FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Nuclear Terror at Home

by NOAM CHOMSKY

If you can imagine some rational observers from Mars looking at this curious species down here, I don’t think they’d put very high odds on survival–another generation or two. In fact, it’s kind of miraculous that we’ve come along this far.

The world has come extremely close to total destruction just in recent years from nuclear war. New Mexico plays an important role in this. There’s case after case where a nuclear war was prevented almost by a miracle. And the threat is increasing as a consequence of policies that the administration is very consciously pursuing.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld understands perfectly well that these policies are increasing the threat of destruction. As you know, it’s not a high probability event, but if a low probability event keeps happening over and over, there’s a high probability that sooner or later it will take place.

If you want to rank issues in terms of significance, there are some issues that are literally issues of survival of the species, and they’re imminent. Nuclear war is an issue of species survival, and the threats have been severe for a long time.

It’s come to the point where you can read in the most sober respectable journals warnings by the leading strategic analysts that the current American posture–transformation of the military–is raising the prospect of what they call “ultimate doom” and not very far away. That’s because it leads to an action-reaction cycle in which others respond. That leads us to be closer and more reliant on hair-trigger mechanisms, which are massively destructive.

Militarization of space could very well doom the species. It’s being pushed very hard. That’s one issue that really requires major work and that’s a huge one in New Mexico. New Mexico is one of the centers where this potential destruction of the species is taking place.

There’s a document called The Essentials of Post Cold War Deterrence that was released during the Clinton years by the Strategic Command, which is in charge of nuclear weapons. It’s one of the most horrifying documents I’ve ever read. People haven’t paid attention to it.

The Strategic Command report asks how we should reconstruct our nuclear and other forces for the post-Cold War period. And the conclusions are that we have to rely primarily on nuclear weapons because unlike other weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological, the effects of nuclear weapons are immediate, devastating, overwhelming–not only destructive but terrifying. So they have to be the core of what’s called deterrence.

Everything means the opposite of what it says. Deterrence means our offensive stance should primarily be based on nuclear weapons because they’re so destructive and terrifying. And furthermore just the possession of massive nuclear forces casts a shadow over any international conflict, like people are frightened of us because we have this overwhelming force.

We have to have a national persona of irrationality with forces out of control, so we really terrify everybody, and then we can get what we want. And furthermore they’re right to be terrified because we’re going to have these nuclear weapons right in front of us, which will blow them all up–in fact, blow us all up if they get out of control.

If you read the vision for 2020 published by the Space Administration, it talks about how the new frontier is space–and that we have to take control of space for military purposes and make sure that we have no competitors. That means the space-based instruments of sudden mass destruction.

There was an outer space treaty in 1967, which doesn’t have any teeth in it but it does call for preserving space for peaceful purposes. And there have been efforts at the U.N. General Assembly Disarmament Committee to strengthen it. But they’ve been blocked unilaterally by the United States. The United States alone refuses to vote for the General Assembly resolution, and it’s been tied up since the year 2000. The Chinese are the ones who are pushing to expand it. That’s not reported in the United States. In the year 2000 it was only reported in one newspaper, a small newspaper in Utah.

The whole world is supposed to be covered with–probably is–with sophisticated surveillance devices and the whole range of complex, lethal, destructive weaponry designed to be able to attack anything from space. This means nuclear weapons in space–nuclear energy sources in space–which can get out of control and blow up and who knows what will happen.

When the Bush administration took over they just made it more extreme. They moved from the Clinton doctrine of control of space to what they call ownership of space, meaning–their words–“instant engagement anywhere” or unannounced destruction of any place on earth.

NOAM CHOMSKY made these remarks on Jan. 25 at events in Santa Fe, NM, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the International Relations Center (IRC). Chomsky is a member of the IRC’s board of directors.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
John Stanton
Brzezinski Vision for a Power Sharing World Stymied by Ignorant Americans Leaders, Citizens
Philip Doe
Colorado: 300 Days of Sunshine Annually, Yet There’s No Sunny Side of the Street
Joseph White
Homage to EP Thompson
Dan Bacher
The Big Corporate Money Behind Jerry Brown
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
DNC Playing Dirty Tricks on WikiLeaks
Ron Jacobs
Education for Liberation
Jim Smith
Socialism Revived: In Spite of Bernie, Donald and Hillary
David Macaray
Organized Labor’s Inferiority Complex
David Cortright
Alternatives to Military Intervention in Syria
Binoy Kampmark
The Terrors of Free Speech: Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act
Cesar Chelala
Guantánamo’s Quagmire
Nyla Ali Khan
Hoping Against Hope in Kashmir
William Hughes
From Sam Spade to the Red Scare: Dashiell Hammett’s War Against Rightwing Creeps
Raouf Halaby
Dear Barack Obama, Please Keep it at 3 for 3
Charles R. Larson
Review: Paulina Chiziane’s “The First Wife: a Tale of Polygamy”
David Yearsley
The Widow Bach: Anna Magdalena Rediscovered
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail