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Chomsky writes: "If some extraterrestrial species were compiling a history of Homo sapiens, they might well break their calendar into two eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) and NWE (the nuclear weapons era)."

A photograph of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. (photo: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)
A photograph of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. (photo: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum)

Why National Security Has Nothing to Do With Security

By Noam Chomsky, TomDispatch

05 August 14


f some extraterrestrial species were compiling a history of Homo sapiens, they might well break their calendar into two eras: BNW (before nuclear weapons) and NWE (the nuclear weapons era).  The latter era, of course, opened on August 6, 1945, the first day of the countdown to what may be the inglorious end of this strange species, which attained the intelligence to discover the effective means to destroy itself, but -- so the evidence suggests -- not the moral and intellectual capacity to control its worst instincts.

Day one of the NWE was marked by the “success” of Little Boy, a simple atomic bomb.  On day four, Nagasaki experienced the technological triumph of Fat Man, a more sophisticated design.  Five days later came what the official Air Force history calls the “grand finale,” a 1,000-plane raid -- no mean logistical achievement -- attacking Japan’s cities and killing many thousands of people, with leaflets falling among the bombs reading “Japan has surrendered.” Truman announced that surrender before the last B-29 returned to its base.

Those were the auspicious opening days of the NWE.  As we now enter its 70th year, we should be contemplating with wonder that we have survived.  We can only guess how many years remain.

Some reflections on these grim prospects were offered by General Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which controls nuclear weapons and strategy.  Twenty years ago, he wrote that we had so far survived the NWE “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.”

Reflecting on his long career in developing nuclear weapons strategies and organizing the forces to implement them efficiently, he described himself ruefully as having been “among the most avid of these keepers of the faith in nuclear weapons.” But, he continued, he had come to realize that it was now his “burden to declare with all of the conviction I can muster that in my judgment they served us extremely ill.” And he asked, “By what authority do succeeding generations of leaders in the nuclear-weapons states usurp the power to dictate the odds of continued life on our planet? Most urgently, why does such breathtaking audacity persist at a moment when we should stand trembling in the face of our folly and united in our commitment to abolish its most deadly manifestations?”

He termed the U.S. strategic plan of 1960 that called for an automated all-out strike on the Communist world “the single most absurd and irresponsible document I have ever reviewed in my life.” Its Soviet counterpart was probably even more insane.  But it is important to bear in mind that there are competitors, not least among them the easy acceptance of extraordinary threats to survival.

Survival in the Early Cold War Years

According to received doctrine in scholarship and general intellectual discourse, the prime goal of state policy is “national security.”   There is ample evidence, however, that the doctrine of national security does not encompass the security of the population.  The record reveals that, for instance, the threat of instant destruction by nuclear weapons has not ranked high among the concerns of planners.  That much was demonstrated early on, and remains true to the present moment.

In the early days of the NWE, the U.S. was overwhelmingly powerful and enjoyed remarkable security: it controlled the hemisphere, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and the opposite sides of those oceans as well.  Long before World War II, it had already become by far the richest country in the world, with incomparable advantages.  Its economy boomed during the war, while other industrial societies were devastated or severely weakened.  By the opening of the new era, the U.S. possessed about half of total world wealth and an even greater percentage of its manufacturing capacity.

There was, however, a potential threat: intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.  That threat was discussed in the standard scholarly study of nuclear policies, carried out with access to high-level sources -- Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years by McGeorge Bundy, national security adviser during the Kennedy and Johnson presidencies.

Bundy wrote that “the timely development of ballistic missiles during the Eisenhower administration is one of the best achievements of those eight years.  Yet it is well to begin with a recognition that both the United States and the Soviet Union might be in much less nuclear danger today if [those] missiles had never been developed.” He then added an instructive comment: “I am aware of no serious contemporary proposal, in or out of either government, that ballistic missiles should somehow be banned by agreement.”  In short, there was apparently no thought of trying to prevent the sole serious threat to the U.S., the threat of utter destruction in a nuclear war with the Soviet Union.

