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The politics of nuclear weapons ban

SOLLY RAKGOMO
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.

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 amongst 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 manmade, and some of the men who made it can even be named, such as James Byrnes, Harry Truman and General Leslie 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. It is not a surprise that the United States is naturally calling for boycotting the nuclear arms ban conference. On the occasion of an earlier such conference last March, President Trump’s gormless US 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?”

  There are many people who have obviously thought more about this than clueless Nikki Haley and who are well aware that North Korea, surrounded by aggressive US 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 US threat.  I agree with Diana Johnstone that it is absurd to claim that the threat of nuclear war comes from North Korea rather than from the Pentagon.  Hyping up North Korea’s “threat” is a way to pretend that the US nuclear arsenal is “defensive”, when the reality is the other way around.

A legally binding ban on nuclear weapons is an excellent idea, approved

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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 there is a huge change in the mental outlook that reigns in and around the Pentagon.

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. In his book, Dr Johnstone who worked for the Pentagon at some stage states that 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.

What is really much worse is the mentality that goes with those pretensions, notably the rise in US politics of a power-hungry clique called the “neoconservatives” who have in the past thirty years won officials in Washington over to its ambitions of US global supremacy. Since the end of the Cold War, there is no longer an ideological enemy. The current anti-Russia hysteria is nothing but a symptom of a mentality which finds any challenge to US world domination to be intolerable.

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. 

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 their 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 recognise that other peoples also have a right and a will to live.



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