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Noam Chomsky: A March to Disaster
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=2749"><span class="small">Democracy Now!</span></a>   
Monday, 31 December 2018 15:26

Excerpt: "In order to fill a couple of overstuffed pockets with more dollars, they're willing to threaten the existence of organized human life."

Noam Chomsky. (photo: Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe)
Noam Chomsky. (photo: Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe)

Noam Chomsky: A March to Disaster

By Democracy Now!

31 December 18


resident Donald Trump recently announced plans to pull the United States out of a landmark nuclear arms pact with Russia, in a move that could spark a new arms race. President Ronald Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, in 1987. The INF banned all nuclear and non-nuclear missiles with short and medium ranges. The treaty helped to eliminate thousands of land-based missiles. We spoke with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky in October about the significance of the INF treaty and the impact of Trump’s plan to pull out.


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue our conversation with the world-renowned professor, linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky. Democracy Now!'s Nermeen Shaikh and I recently spoke to him and asked him to talk about the twin threats of climate change and nuclear war. We spoke in the wake of a new report by Nature magazine that the world has massively underestimated the amount of heat absorbed by our oceans, and President Trump's decision to pull the United states out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, known as the INF. Professor Chomsky began by talking about the significance of this landmark nuclear arms pact with Russia.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, the INF treaty was a very important development. You may recall that in that period, in the early and mid-'80s, the short—this has to do with short-range nuclear missiles. They were being installed in Western Europe, Pershing II missiles in Western Europe, which had a few minutes' flight time to Moscow. If you think what that means, the Russian detection systems are, first of all, far more primitive than ours, but even sophisticated—if they had had sophisticated detection systems, it would have given them barely a few minutes’ warning before a possible heavy nuclear strike, even a decapitation strike, against Moscow. And the Russians were doing the same. They were building short-term missiles aimed at Western Europe. Notice the—not at the United States. This was internal to Europe, short-term—short-range missiles. Well, the 1987 INF treaty ended that extreme peril, sharply reduced it. Missiles were reduced and so on. This was an important step forward. Breaking the treaty reinstates that system.
Now, there’s an obvious way to deal with the problem. Namely, it’s called—it’s kind of a bad word; maybe I ought to spell it—it’s called diplomacy. There have been—the way to deal with the problem is quite straightforward: Do what has not been done as yet—have technical experts from both sides, and neutral ones, investigate the claims that are being made by both sides, and determine if they’re valid. And to the extent that there are, negotiate a way to overcome these violations of the treaty, and then enforce the treaty even further. Carry it further. We should be moving towards eliminating nuclear weapons. Remember that the New START treaty is coming up for renewal. That’s a very important one. START has led to the sharp reduction of nuclear weapons—by no means anywhere near far enough, but nevertheless quite significant.
We should also recall that Trump’s pulling out of the INF treaty has a precursor, namely, the Nuclear Posture Review of the Trump administration, which already called for developing new weapons, tactical nuclear weapons, which themselves greatly increase the threat of a possible war. A target of these missiles can’t know whether they’re conventional or nuclear, or whether they’re short-range or much more powerful missiles. You have a few minutes’ warning time to make these decisions. You look over the history of the nuclear age, and it is practically miraculous that we’ve survived this far. There’s been case after case where we came very—both sides came very close to making a decision to launch nuclear weapons, which means basically terminating human civilization. And miracles like that can’t go on forever. And enhancing the threat is just beyond insanity. Ending the INF treaty not only opens the door for the United States and Russia to develop more dangerous lethal weapons, but, of course, for others to join in, as well, greatly increasing the hazard to all of us. And there are diplomatic options that have not been pursued. And they are the ones that—they are the ones that should be uppermost, not vastly endangering ourselves and everyone else.
Trump also brought up the fact that China is not a partner to the INF. Yeah, they’re not. Well, the way that—that’s because of their particular geostrategic position and their defensive posture in the western Eurasia—eastern Eurasia. Eastern Eurasia. So, the way to deal with that problem is to bring them into the treaty, not to break the treaty and greatly increase the danger to the world.
We should bear in mind that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, which has established, since 1947, beginning of the nuclear age—it’s established the Doomsday Clock, where the minute hand is a certain distance from midnight. Midnight means goodbye, termination of all of us. At the beginning, 1947, it was seven minutes to midnight. It’s oscillated up and back since. In last January, after a year of the Trump administration, it moved to two minutes to midnight. That’s the closest it’s been to terminal disaster ever, with one exception, 1953. The United States, then the Soviet Union, exploded thermonuclear weapons, demonstrating that, in our ingenuity, we had devised the means to destroy everything. At that point, the clock did move to two minutes to midnight. Hasn’t gone that close to disaster since. But it did last January.
And now it’s worse. The Nuclear Posture Review, the revelation, since that time, that the U.S. actually has developed a first-strike potential, which could prevent—could eliminate any deterrent to a first strike, then Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review, which calls for extending the nuclear threat, and now this latest step—this is a march to disaster, which is only paralleled by the moves of the administration to race towards the cliff of environmental destruction with eyes open. They know exactly what they’re doing. Trump himself is a firm believer in global warming; the others, as well. But just in order to fill a couple of overstuffed pockets with more dollars, they’re willing to threaten the existence of organized human life.
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+33 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-12-31 18:21
Trump's withdrawal from the INF and other arms reduction treaties is the formal declaration of the New Cold War that neo-cons have dreamed about for two decades now. Finally the time is right. The planning has been on-going for two decades, ever since Putin came to power in Moscow.