Could that threat have been taken off the table?  We cannot, of course, be sure, but it was hardly inconceivable.  The Russians, far behind in industrial development and technological sophistication, were in a far more threatening environment.  Hence, they were significantly more vulnerable to such weapons systems than the U.S.  There might have been opportunities to explore these possibilities, but in the extraordinary hysteria of the day they could hardly have even been perceived.  And that hysteria was indeed extraordinary.  An examination of the rhetoric of central official documents of that moment like National Security Council Paper NSC-68 remains quite shocking, even discounting Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s injunction that it is necessary to be “clearer than truth.”

One indication of possible opportunities to blunt the threat was a remarkable proposal by Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin in 1952, offering to allow Germany to be unified with free elections on the condition that it would not then join a hostile military alliance.  That was hardly an extreme condition in light of the history of the past half-century during which Germany alone had practically destroyed Russia twice, exacting a terrible toll.

Stalin’s proposal was taken seriously by the respected political commentator James Warburg, but otherwise mostly ignored or ridiculed at the time.  Recent scholarship has begun to take a different view.  The bitterly anti-Communist Soviet scholar Adam Ulam has taken the status of Stalin’s proposal to be an “unresolved mystery.” Washington “wasted little effort in flatly rejecting Moscow's initiative,” he has written, on grounds that “were embarrassingly unconvincing.” The political, scholarly, and general intellectual failure left open “the basic question,” Ulam added: “Was Stalin genuinely ready to sacrifice the newly created German Democratic Republic (GDR) on the altar of real democracy,” with consequences for world peace and for American security that could have been enormous?

Reviewing recent research in Soviet archives, one of the most respected Cold War scholars, Melvyn Leffler, has observed that many scholars were surprised to discover “[Lavrenti] Beria -- the sinister, brutal head of the [Russian] secret police -- propos[ed] that the Kremlin offer the West a deal on the unification and neutralization of Germany,” agreeing “to sacrifice the East German communist regime to reduce East-West tensions” and improve internal political and economic conditions in Russia -- opportunities that were squandered in favor of securing German participation in NATO.

Under the circumstances, it is not impossible that agreements might then have been reached that would have protected the security of the American population from the gravest threat on the horizon.  But that possibility apparently was not considered, a striking indication of how slight a role authentic security plays in state policy.

The Cuban Missile Crisis and Beyond

That conclusion was underscored repeatedly in the years that followed.  When Nikita Khrushchev took control in Russia in 1953 after Stalin’s death, he recognized that the USSR could not compete militarily with the U.S., the richest and most powerful country in history, with incomparable advantages.  If it ever hoped to escape its economic backwardness and the devastating effect of the last world war, it would need to reverse the arms race.

Accordingly, Khrushchev proposed sharp mutual reductions in offensive weapons.  The incoming Kennedy administration considered the offer and rejected it, instead turning to rapid military expansion, even though it was already far in the lead.  The late Kenneth Waltz, supported by other strategic analysts with close connections to U.S. intelligence, wrote then that the Kennedy administration “undertook the largest strategic and conventional peace-time military build-up the world has yet seen... even as Khrushchev was trying at once to carry through a major reduction in the conventional forces and to follow a strategy of minimum deterrence, and we did so even though the balance of strategic weapons greatly favored the United States.” Again, harming national security while enhancing state power.

U.S. intelligence verified that huge cuts had indeed been made in active Soviet military forces, both in terms of aircraft and manpower.  In 1963, Khrushchev again called for new reductions.  As a gesture, he withdrew troops from East Germany and called on Washington to reciprocate.  That call, too, was rejected. William Kaufmann, a former top Pentagon aide and leading analyst of security issues, described the U.S. failure to respond to Khrushchev's initiatives as, in career terms, “the one regret I have.”

The Soviet reaction to the U.S. build-up of those years was to place nuclear missiles in Cuba in October 1962 to try to redress the balance at least slightly.  The move was also motivated in part by Kennedy’s terrorist campaign against Fidel Castro’s Cuba, which was scheduled to lead to invasion that very month, as Russia and Cuba may have known.  The ensuing “missile crisis” was “the most dangerous moment in history,” in the words of historian Arthur Schlesinger, Kennedy’s adviser and confidant.

