Archive for the ‘Nuclear weapons’ Category

Nuclear sabre rattling with North Korea

By Jonathan Power

Does President Donald Trump (aka “Fire and Fury”) know what a nuclear war would be like?

I ask the question because President Roland Reagan confessed he did not until he decided to look at some movies (once an actor, he was a cinema man), like “On the Beach” that depicted a nuclear war. The exercise changed his thinking and he became an anti-nuclear weapons militant. Together with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev they cut their nuclear stockpiles sharply.

They also came near an agreement to destroy all their nuclear weapons.

The blasts at the end of the Second World War in Hiroshima and Nagasaki can now be repeated hundreds of thousand times. The remains would not just be the broken arches of the Caesars, the abandoned viaducts and moss-covered temples of the Incas, the desolation of one of the pulsating hearts of Europe, Dresden, but millions of square miles of uninhabitable desolation and a suffering which would incorporate more agony than the sum of past history.

It would be a time when the living would envy the dead and it would be a world which might well have destroyed the legacy of law, order and love that successive generations have handed over the centuries to one another. Read the rest of this entry »

End of Nuclearism or the End of the World: Utopian Dreams, Dystopian Nightmares

By Richard Falk

We are living amid contradictions whether we like it or not, driving expectations about the future toward opposite extremes.

Increasingly plausible are fears that the ‘sixth extinction’ will encompass the human species, or at least, throw human society back to a technology of sticks and stones, with a habitat limited to caves and forests.

This dark vision is countered by gene-editing designer promises of virtual immortality and super-wise beings programming super-intelligent machines, enabling a life of leisure, luxury, and security for all.

Whether the reality of such a scientistic future would be also dark is a matter of conjecture, but from a survival perspective, it offers an optimistic scenario.

On political levels, a similar set of polar scenarios are gaining ground in the moral imagination, producing national leaders who seem comfortable embracing an apocalyptic telos without a second thought.

The peoples of the world, entrapped in a predatory phase of global capitalism, are using their democratic prerogative to shut down dissent, rationality, and science. Read the rest of this entry »

Living in Dystopian Times

By Richard Falk

Prefatory Note
The text below is drawn from a talk given at the Spring Festival of the Arts in Beirut, Lebanon on 15 June 2017. Comments welcome.

How can we understand the present unfolding world order, with special reference to its relevance for developments in the Middle East? In my view a fundamental reversal of political expectations has taken place that calls for a new assessment of what is going on, and where the region and the world seem to be heading.

Twenty-five years ago there were three widely held beliefs about future trends on a global level: the assured preeminence of the United States; the continuing globalization of the world economy; and the expanding democratization of national governance arrangements.

It was also assumed that these trends were more or less descriptive of regional realities, including the Middle East.

Each of these trends that seemed so descriptive 25 years ago now seems to be completely out of touch with what is happening around us that is very disappointing when compared with earlier expectations, no where more so than in the Middle East.

These disillusioning changes of perception are contributing to a growing anxiety about what the future portends for all of us.

In addition to these changes of expectation as to international behavioral patterns, there exist a cluster of deeper tensions that concern the very nature of the human condition, extending to challenges directed at the sustainability and quality of life on the planet.

One unfortunate consequence of the preoccupation with these disturbing recent international political realities is that much needed attention is diverted away from these more fundamental issues of an ecological, technological, and cultural character.

As an American, I am especially conscious of the enormous and costly diversionary impact that the Trump presidency is having in weakening the understanding and planning needed if humanity is to have any realistic chance of coping with these emerging threats of great magnitude that have never been confronted in the past.

The most serious menace posed by Donald Trump, who is most accurately regarded as the first right-wing populist tweeting demagogue of the digital age, is his extraordinary talent to shift the conversation from the awkwardly significant to the banal trivial.

He is exerting a great influence on public discourse not only in America but in the world, especially by diluting our perceptions of crucial issues affecting the human species as a whole, including climate change as connected to the related decline of biodiversity, automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and the destabilizing effects of these technologies of the digital age especially when applied to security arrangements and the broad spectrum of societal policies bearing on individual and collective human wellbeing.

Under the weight of these threats it is not surprising that a dystopian moment is beginning to dominate the cultural imagination.

It discloses itself through a fascination with post-apocalyptic films and an interest in older literary dystopias such as Huxley’s Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaiden’s Tale. These books that imagined a future that is in some respects our present are being widely read and discussed as if guidebooks to a set on conditions that were not anticipated.

Within the American political space the fragility of American democracy was prefigured in Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here as well in scary premonitions of the imminence of digital age fascism put forward in the recent radical feminist post-apocalyptic novel, The Book of Joan (2017) by Lidia Yuknavitch.