All of this is very serious as Chomsky makes very clear. Russia is responding by building up its own strategic missiles. I guess Chomsky provides the final proof that Trump is not Putin's puppet and that Russia got nothing from the 2016 elections.

The American people are getting worse than nothing from the launch of a New Cold War. Money that might have been spent on universal healthcare or social progress will be plowed into the development of new weapons and building of new bases surrounding Russia and China. Americans will get poorer while the military will grow richer. No one will ever be safe from war. The theory of Cold Wars is always "mutually assured destruction." If one dies, we all die.
0 # yolo 2019-01-01 21:47
Well said RR, I would add, replacing Trump won't reduce the threat if our arms establishment has the power and influence to shift policy to removing treaties and returning us to a cold war which enriches them. I can't forget Hillary campaigned on being tough on Russia while Trump campaigned on better relations. I have to wonder why did Trump change his mind? Could it be he made the decision because he didn't want to look weak on Russia. And like a stooge of Putin, as he was being portrayed in the media? If Trump can go against the establishment and pull our troops out of Syria, and negotiate with N. Korea do you think he might also seek to renegotiate a treaty with Russia or will he be impeached before he can do anything? And the power of our military industrial complex will show once again how powerful it is in shaping policy against the peoples interests.
+38 # engelbach 2018-12-31 23:13
Chomsky's last sentence says it all.

The voters keeping the GOP in power are too brainwashed to know any better.

But where the hell is the only force capable of winning over voters and rescuing humanity from this horror?

The largely absent Democrats have been as deplorable as the so-called deplorables.
+42 # tedrey 2018-12-31 23:44
If a madman is waving around a loaded weapon, sane bystanders are justified in taking it away from him as soon as possible, and worrying about the legality of their intervention later.
+6 # 2019-01-01 08:00
Oh lord, why hath thou fofsaken us? Deliver us from this satanic monster.
+3 # krazykwiltkatt 2019-01-01 17:16
‘What a piece of work is man’ Unfortunately, not ‘noble in reason’!
+2 # elkingo 2019-01-01 18:15
What more need be said? Removes these assholes today: Trump,Putin,Xi, all the rest with nukes. Today. Bravo Tedrey! But even writing these wonderful articles and responses are acts of perilous temporizing.
+1 # elkingo 2019-01-01 18:29
tr43...It is literally no less than that. What you said is neither metaphor nor hyperbole. There is no more "right nor left, progressive nor conservative. Those are obsolete categories. Now there is either survive or die, good or evil. Don't have to was biblical or mystic to see that.
+3 # elizabethblock 2019-01-01 19:24
I'm old enough to remember the signing of the Test Ban Treaty in 1963, and my joy and relief. Not quite old enough to remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but Noam Chomsky is.

It's bad enough that people too young to remember polio don't get their children vaccinated. (There was a story recently, on the CBC, about a mother who is no longer an anti-vaxxer. What changed her mind? All seven of her children came down with whooping cough.) But it's far worse to think that when the use of atomic bombs is no longer part of living memory, people will think they're okay.
+3 # DongiC 2019-01-03 04:27
Bear with me. Trump is really a tool of the Devil who has a nefarious strategy. (1). Ignore global warming, let the planet heat up and suffer an ignominious end. (2) That failing, plant discord among the nations who will fire their short range and intermediate missiles armed with hydrogen bombs thus destroying everything.

How to counter? God, a Progressive, sends another Messiah to the planet to crusade for peace. He(She) is successful in convincing humans to convert their missiles into wind propellers and their fighter jets into solar panels. Capitalism is controlled and the human race has a new birth of freedom and economic prosperity. Education is free for all who, incidentally, have complete medical coverage. Taxes become fair and military spending very tightly controlled.

My vision of utopia. And, I think, it is doable. So let's get going while there is still time. Let's begin with the new Congress remembering that hope sure beats despair and compassion is superior to profit accumulation. Let's emphasize the positive, eliminate the negative and not mess with Mr. In-Between. As the old song would have it.