As the crisis peaked in late October, Kennedy received a secret letter from Khrushchev offering to end it by simultaneous public withdrawal of Russian missiles from Cuba and U.S. Jupiter missiles from Turkey.  The latter were obsolete missiles, already ordered withdrawn by the Kennedy administration because they were being replaced by far more lethal Polaris submarines to be stationed in the Mediterranean.

Kennedy’s subjective estimate at that moment was that if he refused the Soviet premier’s offer, there was a 33% to 50% probability of nuclear war -- a war that, as President Eisenhower had warned, would have destroyed the northern hemisphere.  Kennedy nonetheless refused Khrushchev’s proposal for public withdrawal of the missiles from Cuba and Turkey; only the withdrawal from Cuba could be public, so as to protect the U.S. right to place missiles on Russia’s borders or anywhere else it chose.

It is hard to think of a more horrendous decision in history -- and for this, he is still highly praised for his cool courage and statesmanship.

Ten years later, in the last days of the 1973 Israel-Arab war, Henry Kissinger, then national security adviser to President Nixon, called a nuclear alert.  The purpose was to warn the Russians not to interfere with his delicate diplomatic maneuvers designed to ensure an Israeli victory, but of a limited sort so that the U.S. would still be in control of the region unilaterally.  And the maneuvers were indeed delicate.  The U.S. and Russia had jointly imposed a cease-fire, but Kissinger secretly informed the Israelis that they could ignore it.  Hence the need for the nuclear alert to frighten the Russians away.  The security of Americans had its usual status.

Ten years later, the Reagan administration launched operations to probe Russian air defenses by simulating air and naval attacks and a high-level nuclear alert that the Russians were intended to detect.  These actions were undertaken at a very tense moment.  Washington was deploying Pershing II strategic missiles in Europe with a five-minute flight time to Moscow.  President Reagan had also announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) program, which the Russians understood to be effectively a first-strike weapon, a standard interpretation of missile defense on all sides.  And other tensions were rising.

Naturally, these actions caused great alarm in Russia, which, unlike the U.S., was quite vulnerable and had repeatedly been invaded and virtually destroyed. That led to a major war scare in 1983.   Newly released archives reveal that the danger was even more severe than historians had previously assumed.  A CIA study entitled “The War Scare Was for Real” concluded that U.S. intelligence may have underestimated Russian concerns and the threat of a Russian preventative nuclear strike.  The exercises “almost became a prelude to a preventative nuclear strike,” according to an account in the Journal of Strategic Studies.

It was even more dangerous than that, as we learned last September, when the BBC reported that right in the midst of these world-threatening developments, Russia’s early-warning systems detected an incoming missile strike from the United States, sending its nuclear system onto the highest-level alert.  The protocol for the Soviet military was to retaliate with a nuclear attack of its own.  Fortunately, the officer on duty, Stanislav Petrov, decided to disobey orders and not report the warnings to his superiors.  He received an official reprimand.  And thanks to his dereliction of duty, we’re still alive to talk about it.

The security of the population was no more a high priority for Reagan administration planners than for their predecessors.  And so it continues to the present, even putting aside the numerous near-catastrophic nuclear accidents that occurred over the years, many reviewed in Eric Schlosser’s chilling study Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety. In other words, it is hard to contest General Butler’s conclusions.

Survival in the Post-Cold War Era

The record of post-Cold War actions and doctrines is hardly reassuring either.   Every self-respecting president has to have a doctrine.  The Clinton Doctrine was encapsulated in the slogan “multilateral when we can, unilateral when we must.” In congressional testimony, the phrase “when we must” was explained more fully: the U.S. is entitled to resort to “unilateral use of military power” to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources.” Meanwhile, STRATCOM in the Clinton era produced an important study entitled “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence,” issued well after the Soviet Union had collapsed and Clinton was extending President George H.W. Bush’s program of expanding NATO to the east in violation of promises to Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev -- with reverberations to the present.

