Stop the MADness

W.J. Astore

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) is making a comeback as the Pentagon hypes a new Cold War with China and Russia. Threat inflation is a big part of this “new” war, just as it was in the old one. So too is greed. There’s much money to be made (a trillion or more dollars, perhaps) in building new nuclear missiles and bombers, even though these weapons represent incipient holocausts.

We need to stop this MADness. There is no need for a new Cold War, and there is no need for new nuclear weapons, weapons that could very well destroy human civilization and most of life on our planet.

This is the subject of my latest article at TomDispatch.com. What follows is an excerpt. I encourage you to read the article in its entirety here.

Stop the MADness. Seriously.

Only Fools Replay Doomsday

In the early 1960s, at the height of America’s original Cold War with the Soviet Union, my old service branch, the Air Force, sought to build 10,000 land-based nuclear missiles. These were intended to augment the hundreds of nuclear bombers it already had, like the B-52s featured so memorably in the movie Dr. Strangelove. Predictably, massive future overkill was justified in the name of “deterrence,” though the nuclear war plan in force back then was more about obliteration. It featured a devastating attack on the Soviet Union and communist China that would kill an estimated 600 million people in six months (the equivalent of 100 Holocausts, notes Daniel Ellsberg in his book, The Doomsday Machine). Slightly saner heads finally prevailed — in the sense that the Air Force eventually got “only” 1,000 of those Minuteman nuclear missiles.

Despite the strategic arms limitation talks between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the dire threat of nuclear Armageddon persisted, reaching a fresh peak in the 1980s during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. At the time, he memorably declared the Soviet Union to be an “evil empire,” while nuclear-capable Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles were rushed to Europe. At that same moment, more than a few Europeans, joined by some Americans, took to the streets, calling for a nuclear freeze— an end to new nuclear weapons and the destabilizing deployment of the ones that already existed. If only…

It was in this heady environment that, in uniform, I found myself working in the ultimate nuclear redoubt of the Cold War. I was under 2,000 feet of solid granite in a North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) command post built into Cheyenne Mountain at the southern end of the Colorado front range that includes Pikes Peak. When off-duty, I used to hike up a trail that put me roughly level with the top of Cheyenne Mountain. There, I saw it from a fresh perspective, with all its antennas blinking, ready to receive and relay warnings and commands that could have ended in my annihilation in a Soviet first strike or retaliatory counterstrike.

Yet, to be honest, I didn’t give much thought to the possibility of Armageddon. As a young Air Force lieutenant, I was caught up in the minuscule role I was playing in an unimaginably powerful military machine. And as a hiker out of uniform, I would always do my best to enjoy the bracing air, the bright sunshine, and the deep blue skies as I climbed near the timberline in those Colorado mountains. Surrounded by such natural grandeur, I chose not to give more than a moment’s thought to the nightmarish idea that I might be standing at ground zero of the opening act of World War III.  Because there was one thing I knew with certainty: if the next war went nuclear, whether I was on-duty under the mountain or off-duty hiking nearby, I was certainly going to be dead.

Then came 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Cold War was over! America had won! Rather than nightmares of the Red Storm Rising sort that novelist Tom Clancy had imagined or Hollywood’s Red Dawn in which there was an actual communist invasion of this country, we could now dream of “peace dividends,” of America becoming a normal country in normal times.

It was, as the phrase went, “morning again in America” — or, at least, it could have been. Yet here I sit, 30 years later, at sea level rather than near the timberline, stunned by the resurgence of a twenty-first-century version of anticommunist hysteria and at the idea of a new cold war with Russia, the rump version of the Soviet Union of my younger days, joined by an emerging China, both still ostensibly conspiring to endanger our national security, or so experts in and out of the Pentagon tell us.

Excuse me while my youthful 28-year-old self asks my cranky 58-year-old self a few questions: What the hell happened? Dammit, we won the Cold War three decades ago. Decisively so! How, then, could we have allowed a new one to emerge? Why would any sane nation want to refight a war that it had already won at enormous cost? Who in their right mind would want to hit the “replay” button on such a costly, potentially cataclysmic strategic paradigm as deterrence through MAD, or mutually assured destruction?

Please read the rest of my article here.

