international) that every country’s annual military budget be accompanied by a proposal to improve the population’s security during that budget year, through graduated steps toward a world of enforced law.  If the United States initiated such an effort our country would prove itself worthy of some of the “peace loving” accolades that Super patriots love to toss.

Impossible, though, at the Presidential or Congressional level of politics. The question for threatened populations is, how to make it politically feasible for national governments to entertain such thoughts in the face of utopianism charges like Congressman Kyl’s.    

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Trading Safety for Votes

Mitt Romney’s outrageous attack on President Obama in yesterday’s Washington Post, posing as a learned critique of the START Treaty, shows again the incapacity of nations to protect their populations. Even if the Senate ratifies the Treaty, such attacks disable the President politically from from building security through enforced law instead of violence.  They also disable him from slowing the global missile defense race that compels nations to build ever more deadly offensive weapons to counter the defensive weapons (read, “double the profits for Boeing, Lockheed, et al”). 

The huge variety of weapons, and the fact that every nation concentrates for various reasons more on some weapons systems than others, means that arsenals always are asymmetrical and that a negotiated treaty may reduce Nation A’s x weapons more than B’s while it reduces B’s y weapons more than A’s. A hotshot like  Romney can pick and choose, disregarding the bottom line of security.

Romney states that Russia retains the right to 10,000 tactical warheads, which, he suggests, are mounted on missiles that cannot reach the U.S. but could reach other nations.  In fact, tactical nuclear weapons are generally taken to mean artillery shells, mines, etc., i.e., battlefield weapons, not missiles at all. Missiles that are not intercontinental are generally called intermediate range missiles, not tactical weapons.  He seems ignorant of the fact that previous START treaties also omitted tactical weapons and that the U.S. and Russia have signified a mutual intention to progress to tactical weapons, once both countries ratify START. 

Romney and other Republicans concentrate their strongest criticism on the assertion that START will prevent the U.S. from developing missile defenses.  The Treaty does nothing of the kind, and what they are referring to is the reservation that a country can withdraw if it feels threatened, or weakened, by the other side’s missile defense deployments.  Either side can withdraw for any other reason as well, and the Obama Administration has given Russia clear advice that our missile defense program will proceed. 

He goes on to bemoan the agreement not to use missile silos for missile defense sites, neglecting to note that the Pentagon has advised against such use. 

He complains that ICBMs are not prohibited from bombers, a strange gaff. Bombers carry cruise missiles, but not huge ICBMs.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates published a piece in the Wall Street Journal on May 13, “The Case for the New START Treaty,” reporting that he has worked on START treaties since 1970, that all Presidents have favored them, and that bipartisan votes in the Senates have always ratified them. “The New START Treaty has the unanimous support of America’s military leadership...” START will provide “an extensive verification regime...that will help us track - for the very first time - all accountable strategic nuclear delivery systems.” He concludes, “It strengthens the security of the U.S. and our allies and promotes strategic stability between the world’s two major nuclear powers.”  What more could one ask for, unless one were running, desperately, irresponsibly, for President?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Questions to Ask Political Candidates

Policy follows power. Whether the policy of the United States is to rely more on weapons and war for its population’s security than on preventing war and enforcing law, depend on who holds power.

For sixty-five years the United States and other nations have talked about ending reliance on nuclear weapons.  Their policy, though, has been continued reliance.  Destructive power has increased and more nations have obtained the weapons. The day approaches when non-deterrable terrorists will acquire the weapons.

Some of the power holders who have insisted on a policy contrary to common sense and contrary to announced intentions have been military strategists convinced that fire power creates security and law cannot be enforced. Some of the power holders have judged the United States exceptional in moral correctness and ability to run the world for the good of the human race.  Some power holders have been managers, stockholders and employees of the arms industry, obtaining power by selling weapons around the world and sharing that money with political power holders.  Some obtain their power from an ideological embrace of beliefs, hopes, and fears that make people prefer supremacy to order under law.

Power in a democracy is the fruit of either money or politics. Both buy policy.  If you do not have millions of dollars, politics is the only route to power.  Here are questions to ask candidates for public office, from your Board of Selectmen or Board of Aldermen or City Council (many of whom rise to higher office), to your statehouse Representatives and Senators and Governors, to Congress and the President. Who you elect determines power and policy. If you can elect and then influence those who hold office, you will have power. Ask:

Are you confident that the President and Congress put the security of populations ahead of political, economic, and ideological concerns?

Do you think that the United States could win a nuclear war?

How many nuclear weapons are required to deter terrorists?

If nuclear weapons will not deter them, what will? 

What do you think motivates terrorists against Americans, and could these motivations be dissolved consistently with pursuing essential U.S. interests?

What might influence the minds of children growing up in places that have spawned terrorists?

What Americans might have more influence communicating with places that spawn terrorists - soldiers, or civilian representatives elected in American cities and towns?

Do you think that the technologies of communication and travel now make it possible to experiment with people-to-people cooperation across national borders, with the long-term aim of creating the global democracy that will justify experiments with global law enforcement as the alternative to war?

Will you go out on a limb to support such experiments, and encourage your constituents to join in the initiatives?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ten Tests of Your Survival Instincts

 The recent Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference, current Senate hearings on ratification of the START Treaty, the four year fissile control effort, and a world-wide missile defense race (today’s arms race by another name) all combine to remind us of End-Time’s looming shadow.

Nuclear missile targeting of cities around the world remains in place, both ancient Cold War targeting of U.S., Russian, French, and British cities, as well as, presumably, more recent and ongoing targeting by China, Israel, India, and Pakistan. All operational with a pushed button or two. Perhaps North Korea. Iran soon. The targeted populations, which is most of us, ought to make common cause to pressure nations to do what they have failed to do over the 65 years since Hiroshima - achieve verified arms control and prevent war.  Here are ten local, doable assignments for those who would discard victimhood and  practice survival skills:

1.  Ask your municipal elected body to hold a public hearing on how your city (or town!) might help our national government assure that nuclear and other WMD weapons will not proliferate to additional nations or to terrorists, and motivate nations that possess them to verifiably discard them. A simple first step would be for your municipality to lobby for Senate ratification of the START Treaty.  
2.  Get local media to acknowledge the security risks of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism, and to publicize why targeted populations should pressure their nations to achieve verified, enforced, arms control.

3.  Signal local office holders and political candidates that you think security is part of their job in view of national failure to achieve verified, enforced arms control and to prevent war.

4.  Make common cause with like minded people across state and national borders by putting a slot on the municipal ballot to elect a local representative to a global municipal security congress..

5.  Generate dialogue through local media, neighborhood organizations, and local elected officials about the risks of WMD targeting, both in war and by terrorists,

6.  Collect information from the media, arms control organizations, and books about the influence over national security policies that is exercised by economic and ideological interests, that influence and even determine what weapons are manufactured, the content of arms control treaties, what wars are fought, and the degree of effort (or lack of effort) that is devoted to security through enforced law rather than arms races and wars.
7.  Willingly engage in a perpetual power struggle with private economic and ideological interests that have a stake in weapons and war.