That STRATCOM study was concerned with “the role of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold War era.” A central conclusion: that the U.S. must maintain the right to launch a first strike, even against non-nuclear states.  Furthermore, nuclear weapons must always be at the ready because they “cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict.” They were, that is, constantly being used, just as you’re using a gun if you aim but don’t fire one while robbing a store (a point that Daniel Ellsberg has repeatedly stressed).  STRATCOM went on to advise that “planners should not be too rational about determining... what the opponent values the most.”  Everything should simply be targeted. “[I]t hurts to portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed… That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project.” It is “beneficial [for our strategic posture] if some elements may appear to be potentially ‘out of control,’” thus posing a constant threat of nuclear attack -- a severe violation of the U.N. Charter, if anyone cares.

Not much here about the noble goals constantly proclaimed -- or for that matter the obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to make “good faith” efforts to eliminate this scourge of the earth.  What resounds, rather, is an adaptation of Hilaire Belloc’s famous couplet about the Maxim gun (to quote the great African historian Chinweizu):

“Whatever happens, we have got,

The Atom Bomb, and they have not.”

After Clinton came, of course, George W. Bush, whose broad endorsement of preventative war easily encompassed Japan’s attack in December 1941 on military bases in two U.S. overseas possessions, at a time when Japanese militarists were well aware that B-17 Flying Fortresses were being rushed off assembly lines and deployed to those bases with the intent “to burn out the industrial heart of the Empire with fire-bomb attacks on the teeming bamboo ant heaps of Honshu and Kyushu.” That was how the prewar plans were described by their architect, Air Force General Claire Chennault, with the enthusiastic approval of President Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and Army Chief of Staff General George Marshall.

Then comes Barack Obama, with pleasant words about working to abolish nuclear weapons -- combined with plans to spend $1 trillion on the U.S. nuclear arsenal in the next 30 years, a percentage of the military budget “comparable to spending for procurement of new strategic systems in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan,” according to a study by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Obama has also not hesitated to play with fire for political gain.  Take for example the capture and assassination of Osama bin Laden by Navy SEALs. Obama brought it up with pride in an important speech on national security in May 2013.  It was widely covered, but one crucial paragraph was ignored.

Obama hailed the operation but added that it could not be the norm.  The reason, he said, was that the risks "were immense." The SEALs might have been "embroiled in an extended firefight."  Even though, by luck, that didn’t happen, "the cost to our relationship with Pakistan and the backlash among the Pakistani public over encroachment on their territory was… severe."

Let us now add a few details. The SEALs were ordered to fight their way out if apprehended.  They would not have been left to their fate if “embroiled in an extended firefight.”  The full force of the U.S. military would have been used to extricate them.  Pakistan has a powerful, well-trained military, highly protective of state sovereignty.  It also has nuclear weapons, and Pakistani specialists are concerned about the possible penetration of their nuclear security system by jihadi elements.  It is also no secret that the population has been embittered and radicalized by Washington’s drone terror campaign and other policies.

While the SEALs were still in the bin Laden compound, Pakistani Chief of Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was informed of the raid and ordered the military “to confront any unidentified aircraft,” which he assumed would be from India.  Meanwhile in Kabul, U.S. war commander General David Petraeus ordered “warplanes to respond” if the Pakistanis “scrambled their fighter jets.” As Obama said, by luck the worst didn’t happen, though it could have been quite ugly.  But the risks were faced without noticeable concern.  Or subsequent comment.

As General Butler observed, it is a near miracle that we have escaped destruction so far, and the longer we tempt fate, the less likely it is that we can hope for divine intervention to perpetuate the miracle. your social media marketing partner


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+27 # Concerned Citizen 2014-08-05 12:19
So often what is said in public by our elected officials has little or nothing to do with facts, truth or the American way! Americans seek genuine leadership but until the realization comes home that we are the only ones who can rescue ourselves from this predicament, we will continue to seek but never find the more honorable alternative. Sadly, the rest of the world knows more clearly what we for so long have refused to see in the dawn’s early light!
+28 # fredboy 2014-08-05 12:29
What national security? Was the blindsiding we took on 9/11 -- with zero jets scrambled while four jetliners were known to be hijacked -- "national security"?