34 thoughts on “Stop the MADness

  1. During the years of anti-war protests (which we will never see again), it was regularly stated that “it only takes five seconds, five seconds to decide if you are gonna be part of the problem or part of the solution.”
    As for the continued nuclear madness and talk of a new Cold War despite the demise of the USSR, that comes down to four words, as uttered by The Lone Ranger in Lenny Bruce’s “Thank you, Masked Man.” The Lone Ranger – who has become hooked on “thank you’s” for all his good deeds – has just been informed The Messiah has returned, all is pure, and there’s no longer any use for people like himself, Jonas Salk, and Lenny Bruce. So, there’ll be no more “thank you’s.” The Masked Man’s response?
    “Then I’ll make trouble.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I read the line in the Book of Books a Day will arrive on Earth when NO ONE will have to talk about God because EVERYONE would KNOW God. Imagine that!

      There would be no more need for Establishment Religion of any Faith to exist.
      We do know it was Establishment Religion that orchestrated The Christ to be Killed and Silenced by The Law.

      Was John Lennon prescient with his Imagine?

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I took note at the Closing Ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Olympics Fireworks show, they had a Firework that spelled out very clearly “ONE WORLD” followed by a Firework that spelled out very clearly, “ONE FAMILY”

          Seeing that, what should I think of the Christ Spirit words, “But you not be called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brethren.
          And call NO MAN your father UPON THE EARTH: for ONE is your Father, which is in heaven.
          Neither be you called masters: for ONE is your Master, even Christ.
          But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
          And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

          Like

  2. Re your post on “The Doomsday Machine” … the business of needing a nuclear arsenal and the threat that “we’ll use ’em if we gotta” as a way of keeping the peace, reminds me (rather uncomfortably) of what is known in the theater as “Chekov’s gun”: Chekov said that if in the course of writing a play, you introduce a pistol – even if it’s just sitting on a fireplace mantelpiece – you can bet your boots someone’s going to use it before the final curtain.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Or a Damocles Sword?

      As for a pistol on a mantle, I made this comment in The Washington Post Yesterday re the woman in prison that begat the Houstan we have a problem hostage situation Saturday

      “This line just doesn’t read right, “When FBI agents and U.S. military personnel were interviewing her in Afghanistan, she grabbed a rifle and opened fire on the Americans before she was herself shot.”

      Apart from that, the US was at war in Afghanistan killing and bombing weddings and funerals on too many occasions. Right up to the end of the hurried exit, the US killed 10 innocent people including 7 children with a drone.

      This woman got 86 years and she didn’t actually kill any soldiers in a War Zone. No American is held responsible for actually killing innocent civilians.

      American Justice truly is BLIND!

      https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/01/16/aafia-siddiqui-texas-synagogue-hostages/

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Chekov’s gun was one of my first thoughts. I love to watch mysteries for all the “Chekov’s gun” setups for use later in the drama. In real life it tends to show up in terms of someone’s personal weapon, usually a firearm, which the owner is just itching to have a chance to use.

      Anyway I also had another thought in the area of “roads not traveled” Part of it is in the Russo-Japanese war of 1939 in Mongolia. The Soviets kicked Japan pretty hard, in particular Georgy Zhukov at the battles at Nomohan and Khalkin Gol, totally defeating the Japanese. This gave Zhukov credibility with Stalin who put him in charge of defeating the Germans. Later, as the war neared an ending, Zhukov was again moved into the far east to go after Japan. That probably had as much or more (in the moment) to do with the Japanese surrender than the two atomic bombs, which the Soviets forces probably made unnecessary on one hand, and possibly required on the other hand to warn off the Soviets(??).

      The road not traveled that I had in mind connects here in the form of Japanese physicist Yoshio Nishina, who was sent to Copenhagen, Europe in 1921 to do research. He worked with and was good friends with Niels Bohr and also knew Werner Heisenberg. He even brought a number of atomic scientists to Japan in the 1930’s. Later Japan had two atomic bomb programs going, one with the Navy and one with Nishina. So it was Nishina who was called to tell the Japanese commanders whether Hiroshima had indeed been hit with an atomic bomb. It was not thought the allies could get there yet, so the Japanese, had decided to shelve both bomb projects, until after the war, because the needed the resources elsewhere.