Also indicative of the foreboding quality of the prevailing Zeitgeist is a bestselling booklet that is a collection of identifying markers of tyranny by the prominent historian, Timothy Snyder, with a deliberately provocative title and a pedagogical rationale, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017).

This ‘dystopian moment’ is reinforced by the absence of positive scenarios of the future, and the dismissal of the utopian imagination as worse than irrelevant because it allegedly created receptivity to promises that when translated into political reality produce totalitarian nightmares.

In effect, utopias, correctly understood, have themselves become in these dark times a disguised form of dystopia.

A recovery of societal confidence is a key precondition of envisioning a better future. Its loss is one dimension of the crisis confronting humanity at this time, and these days such failures of moral and political imagination are generally overlooked in the public sphere that is obsessively focused on the latest daily episode in the Trump political soap opera.

Naomi Klein reminds us in a recent interview, “Trump is not the crisis but the symptom of the crisis.” The point is that we must make the effort to grasp the social and political forces that gave rise to Trump and Trumpism. Klein also insisted that the negativity of progressive thinking in recent decades has had little political traction because it fails to present a positive alternative to the angry negativity of right-wing populism that targets the established order.

Klein’s new book has the title No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.

Her text impressively couples a necessary critique of Trump’s pernicious leadership with an affirmative vision of how to move the political process in emancipatory directions. Read the rest of this entry »

Hiroshimadagen 2017

Av Gunnar Westberg

Kärnvapenhotet ökar. I det läget blir det nyligen träffade avtalet som förbjuder kärnvapen ännu viktigare, menar Gunnar Westberg, Svenska Läkare mot Kärnvapen och TFF styrelsemedlem

Varför har det inte blivit något kärnvapenkrig sedan bomberna föll över Hiroshima och Nagasaki år 1945? Varför använde inte Sovjet atomvapen i Afghanistan, inte USA i Vietnam eller Irak? Jo, därför att alla inser att kärnvapen är en särskild klass av vapen, med alltför förfärande humanitära konsekvenser, som inte kan jämföras med några andra. ”Jag förlorar hellre kriget i Vietnam än tar till atomvapen” sade president Lyndon Johnson. Man menade under det kalla kriget att kärnvapen inte är till för att användas utan enbart för avskräckning.

”Vi har lärt oss leva med bomben och måste fortsätta med den”– det är en föreställning som har blivit en självklarhet för många, särskilt i kärnvapenstaterna. Dessvärre grundar sig denna uppfattning på okunnighet. Man är inte medveten om att världen under det kalla kriget vid flera tillfällen var nära ett globalt kärnvapenkrig som kunde ha ödelagt hela den mänskliga civilisationen.

Risken består även idag. Ett kärnvapenkrig kan startas av misstag och missförstånd, men också genom angrepp på internet av ”hackers”. Är vi säkra på att inte en desperat ledare kan komma att ”trycka på knappen”? Under Watergate-skandalen yrade en berusad president Nixon om att han hade den möjligheten. Så länge kärnvapnen finns kvar finns risken att de används.

Många anser att faran av ett kärnvapenkrig ökar för närvarande. Den ryske presidenten Vladimir Putin har vid flera tillfällen sagt att om Nato anfaller ryskt intresseområde skulle han överväga att använda ”några kärnvapen” som varning.

USA rustar upp sina kärnvapen i Europa. För närvarande är dessa flygplansburna vapen av typen ”fritt fallande bomber”. Nu moderniseras de emellertid till styrbara kärnvapenmissiler med god precision. De har enligt tillverkaren en förmåga att tränga ner i marken några meter innan de detonerar. Därigenom blir de effektiva mot ledningscentraler och missil-silos och får en uppgift vid ett ”lokalt kärnvapenkrig på den europeiska teatern”.

Det förefaller alltså som om USA/Nato och Ryssland nu är på väg tillbaka till sextiotalets kärnvapenstrategi: Kärnvapnen är inte längre enbart avskräckande, utan kärnvapnen kan användas som ett vapen bland andra.

Insikten om detta problem präglar den nyligen utgivna rapporten från Försvarets forskningsinstitut ”Kärnvapen för slagfältsbruk och europeisk säkerhet”. Där tar man det ryska kärnvapenhotet på stort allvar. Man vill att Sverige skall förbereda sig med ett ”försvar” mot ett kärnvapenanfall. Detta är, menar jag, inte möjligt.