National security is simply a money-making scheme.
+38 # WestWinds 2014-08-05 12:37
"National Security" is a legal fiction the politicians use to keep us in the dark about all the evil they are up to.
+8 # wrknight 2014-08-06 08:54
Quoting WestWinds:
"National Security" is a legal fiction the politicians use to keep us in the dark about all the evil they are up to.

Not quite. National security is real, but exists primarily for the protection of those in power and, as Norm points out, is not extended to the general populace. Bear in mind, national security encompasses police and other security forces as well as the intelligence and military forces. Just look around you and see where the forces of national security are concentrated and how they are used within the country as well as without. Then ask yourself, do you feel more secure because of their presence? Does the concentration of security forces around political, financial and industrial centers make you feel more secure? Does the ubiquitous surveillance of your activities and communications make you feel more secure? Do the searches of your person and possessions at airports make you feel more secure? Do threats of military intervention and/or economic sanctions against other countries make you feel more secure? Really?

Then ask yourself, exactly who is being protected by all these "national security" forces?
+29 # jdd 2014-08-05 12:37
Curious as to why narrative ends with the Bin-Laden caper when Obama has continued to provoke Russia with interventions into Syria, Libya, and most importantly Ukraine, where we have no strategic interests and where Russia's are the highest. Apparently, most Americans are unaware of the very real danger of a war of extinction.
+17 # jsluka 2014-08-05 13:22
I thought that too jdd. Maybe Chomsky wrote this a while back, before the Ukraine situation developed, and its just being published now? He should have added a section on the end about the Ukraine situation. He might also have said something about Israel's nuclear bombs. This is not a criticism of Chomsky, I was just wondering about this.
+1 # ritawalpoleague 2014-08-05 16:03
Take a look at paragraph 3 - Prof. Noam speaks of now entering its 70th year (speaking of the NWE). God knows, I'm no numbers girl, but didn't the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima take place in 1945, and now, not yet in summer of 2015, are we entering the 70th year?
+4 # Selwick 2014-08-05 18:18
August 1945
+2 # MindDoc 2014-08-06 14:01
Plus, this is 2014, not 2015,

Aug 6 1945 - Aug 6 2014 = exactly 69 years, thus "we now enter [the] 70th year" since the A-bomb of 1945. (not 05)
QED. Straightforward math. Complex realities.
+1 # ritawalpoleague 2014-08-22 17:36
Thanks, MindDoc. It now makes sense.
-1 # rj Garfunkel 2014-08-06 20:22
Are you an idiot or just pretending?
-46 # arquebus 2014-08-05 12:39
Apparently Mr Chomsky believes that we should have just left the man responsible for 3,000 deaths in the streets of NY alone in the comfort of his compound. One can only wonder why.
+14 # jsluka 2014-08-05 13:25
He didn't say that arquebus. There were other options that could have been used to "get" bin Laden. In particular, a joint operation with Pakistani special forces would have been appropriate since Pakistan is supposedly an ally nation. That would have prevented the possibility of a potential military clash with Pakistan in this case. You may say that that would have compromised the operation, but there were still other options here, if you think it through.
0 # bmiluski 2014-08-05 14:03
A JOINT OPERATION WITH PAKISTAN!!??? The man was living next door to their military academy and they did nothing. The only thing that the Pakistanies have been in complete agreement with us is the billions of dollars they've taken in "aid" money from us.;
+15 # caphillprof 2014-08-05 13:35
If other nations treated as us as we treat them, you would have no need to wonder why.
+15 # engelbach 2014-08-05 14:17
No, chum. That's what G. W. Bush decided when he abandoned the search for Bin Laden.

What Chomsky said was that the incursion into Pakistan to get Bin Laden risked the danger of war with Pakistan.

There may have been other options.

You, it seems, would rather have risked another war than delay the apprehending of one isolated man.