      Ever since I first learned of Nishina and the conditions under which his work was stopped, with the idea of resuming later, I’ve wondered whether if the Japanese had been allowed to keep their command structure and to resume work, would:
      1 – they (Japanese) have been the first to deploy such a weapon, determined to get back in the game
      2 – had the bombs never been dropped would either side have used them later in a much less limited (these were prototypes) way and in much larger numbers and yields? Say on the Yalu?
      3 – had they not surrendered then and had the Soviets defeated them, would the Soviets have restarted the Japanese research.

      I’ve come around to suspecting that the Soviets, free of the Nazis and free to turn everything around to the east were so intimidating that the two atomic bombs were not needed and may not have really clinched the end so neatly as our story usually goes.
      That sounds much better, until a little gremlin of a thought creeps out from behind my head and thinks, if those two bombs had not been dropped then and there, leaving us we real-world destruction, not mere calculated predictions, would a real atomic war or at least major battles have occured a few years down the line.

      Roads not traveled. Who knows. But another one. Jefferson statues are being un-plinthed because he owned slaves. Yup, not good. On the other hand, he was responsible for making sure that new states coming into the new union would not automatically come in as slave states. That’s good. Then — possible side maneuver, did this set up two sides in both practice (slave, not slave) and in opposable areas, such that we wound up eventually in a civil war. On the other hand, yet again, what if new states came in as slave states. Maybe no civil war but also maybe still slaves????

      Dunno. Maybe just my brain on simmer.

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      1. One more. What if the Japanese marshalled larger forces against the Soviets, would that have tipped the European balance the other way in favor of the Germans? Let me get out of here before my head hurts.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, a high political official in the Japanese government stated that it was the Russian ( Soviet ) defeat of their army in Manchuria in August 1945 that really convinced the Japanese to surrender to the American forces. When asked about the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he said it was no matter because the fire bombings were almost as destructive.

        The Japanese knew the Russians were eager for revenge for their defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05. All the world knows how brutal the Russians can be when they are angered. Visions of Russian troops on Japanese soil was too horrifying to consider. The Americans were viewed as mild mannered compared to the Russians.

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  3. Bill, I’m in accordance with your latest thoughts and perceptions in TomDispatch 99 and 44/100%.
    We are separated on the physical plane, but united in the Spiritual Dimension in the cause.

    US Propaganda has warned malevolent interests could deploy a ‘dirty’ bomb.
    Propaganda is not only what is said, but also what is not said, SINS of OMISSION, that would bring balance and perspective to communication breakdown.

    When I read in the early 70s, the US was the 1st Nation on Earth to produce and add Neutron Bombs to it’s War threats, I was incensed!
    The fact it was the self-convinced Good Guys that would turn such an EVIL idea into Reality woke me. It sensitized me to General Smedley Butler saying ‘War is a Racket!” with this new evidence.

    The notion of a bomb that is designed on explosion, to have minimal damage to the Material War Loot, but release into the atmosphere, especially designed, enhanced filthy dirty nuclear radiation, so the People die a slow, torturous DEATH, is EVIL and anti-Human.

    That was in my life BC, and I was obsessive about the threat to Humanity, telling everyone in my circles the repugnant nature in the Revelation of it. No one cared!

    It is sometimes discouraging to know most People still don’t care.
    I’ve heard of Suicide by Police, but I have to wonder if our Generations are open to Suicide by Nukes by their Silence?

    Has this World’s Pyramid Plutocracy, (who) with the richest at the top controlling what the MASS Media project on the MINDS of the MASSES trapped in the Mindset as Individuals, they are powerless so why bother talking about it?

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  4. FANTASTIC ARTICLE!!! NO MORE WAR! NO MORE NUKES!

    It is not a secret but it is overlooked: The first protests against nukes was by WOMEN. Helen Caldicott started WAND to unite women to rise-up. Why? Beatrice Fihn said we (the world) need a new Feminist Foreign Policy and “The fate of the earth depends on it.” Why?

    Women rose-up and united on Jan 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration. The actions went Global. Why?
    Everyone thought it was just because of who was elected. Sociologist George Lakoff said the women rose up because they care! This is where the power is! It is not about women, it doesn’t mean women have all the answers or will solve the problems. It is about direction. What the women were saying is that they WANT to live in peace and harmony. They DO NOT WANT VIOLENCE AND WAR.

