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Nuclear Weapons Ban? What Needs to be Banned Is U.S. Arrogance

by Diana Johnstone, from Global Research

Photograph of President Truman shaking hands with Secretary of State James F. Byrnes after awarding him the Distinguished Service Medal, as General George C. Marshall and General Henry “Hap” Arnold look on. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

In a context of almost total indifference, marked by outright hostility, representatives of over a hundred of the world’s least powerful countries are currently opening another three-week session of United Nations talks aimed at achieving a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons. Very few people even know this is happening.

Ban nuclear weapons? Ho hum… Let’s change the subject.

Let’s talk about Russian hacking instead, or the rights of trans-sexuals to use the toilet of their choice, or even about something really important: climate change.

But wait a minute. The damage to human society, and to “the planet”, from the projected rise of a few degrees of global temperature, while commonly described as apocalyptic, would be minor compared to the results of all-out nuclear war. More to the point, the degree of human responsibility in climate change is more disputed among serious scientists than the public is aware, due to the role of such contributing factors as solar variations. But the degree of human responsibility for nuclear weapons is unquestionably total. The nuclear war peril is man-made, and some of the men who made it can even be named, such as James Byrnes, Harry Truman (pictured above) and General Lester Groves.

The United States government consciously and deliberately created this danger to human life on earth. Faced with the United States’ demonstrated capacity and moral readiness to wipe out whole cities with their devices, other countries built their own deadly devices as deterrents. Those deterrents have never been used, which lulls the public into believing the danger is past.

But the United States, the only power already guilty of nuclear manslaughter, continues to perfect its nuclear arsenal and to proclaim its “right” to launch a “first strike” whenever it chooses.

The United States naturally calls for boycotting the nuclear arms ban conference.

On the occasion of an earlier such conference last March, President Trump’s gormless U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, wrapped her lame excuse in womanliness:

As a mom and a daughter there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons,” she shamelessly uttered. “But we have to be realistic. Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?”

Well, yes. There are many people who have obviously thought more about this than Nikki Haley and who are well aware that North Korea, surrounded by aggressive U.S. forces for seven decades, considers its little nuclear arsenal to be a deterrent, and would certainly give it up in exchange for a convincing end to the U.S. threat.

North Korea is a very odd country, an heir to the medieval “Hermit Kingdom” with an ideology forged in communist resistance to Japanese imperialism of the previous century. Its highly eccentric leadership is using advanced technology as an imitation Great Wall. An all-Korean peace settlement would solve the issue.

It is absurd to claim that the threat of nuclear war comes from Pyongyang rather than from the Pentagon. Hyping up Pyongyang’s “threat” is a way to pretend that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is “defensive”, when the reality is the other way around.

A legally binding ban on nuclear weapons is an excellent idea, approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and it would be fine for experts to work out all the technical and legal details, just in case –in case there is a huge change in the mental outlook that reigns in and around the District of Columbia.

NRA advocates like to defend their cause by proclaiming that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. It is more precise to say that people with guns kill people. Nuclear weapons don’t destroy the world. But people with nuclear weapons could destroy the world. What matters is what is in people’s heads.

During the height of the Cold War, my father, Dr. Paul H. Johnstone, worked for twenty years as senior analyst in the Pentagon’s Weapons Systems Evaluation Group (WSEG), where teams of experts tried to figure out what would happen in a nuclear war between the United States and Russia (the Soviet Union at that time, although they commonly referred to it as “Russia”). In his retirement he wrote a book recounting what he had learned from that experience, which has now been published by Clarity Press with the title From MAD to Madness. He found that apparently normal, even kind and considerate men were able to contemplate initiating general nuclear war and killing millions of fellow humans as a reasonable possibility. Even if some of those millions were fellow Americans.

The result of one high-level study went like this:

the general consensus has been that while a nuclear exchange would leave the U.S. in a seriously damaged condition, with many millions of casualties and little immediate war supporting capability, the U.S. would continue to exist as an organized and viable nation, and ultimately would prevail, whereas the USSR would not.”

Twenty year later, my father commented:

This basic situation has not changed. Nuclear weapons are still there and analysts are still analyzing how to use them.”

And still forty years after that, the basic situation has not changed, except possibly for the worse. What is worse is not only the arsenal, which now aims at achieving such accuracy and underground penetration that it could wipe out an adversary’s command structure before it realizes what has happened. What is really much worse is the mentality that goes with those pretensions, notably the rise of a power-hungry clique called the “neoconservatives” that has in the past thirty years won official Washington over to its ambitions of US global supremacy. There is no longer an ideological enemy. There is just somebody else there who feels equally at home on this planet.

The current anti-Russia hysteria is nothing but a symptom of that mentality, which finds any challenge to US world domination to be intolerable.

Plans are surely being made to remove such intolerable challenges. This is not done in open congressional hearings with cameras. It is done in the military planning division of the Pentagon, preparing for any possible contingency. Plans are surely being made right now to wage nuclear war against Russia and China, not to mention Iran. The executive summary for busy political leaders is apt to conclude optimistically that despite problems, the United States “will prevail”.

The United States with its nuclear arsenal is like a demented maniac with delusions of grandeur. The delusions are institutional rather than individual. Psychologists may be brought to the scene to try to cajole an individual maniac who has taken a schoolroom of children as hostages, but there is no known psychological treatment for such a mass delusion. Ostensibly normal Americans truly believe that their nation is “exceptional”. Their military doctrine does not talk about “defeating” but “destroying”. You may “defeat” an enemy in a war over some issue, but for the Pentagon, the enemy must be destroyed. To eventually serve this death machine, young Americans are being trained by movies and video games to view enemies as extraterrestrials, intruders in our world who can be wiped out, not real humans the way Americans are.