Pretty mindless.
+6 # bmiluski 2014-08-06 08:03
Excuse me..engelbach.. .but gwbush NEVER searched for Bin Laden. Why? Because one of Bin Laden's cousins invested in one of gwbush's failed oil companies.
We almost had bin laden in Afghanistan as he was fleeing into Pakistan. All we needed were 10 more troops but gwbush said no.
Risk another war???? Please, there wasn't a war that cheney didn't like as long as halibuton made money.
+20 # PABLO DIABLO 2014-08-05 12:48
Many of my friends dismiss me as a "raving lunatic" when I tell them about what Chomsky has written, but in the end I listen to Chomsky.
+8 # pbbrodie 2014-08-05 16:42
Your friends are the raving lunatics, if they do not believe this narrative.
-18 # rj Garfunkel 2014-08-06 07:00
Chomsky is out of his head. There is nothing as foolish as an old fool. He's been spewing his far left BS for decades. In a sense he is not much different than the clowns and fascists who write the slime on Newsmax. He's the poster child for the right that is convinced that FOX noise is correct. Who is this academic AH who preaches such "one-world" lunacy?

Jew-haters, and self-hating Jews are one in the same. They have a perverted sense of jealousy and guilt. I've been listening to his style of "Better be Red than Dead" tripe for 50+ years. It didn't work then and it doesn't work now.

As I serial Israel-basher, Chomsky should be ashamed of himself.
+5 # tomtom 2014-08-05 13:45
Our only guaranteed defense is to implement an open arsenal policy. Because all nations have secrets and are known to not be honest with eachother, peace and security can only be established if they show us their's and we show them ours. In clearer terms, each nation has a peace monitoring delegation that can freely inspect every other nations stockpiles. It's the only way anyone can prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that others can't plan an attack. It would mean that the world would have to reenforce the U.N. or create a new body that enforces compliance, without veto. Of course, the nations without nukes would be the first applicants, but, together, they could convince Nukers to abide. None will end production and possession, any other way, short of anniihilation.
+5 # reiverpacific 2014-08-05 14:04
Quoting arquebus:
Apparently Mr Chomsky believes that we should have just left the man responsible for 3,000 deaths in the streets of NY alone in the comfort of his compound. One can only wonder why.

A) That was never proven, just assumed. What IS a fact that he warned the US that it's presence was generally unwelcome in his area of the world and retribution was due.
B) Check out the Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth (of which I'm one) website.
"-- perchance you wonder at this show.
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain".
-11 # rj Garfunkel 2014-08-07 13:26
More rationalization from an imbecile. So what Bin Laden did was justified? Even the Arabs can decide what is right for them. Both Shiites and Sunnis use religious hatred and bigotry to disparage any other people or religion. Next you'll tell us it was the Mossad. What a lowlife you are!
+8 # reiverpacific 2014-08-05 14:08
"Then said another -"Surely not in vain
My substance from the common Earth was ta'en;
That He who subtly wrought me into Shape
Should stamp me back to common Earth again".
A wise Persian.
+9 # Yakpsyche 2014-08-05 14:43
Well, if anyone ever had doubts, surely this article reveals the megalomaniacal characteristics of the covert US ruling class. As for "national security", apparently that is secondary to national hubris, officially named, "American Exceptionalism" .
+11 # reiverpacific 2014-08-05 15:44
What's ironic is that there is NO defense, NOR security against such Armageddon genies ("Ar'm a-geddon outa here") once they are out of the box. Oppenheimer wrote in a letter to his brother on witnessing the first A-Bomb test ""Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds".
The myth of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) as the ultimate deterrent, was shoved down our throats by the conniving leaders of the Western World (the Soviets had nowhere near the warheads of the US and the rest) since I was in high school wondering at times if it was even worth trying to get an education and a living.
One thing it did do to or for me; I've been dedicatedly and actively utterly anti-war ever since.
I wonder if these power-drunk, hubristic gits who lord it over we little people have any idea that they're toast just like most of the rest of us, if it all goes to shit and some Messianic or drunk chowderhead pushes a button.
Check out Dr. Helen Caldocott's writings and radio program "If you love this Planet" for the full horrific consequences of JUST ONE high-megaton explosion and it's wind-borne death-dusts.
Not to mention the already serious, ever-looming and seemingly insolvable crisis of how to deal with the waste from the plants which manufacture death as a fuel and a by-product
In the Pacific Northwest we're caught in a pincers between Hanford, there since the Manhattan project and Fukishima.
Ghandi nailed it when he said that Western Civilization "Would be a very good idea".
+3 # wrknight 2014-08-06 09:08
Hell, any civilization would be a very good idea.
-21 # rj Garfunkel 2014-08-05 17:00
As a lifetime student of FDR and his times, I interviewed on my radio show, Prof. Frank Costigliola, who had written a most interesting book, "FDR's Lost Alliances." it is very possible that if FDR was healthy he could have negotiated with Stalin, worked on a Marshall Plan to rebuild the Soviet Union and we may have avoided the Cold War. But that reality didn't happen, and actions by the Soviet Union regarding Czechoslovakia, Greece, Turkey, and the fate of Berlin put a lie to Chomsky's pipe dream!