    The obstacles to create change are enormous – I call a BEHEMOTH — Economics, Corporations, the Military, Patriarchy, and people’s mindset! Therefore, to meet the obstacles, we need something different and special. We can’t go around, over, below, or through the Behemoth. But here comes Women and Nonviolence, to “meld” into the core of the Behemoth and dissolve it from within.

    A plan is ready for women to rise-up and unite as the peacemakers. Please contact me to discuss the details: Andre (at) GlobalStrategyofNonviolence.org

    Stopping war and reducing militarism will affect all issues!

    Economist Jeffrey Sachs, after the United Nations General Assembly met in November, was interviewed and asked what he would tell world leaders. He stated that PEACE IS FIRST (See short Jeffrey Sachs video- Fast Fwd to 2:30). The whole world can unite via a peace movement!

    Peace and Love,
    Andre

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I remember Helen Caldicott. Her book “Missile Envy” captured a key point about all those charts from the 1960s and ’70s that showed Soviet nuclear missiles being bigger than ours — as if bigger was better (penis envy). Soviet missiles and warheads were bigger because the missiles were less accurate and not as advanced, but that fact got lost in a quasi-dick-measuring exercise.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The Last Real Commander-in-Chief, General-President Eisenhower, summed up the obstacles you cite in your comment in his ‘Military-Industrial Complex’ retirement speech in 1961 after 8 years as President and the experience as the Supreme Military Commander in Europe during WWII. He knew War is Hell!

      “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience.
      The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.
      We recognize the imperative need for this development.
      Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications.
      Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very STRUCTURE of our society.

      In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military-Industrial Complex.
      The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
      We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.
      We should take nothing for granted.
      Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Unfortunately, the economic and other systemic incentives that affect the nuclear weapons problem and the problem of climate change favor objectives that are not rational. These incentives do not augur well for the survival of humanity.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. When a people become so spiritually bereft, as Americans have, they secretly long for death to end the emptiness and the pain. I would wager that the reason there are no protests, and no demonstrations against the new nuclear build up is the desire for annihilation; a form of moksha, stepping off the wheel of re-incarnation and into Nirvana or Heaven.

    I say the above as I observe the ongoing Covid19 epidemic and the hundreds of thousands of Americans dead. The living do not care, most people are going around without masks and there are still 1/3 of Americans un-vaccinated. Life is cheap here because most Americans do not value it. When one considers one’s own life valueless, then it is no matter about blowing up the entire world.

    The cure? A spiritual New Morning which can only happen on an individual basis.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I received this email from a US University Professor yesterday.
    It’s so relevant to the group, I have to share it!

    Please look at the quote below from George Kennan. Just substitute Russia for Soviet Union and it is as relevant as the day it was written. Similar President Kennedy’s American University speech is very very relevant today. At the time it was delivered it was reprinted throughout the Soviet Union. It needs to be reprinted, studied, taken apart and applied today. The truths in that speech are timeless and universal.

    “….I find the view of the Soviet Union that prevails today in large portions of our governmental and journalistic establishments so extreme, so subjective, so far removed from what any sober scrutiny of external reality would reveal, that it is not only ineffective, but dangerous as a guide to political action.

    This endless series of distortions and oversimplifications; this systematic dehumanization of the leadership of another great country; this routine exaggeration of Moscow’s military capabilities and of the supposed iniquity of Soviet intentions: this monotonous misrepresentation of the nature and the attitudes of another great people — and a long-suffering people at that, sorely tried by the vicissitudes of this past century; this ignoring of their pride, their hopes — yes, even of their illusions (for they have their illusions, just as we have ours, and illusions too, deserve respect); this reckless application of the double standard to the judgment of Soviet conduct and our own, this failure to recognize, finally, the communality of many of their problems and ours as we both move inexorably into the modern technological age: and the corresponding tendency to view all aspects of the relationship in terms of a supposed total and irreconcilable conflict of concerns and of aims; these, believe, are not the marks of the maturity and discrimination one expects of the diplomacy of a great power; they are the marks of an intellectual primitivism and naivety unpardonable in a great government. I use the word naivety, because there is a naivety of cynicism and suspicion, just as there is a naivety of innocence.

