Surviving Human Nature

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Nuclear Insanity is here to Stay

At the onset of 2015, the agreements to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons were clearly at risk. A new York Times editorial epitomized the risk:" There’s much more to the deeply troubled Russian-American relationship than Ukraine. Under the radar, tensions have also been brewing over compliance with a number of arms control treaties that for decades have been vital to keeping the peace between the two nuclear powers and setting an example for other countries.

"Washington accuses Moscow of violating at least five of these agreements. A failure to resolve the impasse could have extremely dangerous consequences for the post-Cold War order, since even 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the two sides together possess more than 10,000 nuclear weapons, more than 90 percent of what exists in the world. The most serious dispute centers on the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which bans both sides from deploying ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of between 300 and 3,400 miles that carry nuclear or conventional warheads. These were among the weapons America once stationed in Europe to demonstrate a commitment to its allies and deter the Soviets from aggression.

Under the treaty, signed by President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, America destroyed 846 missiles and the Soviets, 1,846 missiles. Both sides had come to see the systems as unacceptably risky to their own forces since they would only have 10 to 15 minutes warning of an attack compared to twice that in attacks involving long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles." As President Barack Obama considered options prepared by the Pentagon for the future size and composition of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, the Global Zero U.S. Nuclear Policy Commission – chaired by former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General (Ret.) James E. Cartwright – issued a report calling for the U.S. and Russia to reduce their nuclear arsenals 80% to 900 total weapons each. This bold step would pave the way to bringing other nuclear weapons countries into the first multilateral nuclear arms negotiations in history. Global Zero’s Cartwright and Blair wrote in a New York Times a 2016 editorial: “Throughout the nuclear age, presidents have allowed their senior commanders to plan for the first use of nuclear weapons.

"Contingency plans were drawn to initiate first strikes to repel an invasion of Europe by the Soviet Union, defeat China and North Korea, take out chemical and biological weapons and conduct other missions. After the end of the Cold War, which coincided with revolutionary advances in our nonnuclear military capacities, the range of these missions steadily narrowed to the point where nuclear weapons today no longer serve any purpose beyond deterring the first use of such weapons by our adversaries. Our nonnuclear strength, including economic and diplomatic power, our alliances, our conventional and cyber weaponry and our technological advantages, constitute a global military juggernaut unmatched in history. The United States simply does not need nuclear weapons to defend its own and its allies’ vital interests, as long as our adversaries refrain from their use. Using nuclear weapons first against Russia and China would endanger our and our allies’ very survival by encouraging full-scale retaliation. Any first use against lesser threats, such as countries or terrorist groups with chemical and biological weapons, would be gratuitous; there are alternative means of countering those threats. Such use against North Korea would be likely to result in the blanketing of Japan and possibly South Korea with deadly radioactive fallout.”

By 2017 three leaders of important countries declared their intention to renew and strengthen their nuclear bomb capabilities. May in the UK, Trump in the USA and Putin in Russia have made boastful claims and admitted they were willing to launch a first strike with nuclear weapons. The extremely dangerous nuclear insanity is again in the forefront of world affairs. China carefully extends its control over adjacent waters and forges alliances world wide. China has nuclear weapons but does not boast.  I will renew my conviction that leaders who show signs of nuclear insanity be arrested and moved to a special institution for the politically insane.

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    The author is Stephen Gislason MD. The date of publication is 2017.

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