But Chomsky's idea that Stalin in 1952 was willing to give up East Germany is sort of ridiculous. I am sure that Stalin felt that a de-militarized and unified Germany would have been ripe for a communist coup. Chomsky's One-Worldism is and has been mostly pie in the sky lunacy.

As for our ICBMs, one cannot forget that the Soviet Union had 40,000 tanks in the Warsaw Pact, and without a nuclear threat they could have walked into West Germany. Chomsky, as usual, builds his ideological house of cards to defend his "better be red than dead" philosophy. I am not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination, but Chomsky's politics have always been questionable. He constantly shows his foolishness with his criticism of Israel and his ignoring of Hamas. I just heard Osama Hamdan, the Hamas spokesperson, claim that the Jews practiced ritual murder. to use the blood of Christians for their matzo. This is the kind of people you want to deal with or can trust?
+14 # reiverpacific 2014-08-05 21:12
I'll take Chomsky's "Lunacy" over your blinkered vision of the world, especially as regards Israel, any day: and it was you that brought it up!
He was denied access to Israel quite recently, even although scheduled to give a talk at Tel-Aviv University. If they were so pure and unafraid, why did they do that Bubba?
He's put his body and job on the line many times including trying to lead a tax revolt in the 60's: what have YOU done in y'r life to resist the status-quo, or do you just go along to get along?
Chomsky has more grey matter in his little toe than you and your "Israel Lobby" mates have combined and a world view that encompasses a staggering amount of detail, breadth, personal experience and the ability to articulate it without descending to predictable rhetoric -and a sly sense of humor which emerges unexpectedly when he gives a talk, a component strikingly lacking in y'r posts on RSN.
So he is unashamedly leftist and progressive in his long-held and developed beliefs. We of that ilk have few enough courageous, outspoken -and internationally respected- voices in the face of the appalling US owner-media and he's much better known and respected in other, more civilized, progressive and better-educated countries which still have a press.
Oh' never mind, I shouldn't ha' bothered.
You'll be happy to hear that this is all from me; I hate wasting my words on a blank, boxed-in, apparently humorless, undebateable cipher.
-4 # rj Garfunkel 2014-08-06 20:24 why don't you read this claptrap from Hamas- sound like straight from the Nazi handbook!
-15 # rj Garfunkel 2014-08-06 06:50
Riverat I could care less what you think- his BS and perverted sense of history is backed by few. If he is an example of the far left and clowns like you buy in to his ridiculousness, so be it. You are no different from the Nazis on the far right. His inane view of the world can be mirrored on Newsmax and other right-wing sites.

As much as I despise the Tea Party flat-earthers and hate FOX Noise, I can understand their distorted view of liberalism when they read much of the tripe splayed here.
+5 # reiverpacific 2014-08-06 08:42
Quoting rj Garfunkel:
Riverat I could care less what you think- his BS and perverted sense of history is backed by few. If he is an example of the far left and clowns like you buy in to his ridiculousness, so be it. You are no different from the Nazis on the far right. His inane view of the world can be mirrored on Newsmax and other right-wing sites.

