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"A meticulous, urgent, and shocking report on the current state and true nature of America's nuclear weapons program. . . . Chilling. . . . Harrowing. . . . Apocalyptic. . . . The time to take Caldicott’s measured and wise words to heart is now."
"Helen Caldicott has been my inspiration to speak out."
THE TRAGEDY OF WASTED OPPORTUNITIES
The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.
—Thomas Friedman, New York Times Magazine,
March 28, 1999
Imagine this: The cold war is over. A wise and visionary young American president, elected in 1992, decides that now is the time to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Six months into his first term he flies to Moscow to meet with a pliable Russian president, who agrees to sign a treaty to eliminate Russian and American nuclear weapons within five years. The governments of France, China, England, and Israel follow suit. India and Pakistan choose not to pursue the development of nuclear armaments, a path they were about to take. The United Nations is vested by the international community with the authority and funding to prevent lateral proliferation of nuclear weapons. Hundreds of tons of deadly plutonium are removed over the next five years from the world's total of 52,972 nuclear weapons. The overwhelming relief that the world will soon be free from the threat of instant annihilation catalyzes effective international planning and cooperation to solve the problem of where and how to store the plutonium.
American tax dollars are diverted from massive Pentagon and corporate military budgets into projects designed to take care of thenation's people. A government-funded system of universal health care is instituted, and free, state-of-the-art education from kindergarten through college gradually becomes available throughout the nation. Congress passes a law mandating that all cars be built to operate at 80 miles per gallon and appropriates funding for public-transportation initiatives in every state. Legislation is enacted requiring that most buildings be retrofitted to collect solar energy, and that every new building be powered, heated, and cooled by solar energy. Generous safety nets are put in place, providing for the old, the poor, the sick, and the indigent, and the Social Security system remains immune to the work of "market forces." Every American child will be fully immunized, and no child will live below the poverty line.
Almost five decades since the dawn of the atomic age, the United States of America is on the way to becoming truly secure, no longer dependent on a nuclear barricade for its safety. The nation becomes an inspirational example to all other countries as we enter the twenty-first century.
Now blink and reenter reality.
A newly elected young president—touched paradoxically with both hubris and timidity—who had never acquired an in-depth knowledge of matters military or nuclear was handicapped by a severe leadership impediment: He had evaded the Vietnam draft. In his own mind he never overcame this apparent character deficit, and the military that he allegedly commanded made sure that he never forgot it. To exacerbate this situation, several acute personal problems of a deeply embarrassing—not to mention compromising—nature occupied this president, to the point where he contemplated possible resignation and faced actual impeachment.
Partly to compensate for these "deficiencies," Clinton used U.S. military force overseas—in Bosnia, Iraq, and Kosovo, among other places—more frequently than any other U.S. president of the last twenty years. Further, his was the only administration since Eisenhower's that did not negotiate a single significant nuclear arms control treaty.
Bill Clinton's basic disinterest, distraction, draft handicap, and lack of vision allowed the military—Pentagon, nuclear scientists, and military corporations—to move into this presidential vacuum. They wooed, seduced, and bought Congress and the administrative staff, and the opportunity for nuclear disarmament was tragically lost. Ironically, as we enter the twenty-first century, after eight years of a Democratic administration, the world is in a position even more dangerous than it was at the height of Reagan's buildup of nuclear weapons and Star Wars dreams. It is against this unfortunate backdrop that the events of September 11, 2001 took place, adding ominously to the possibility of international nuclear war or nuclear accidents, as the U.S. nuclear arsenal was placed on the highest state of alert and international tensions rose. U.S. nuclear policy and weaponry has never been more aggressive:
The U.S. currently has 2000 intercontinental land-based hydrogen bombs, 3456 nuclear weapons on submarines roaming the seas 15 minutes from their targets, and 1750 nuclear weapons on intercontinental planes ready for delivery. Of these 7206 weapons, roughly 2500 remain on hair-trigger alert, ready to be launched at the press of a button. Russia has a similar number of strategic weapons, with approximately 2000 on hair-trigger alert. In total there is now enough explosive power in the combined nuclear arsenals of the world to "overkill" every person on earth 32 times.
The U.S. currently has in place plans to fight and win a nuclear war, and is prepared to use nuclear weapons first if necessary. Winning a nuclear war with Russia, for example, requires the use of anti-satellite weapons to destroy Russian early warning systems, a secret preemptive first strike attack to destroy Russian missiles before they can be launched from their silos, and preemptive destruction of Russian nuclear subs in port and at sea, all of which capabilities are currently in place. (Any Russian missiles escaping the initial attack would have to be destroyed en route to the U.S. in space, using a newly developed U.S. ballistic missile defense system.)