8.  Identify local residents who are first, second, and third generation immigrants who maintain connections with the countries of their forbears, through family ties, travel, or politics.  Recruit them to help make common cause with municipalities in the old countries to achieve global law enforcement and arms control and prevent war.    

9. Inject these issues into politics and elections at all levels in order to force a national dialogue through local dialogues, and in order to elect office holders (that is, power holders) who will put the security of targeted populations ahead of every other issue.

10.  Self-select yourself to take on these tasks and expand the ranks of those determined that humanity and its civilization will not bow to the ultimate destruction of centuries of human progress.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Power's Arrogance and War's Embrace

General McChrystal’s know-it-all arrogance is nothing new in the power game of war.  Headquartered in a far-off land, listening to Yessir, Yessir all day from underlings bucking for promotion, it is no wonder that General Big Shot thought he was smarter than the President, or that he liked seeing his name in print, or that one person playing up to media triggers political jockeying by a lot of people.  It is all part of war’s embrace.

What is new is that war, all war, must no longer be embraced, because it confronts us with the terminal doom of nuclear war.

The Taliban are today’s wartime opponents. For the moment they must be confronted militarily. Longer term strategy, though, must confront them, and everyone, with global law and global law enforcement. A prerequisite for the supremacy of law is submission of all nations to law and law enforcement. That will have to be a gradual, staged process. The order-imposing capacity of Superpower, uncertain and unreliable as it is, can be surrendered only gradually, and only to institutions whose law enforcement capacity, and whose democratic accountability have developed in slow stages. Today’s question is, how to reach the first stage.

The future has grown so perilous that history will judge President Obama by whether he lays the foundation for global law. To preserve civilian control of the world’s greatest military force without further politicizing that  armed force certainly is one requisite. To aspire to international institutions of law and law enforcement requires the capacity to smother international disputes, including terrorism. The second requisite is global democracy evolved far enough to make it safe and therefore feasible to empower the means of law enforcement.

Plans for when and how the United States will withdraw from Afghanistan should accompany parallel plans for peaceful, legal ways to sort out the aspirations and rights of ideological, ethnic, and political sub-groups that challenge national authority, and figuring how to turn enforcement power over them to reliably strong and accountable international institutions. The Taliban is only one such sub-group.

I predict that Obama will do little or nothing to achieve this, because nations as presently composed are incapable of taking steps directed to ultimately reducing their own power. The Superpower of the United States renders this nation especially incapable of doing it. This is why a secure future for the human race depends on some number of individuals accepting the assignment to re-mold the nation system into an international system. Where power remains available to individuals and their NGOs to influence national policies is in the cities and towns of the world.

The nations have targeted urban populations with nuclear missiles, so urban populations are more than entitled, in fact they are obligated for survival, to think their way out of the doomsday box.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Broken Democracy and Its Perils

The Gulf oil mess may be unparalleled for intractability and environmental impact, but not for public helplessness.

Regulation of deep oil drilling has been inadequate, and even supposing the public knew the risks and BP’s history of safety disdains, citizens lack control over regulatory enforcement comparable to the regulatory evasive power of private interests.

Which need is greater, more government regulatory power or more public power over government so that private interests can’t evade powers that government already has?

Government needs tending by citizens. Private interests tend to government around the clock. The question is not relying on government, as Libertarians would have it, but knowing what government should do and making government do it.  Where Libertarians misjudge security threats and where they undermine democracy, is where they want to jettison reliance on government without insisting that citizens take up the slack.

One reason people pay too little attention to government is that they concentrate on national government, the headline maker, over which they have little influence. They stare at the President for entertainment and mistake that for democracy. The level that they could influence, and transform into a power wielder over the national government that might compete with the money and media power of private interests, is city government.

City governments, working together, could make national governments honest. Collaborating across borders, city governments could pressure all national governments to attend to the security of their populations by ending war, squelching terrorists, and protecting the planet.

A current example of democratic power erosion is the bill in Congress to compensate for the Supreme Court’s holding in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission. The Republicans’ Supreme Court majority gave corporations and unions the same political advertising rights as real people. The bill before Congress would require public disclosure of the source of political advertising money.  The bill’s sponsors, though, are revising the bill to exclude organizations like the National Rifle Association from oversight.  (NYT, 6-18-10)

Security in the nuclear age needs to be a daily chore, like it was for settlers on the frontier.  To usurp Native American land entailed risks, which early Americans, the pioneers, accepted.  Today, in an analogous power grab, the United States asserts Superpower perks for its corporations to exploit natural resources globally and for its consuming public to burn fossil fuel and exploit cheap foreign labor that manufactures cars and clothes and grows food. The risks that this creates, from degrading the Gulf of Mexico to the possibility of terrorist WMD strikes, will be suffered at the household level and need to be confronted there as well.

 The level of government that could to protect the public is the local level, not because cities can field armies and missiles, but because cities united across borders could make their nations substitute globally enforced law for war and resource exploitation.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Next Day - Who Pays?

Nations have proved unable over 65 years to eliminate nuclear weapons. We must draw a conclusion from this overwhelming fact. The peril’s longevity and the nations’ tolerance of the threat steadily enlarge the danger.

Target populations once lived just in U.S. and Soviet cities, but with proliferation and the danger that terrorists will become nuclear armed, cities world-wide are fair game. Non-urban populations are equally exposed, from fall-out and the destruction of civilized infrastructure.

Now, it seems, the cost to prevent attack and to pick up the pieces after the curtain has fallen on this nation-conceived, nation-sustained horror show should be borne in part by cities.

Tara O’Toole, an Undersecretary of the Homeland Security Department, told a university audience with reference to an unconventional weapon strike, “We do have to start thinking very seriously about what we would actually do the day after an attack” Well, yes, and she went on to call it a “continuing, nagging problem” to decide who should foot the bill, whether the federal, state, or local government. (Global Security Newswire, June 10, 2010)

Decisions are made by people with power. Power belongs to those who profit from war and weapons, and to ideologically fixated national patriots and ethnic, economic, religious, and tribal zealots. The rest of us, which means most people, have not pursued enforced law as the substitute for war, available though it now is, thanks to accessible communication and travel that make global governance possible .

That we fail to do this, that we capitalize on modern communication and travel to make money and have fun but not to achieve security, is attributable to our continuing, misplaced reliance on our nations, or whichever one we live in, to look after us. But nations answer to their power holders, and the mass of humanity has not organized itself to wield power on behalf of security. To vote once in two or four years is the mere semblance of power.

The one place where targeted humanity might obtain power and consolidate efforts to overcome the sovereignty shibboleth that so blinds us to the requirements of authentic security, is in the cities and towns of the world.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nations Disunited

The way the world is set up, nations are assigned the job of solving the worst human problems and protecting people against the worst threats. There are other ways to organize human power and make decisions that affect humanity, but seven or eight hundred years ago the nation configuration was settled upon, and since then has been sustained and pumped up through ballyhoo patriotism and economic self interest.

The result begins to look like the end of humanity’s ascent, an ascent measured by increasing longevity, health, productivity, creativity, and fun. Now humans confront habitat decay, WMD agony, and debased civilization.

