By David Hall, MD*
Nuclear arsenals are a big deal again: extravagantly expensive, militarily unusable, environmentally devastating, morally reprehensible, and now being rebuilt for threatened, accidental, or intentional use to the next century.
Nuclear weapon states have reversed course. In 2010 the USA committed to modernizing its entire nuclear weapons complex as a condition for signing the New START treaty with Russia with its small reductions in both nuclear arsenals. India and Pakistan have been steadily enlarging their small arsenals for years. China and Russia are now building new ballistic missile submarines.
We are in a new global nuclear arms race as the nuclear weapon states continue to follow the US modernization initiative. The hostile or even accidental use of just one modern nuclear bomb would be globally catastrophic, many times the devastation and death toll of the 911 attacks on the US World Trade Center. If used they would violate every international humanitarian law and treaty, would constitute a crime against humanity, and so-called deterrence would have failed. Security through “deterrence” in a multilateral suicidal nuclear world is “specious and illusory.” (Pope Francis)
The trillion dollar modernization of the US arsenal does not meet basic standards for ethical, moral, or rational behavior. The driving force behind modernization is the military-industrial-Congressional complex protecting jobs building these weapons of mass murder.
“The truth is that the President only had a superficial understanding” of what would happen in a nuclear war, [Ex-Chief of Nuclear Forces General Lee ] Butler says. Congress knew even less because no lawmaker has ever had access to the war plan, and most academics could only make ill-informed guesses.”
In place of this specious and potentially suicidal policy, we must pursue cooperative global security initiatives that can address serious global threats to life on Earth - the root causes of a potential nuclear war - climate change, severe poverty, ethnic and religious intolerance - and access to loose fissile materials to make a bomb.
Continuing to upgrade and build new weapons of mass destruction invites a world like Johannesburg during apartheid with nuclear armed barriers between rich and poor.
We need a global Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring us together before we blow ourselves back to the Dark Ages.
*Dr. David Hall is a child and family psychiatrist and a past president of local and national PSR. For over 20 years he has campaigned for the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction. He is active with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and its work to abolish the Trident nuclear weapon system.
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