The Pentagon's official targeting plan, the single integrated operational plan (SIOP), has been upgraded since 1989: Instead of a total of 2500 targets there are now 3000. These include 2260 Russian sites, 1100 of which are ostensibly "nuclear facilities," 160 of which are "leadership" targets—government offices and military command centers (in a country almost devoid of leadership)—and 500 of which are disintegrating factories that produced almost no arms last year.
China is now included in SIOP for the first time in twenty years, despite the fact that the U.S. Senate moved to normalize relations with China by granting it permanent normal trading relations status (PNTR) in September 2000. (This country of 1.3 billion people, potentially a huge market for the U.S., has only twenty nuclear missiles capable of reaching America.)
Non-nuclear nations such as Iran, Iraq, and North Korea are also targeted with nuclear weapons for the first time. (Before the nineties, the U.S. had targeted only other countries with nuclear weapons.)
The U.S. department of energy's nuclear laboratories—Los Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico, and Lawrence Livermore in California—are embarked on a second "Manhattan Project"—a massive scientific undertaking costing 5 to 6 billion dollars annually for the next ten to fifteen years, to design, test, and develop new nuclear weapons under the guise of ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S.'s current stockpile of nuclear weapons. This is twice the cost of the original Manhattan Project, which developed the first three atom bombs in the early forties, and significantly more than the annual average of 3.8 billion dollars spent on nuclear weapons during the cold war.
The Bush administration is pledged to fast-track plans for a new national missile defense system. This runs the risk of destabilizing the many arms-control treaties already negotiated between Russia and America.
Who are the enemies that America is so frantically and expensively arming against at the dawn of the twenty-first century? Until September 11, 2001, America had no enemies with the potential to wreak real harm on its land or people. It has friendly countries to the north and south, and vast oceans to the east and west. Under the current configuration, no foreign nation would ever think of invading the U.S. But it is now apparent that America has terrorist enemies—amorphous, difficult to track and locate, and almost impossible to extinguish by firepower or enormous arsenals of weapons.
The Pentagon and State Department justify the extraordinary U.S. military expenditure—now 310 billion dollars annually—with potential threats from North Korea, Iraq, Iran, China, Russia, and possibly Libya. But of these, only the 5000 strategic nuclear weapons in Russia—half of which could hit U.S. cities thirty minutes after launching—pose a major threat to American security. More relevantly, as recent events have made all too clear, the largest nuclear stockpile in the world can accomplish little in the face of terrorists armed with box cutters, except, possibly, offering the potential for terrifying escalation of any ensuing conflict between nations. America currently spends 22 times as much on its military forces as all the other so-called rogue states or "states of concern"—Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Cuba, and Libya—put together, when nullification of any threat they might pose could be achieved for a fraction of that amount.
Other possible explanations for America's immense military expenditure include:
It fattens the coffers of weapons makers.
It is a direct result of the rivalry between the air force, the army, the navy, and the marines, each of whom want their own weapons systems.
It elevates the prestige of top lawmakers within Congress and the White House who are the recipients of huge donations from weapons manufacturers as they legislate for more weapons.
A huge conventional and nuclear arsenal allows America to do what it will around the world with impunity—it is the iron hand in the velvet glove of U.S. corporate globalization.
All of this is why Clinton's failure to seize the opportunity to eliminate or pare down the number of nuclear weapons in the world through rapid and realistic negotiation with Russia—at a time when this was possible—is so deeply tragic. Ironically, it may well be the very fact of the September 11 attack, and the U.S.'s resulting need to adopt a more conciliatory stance toward Russia, that leads George W. Bush to enact the stockpile reductions that eluded Clinton in calmer times.
The nuclear weapons establishment has four arms—the nuclear scientists, the military corporations, Congress plus the White House, and the Pentagon. Subsequent chapters look at each of these in turn. But first, let's set the stage by imagining what nuclear war might really be like.
Excerpted from THE NEW NUCLEAR DANGER by Helen Caldicott. Copyright © 2002 by Helen Caldicott. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
|Introduction to the 2004 Edition|
|1||The Tragedy of Wasted Opportunities||1|
|2||The Reality of Nuclear War||7|
|3||It's a Mad, Mad World: Nuclear Scientists and the Pentagon Play with Deadly Gadgets||13|
|4||Corporate Madness and the Death Merchants||24|
|6||Star Wars: The Story of National Missile Defense Systems||71|
|7||Space: The Next American Empire||115|
|8||Nuclear War in the Gulf and Kosovo||145|
|9||The Lockheed Martin Presidency and the Star Wars Administration||162|
|App. A||Major U.S. Nuclear-Weapons Makers||189|
|App. B||U.S. Nuclear-Weapons Control Centers, Government Authorities, and Nuclear War Plans||209|
|App. C||Locations of the Majority of Usable U.S. Nuclear Weapons||219|
|App. D||Major Antinuclear Organizations in the United States, Europe, Russia, Japan, and South Asia||223|
|App. E: Media||243|