The BP oil disaster is a good example of our vulnerability. Not surprisingly, the nations involved - the United States and Great Britain - are called to account and turn on one another. Britain is blamed for tolerating a corporate monster that exploits natural resources and the environment while eluding safety and pollution regulation, while the U.S. is blamed for tolerating, even promoting, fossil fuel dependency more than any country, and for inadequate regulatory control.

Prime Minister David Cameron asserts that the economic value of BP to the British and American people should earn BP respite from blame. London Mayor Boris Johnson says that “It starts to become a matter of national concern if a great British company is being continually beaten up on the international airwaves.” (Financial Times, June 11, 2010)

The power centers of nations are relatively small coteries of people who constitute their governments, and the monied interests that facilitate their control. Corporate power centers are still smaller coteries, of investors and senior managers. The endangered, affected billions - most of us, in self defense, had better empower ourselves where power is available, which is by uniting the cities and towns of the world. Nations are here to stay, for the foreseeable future, but thinking, sentient, suffering humanity had better not leave it at that.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Jeb Brugmann

An old friend has written a book for which my City, Save Thyself! might serve as a companion volume. In Welcome to the Urban Revolution - How Cities Are Changing the World (N.Y.: Bloomsbury Press, 2009), Jeb Brugmann asserts that nations are “losing their centrality in the economic, ecological, and political end games that will play out in this century. The momentum of development has steadily shifted to the city, a territory still poorly understood by most nations.” (p. 274)

Brugmann provides fascinating case studies from cities in Brazil, Spain, Canada, India, and the United States, of urban growth and change, in some cases immensely productive, in some destructive, all in continuous flux. He describes the roles played by national and city governments, neighborhood associations, politicians, corporations, and city planners. Success for city residents as the world grows more urbanized, hinges on many factors. What city dwellers most have going for themselves is population density. Their power of association can be leveraged to overcome the destructive results of economic, technological, and individual mistakes made at the national level and in corporate offices.

I would add that, just as national and corporate planners create misery when they manipulate the economy for narrow, short term profit aims, exploit natural resources, relocate populations without regard for the necessities of association and community, and build infrastructure in disregard for human scale and use, so they perpetuate the war system. They fail to control and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, and spawn terrorists, because they make populations targets for fighting war instead of links to overcome grounds for conflict and to prevent war.

City, Save Thyself! argues that the worst national mistake is to prepare for war while neglecting globally enforced law that could prevent war. The target populations, leveraging their numbers in the manner that Brugmann describes, but adding direct elections to a global municipal security congress, could force the nations to remedy that neglect.

Jeb Brugmann and I were together in 1986 in Cambridge’s first sister city delegation to Yerevan, capital of Armenia, then still part of the U.S.S.R. Twenty U.S.-Soviet sister city pairings did as much to end the Cold War as Reagan’s arms race escalations, and without the ruinous economic and terrorist side effects of the nuclear arms race. Both Jeb’s book and mine describe these city initiatives.

Jeb made further trips to the Soviet Union and describes how powerless the Soviet government was to repress citizen initiatives, try as they often did. It is interesting to reflect that both the Gorbachev and Reagan governments encouraged the U.S.-U.S.S.R. sister city movement, and that, when it comes to security, Soviet cities may have freed themselves from national constraints better than our American cities that now, because of terrorism and the proliferation of weapons, may be more in danger from weapons of mass destruction than cities in any country.

Friday, June 4, 2010

People Not Presidents

American political discourse concerns what the President and other big shots should do or not do. What citizens should do is seldom addressed. Interchanges in conversation, on the internet, and in writings of authors, columnists, and bloggers, generally treat the general public as onlookers, not participants.

This is not effective democracy. The President is not a stand-in for the people. He is the creature of contributors, political workers, department heads and advisors, media coverage, personal instincts, prejudices, and history. He is not, anywhere near to the degree that citizens might think and wish, a free thinking, free acting, empowered actor.

This relates to a separate but connected reality. That reality is the differences that exist between people - in their instincts, thinking patterns, training, assumptions, and beliefs. I cannot say how many basic types or patterns of human thought and instinct exist, but the number is not large, at least if we are talking about the public issues that people decide about at election time. Consider possible responses to the following questions:

- Are people basically aggressive or basically cooperative, and are these traits influenced by teaching and experience?
- To what extent should one’s survival and comfort level depend on personal effort and to what extent on need?
- Are some ways of life, religions, and societies more deserving than others, or are all equal, assuming they do not prey on one another?

These are a few issues that people have different positions on, usually without consciously attributing them to their basic assumptions or instinctive beliefs. Because we differ instinctively on some matters, because our basic assumptions differ on them, success and progress, especially in the nuclear age, necessitates that we be aware what instincts and basic assumptions affect our beliefs and decisions. We need to discuss the issues back to the basic assumptions so that when we disagree it will be clear what we are disagreeing about.

Question is, where and how can we have these discussions, around what nodes, whether geographical or electronic? What discipline can we impose on ourselves to assure that public discourse is productive rather than harangues of you’re wrong, no you’re wrong? What are schools doing to prepare us? What new forums might we devise? Above all, how might we make the dialogue global so it will influence the war centered nations?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Half The Population

Back in the 1960s war planners wanted to know how many nuclear weapons they “needed.” Buying some of RAND’s brilliant thinking, the Pentagon decided that if a nation, any nation, faced the certainty that half its population would die, it would decline going to war. (Dangerous Ground - America’s Failed Arms Control Policy, From FDR To Obama, Scott Ritter, New York: Nation Books, 2010, p. 103)

Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who in old age declared that his nuclear weapons decisions had been “insane,” asked RAND how many nuclear war heads it would take to kill half the Soviet population. RAND thought 400 warheads would do the job. McNamara rounded up to 500 and doubled, and proposed to the Soviets a mutual top figure of one thousand warheads for each country. The U.S. Air Force at the time was proposing that this country acquire 2400 ICBMs, in addition to bombers and submarine missiles.

Security policies in both the U.S.S.R. and the United States have been contorted away from logical analysis for sixty years, by politics, weapons profits, military planners, technological “advances,” and geo-political considerations. Ritter, and David Hoffman in The Dead Hand, describe endless U.S. and Soviet Union war strategies, negotiating strategies, sincere proposals, insincere proposals, threats, bluffs, ploys, and stratagems, and lies, decade after decade, born variously of political ambitions, elections based on accurate or inaccurate public assessments, accidents, and ambitions.

John F. Kennedy won the Presidency partly by claiming that there was a “missile gap” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which the secret U-2 overflights had told incumbent President Eisenhower was incorrect. Kennedy came into office to find no missile gap, but preparations far along for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. After this embarrassment, Viet Nam beckoned as an alternative battleground where Kennedy might fight Communism with more success and acclaim. Meanwhile, the Soviets wanted to close off Berlin because it served Eastern Europe as a window into more successful capitalist countries. The Cuban Missile Crisis was just around the corner.

