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.

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.