The fundamental reason that United States leaders feel obliged to maintain nuclear supremacy is their belief that “exceptional” America has a right and duty to possess an absolute power of destruction. So long as that mentality rules in Washington, there is no possibility of nuclear disarmament, and every possibility of nuclear war sooner or later. Nuclear disarmament – a totally necessary safety precaution for humanity – will be possible only when leaders in Washington recognize that other peoples also have a right and a will to live.

The real question is how to achieve this psychological transformation.

Ever since August 1945, we have heard it said that “Hiroshima must be a moral awakening”, bringing people together in common concern for humanity. That has not happened. Indeed, today, the moral slumber is deeper than ever.

Diana Johnstone is author of the introduction to her father’s book, From MAD to Madness, by Paul H. Johnstone, Clarity Press, 2017. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr.
Copyright © Diana Johnstone, Global Research, 2017

5 Comments

  1. Excellent article, but how does the world convince Washington, even if Washington were to adopt this view, how would it be enforceable. If one rogue nation were to flout the ban, how would the rest of the world tackle this. At this point, the rogue nation has the upper hand. Whilst nuclear weapons may have ended one war, the mistake of developing them in the first place may well come back to haunt us all.

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  2. BigBG says

    One thing I’ve been meaning to address for a while: if anyone in the UK pushes the proverbial button – whether as a ‘Fallon First Strike’ or a ‘Corbyn Carefully’ response – we all die. Our little Vanguard sub-full of 48 nukes (16 Trident II D-5s currently armed with 3 warheads each (treaty limited) – which could be increased to 12 in a time of conflict); if fired independently – would not kill millions (10x; 100x) – but billions (2-3+). Most would die in the subsequent ‘nuclear famine’
    caused by ‘Multidecadal Global Cooling’: colloquially known as ‘Nuclear Winter.’
    However, it is inconceivable for me that the UK would make an independent pre-emptive strike: we would either be involved in a NATO first strike or response. Or accidental triggering. In which case, we all die. Unless you can survive for 10 years in freezing conditions; without food or the sun.

    [I’m not going to argue the toss about nuclear winter. This Global Research article collates 5 peer reviewed studies that confirm it. If anyone wants to challenge the likes of Carl Sagan; or to maintain their own chances of survivability; the science is against it.]

    As the article above, and the Global Research article point out, the NeoCons have no concept of nuclear winter: and do believe in their own survivability. Also, their battleplan has always been to fight a tactical nuclear war as remotely as possible from the continental USA. Worse than that, they now believe that they have gained nuclear supremacy by ‘Super Fuzing’ their weapons. And since Obomber; they (we?) are on a First Strike capability.

    As the Postol et al study shows; the Russians (the presumed enemy) have only a 7-13 minute “line of site” response time (though the Russians themselves claim to be able to pick up a missile launch anywhere on the planet.) The argument is rendered moot by the installation of the Aegis Ashore ABM sysytem in Romania and Poland – which cuts the response time to what, less than 5 minutes? Irrespective of whether THAAD gets installed in South Korea.

    There seems to be a great deal of wilful ignorance around the nuclear issue – amongst policymakers, politicians and of course, the great British public. I’m of course referring to the recent Leaders Debate, when the idiot audience were trying to corner Corbyn: whilst literally baying for their own annihilation. Not a bad thing. If only I didn’t have to join them!

    Our clinging to Trident as a ‘deterrent’ is nothing but a vainglorious irresponsible internationally dick-waving relict of 1805 ‘spirit of Trafalgar’. Extending our nuclear capability to the 2060’s will deter no one. More nuclear weapons do not make the world safer (or the entire globe would be engulfed in peace by now.) Ringing Russia/China/North Korea with offensive/defensive weapons systems – putting Armageddon on a knife edge – does not make the world safer. Cutting the yields of tactical warheads to make them more deployable; tripling the strategic efficiency of the current warheads by ‘Super Fuzing’ – does not make the world safer.

    One person who is definitely NOT disinformed is Jeremy Corbyn. I can’t hide my disappointment that he (reluctantly) compromised the position of a lifetime for ‘electability’ and as a ‘democratic’ concession to the Blairite NeoCons. On the issue of nuclear weapons; there can be no compromise. The ONLY sane response to the utter MADness is a renewed call for disarmament. Now.

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  3. Dead World Walking says

    The US oligarchy are more than bullies, they are psychopathic.
    Their hatred, hubris, contempt and paranoia of the 99% is the deadliest
    threat humanity has ever faced.
    Jeremy Corbyn has offered a glimmer of hope, but you’ve gotta wonder for
    how long will the 1%s death squads will tolerate him.
    We must continue to rage against the Satans of avarice everywhere, for our children and grandchildren.

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  4. North Korea has several times attempted to open dialogue with Washington but has met with failure because of US feelings of entitlement to the moral “higher ground” which in reality, they have no right to. The US is the most aggressive and destructive force besides Mother Nature, currently threatening this planet and everything that resides on it, based entirely on a fallacious perception of their delusion of “exceptionalism”. The US is exceptional in it’s capacity for wanton destruction and slaughter, beyond that, the US of A is just a schoolyard bully and rogue state pursuing world dominance governed by psychotic nut jobs who should have been sectioned and put away or put down(they shoot rabid animals).

    Liked by 2 people

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