Nukes, Lies, and Invisible Murder

Let’s listen in for a moment to the gentle, awkward language of mass killing:

"The employment or threat of employment of nuclear weapons could have a significant influence on ground operations. . . . Integration of nuclear weapons into a theater of operations requires the consideration of multiple variables. Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict."

This is a sneak peek into a 2019 report by the Joint Chiefs of Staff called "Nuclear Operations," which Brian Terrell quoted recently. The document was, for some reason, publicly posted in the waning days of the Trump administration, then – oops – quickly removed, but not before it was downloaded by the Federation of American Scientists.

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Can Biden End the Endless Wars and Learn To Wage Peace?

Will Joe Biden end the endless wars or won’t he?

I have serious doubts that he has the will or political acumen to do so. But that’s only a fragment of the question that needs to be asked, as we approach the twentieth anniversary of our global “war on evil.”A far, far bigger question looms, a question with answers scattered across the global landscape: Can we learn to wage peace? Can we create a united world, free of borders and scapegoats? Can we transcend our alienation from and exploitation of the planet that is our home and our nurturer? Can we stop being afraid of people we don’t know, people who are “different”from us? Can we let go of our need for an enemy?

Millions of global citizens believe the answer to these questions is yes and are committed to creating a different world – I call it participatory evolution – but at the highest levels of collective human organization, cynicism and ignorance rule. Or perhaps I simply mean cluelessness. Militarism is embedded in the infrastructure of the nation state. It’s not simply that borders and interests have to be “defended”; the easiest way to maintain the illusion of national unity is to present the people with a powerful enemy, imaginary or otherwise.

“Ours is the cause of freedom,” George W. Bush declared in November 2001, a month after the U.S. began its war on Afghanistan and two months after 9/11, recently quoted in an essay by Andrew Bacevich. “We’ve defeated freedom’s enemies before, and we will defeat them again. . . . My fellow Americans, let’s roll.”

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Robert Koehler on Nuclear Hubris

One thing that becomes clear to me when I wander into the world, and the minds, of geopolitical professionals – government people – is how limited and linear their thinking seems to be.

When I do so, an internal distress signal starts beeping and won’t stop, especially when the issue under discussion is war and mass destruction, i.e., suicide by nukes, which has a freshly intense relevance these days as Team Trump plays war with Iran.

The question for me goes well beyond democracy – the right of the public to have a say in what "we" do as a nation – and penetrates the decision-making process itself and the prevailing definition of what matters . . . and what doesn’t. What doesn’t matter, apparently, is any awareness that we live in one world, connected at the core: that the problems confronting this planet transcend the fragmentary "interests" of single, sovereign entities, even if the primary interest is survival itself.

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Will We Always Be This Way?

"The people do not want war!"

These were the words that did it, that knocked the composure out of me. I was standing at what felt like the heart of Chicago on a January afternoon, corner of Wabash and Wacker, next to the river and beneath the tower known as Trump. The crowd had swelled by this time to nearly a thousand.

I kept looking up at the letters. They were two stories high: TRUMP. Smugly in command of God knows what – the whole world? As their presence became ever more unbearable, the speaker’s words suddenly pulled me back into the present moment. They put the matter as simply as possible. They were what brought us all down here, clustered together in the bitter wind: THE PEOPLE DO NOT WANT WAR.

There was no "unless" attached to this statement. The raw simplicity tore me open. I burst into tears as the wind cut through me.

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Defying the Nuclear Sword

“. . . and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

These lost words – Isaiah 2:4 – are nearly 3,000 years old. Did they ever have political traction? To believe them today, and act on them, is to wind up facing 25 years in prison. This is how far we haven’t come over the course of what is called “civilization.”

Meet the Kings Bay Plowshares 7: Liz McAlister, Steve Kelly, Martha Hennessy, Patrick O’Neill, Clare Grady, Carmen Trotta and Mark Colville. These seven men and women, Catholic peace activists ranging in age from their mid-50s to late 70s, cut open the future, you might say, with a pair of bolt cutters a year and a half ago – actually they cut open a wire fence – and, oh my God, entered the Kings Bay Naval Base, in St. Mary’s, Ga., without permission.

The Kings Bay Naval base, Atlantic home port of the country’s Trident nuclear missile-carrying submarines, is the largest nuclear submarine base in the world.

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Robert Koehler on The Calm Before the Storm

Every time Donald Trump blurts or tweets a shocker – "maybe it’s the calm before the storm," for instance – questions flood the media.

Is he serious? What did he mean? Yes, of course, but beyond these, larger questions hover half-asked, cutting into the soul of who we are. This is painful, but not necessarily a bad thing. For me, one question that keeps emerging is: What is the relationship between Trump and the military-political system he stepped into?

That is to say, is he furthering its covert agenda (creating the conditions for more war) or, contrarily, exposing it for what it is?

Or both?

Back in February, for instance, Trump the pugnacious 14-year-old told a Reuters reporter:  "I am the first one that would like to see . . . nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power. It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack."

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