Opinion by David William Pear:
The risk of a nuclear war is very real and the US is making it worse. Thinkers and planners in the Pentagon such as Andrew Marshall, on whom the character Dr. Strangelove was based, are paid to dream up diabolical schemes.
The secretive 92 year old Andrew Marshal is one of the most powerful people in the Pentagon. He has been reappointed as the Director of the United States Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment by every president since Nixon. Few people, even presidents, dare challenge him. He has thought about a first strike nuclear attack for a long time.
On June 19, 2013 President Obama gave a speech on nuclear disarmament in Berlin, Germany at the famous Brandenburg Gate. It is the site where 60 years earlier President Kennedy had said to cheering crowds “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner). Those were strong Cold War words for West Berliners. It assured the Germans that the US would not abandon them after the Soviet Union had built the Berlin Wall dividing East and West. Americans were proud of the charismatic JFK.
Another charismatic president, Ronald Reagan, would give another famous speech twenty five years later in 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate in which he said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”. Two years later the Berlin Wall did come down and marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War. The world released a collective sigh of relief that the threat of all out nuclear war had ended too, or so the world hoped.
President Obama has lost a lot of his charisma and his speech at the Brandenburg Gate in June made headlines but it failed to inspire. Nor did it knock Edward Snowden, the NSA whistle blower, off the front pages. The speech did not stop the continuing revelations of US illegal spying on everybody in the world including US citizens. Obama is furious.
Obama has made tensions even higher between the U.S. and Russia over his insistence that Russia returns the whistle blower. Many Americans cheer Mr. Snowden as an American hero. Obama has made himself a laughing stock to the world by his childish cancellation of his attending the G-20 meeting to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia in September.
President Obama’s problem is that nobody really believes him anymore. He talks about transparency while cloaking his spy program in a secret court. He speaks about open society while prosecuting a record number of whistle blowers. He calls for ending perpetual war while building more drones and a military of more trained assassins. He praises the sanctity of the individual while innocent people are held in limbo at Guantanamo Bay. He urges for peace in the Arab world while sending more guns to the civil war-torn Syria.
At his Brandenburg speech, Obama reminded the world that the threat of nuclear war still exists. He tried to sound like the peacemaker:
“We are on track to cut nuke warheads to lowest levels since 1950s … but we have more work to do, so I am announcing [that] we can ensure security of US and allies by reducing our stored weapons by up to one third,” said Obama. “I intend to start talks with Russia to move beyond cold war postures.”
Obama has forgotten that speech just like he has most of his other inspiring speeches. There is no follow-up. Now the possibility of working with the Russians on nuclear disarmament is not as important to Obama as is getting his hands on Snowden.
The US may be reducing the number of ancient nuke warheads but, they are being replaced with bigger and better nuclear bombs of mass destruction. The US is also developing drones that can carry nuclear bombs and circle the earth 24/7. The US is developing non-nuclear weapons that are approaching the levels of strategic nuclear bombs too.
Of great concern to the Russians is the continued deployment of US anti-ballistic missile defense systems (ABMS), after President George Bush unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty made with the Russians in 1972.
By the US’s own actions it has set off a new nuclear arms race with the Russians. According to Russia Today following President Obama’s June speech:
President Putin himself said in a speech on Wednesday that concerns remained both over the anti-missile shields deployed by the United States and NATO, adding that the development of high-precision non-nuclear weapons could upset the strategic balance.
“We cannot afford to disrupt the balance of the system of strategic deterrence, to reduce effectiveness of its nuclear forces. Therefore, the development of the system of space defense will remain a key direction for the military industry,” Putin said.
In other words, to keep up with the big-spending American and NATO technological superiority in weapons of mass destruction, the Russians are going to have to launch a space-based nuclear capability.
When President George Bush dishonored the ABM treaty in 2002 he turned back the clock to pre-SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) days with the Russians, laid the ground for a New Cold War and brought back the concept of MAD (mutually assured destruction). It got 92 year old Andrew Marshall’s heart pumping about the good old days of the Cold War and a first-strike capability.
While the idea of an Anti-Ballistic Missile System may sound benign it is actually an offensive weapon. The Bush-Obama administrations have been trying to sell it to the public that it is purely a defensive measure against a nuclear armed Iran and North Korea. It is really all about Russia and China. It is about U.S. supremacy and a first-strike capability.
The Russians view the ABM shield as an offensive weapon designed for a US first strike capability. One country’s defensive weapon is an offensive weapon to another country. An ABM shield is highly ineffective at stopping a first strike. The ABM shield is most effective at stopping a retaliatory second strike. It can also easily be reconfigured into a first strike missile.
A US first strike would knock out most of the capability of a Russian counter second strike. What limited number of nuclear missiles the Russians might be able to launch after a massive US first strike would have a better chance at being blocked by ABM’s and not reach US targets. The Russian nuclear tipped missiles that do get through the ABM shield would not be sufficient to completely cripple the US. For a normal person this kind of risk is unimaginable and unthinkable, but not for a Dr. Strangelove.
A first strike on Russia would be to satisfy insane power hunger or a paranoid-schizophrenic perceived threat to the US. It is the paranoid Dick Cheney theory of risk avoidance. If there is one chance in one-thousand that the Russians might attack us first, then the Cheney’s sick logic is that the US should attack them first.
The elimination of Russian nuclear and military capability would then leave the US unchallenged as the world superpower. Russian global competition for power, influence and natural resources would be eliminated. The wealth of Eurasia would be free for the US taking. It would be a Dick Cheney and Dr. Strangelove dream come true.
The US is now expanding its ABM’s in Asia too. The US has made it very public that its foreign policy “pivot” is now to contain China. The US is intent on encircling China the same way that it has encircled Russia. The U.S. is improving its first strike nuclear capability against China too. The nuclear bomb has just been sleeping for the past 20 years. Dr. Strangelove has been thinking about this for 40 years.
As the much missed deceased Chalmers Johnson warned back in 2008 in his book “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic”: “Our own already staggering nuclear arsenal expands toward first-strike primacy”. With such a nuclear hammer eventually a U.S. problem will look like a nail.
Skeptics of the possibility of nuclear war are urged to watch the old documentary “Atomic Café”. Those old enough to remember the propaganda of the Cold War will be nostalgic watching it. Younger viewers will learn to love the bomb and that there is nothing to fear from nuclear war and radioactive fallout. Just remember, when you see the atomic bomb flash, “duck and cover”.