We are running out of time and out of luck
By Douglas Mattern
The great playwright, Anton Chekhov, said if a gun hung on the wall in the first act of a play it would be fired by the third act. August 6th will mark the 58th year since the first atomic bomb laid waste the city of Hiroshima, and
yet so little has changed in terms of national policies that a new nuclear crisis has placed humankind in the third act of the Nuclear Nightmare.
In addition to new members joining the macabre nuclear club, the Bush administration has embarked on a new preemptive war policy that threaten the use of
nuclear weapons. Moreover the Bush team is considering a resumption of nuclear testing to develop new tactical nuclear weapons.
The resumption of production of plutonium parts for nuclear bombs has already begun at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Energy Department has plans
for a new factory that could produce parts for hundreds of nuclear weapons a year.
In addition, a new RAND think-tank report gives a frightening assessment of Russian's strategic capabilities. The severity prompted former Senator Sam Nunn to state: "The risk has increased for a perfect storm in terms of a nuclear miscalculation or an accident."
The report states that U.S. and Russia maintain large nuclear forces on "hair-trigger" alert that could be launched in minutes and destroy both countries in an hour. Three gruesome scenarios are presented that could erupt at any time:
* An intentional unauthorized nuclear weapon launch by a terrorists or rogue commander
* A missile launched by mistake
* An intentional launch of nuclear weapons based on incorrect or incomplete information.
As the nuclear crisis escalates, it behooves us to recall the words of General Douglas MacArthur: "The very triumph of scientific annihilation has destroyed the possibility of war being a medium of practical settlement of international differences...If you lose, you are annihilated. If you win, you stand only to lose. War contains the germs of double suicide...'
The nuclear policy makers have known the "double suicide" consequences of these weapons for decades. In the 1960s, McGeorge Bundy, assistant to President Kennedy, said: "In the real world even one hydrogen bomb on one city would be a catastrophe; ten bombs on ten cities would be a disaster beyond history. A hundred, or even less, would be the end of civilization." In this third year of the new millennium, over 30,000 nuclear weapons are stockpiled.
Robert McNamara acknowledged that during the Cuban missile crisis "we came within a hairbreadth of nuclear war without realizing it." McNamara said: "It's no credit to us that we missed nuclear war--at least we had to be lucky as well as wise." There have been many close calls to nuclear annihilation over the years and luck has played a constant role, but luck does not endure.
Retired General George Lee Butler, former head of the Strategic Air Command, has joined the movement to eliminate nuclear weapons. He says there is no
security in these weapons, and that, "It's a fools game."
Think about it! Most people in this country have lived all, or most of their lives, under the daily possibility of nuclear incineration. It's utter madness; a "fools game" as General Butler calls it, but we are also "fools" for allowing it to continue and threaten the very survival of civilization.
It’s imperative that we join together and declare that we are not going to take this nuclear terrorism any longer. All U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads must be removed from the present hair-trigger alert status to avoid the "perfect storm" of nuclear disaster that Senator Nunn warns. There is no conceivable rationale for keeping these genocidal weapons on a hair-trigger alert.
The larger goal is the elimination of all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. Only then will humankind be liberated from the nightmare that began with the first mushroom cloud on August 6, 1945.
Douglas Mattern is president of the Association of World Citizens