Även ett litet antal ”små” taktiska kärnvapen, kanske lika ”små” som bomben mot Hiroshima, skulle åstadkomma en ofantlig skada. Skyddsrum mot kärnvapen är värdelösa mot atomvapen, detta lärde vi oss redan på sextiotalet. Att sprida ut det svenska militära försvaret inför ett eventuellt kärnvapenanfall är också meningslöst; då skulle en angripare bara öka antalet kärnvapen. Tillgången är obegränsad.

I detta läge är det nyligen – 7 juli i år – träffade FN-avtalet som förbjuder kärnvapen synnerligen viktigt. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo # 422: You’re invited to the Nuclear Denial Party!

By Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden – Hiroshima Day, August 6, 2017





Welcome to the Nuclear Denial Party!!

Since marketing, omitted and fake news have – to a worrying extent – replaced knowledge and ethics, why not celebrate that the media have omitted every mention of Hiroshima Day today?

Why not celebrate that all the responsible NATO countries and all other (less responsible) nuclear powers refuse to work for a nuclear ban and abolition as well as for general and complete disarmament?  

Why not celebrate the decade-long self-deception that we can stop nuclear proliferation while being silent about nuclear possession?

Why not recognise with joy that there is an evil terrorism such as ISIS that we must fight and a good terrorism called ‘nuclear balance of terror’ that we must embrace – and that killing a few in the Middle East is much worse than planning to kill millions upon millions of innocent civilians worldwide and for a surely noble cause?

Why not laud the politico-media trick that the world’s attention is on non-nuclear Iran and not on nuclear Israel?

Why not appreciate the moral victory that we have – as civilisation – made slavery illegal, abolished absolute monarchy and put cannibalism behind us but – thank God! – haven’t given up the ultimate, death-and-destruction Omnicide weapons?

Why not feel good that Trump, Putin, Jinping, Macron, May etc. all play God and take the best care of the rest of us by deciding whether or not to continue project Humanity? They are all reliable, rational and moral leaders, so why not just be happy that we don’t have to worry!

Why not be grateful that there have been no more drunk commanders in nuclear facilities, panicking leaders, false nuclear warnings, technical failures, deficient floppy disk computers and no more nukes dropped inadvertently than we have heard of?

And why not, finally, see how fortunate it is that no referendum has ever been held by citizens in nuclear states. I mean, if the people had been allowed to say ‘No!’ we had hardly been so safe as we are today and instead had wasted trillions of dollars on making the world a better place for us all.

So, at the end of the day why should we not celebrate that – in spite of all this stupidity, immorality and nuclear dictatorship – 72 years into the Nuclear Age you and I are still alive?

The BAN Treaty – why it’s significant and why some have isolated themselves from civilisation

By Jan Oberg

The Debate on PressTV with Jim Walsh, MIT

And here the link to a partial transcript

The BAN Treaty – Iran and other countries

By Jan Oberg

Comment on PressTV

North Korea: A danger that can easily be contained

By Gunnar Westberg
TFF Board member

An easy Q & A session:

Question: What does Kim Jong-un and the leaders of DPRK, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea want?

Answer: Security for themselves, power and privileges.

Q. Are their privileges and their leadership threatened?

A: Yes. From outside and from inside.

Q: What outside danger?

A: An attack from the USA.

Q: Is there a real threat from the USA?

A: It seems so, from the perspective of Pyongyang. There are US exercises by air and navy, showing off the superiority of the US forces. And verbal threats.

Q: Why have DPRK developed nuclear weapons?

A: The leaders believe, just like in other nuclear power states, that nuclear weapons are effective deterrents.

Q: What is the danger from the inside?

A: A revolt from the repressed and destitute masses.

Q: How can the leaders prevent a revolt and keep their power?

A: By force, by fear but mostly by pointing at the danger of an attack from the South. There is one thing the people fear more than their leaders: A war. Nuclear weapons give a feeling of security, just as the US Ambassador to the UN, Ms. Nikki Haley, explained for the USA.

Q : How can we decrease the danger from DPRK?

A: There are two main ways:

1. Stop the military provocations.

2. Start negotiations.

In 1994 a “framework” of an agreement was reached and DPRK stopped their nuclear weapons program for several years. When that agreement gradually fell apart, former President Jimmy Carter helped negotiate a second agreement , which unfortunately was not accepted by President George W. Bush . Today the situation is more difficult, but if the DPRK leaders feel assured that they will not be attacked, that there will be no attempt of a regime change, progress can be achieved. And DPRK leaders can always be bought.

However, there is one great danger: If the threat from the south is removed, the people of DPRK may start a revolt, the government may fall and masses of people from North Korea will start walking, into South Korea and into China.