As mush as I despise the Tea Party flat-earthers and hate FOX Noise, I can understand their distorted view of liberalism when they read much of the tripe splayed here.

It's 'Reiver' BTW, o' so enlightened one.
You make my case again.
If you don't mush (sic) like RSN (You've written a lot on these pages but any donations?) crawl off back t'yr constricted li'l ol' world in which seemingly everybody who doesn't see things through your wee periscope as a "clown" or inverse Nazi.
I send you blessings, some humor and may you be saved from y'rself.
Coda and bye-bye.
-7 # rj Garfunkel 2014-08-06 20:29
Thanks- let's just call you "rat!" Your BS cuts no mustard. Israel will go on, survive and prosper. They will create businesses, inventions, advance science, win Nobel Prizes and the Arab world will stone women, kill families, pay for suicide bombers, support dictators, create hardships for their people, kill hundreds of thousand of other Arabs, millions of folks from Darfur and slaughter 100K Christians since 2012. Issa will put heads on pikes and Israel will perfect its Iron Dome and AHs like you will go on and on til you die!
+3 # wrknight 2014-08-06 09:03
It is interesting to note that throughout the geological history of the earth there have been many mass extinctions in which as much as 50% of all living species perished. One unanswered question is to what extent did those species that perished contribute to their own extinction. Which raises the question, to what extent are homo sapiens contributing to the extinction of other life species and ultimately their own.
-5 # ahollman 2014-08-06 18:45
Noam Chomsky polarizes readers. I respect much of what he writes, but dislike his consistently "US is the worst of all nations" viewpoint. I was in the USSR and it was far worse. And Chomsky's consistently attributing the worst of motives to US decision-makers in complex situations is at best naive, at worst a gross distortion.

That said, Chomsky bases his arguments on facts, however biased his selection of them. Reader responses are far more based on opinions unsupported by facts.

For a more nuanced view, I recommend Richard Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomics Bomb", a sweeping work ranging from the development of 19th and 20th century physics (much of it in Germany) to the aftermath of World War 2 and the development of the hydrogen bomb.

Desires to harness atomic energy go back to the 19th century. Developments in physics made it theoretically possible, and the Manhattan project realized it. Some scientists were lured by the "technically sweet" aspects of the project. Others, many of them refugees from Hitler or Mussolini (and many of them Jews) worked on it to prove that either it was impossible or, if it was possible, to ensure the US would get it before the Nazis or the Japanese (imagine what either regime would have done with it).

Both the US and the USSR have played nuclear roulette. During the Cuban missile crisis, a Soviet nuclear sub commander in the Caribbean was given launch authority. Our survival thus far is no miracle, but due to luck and skill.
+1 # RY25L 2014-08-08 23:05
Nuclear weapons aside. the ongoing leakage at Fukushima Daiichi, still unresolved compounding issues at Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island were/are enough to vaporize the pants out of any sentient beings.

You don't even have to talk about nuke weapons though nuke weapons would target all existing nuke plants in a free-for-all "MAD" day of the dogs....since that's all the time it would take.

The fact is existing nuke plants whole purpose eventually will be to produce enough electricity to keep the pools where the spent rods are put into cool.

There will be so many rods that need to be cooled for hundreds of years into the future that MORE rods will have to be used and put into the pools to keep the existing ones cooled off. Think about that!! The ultimate Catch 22.

So it is not so much a one day worth of planet extinction exchanges of nuke will be the war that will never end.

Poison the seas and lakes which is the source of precip...that poisons EVERYTHING including ice packs at the poles but snow and ice water sources just above and outside most population centers on earth....most of these centers get their water from spring and summer runoffs from these snow and ice areas nearby... Maybe African sources and some Amazon sources could scrub themselves faster? Who knows but who wants to find out?

These commercial nuke plants have given us a real world, real time look into the abyss where humanity is dead ahead going.

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