    And we shall not be able to turn these things around as they should be turned, on the plane of military and nuclear rivalry, until we learn to correct these childish distortions — until we correct our tendency to see in the Soviet Union only a mirror in which we look for the reflection of our own virtue — until we consent to see there another great people, one of the world’s greatest, in all its complexity and variety, embracing the good with the bad, a people whose life, whose views, whose habits, whose fears and aspirations, whose successes and failures, are the products, just as ours are the products, not of any inherent iniquity but of the relentless discipline of history, tradition, and national experience. If we insist on demonizing these Soviet leaders — on viewing them as total and incorrigible enemies, consumed only with their fear and hatred of us and dedicated to nothing other than our destruction — that, in the end, is the way we shall assuredly have them, if for no other reason than that our view of them allows for nothing else, either for them or for us.

    George Kennan, THE NUCLEAR DELUSION: SOVIET-AMERICAN RELATIONS IN THE ATOMIC AGE, 1982.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Remember when Sting released his song, The Russians, and he caught all kinds of flak for suggesting the Russians loved their children too and that maybe, just maybe, there was no monopoly on common sense/on either side of the political fence?

      How dare he suggest the Russians are like us in any way?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bill, thanks for informing me of Sting’s song from 35 years ago. Another Politically prescient song from the Past.
        Looking up the lyrics they are so relevant to what we all discuss here TODAY.
        I will promote the song by sharing it on all my Social Media.

        If every regular to this Blog, forwards this video with lyrics to all their friends, telling them to send it to all their friends, to all their friends, etc it could become a big trend fast on Social Media in the recognizable International Political atmospheres of tension intensifying.
        There is a very real good chance we can make a difference and change the direction of the Path to Destructive our Material World is on.

        Like

        1. The US and the MSM is sleep walking, leading this World into the opposite direction and the unimaginable abyss.

          I get very little encouragement of the Spiritual lens through which I see this World on the Path to Destruction.
          I wish I didn’t see it, but it does not deprive me of the Joy in the Knowledge and Revelation of Jesus Christ.

          It was encouraging for me to get this reply to my comment from Professor Richard Falk, the Legal Scholar and Author of some 20 Books writing,
          Ray: as usual, a compelling application of biblical prophetic wisdom, historically of profound relevance as in your reading of the Book of Revelations.

          https://richardfalk.org/2022/01/16/dangerous-gaps-knowledge-action-and-justice/

          Like

  8. My Public FaceBook page has 1440 Friends, only a few I personally know, and 226 Followers whoever they are?
    Most of my posts are links to articles with a brief introduction I think Eisenhower’s “alert and knowledgeable Citizenry” should be aware of, recognizing the Signs of the Times in the current circumstances of our World.
    I get a very rare like but no discussion whatsoever.

    With that many FB friends, there is a lot to see in my FB news feed, and I am amazed by some of the content. What is awesome for me is to see the Psychedelic beauty in God’s Creation exhibited with the many beautiful colours and designs of so many exotic Birds we don’t see on our streets.
    Those shared pictures get lots of likes, comments and shares. Bird Brained?

    I just posted this article with this kinda exasperated intro in the hope of getting more People onboard to Stop the MADness before it’s irreversible!

    WARNING! Reading this may WAKE you up to what’s building up BEHIND the scenes as we sleep, the MASSES don’t want to know BEFORE it comes to that MASS Suicide by NUKES because of the MINORITY Power Hungry ELITES.

    https://asiatimes.com/2022/01/epidemic-of-insanity-strikes-americas-leaders/

    Like

    1. Several points in this article stand out to me, Ray. First, and always, the fact that we announce our broad intentions. Pompeo’s saying that we’ll use any and all “soft power” means to destroy Russo-Chinese relations, for instance. I understand that sometimes public statements are deliberately crafted and released to communicate indirectly, but this one is particularly incendiary.

      As for more nuclear power plants, I think they’re an abominable idea, just on general principles. I’m worried about more Chernobyls, not secret caches of troops.

      Lastly, “Now that China’s growing power exposes their incompetence, the establishment strategists will risk nuclear war with China to save their reputations.” This is the money quote, the scariest sentence in the article.

      Like

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