Later, Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, who was running for a second term, partly due to public misconception of which candidate would try harder to achieve nuclear arms control. Reagan staffed key posts with arms control opponents, then decided that God had spared his life when John Hinckley tried to assassinate him, so that he could “reduce the threat of nuclear war,”(Dangerous Ground, p. 253). He proceeded to further postpone mutual arms control because he dreamed up the illogical, unscientific, impossible Star Wars defense to nuclear attack.

So much was still ahead - so many risks, so much expense, so many proxy wars, so little preparation for the ambitions of countries like today’s Iran and North Korea. The Dead Hand and Dangerous Ground describe countless occasions when this or that event, change of personnel, new invention, budgetary factor, political ambition, and pure chance blocked progress toward a world based on law instead of weapons. The nations were almost entirely war oriented. Little wonder that citizens, who as the targets ought to have been driving the agenda, wound up as nothing more than a measuring rod for overkill.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jack Van Impe

We all have the same voting power at election time. That does not mean we all have the same responsibility for democratic decision making. Civic responsibility corresponds to one’s understanding of the issues, compared with the understanding of others. The better I understand, or think I understand, and the less I think others understand, the more compelled I am to act.

This is why, in City, Save Thyself! I call for self selection of initiators who will work to end the monopoly that nations hold on issues of peace and war.

Jack Van Impe’s television show the other night illustrated what I mean. The Reverend Van Impe is a dangerous fellow. He reminds me how many are beyond hope of persuasion that we might achieve a world of enforced law. He leads thousands of followers toward a glorious, ordained end time when Christ will lift them to perpetual glory while everyone else burns in hell. The influence of Van Impe and other extremist religionists has to be compensated for by citizens with a sense of humankind’s mutual responsibility for what happens to us.

Van Impe inveighs against weapons in space, but welcomes the holocaust that such weapons will bring, on the grounds that a space war is foretold in the Book of Revelations. He spits out a denunciation of efforts of the five year non-proliferation conference because it cannot, and apparently he thinks, should not, succeed, presumably because it would thwart God’s will.

Van Impe denounces efforts to pressure Israel to treat with Palestinians, on grounds that Israel is a democracy. When his eagerly awaited end time occurs, though, not being Christian, Israelis presumably await fiery destruction along with Muslims and atheists. He displays mockingly a color cartoon of Obama drawn like a Stepinfetchit clown, one of many blatant political comments, made absent any discernible frame of reference to issues about what is good for the country, and in clear violation of his religious 501(c)(3) tax exemption.

Followers of this demagogue cannot be expected to apply rational judgment to public decision making. Van Impe’s ministry of irresponsibility is so transparently self-contradictory, irrational, and destructive of civic discourse, that his followers have to be assumed incapable of rational political thought, due to emotional predisposition, lack of education, or whatever. If the rest of us fail to compensate for their disregard for what the nuclear arms race is likely to bring, Van Impe’s predictions will come true, except that his followers will burn right along with Muslims.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Memorial Day would be a fine time to pledge the end of war. Such an effort has always been the moral thing to do, as well as the most intelligent and humane step that might be imagined. Today’s generations have witnessed two additional factors, that make it nothing short of madness to tolerate the institution of war.

One factor is weapons of mass destruction, that multiply war’s horror and destruction to the point of species suicide. The other is the availability of communication and transportation that could permit law enforcement to disable and prevent the endeavors and conditions that lead to war, while providing the conditions of the global democracy that is a pre-condition to the empowerment of global law enforcement.

Nations engage in arms races in the name of security. Today dozens of nations are racing to acquire anti ballistic missiles and drones. Every arms race is a precursor of war, and tomorrow’s war may prove the end war. As General Tasker Bliss, World War I Army Chief of Staff observed, “Has the time come, or is it near at hand, when great international wars must of necessity destroy more than they save? If so, then every such war means a step backwards toward the extinction of what we want to save.”

Nations prepare for war in the name of security. Along the way, though, camp followers are acquired who sully every noble intention and defeat the ultimate security of the populations on behalf of whose security wars are waged. Those camp followers are weapons profiteers, political opportunists, and ideological fanatics, who, together, capture the policy controls of the nations. As the result, to prevent war, as contrasted, with the illusory security of balancing power with military alliances and arms races, would be too radical a goal for any President to champion, as well as too lengthy an endeavor for the scope of any President’s four or eight year term of office.

The human race must work its way around the nation system into which it has divided itself. Some number of persons in some number of countries must self select themselves to create alternative power centers that can begin a decades long move toward global democracy and global law enforcement. With today’s means of communication and travel, and the power centers that modern cities have become, all the essentials are available. And, that our cities are the targets of the war planners of the nations, perfectly justifies demanding an alternate route to the security that armies can no longer assure us, if they ever could.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Accidents Happen

Rand Paul says that British Petroleum ought not be harshly judged over the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, because “accidents happen.” Another fatal accident that he says “happened” was at Kentucky’s Dotiki Mine, often cited for safety violations. (Huffington Post, 5/21/10, byline Kimberly Freeman Brown). Paul has done the country a favor by voicing Libertarian beliefs so clearly. Libertarians prefer the rules of chance to rules of law. Oil drilling and coal mining ought not be the subject of safety regulations, they think, whether imposed to protect the employees, the public, or the environment.

Criticisms of nuclear disarmament efforts are analogous. Two former Defense Department officials now with the Hudson Institute, excoriate President Obama for championing the goal of Zero Nuclear, suggesting that enforcement of a Zero Nuclear regime would constitute world government (Douglas J. Feith and Abram N. Shulsky,WSJ, 5/21/10) Enforcement - here we go again - more rules and regulations. Better everyone stays armed and we pray that no accidents, like, say, nuclear war, will happen.

These folks are out of date. They have missed a couple of revolutions: the Industrial Revolution and the Technology Revolution. All right, they might say, maybe we need some speed limits, at least on city streets, and maybe a little food and drug testing, and possibly even a few criminal laws to discourage bank robbers and certainly, illegal immigrants. But, no one will misuse firearms, from pistols to ICBMs, unless an accident happens. Freedom from rules and regulations comes ahead of security.

Folks who think like this are winning elections, which means acquiring power, which in the nuclear age means endangering every one of us and centuries of human progress. What do our survival instincts prompt the rest of us to do - wait until the next presidential election then maybe go to the polls? We got a pretty good President last time, but clearly security, whether from war, terrorism, safety violations, or accidents, takes more than a President.

Monday, May 10, 2010

David Hoffman's The Dead Hand

The most chilling thread of David Hoffman’s book The Dead Hand is the plea of Soviet WMD inventors that they were sucked into their careers unwittingly and kept there with lies about American counterpart efforts. Talented humans becoming agents of their own destruction, in many variations, is where we all still are today.

The book is powerful also as to the forward inertia of doomsday arming in both the U.S. and U.S.S.R., perpetuated by self interested beneficiaries of the military/industrial complex.

There ought to be a law, though, that makes authors give equal time to solutions and remedies when they describe dangers. For example, unless they are told, readers will not deduce that they have a duty to champion verification when their country takes an important step like Nixon’s renunciation of biological weapons in 1969, and joining the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention of 1972. In the absence of verification, these steps provided little assurance, and the Soviets proceeded full blast to violate the Convention and make the weapons.