Maybe that is the reason the USA does not want to solve the “problem of North Korea”? Or is it just the need for an enemy?

One thing is obvious: Military threats against North Korea strongly supports the leaders of the country and increases the risk of war, maybe a nuclear war.

Gunnar Westberg

On the mainstream media coverage of nuclear war risks and nuclear abolition

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo # 421

June 30, 2017

You’re probably an avid consumer of news and reports in one or more daily media – local, national or global. You want to be well-informed and say interesting things when you meet friends and colleagues.

And you certainly don’t want to find out that you’ve been taken for a ride by fake news, half-truths, bias or omissions by media that you trusted because you thought you could.

Now ask yourself whether you remember to have seen one or more of these essentially important initiatives and reports recently, all pertaining to nuclear weapons, the risk of nuclear war and advocacy of nuclear abolition:

1) That a large majority of UN members have drafted a treaty that shall declare nuclear weapons illegal, once and for all?
If not, go here and enlighten yourself on one of the most constructive and visionary initiatives in today’s otherwise gloomy world situation.

2) That a conference is taking place these very days about that goal and its process?
If not, go here.

3) That a scary new film shows why Americans should be very nervous about nuclear arsenals?
If not, go here.

4) That the Marshall Islands filed a lawsuit against all 9 nuclear weapons states for failing to comply with their international legal obligations?
If not, go here and see how the smallest actor of all took responsibility on behalf of 7 billion people.

5) That the Nuclear Crisis Group advocates – just a couple of days ago – that steps be taken urgently to de-escalate nuclear flash point such as NATO-Russia and North Korea?
It consists of predominantly former nuclear weapons commanders, ambassadors and scholars, mostly American
If not, go herethis report has not be mention by one single mainstream/make-believe media!

6) That there is an open letter written to Trump and Putin, meeting in Hamburg soon, urging them to declare that a nuclear war can’t be won and must never be fought and to cooperate on a series of other issues?
If not, go here – they are politicians, ministers and ambassadors from the US, Russia, Germany and England.

How many of these had you any knowledge about? Read the rest of this entry »

Overcoming nuclear crises

By Richard Falk* and David Krieger**

TFF PressInfo # 420
June 30, 2017

Prefatory Note
This jointly authored essay was initially published in The Hill on May 30, 2017 under the title, “Averting the Ticking Time Bomb of Nukes in North Korea.” We did not choose such a title that is doubly misleading: our contention is not that North Korea is the core of the problem, but rather the retention of nuclear weapons by all of the states pose both crises in the context of counter-proliferation geopolitics and with respect to the possession, deployment, and development of the weaponry itself; a second objection is with the title given the piece by editors at The Hill.

While acknowledging the practice of media outlets to decide on titles without seeking prior approval from authors, this title is particularly objectionable. The term ‘nukes’ gives an almost friendly shorthand to these most horrific of weapons, and strikes a tone that trivializes what should be regarded at all times with solemnity.

Alarmingly, tensions between the United States and North Korea have again reached crisis proportions. The United States wants North Korea to curtail any further development of its nuclear weapons program, as well as to stop testing its missiles. North Korea evidently seeks to bolster its security by acquiring a sufficiently robust deterrent capability to discourage an attack by the United States.

The unpredictable leaders of both countries are pursuing extremely provocative and destabilizing patterns of behavior. Where such a dangerous interaction leads no one can now foresee. The risk of this tense situation spiralling out of control should not be minimized.

It is urgent that all governments concerned make a sober reassessment in a timely manner. The following questions need to be addressed:

• What can be done to defuse this escalating crisis?

• What should be done to prevent further crises in the future?

• What could be learned from recurrent crises involving nuclear weapons states?

It is discouraging that the White House continues to rely mainly on threat diplomacy. It has not worked in responding to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions for the past few decades, and it is crucial to try a different approach.

Currently, there are mixed signals that such a shift may be underway. President Trump has turned to China, imploring that it use its leverage to induce Kim Jong-un to back down, and has even mentioned the possibility of inviting Kim for crisis-resolving talks. Also relevant and hopeful is the election of Moon Jae-in as the new president of South Korea, and his insistent calls for improved relations with the North.

In the end, no reasonable person would opt for another war on the Korean Peninsula. The only rational alternative is diplomacy. But what kind of diplomacy?

American reliance on threat and punitive diplomacy has never succeeded in the past and is almost certain to fail now. We assuredly need diplomacy, but of a different character.

It is time to abandon coercive diplomacy and develop an approach that can be described as restorative diplomacy. Coercive diplomacy relies on a zero/sum calculus consisting of military threats, sanctions, and a variety of punitive measures. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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