Nuclear Weapons: The MAD Men and the Silent Sane

President Kennedy warned us all in 1962 with the words ‘The world was not meant to be a prison in which man awaits his execution’.

We are still in a prison waiting our execution. The MAD men (Mutual Assured Destruction) are still in charge. They have in excess of 2000 nuclear weapons ready to go at the press of a button. This can happen at any time by accident, by misunderstanding or by malicious intent. Why do we, the citizens of the planet, tolerate this truly insane situation? We, the citizens, do not want it – that’s for sure. We are not MAD men.

Who wants them?

Of the 192 states in the United Nations, only 9 have nuclear arsenals. These states expose the citizens of the other 183 states to terrible risks. Even a partial exchange of nuclear weapons could put billions in nuclear-free countries in jeopardy from radioactive clouds; and from dust clouds blocking out the sun and causing crop failure and famine on a massive scale (in those more directly affected the living would envy the dead). 1

In none of the nuclear states have the citizens been asked if they want to threaten millions of their fellow-men with a horrible death. If they had been asked, they would say NO. The vast majority of people want nuclear weapons eliminated and an international inspectorate established to ensure they are eliminated for good.

In November 2007 a poll found that 73% of Americans and 63% of Russians want all countries to agree to eliminate nuclear weapons with an effective international verification system in place.

Also in 2007 a six nations survey including Britain, France and the US shows that a large majority believe nuclear arms should be banned with an enforceable agreement. The supporters included 95.4 % in Germany and 94.6% in Italy (.France 86.6%, Britain 84.5%, Israel 78%, US 73.5%).

At the end of 2008, a poll conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org of 21 nations from around the world found that people in every country want an international agreement for the elimination of all nuclear weapons (all nations possessing nuclear weapons were included in the poll except north Korea where polling is not available).  The public of nuclear, as well as non-nuclear countries, support abolishing nuclear weapons. In 20 of the 21 countries large majorities, ranging from 62 to 93 percent, favour abolition. In the five nations with large nuclear arsenals and advanced delivery systems, large majorities favoured the plan for totally eliminating nuclear weapons according to a timeline – the United States (77%), Russia (69%), China (83%), France (86%), and Great Britain (81%).

In July 2009 a report of an ICM (a member of the British Polling Council) poll in The Guardian newspaper stated that ‘Voters want Britain to scrap all nuclear weapons’.

A further Guardian report of September 2009 was headed ‘Two thirds of voters oppose replacement of Trident, poll shows.’

This was all in spite of politicians and the media in the nuclear states woefully failing to inform the public of the appalling risks to which they are being subjected by the existence of these ‘Arsenals of Folly’. 2

A nuclear-weapon-free zone is a specified region in which countries commit themselves not to manufacture, acquire, test, or possess nuclear weapons. The entire Southern hemisphere is a nuclear weapon-free zone! There are 5 nuclear weapon-free zones. The regions covered include Latin America, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia; more evidence of the billions of the silent sane.

I have called the billions round the world who want the arsenals dismantled the silent sane’ because, although many are working hard to have sanity prevail, the majority have yet to exert the overwhelming power which they most surely have to ensure that it does.

But never mind the silent sane. The UK government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed, in blatant contravention of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty which it has signed (a treaty whereby ‘There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects…’), that it will retain and then replace its Trident weapons of mass destruction. Hence Mr Cameron informed the UK Parliament that he will be ‘steaming through’ with the decision on the initial design phase for replacing Trident this year. One foot in the steam age and one foot in the Cold War era!

So keen are Mr Cameron and his Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Fox, on their Armageddon Machines that money is no object. Greenpeace has estimated the overall cost of renewing the Trident submarine fleet at £97 billion pounds. This is being paid for by cancelling programmes for rebuilding decrepit schools, by making crippling cuts on funds for local authorities, by hacking bits off welfare provisions, and the like.

Likewise President Obama (also in charge of an economy in less than great shape) recently called for £80 billion dollars to upgrade the US nuclear arsenal. Additionally the US government plans to invest ‘well over ’£100 billion in nuclear delivery systems’. This, also, is in flagrant defiance of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. All this is in addition to the estimated 7 trillion dollars which the US has already spent on nuclear weapons since 1945.

In a speech to the United States Institute for Peace (October, 2009) Mrs Clinton stated:

As the President has acknowledged, we might not achieve the ambition of a world without nuclear weapons in our lifetime or successive lifetimes.