A subsequent chapter, or a footnote or citation to another work, for example, should tell the reader, that without verification, the Soviets could not depend on such announcements, that verification has to be backed by international enforcement, and that without democratic accountability the power to enforce cannot be delegated.

Americans are told endlessly what is wrong in the world and what the President should do. It seldom occurs to complacent citizens that anything drastic that the President has to do, citizens must do first, failing which it will be politically infeasible for the President. Verification is an example of a security prerequisite that necessitates a public demand for a different way of conducting international relations.

Americans are afflicted by the absence of action ideas. Even the very best current affairs publications, of which The Dead Hand is an example, serve more as entertainment than inspiration, because they do not link facts with the requisites of democratic action.

Hoffman’s exciting account of the Reagan/Gorbachev dance during 1985-6, culminating with their meeting at Reykjavik when drastic disarmament steps were defeated by Reagan’s starry eyed Star Wars plans, fails to tell the reader that targeted cities in both countries were exchanging delegations during those very months to encourage their national leaders to stop the arms race. City, Save Thyself! describes these efforts, and I have it from good source that they were instrumental in persuading Gorbachev to take unilateral steps like banning nuclear tests. Even the Reagan Administration encouraged the city initiatives.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Newsweek For Sale

The Washington Post is trying to sell Newsweek Magazine because it lost $28 million last year, with circulation down more than a third since 2000. A journalism professor explains that a mass circulation publication is “just not going to cut it in this highly niched, politically polarized, media-stratified environment that we live in today.” (NYT, 5-6-10)

The Times writer, Stephanie Clifford, comments, “The notion of a cultural common ground that Americans could all share was changing.” Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham observed that “national coherence was still a worthwhile goal...There are not that many common denominators left.”

You said it! We had better figure what we have in common, speaking of Americans and of the rest of humanity as well. May I suggest security as the common ground - security from war, from terrorism, from Weapons of Mass Destruction, from environmental disaster. Plenty of people would agree - question is, do they have enough civic, political spirit and gumption to act on it, to get beyond the supplication of sign holding and marching and reach for power that can counter the vested interests in mayhem.

On display at this very moment are ratification of START and progress on non-proliferation. The nuclear targeted populations have projected no effective voice about Senate ratification or about the NPT five year review conference, though lives by the million, and civilization itself hangs in the balance.

If targeted populations exercised the survival instincts that they would exercise if they were hunted animals in a forest, which they are beginning to resemble, their clamor would batter down every political, monetary, ideological, and historical block to replacing the world of war with a world of enforced law. They might even discover they still needed common sources of news instead of clicking away separately at their favorite web feeds.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Getting To The Promised Land

No one in his right mind would start for the Promised Land unless the trip was imperative and he had a travel plan. Our counterpart to the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army is nuclear holocaust - we have to leave the Egypt of nuclear holocaust behind us. Our counterpart to Moses’ Ten Commandments, though, has yet to be drafted.

President Obama, Sam Nunn and others who advocate getting to Zero Nuclear put off describing a plan, not unreasonably, by saying that it will take decades to reach Zero. Not in my lifetime, says the President; the mountain must be scaled in stages, says Nunn. They hope that evidence of progress like the START Treaty, and improvements under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, will evidence progress enough to keep momentum.

Staged progress without a plan will not be enough for some. Examples of what Obama, Nunn, et al are up against appeared in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (“The NPT Illusion” by Brett Stephens) and Financial Times (“A Nuclear-Free World? No Thanks” by Gideon Rachman).

Rachman predicts that a nuclear free world would herald the return of war between big powers. He says that only an “implausibly powerful international inspectorate” could calm the fears that produce nuclear arming. These are reasonable observations if one makes no effort to describe the disarmed world.

Stephens offers a good guys - bad guys analysis - if bad ones arm, good ones cannot disarm. True enough, but he can’t imagine enforced mutuality. He hits the target, offering no solution, by concluding that in the “second nuclear age” deterrence won’t work and “we haven’t even begun to think seriously about how to navigate those waters.”

The problem with long-term thinking like Zero Nuclear is, first, if you suggest details about how it might work you  are discredited as time passes because so much gets revised. Second, you will be called idealist, and vilified for suggesting a different world, which upsets the non-visionary, non-imaginative folk, those most wary of change, i.e., conservatives, though I do not mean it pejoratively.

The solution for this dilemma of how much detail to hazard when you preach vision, is to describe a means to make the journey - how to travel, not what the destination will look like. Tell who will have a say, how will we experiment, how the rule of enforced law will be expanded in stages, how will we retain the security of armed might while developing the security of enforced law, how targeted populations of different kinds of nations can make common cause against the violence lovers in all nations.

Rachman’s “powerful international inspectorate” must be shorn of implausibility by showing the partial models that already work, the stages of enlargement, the assurances that militarized security need not be surrendered until a safer model is available, and the cross border democracy that must be invented and gradually expanded to keep delegation of enforcement powers accountable.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Complex or Neglected?

Today’s Sunday Times has a feature piece by David Segal asking whether society will collapse because it is too complex. Examples of complexity are drawn from the financial melt down, the BP oil spill, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Seems some professors have been saying that the Romans and other historical has-beens declined and fell due to their complexities, and we will, too. Segal sums up, “There is no point in hoping for a new age of simplicity. The best we can do is hope the solutions are just complicated enough to work.”

I disagree with Segal’s conclusion. The modern public policy imbroglios that he cites are due to policies, laws, and rules being surrendered by the citizenry to private opportunists. The opportunists resort to complexity as they camouflage profits, political reward, ideological crusades, and so on. Instead of a rational system, the outcome is non-functional, jerry-built monstrosities that collapse, explode, leak, and all the rest.

My book, City, Save Thyself! Nuclear Terror and the Urban Ballot concentrates on a single public issue, the WMD threat, but my conclusions apply as well to the screw-ups that Segal cites. I offer three recommendations, and others that flow from these.

First, instead of trying to figure out what we should do today or this year to meet crises, we should think ahead fifty years, imagine a secure world, imagine the essential components of that world, and formulate policies for today and this year that will produce security. One inevitable conclusion will be to substitute enforced law for war as the route to security, after adopting some form of the global democracy that must precede the delegation of international enforcement powers.

Second, instead of playing one’s democratic hand solely in national and state elections, where outcomes are determined by money, media, and the gerrymander, or in lobbying power holders who answer to private interests, some number of concerned citizens, a large number but it would not require a majority, should self-select themselves to fight for their share of power, and to do so in the arena where power still is obtainable, in their cities and towns. Joining NGO peace groups, marching, and writing letters to editors is fine if one has time, but does not produce the power to simplify our security problems (or our financial, or energy, or other issues whose outcomes are in the hands of the self-interested).

Third, instead of serving as they have for sixty years as passive targets in a complex and civilization threatening web of ICBMs and nuclear armed submarines, the cities and towns of the world should form a global security congress of municipalities that would pressure their nations to transform the complex war system into a rational and therefore inherently simpler system of enforced law.

