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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Nuking the Planet

Nuking the Planet:  I’m sure you remember Barack Obama, the guy who entered the Oval Office pledging to work toward “a nuclear-free world.”  You know, the president who traveled to Prague in 2009 to say stirringly: “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons... To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same.” That same year, he was awarded the Nobel Prize largely for what he might still do, particularly in the nuclear realm.  Of course, that was all so 2009!
Almost two terms in the Oval Office later, our peace president, the only one who has ever called for nuclear “abolition” -- and whose administration has retired fewer weapons in our nuclear arsenal than any other in the post-Cold War era -- is now presiding over the early stages of a trillion-dollar modernization of that very arsenal.  (And that trillion-dollar price tag comes, of course, before the inevitable cost overruns even begin.)  It includes full-scale work on the creation of a “precision-guided” nuclear weapon with a “dial-back” lower yield option.  Such a weapon would potentially bring nukes to the battlefield in a first-use way, something the U.S. is proudly pioneering.
And that brings me to the September 6th front-page story in the New York Times that caught my eye.  Think of it as the icing on the Obama era nuclear cake.  Its headline: “Obama Unlikely to Vow No First Use of Nuclear Weapons.” Admittedly, if made, such a vow could be reversed by any future president. Still, reportedly for fear that a pledge not to initiate a nuclear war would “undermine allies and embolden Russia and China... while Russia is running practice bombing runs over Europe and China is expanding its reach in the South China Sea,” the president has backed down on issuing such a vow. In translation: the only country that has ever used such weaponry will remain on the record as ready and willing to do so again without nuclear provocation, an act that, it is now believed in Washington, would create a calmer planet.
You must be kidding!
Click here to read more of this dispatch.
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176189/tomgram%3A_engelhardt%2C_war%2C_peace%2C_and_absurdity/#more

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