(Mrs Clinton had previously permitted a peak under her nuclear umbrella with her declaration that ‘All options are on the table’ during the dispute over what to do about Iran’s nuclear ambitions).

By what right do these people make such declarations when the entire world wants this curse lifted NOW – not in some unspecified future life-time. And time is running out fast. Robert McNamara said Armageddon was avoided in the 1962 Cuban Crisis by pure luck. There have been many instances since when our luck held – just. Dependence on luck is not a sound strategy, especially when the wheel is spinning to determine the survival of the human race.

The MAD Men Agenda

Why do the MAD men stick to their guns (read vast arsenals of thermonuclear bombs of 100 kilotons and upwards)? Well, we can be sure it’s not for the stated reason. Members of the silent sane know that you do not keep people safe by arranging for them to be wiped out at the press of a button by any flaky ‘leader’ who happens to be sitting in charge of one of nine top tables.

Virtually nobody wants it. Its insanely dangerous. We’ve got it. Why?

A sliver of truth slid under the spin barriers during the recounting of Mr Blair’s ‘Journey’ (to International Peace Envoy and beyond?). He wrote: ”I thought giving it up too big a downgrading of our status as a nation….”

That’s it. The MAD men believe it gives them status on the world stage. They can strut their stuff more effectively if their opinion is backed by the threat of Armageddon for all.

The US leaders have their FULL SPECTRUM DOMINANCE to think about. The leaders of the nuclear states covet the power they think accrues to them by threatening their fellow humans with instant incineration.

The bottom line is these ‘leaders’ (pied pipers in truth) are willing to risk the survival of the human race to satisfy their insatiable itch to control others; an itch peppered with a liberal dose of paranoia.

Conclusion

Nuclear Weapons are the only weapons that can wipe out most of the population of the planet in a matter of hours.

Yet the most powerful leaders of the world deploy these weapons and then tell us that they do so for our security! This is monstrous and bizarre. Also bizarre is the fact that we, the silent sane, tolerate it.

The MAD men’s reasons for not removing their doomsday threat are unbelievable – ‘this is not the time’; ‘we don’t know what the future holds’, ‘we would get rid of ours if they would get rid of theirs’.

The world would be an immeasurably safer place if there were no nuclear weapons. We CAN dismantle the arsenals and criminalise their rebuilding. We have banned chemical weapons and biological weapons.

The only obstacle to the multilateral abolition of all nuclear weapons is the lack of will on the part of a few, primarily male, individuals. The silent sane need to tell these individuals – just do it! The Egyptians have shown us how to make it stick.

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

— Dwight D. Eisenhower

  1. Consequences of Nuclear Weapons by Steven Starr []
  2. Arsenals of Folly by Richard Rhodes describing the making of the nuclear arms race []

Jim McCluskey is the author of The Nuclear Threat. Read other articles by Jim.

2 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. MichaelKenny said on February 22nd, 2011 at 8:51am #

    Re Cameron: I would guess that he’s pulling one of those “stunts” he is so good at. He is reducing the conventional forces which allow Britain, more than any other EU member state, to be used as cannon fodder in America’s dirty wars on Israel’s behalf but, as a sop to the “looney” wing of his party, which includes Fox himself, he is maintaining nuclear weapons that can, in practice, never be used. It is, of course, a vast waste of money but he may well be hoping that public opinion will be so shocked at the cost that he will be “forced” to abandon Trident. By that time, of course, the conventional cuts will be irreversible and Cameron will end up with both ends of the stick!

  2. bozh said on February 22nd, 2011 at 4:33pm #

    Jim McCluskey:
    we had spears, torches, knives, rocks for weapons for the same reason we have wmd: to conquer the four quarters of known world and to ensure for an eternity clerico-noble rule world-over!

    if we cld establish a world-wide pantisocratic and timocratic rule, we’d destroy all weapons and wld have removed much of exploitation, injustice, etc.

    that’s what insanely-sane clerico-noble class of ‘high’ life wld not ever promote or allow unless bns of people wld rise against them!

    however, i still have to encounter even one contributor who explicitly promotes a rule by all those who want to participate in it.
    ? all seem to want to keep old pants and then put a patch smwhere on it; expecting the patch wld solve the problems for all time. tnx