Contributing to our peril is the distrust that professors and media people have for democracy and citizens, which takes us back to self-selection and the necessity to contest for power.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Policy We Don't Have

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been in the news the last two days because he wrote a secret three page memorandum admitting that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy on Iran. (NYT, April 18, 19)

The policy that we don’t have as to Iran’s presumptive quest for nuclear weapons is the same policy that we don’t have as to the long term aim to reach zero nuclear weapons world-wide. The missing policy is a policy to replace force based security with security through enforced law. President Obama champions the goal of nuclear zero, but does not dare assert that it cannot be reached by arms reductions and non-proliferation treaties alone, as essential as they may be to assist the process.

Dependable security requires not just nuclear zero but war zero. Before Iran and a good many other nations including the United States will substitute security through enforced law in place of weapons superiority, an alternative security mechanism must exist. This will necessitate the same components as all nations depend on for domestic security - administrative, judicial, and police resources, but on an international scale. And, before it will be safe to empower international law enforcement institutions, global democracy must be erected adequate to make the power holders accountable.

In 1949, just before the Cold War began, Democrats and Republicans alike anticipated the United Nations evolving into such an institution. 111 co-sponsors in the House and 21 in the Senate favored concurrent resolutions stating that it should be a “fundamental objective” of U.S. foreign policy to develop the U.N. into a “world federation, open to all nations, with defined and limited powers adequate to preserve peace and prevent aggression through the enactment, interpretation, and enforcement of world law.”

The co-sponsors included Republicans Jacob Javits, Christian Herter, Gerald Ford, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and Democrats John F. Kennedy, Henry Jackson, Abraham Ribicoff, Mike Mansfield, Hubert Humphrey, John Sparkman, Lister Hill, and Russell Long.

Frantic preoccupation with military force will not permit even the best of today’s Congress Members to offer such leadership. They would be vilified and lose their seats at the next election. This is why the initiative must come from another power base. The only power base in sight unless one controls a media empire or has a billion dollars, is our cities and towns. As the targets of WMD attack by terrorists on in the event of war, they have the right to be heard. They also are within the political reach of citizens world-wide, as national governments are not. Gates is right - we have no policy for Iran. Iran does however have cities and towns that cities and towns in other nations might reach.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two Things At Once

The politics of ratification and the military’s strategic judgement will exact a price for such comfort as we can draw from the Nuclear Posture Review, the Nuclear Security Summit, and hopefully, the Non Proliferation Treaty Five Year Review in May. Part of the cost is to spend huge amounts that, according to many experts, is unnecessary, to “extend” the life of the nuclear arsenal that is not scheduled for discard. Another is to continue huge conventional arms budgets so as to make credible the promise of non-nuclear retaliation in the event of attack with chemical or biological weapons on the U.S. or its “nuclear umbrella” protectees. A third is to join enthusiastically in the current world-wide missile race, both defensive and attack missiles.

To arm while disarming is to perform two contrary tasks at once. Doing two things at once is hard - for people and for countries. Do I concentrate on two sets of facts and goals or attack them one at a time? There is my emotional commitment - hard to split, or spread. There is my credibility - how to communicate security and conviction about more than one subject at a time? There are resources - from hours in the day to money to manpower. With countries, there is political opportunism - if one goal is slighted, the opposition will champion it, and claim that the other goal must not be pursued simultaneously. There are unshakeable devotees, emotionally, irretrievably committed to, or advantaged by, one goal and opposed to the other, even if the two are in fact compatible.

A nation that must be prepared for war while trying to keep peace is faced with all this and more. War usually wins, because to prepare for peace seems inconsistent. To remove causes of war and enforce peace would weaken the nation. War always is there first, commanding money and emotion, enlisting war veterans, the business establishment, the misinformed and uninformed, arousing excitement, dreams of glory, and entertaining the populace.

You hear about peace mostly after peace has been lost. Peace necessitates law creation, adjudication, enforcement, and the politics that will deliver the power to create them. It is easier to build missiles, planes and tanks. They cost more but create profits and jobs and provide spectacle.

This argues for mounting peace efforts through some other vehicle than nations. Yes, peace must be between nations, more or less by definition. But let us stop expecting nations to carry the peace burden. Let us design peace and enlist the citizens of the nations to demand peace, through the cities and towns of the world, which, after all are the targeted, terminal victims of the next war, whether started with missiles or suitcase terrorist devices.

It would be relatively simple for a few cities and towns in a handful of countries to hold a security conference every year. They could legitimize the effort by putting a slot on their municipal ballots to elect representatives to the conference.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Disarmament as a Pejorative

The problem with President Obama’s vision of a nuclear free world is that he refrains from identifying its components. The political far right, simple minded and militaristic, reflexively characterizes all arms reduction efforts as disarmament, always meaning unilateral disarmament.

The Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial on April 8, “Dreams of Disarmament,” applied the disarmament opprobrium first to the Nuclear Posture Review, then to the forty year old Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and finally to the New START Treaty. WSJ winds up by asserting that arms control is “more theological than practical.”

Charles Krauthammer writes in Investor’s Business Daily (April 12) that what the President is trying to do is insane, morally bizarre, naive, and strategically loopy, all his terms.

The President concentrates on today’s primary danger, which is terrorist efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Right wing fear mongers, ironically, ignore this threat, because they have no answer for it and their political success is based on the child-speak with which they have marshaled voters ever since World War II.

To reach Zero nuclear weapons necessitates many steps, and this month’s and next month’s efforts are only two of them - arms reductions and preventing weapons spread. The President would be well advised to describe more of the future steps, including the substitution of international law enforcement for superpower peace keeping. He knows, though, that to enlarge public comprehension, necessary as it is, will invite further accusations of loopy unilateral disarmament.

The missing voice is that of the threatened populations. They have no voice but their nations’ and nations serve a variety of masters. Nations serve the interests that control them, the interests of the individuals who from time to time comprise the national governments. Those interests are financial, political, and ideological. Another voice is needed, one that is authentic, non-political, and free to invent, one that can tell the potential victims of nuclear holocaust how security must be achieved. NGOs are helpful, but lack the authenticity of a public voice.

The missing link is cities. Were they organized to speak up for their residents, President Obama would find a potent ally when a serious effort arises, as it apparently will, to defeat START’s Senate ratification. He could use cities during the NPT Review next month, recalling how John Bolton and the Bush minions defeated the last five year Review. He could use them even more when he gets ready to discuss the further steps that must precede Zero, steps toward global law enforcement and global democracy that must accompany enforcement.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Targets of the World, Unite!

Of all affronts no one should tolerate, none is worse than having one’s city targeted by nuclear armed ICBMs. How many of the millions around the world who live in such cities are aware they are targeted, or think about it? Five percent? Probably fewer.

Mutual targeting by the U.S. and Russia, twenty years after the Cold War, is no secret. Presumably, the U.S. and China also target each other, but we don’t target our “allies” Britain, France, and Israel. Presumably, Israel targets Iran and Syria to deter a conventional weapons attack.

In many countries, not identified but I see figures between 30 and 40, people live under the American nuclear “umbrella.”  They refrain from acquiring nuclear arms on the promise that the U.S. will retaliate on their behalf against a nuclear attack. Do these folks wonder whether in fact the U.S. would risk a nuclear attack on American cities by retaliating against an attack on another country? Do Americans wonder whether they are exposed to attack by enemies of other countries because the U.S. has pledged to retaliate against such an enemy although not attacked itself?

How great is the danger of a frame-up, of an attack by terrorists, for instance, that looks like an attack requiring U.S. retaliation on behalf of an umbrella nation? One can go on with scenarios in which millions of peaceful humans serve as hostages to a war system that they could end if they marshaled their cities on behalf of enforced law over endless war.

A timely first step would be for Americans and Russians to cause their city governments to promote ratification and accelerated implementing of the new START Treaty. For starters, many cities and towns in states whose Senators are considered undependable for ratification of START, belong to a global organization of three thousand plus “Mayors for Peace” cities. These cities are listed on the Mayors of Peace website. Elected officials and citizen delegations from those cities should be in instant, continuous communication with their Senators about ratifying START.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Price to Ratify START

The good news, the great news, is that with the new START Treaty the governments of the two nuclear superpowers have agreed on a seven year round of reducing strategic (but not tactical) nuclear warheads, launchers, and bombers. The bad news is the price that will be exacted by war system champions of the weapons industry, Congress, and the media.

Were the targeted cities geared up by their nuclear-fodder populations to join the fray, the new START could prove a much bigger plus. Instead of the massive political clout that cities could wield, the valiant efforts of President Obama and a few Congressional leaders will have to rely on the backing of NGOs and some limited media. This help is essential but weaker than the weapons industry that streams millions of jobs and billions of dollars to its employees and stockholders.

The weapons industry wants to sell missile defense systems to dozens of countries. It wants to sell more conventional weapons to overseas customers as proliferation expands and nuclear weapons increase elsewhere than in the U.S. and Russia, and more to the U.S. government with the justification that our nuclear arsenal is decreasing. It wants to design and build a new nuclear wahead, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW).

Here is an example of what arms control advocates have to contend with, as described by William J. Broad in the NYT today. Two months ago Ohio Republican Representative Michael R. Turner asked the three nuclear weapons laboratories (Los Alamos, Livermore, and Sandia) to answer the report issued last year by an independent group of scientists and advisors (the JASON Report) that existing nuclear weapons could retain usability for years to come.

JASON had found, according to the Project on Government Oversight, that “life of the nation’s nuclear warheads, including plutonium pits and HEU (highly enriched uranium) secondaries can be extended safely and certifiably for decades without replacement.”

The three labs, which employ thousands and which anticipate receiving new buildings in which to design and build the RRW, answered that JASON was all wet and the RRW was essential to American security.

Turner held back releasing the three responses until three days ago, the day when Russia and the United States announced agreement on the new START Treaty. Thus, the price of dismantling some weapons will be a huge make-work project to replace remaining ones. This is just one of the conditions that the war system advocates will try to exact for ratification of the new START.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Survival Instinct, Where Are You?

Neil Genzlinger reviewed the first episode of the Discovery Channel’s 11 part documentary, “Life”(New York Times, 3-20-10). The lesson, it seems, is that the “core of life is an instinct for adapting to ensure survival.” Genzlinger finds “something heartening in the notion that when faced with challenge no animal, however small or overmatched, seems content to just throw in the towel.”

How about big animals? Survival should move to the top of human priorities, judging by the warnings from persons in a position to know about nuclear proliferation and possible terrorist WMD attack. The bi-partisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism, former Cabinet members Kissinger, Schultz and Perry, head of the International Atomic Energy Authority for twelve years Mohamed El Baradei, and many more high officials including President Obama, insist that the world must rid itself of nuclear weapons.

A law-abiding American who has never thought about elemental survival for even a minute, if told that a gunman was stalking him, after informing the police, would change his schedules and routines in a hurry. His response would be radical, uncharacteristic, and ruthless. He would move about differently at different times, interrupt his occupation and family life, flit from tree to tree if he had to be outdoors.

Why don’t we shift radically now that we are threatened as a society? The answer has something to do with the bifurcation between our individual and our social lives. As individuals, alone in a jungle and targeted, we would turn and dodge, run and swim and claw, and exhibit the animal characteristics of our non-human cousins in the television series. As tamed and even sedated members of huge social organisms called cities and nations, on the other hand, we wait for directions from on high - Washington or Moscow or Peiking.

What about these huge brains of ours, thinking again in the context of our animal heritage? Don’t they tell us when to fall back on individual resources, and how to regroup in configurations calculated to counter terrorism and end war, configurations in addition to our configuration as war-prone, weapons-obsessed nations? It is time to summon the survival instinct and rationally evade the vaunted instinct for aggression.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Perpetual Checkmate

Sixty-five years after Hiroshima, pursuit of political and economic advantage within nations and between nations trumps the goal of security for their populations. While the nations bluster in mutual checkmate, two middling countries and a handful of bearded knaves sink six billion exposed humans ever deeper in risk

The United States has built and destroyed 60,600 nuclear weapons during those sixty-five years, a staggering outlay of resources, creating a dependency on manufacturing-to-discard that is as irrational as it is intricate. 4,500 additional nuclear weapons await disassembly over a twelve year schedule, their life prolonged pending the satisfaction of demands to “extend” the life of 500 B-61 Air Force bomb warheads and 2000 W-76 submarine missile warheads. Forty Republican Senators plus Lieberman have served notice that they will not vote to ratify a new START Treaty with Russia unless the “extension” is commenced.

Russia in turn, resists further START reductions unless the U.S. stops planning to install missile defenses in Eastern Europe that the U.S. thinks are needed to counter Iran’s anticipated nuclear arming. China blocks effective sanctions against Iran on similar grounds, that the U.S. is “encircling” her with a missile shield and arming Taiwan.

In the meanwhile, the demand to build a new generation of American nuclear warheads, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) is on hold, but sure to re-emerge after the 2500 “extensions” are assured.

In the wings of U.S. policy review are the questions, (i) are the 114 nuclear bombers redundant in view of our 450 ICBMs and 14 nuclear submarines; (ii) should the U.S. announce that it will limit use of nuclear weapons to deterring use by others, and (iii) should the Senate finally ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban?

No wonder President Obama says that his goal of zero nuclear weapons will not be achieved in his lifetime. Before his life expectancy runs its course, the United States will have elected five to eight more Presidents some of whom will resemble George W. Bush more than Barack Obama.

Hunting requires a quarry. If the six billion human targets resigned their quarry role, this nonsense could end.  Some of the six billion are ensnared as weapons makers, wielders, and profiteers, but the rest of us should tell our nations that populations are the only thing of real value, that the security of populations is the only reason that nations even exist. The way to pressure nations is through cities and towns, cooperating across borders as our agents of change.

Friday, February 26, 2010

L.A.'s Navy

This month the City of Los Angeles commissioned a ship equipped to screen entire incoming ships for weapons of mass destruction materials while they are underway and before they enter the L.A. and Long Beach ports. (Global Security Newswire, February 12, 2010, quoting CBS News Feb. 10) The City’s Sheriff’s Department also will work with the Coast Guard to board and search incoming ships after they have docked.

Now we are talking - a targeted population acting like a potential victim - ducking and weaving. Not leaving security exclusively to its nation. Law enforcement. Next thing you know Angelenos will be talking about how their city might help drive the world toward progressive, verified arms reductions and peace enforcement. Then, maybe, about the global democracy that must precede effective law enforcement.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Citizenship Two Ways

Now and then one wants to shout some message to the world. If I had that power, I would scream, “You have to be two citizens at once.”

People everywhere are enmeshed in preoccupation with military security. No end in sight of escalating violence except eventual nuclear ruin. As world events and political reality bind allegiance in every country to military security, though, our survival instinct prompts us to ask, how might we substitute non-violent security?

We all are citizens of some town or city as well as a nation. That is how we are targeted, by other nations and by terrorists, as municipal populations. If we exercised a rational dual citizenship role, even as our nations jostle for security through force, we would erect authentic security through enforced law.

Consider one day’s news (New York Times, February 24, 2010) for evidence that nation-wise, Americans, powerful as our Super State status makes us feel, are bound on the track to destruction.

1. In “The Washington Area Primps and Northrop Grumman Shops for a New Home”Eugene L. Meyer reports the competition between the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland to offer tax and other inducements to military contractors to locate their corporate headquarters in the D.C. area, “close to the Pentagon, Capitol, and White House.” The closer the vested interests in war are to the decision makers, the farther advocates of enforced law find themselves.

2. In “Gates Sees Danger in Europe’s Anti-Military Views” Brian Knowlton quotes Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking to NATO officers and officials at National Defense University. Gates bemoaned that demilitarization leanings in Europe, “where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it - has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st.” Is seeking peace really mutually exclusive of waging just wars (assuming that is what we wage)?

3. In “Fearing Limits, States Weaken Gun Regulation” Ian Urbina describes how states are making it easier to buy and carry weapons, surely the poorest security resource that Americans could aspire to unless they take for granted their incapacity to head off the chaos that will accompany nuclear strikes resulting from either terrorism or national miscalculation.

4. In his architectural review,“A New Fort, er, Embassy, for London,” Nicolai Ouroussoff calls the winning design for America’s newest embassy, a “bland glass cube” meant to serve “when you know it may become the next terrorist target.” The design shows how to retain a “welcoming, democratic image while under the constant threat of attack.” The present embassy, it seems, already has abandoned efforts to reflect a civilized way of life, closing its public library and art gallery and building a “maze of bollards and fences.” The new embassy will sit in a mini-park of “camouflaged security barriers,” with a pond that is a “reflecting pool - but also a castle moat.”

These four stories are accompanied by the usual complement of pieces, some ten in number today, of war and almost-war news from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and other places around the world. Not a word in the paper about any effort by anyone to achieve security through any means but violence.

If all we do as citizens is seek violence, that is all that we shall find, and in the nuclear age it will prove fatal to everything that our citizenship stands for and hopes for.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Not-Good-Enough Speech

Vice President Biden gave a widely noted speech this week at the National Defense University, aimed to promote support in the military community for the U.S.-Russian START negotiations. More power to him, but the speech shows how hamstrung national leaders are when it comes to arms control.

Instead of getting right to the heart of it - the immense, compelling danger, he thought he had to buy the audience’s attention by describing the Administration’s arming initiatives, the interest shown by some Republicans in arms control, and stirring in patriotic blather.

Dr. Barry Blechman, co-founder of the Stimson Center, reviewed the speech in the New York Times today. He called the speech an example of piecemeal control efforts and demanded that we “think more boldly if we are to achieve global nuclear disarmament.” He offered a plan, proposing that all of the nuclear states make cuts, the U.S. and Russia first, and the others at specified dates and levels. If one state bogged down the others would halt the process. If international verification revealed a serious violation, a collective force would destroy offending sites and even dislodge the ruling regime.

Trouble is, the nations will never do this. Hiroshima was sixty-five years ago. The nations have accommodated to the permanence of these horrible weapons. Consider, it is probably for a brief time only that we have a President who even wants to restructure the security system.

Arms control strategists need to broaden their scope and bring new agencies into play, new power centers through which the strangle hold on national policies, by militarists, weapons industries, and mutually hostile ideologists, might be broken.

Monday, February 8, 2010

President Obama and Nuclear Abolition

      President Obama has linked two indispensable components of a safer world. He says that nuclear weapons must be abolished and he says that it may require his entire lifetime to accomplish. He is 48, so let us prepare for a forty year effort.

      The trouble with long term goals is that we can’t imagine all the steps that might prove necessary. This is especially true in an era of lightning technological change and tectonic environmental change. We cannot forecast what a particular course of action will lead to, what sacrifices are worth while, what expenditures will pay off, or what tomorrow will bring for other nations and peoples, never mind ourselves.

      A President who understands that nuclear abolition is the most important topic that he could address, and is willing to work toward the goal even though its time frame vastly exceeds his term of office, must be assisted. Here is how to do that. Think forty years ahead and imagine a secure world, one requisite of which would be the abolition of nuclear weapons. What would be the components of that world? List every condition and make that our agenda, no matter how unlikely some of the conditions might seem. Here is a starter list.

     1. The world order must prohibit and prevent war, having in mind that war and the capacity for war inevitably put nuclear weapons into play. Nations and non-national antagonists like today’s terrorists will always reach for the most destructive weapons.
      2. To prevent war will necessitate comprehensive law enforcement by regional and global agencies.
      3. The empowerment of such agencies requires that they be held accountable, i.e., that their budgets, leadership, and policies are controlled by individuals answerable to the public. As these must be supra-national agencies, the democratic means of keeping them accountable must be supra-national.
      4. Supra-national, cross-border democracy means local election of representatives to global and regional bodies, and it may mean election districts that cross national borders.

      Though we are speaking of a forty or fifty year program, the smallest first steps will pay dividends. The safest approach, and politically, the only feasible approach, must be by small steps, experimental because no imagined finished product would suit the changed circumstances that passing decades will introduce. We are not talking about world government, because our subject matter is only security. We are not talking about holding a world constitutional convention because the components must emerge through trial and error.

      What are the building blocks? How can citizens experiment with cross border democracy? Where can initiatives be taken that do not require national elected and other governmental officials to take impossible political risks, or the risk of experimenting and, inevitably, getting some of it wrong? The answer is that people in large numbers must use their cities and towns to reach counterpart municipalities in other countries. The must share political initiatives, elect representatives to common security conferences and, over time get to know one another well enough to make common cause, pressure their nations, and collaborate in peace enforcement.

      The process will be as simple and easy to begin as it will be complex and difficult to grow to maturity. A few activists, or neighborhoods, or NGOs in a few cities and towns, in a handful of countries could have a first municipal security conference going in a year. The support that would give to President Obama’s ambition for abolition would be inestimable, though the aim would be far broader than supporting a particular national endeavor. The aim would be to invent global democracy, global law enforcement, and the end of war. These are the requisites of security. Given the nature of weapons of mass destruction, the survival of civilization depends on them.