FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Voices of Reason vs the Doomsday Lobby

by

ehifcead

This Nukewatch graphic by Bonnie Urfer and Arianne Peterson shows the 150 Minuteman III nuclear-armed missile sites around Minot, North Dakota, along with their 15 Launch Control Centers. 

In 2010, three high-ranking military officials including Air Force Colonel B. Chance Saltzman, a Chief of the US Air Force’s Strategic Plans and Policy Division who had worked directly for the Secretary of the Air Force, published a major policy paper suggesting that the US should unilaterally cut its nuclear arsenal by more than 90 percent. The paper argued, “…the United States could address military utility concerns with only 311 nuclear weapons in its nuclear force structure….” With about 1,300 warheads on Trident submarines, another 500 or so on heavy bombers like B-52s or B2s, 180 on fighter-bombers in Europe and the last 450 on top of the Minuteman rockets, cutting to 311 would clearly mean the ICBMs would go the way of the Berlin Wall (since the favored war-fighting nukes are on submarines which can be kept secret from the American public and everybody else).

An even more direct dismissal of land-based missiles came in 2012, when Gen. James Cartwright, a former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chaired a large study group which concluded that US ICBMs are not useful. The committee’s report was signed by then Senator Chuck Hagel who would later become the Secretary of Defense. At a Senate committee hearing that year, Gen. Cartwright defended his findings in formal testimony. Gen. Cartwright’s study said: “No sensible argument has been put forward for using nuclear weapons to solve any of the major 21st century problems we face …. In fact, nuclear weapons have on balance arguably become more a part of the problem than any solution.”

Then, as a sort of exclamation point for our Revised Edition, on December 3, 2014, former Secretary of Defense William Perry declared, “ICBMS aren’t necessary … they’re not needed.” Speaking to a group of military affairs writers, Sec. Perry called for the complete elimination the last Minuteman IIIs, saying, “Any reasonable definition of deterrence will not require [the ICBMs].” Perry warns that ICBMs, “are simply too easy to launch on bad information and would be the most likely source of an accidental nuclear war. He referred to the ICBM force as “‘destabilizing’ in that it invites an attack from another power.” On the former secretary’s web site, the “William J. Perry Project,” he declares emphatically, “Nuclear weapons no longer provide for our security, they endanger it.”

ICBM Coalition Learned to Love the Bomb

These voices of reason — and earlier ones — have been drowned out by the powerful self-styled “ICBM Coalition” – a group of 10 U.S. Senators with large Air Force Bases in their states. The mixed group of Democrats and Republicans are from Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Louisiana. (Utah has Hill Air Force Base where Minuteman IIIs are tested and refurbished; Louisiana has Barksdale Air Base, headquarters of Global Strike Command (its real name) which controls Air Force bombings across the Middle East and Africa.)

The 10 senators would evidently rather take their chances with accidental nuclear war, as long as billions keep pouring into their home states and into the bank accounts of weapons contractors that support their election campaigns. They are John Hoeven (R) and Heidi Heitkamp (D) (earlier Kent Conrad) of N. Dakota; Mike Enzi (R) and John Barrasso (R) from Wyo.; Jon Tester (D) and Steve Daines (R) of Mont.; Orrin Hatch (R) and Mike Lee (R), from Utah; and finally Bill Cassidy (R), and Dave Vitter (R) of Louisiana.

Sometimes called the “Doomsday Lobby,” the ICBM Coalition works to stop further reductions in the nuclear arsenal “to protect jobs” (ie. votes) in their districts, and large military contracts upgrading and maintaining the rockets in their ready-for-launch alert status. The 10 lead moves in Congress to spend several hundred billion dollars to replace rather than retire the land-based arsenal.

In 2012, a Russian proposal to cut 1,950 active warheads now on various launchers down to 1,550 was halted by Montana’s Jon Tester and (then) Max Baucus. The senators didn’t say the cut would weaken the force. They warned the move would mean closing a missile base — probably their beloved Malmstrom AFB in Montana. Bill Hartung with the Center for Responsive Politics reported the same year that the 10 senators over their careers had gotten $513,000 from the military’s four largest missile contractors: GE, Northrup-Grumman, Boeing, and United Technologies.

Taking the generals and Pentagon chiefs at their word, it’s not just the missiles that endanger our security, but the Senators from Missileville.

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
David Rosen
Donald Trump’s Pathetic Sex Life
Susan Roberts
Are Modern Cities Sustainable?
Joyce Nelson
Canada vs. Venezuela: Have the Koch Brothers Captured Canada’s Left?
Geoff Dutton
America Loves Islamic Terrorists (Abroad): ISIS as Proxy US Mercenaries
Mike Whitney
The Obnoxious Pence Shows Why Korea Must End US Occupation
Joseph Natoli
In the Post-Truth Classroom
John Eskow
One More Slaughter, One More Piece of Evidence: Racism is a Terminal Mental Disease
John W. Whitehead
War Spending Will Bankrupt America
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Latest Insulting Proposal: Converting SNAP into a Canned Goods Distribution Program
Robert Fantina
Guns, Violence and the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Zaps Oxygen
John Laforge
$1.74 Trillion for H-bomb Profiteers and “Fake” Cleanups
CJ Hopkins
The War on Dissent: the Specter of Divisiveness
Peter A. Coclanis
Chipotle Bell
Anders Sandström – Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen
Ways Forward for the Left
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Winning Hearts and Minds
Tommy Raskin
Syrian Quicksand
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Still Tries to Push Dangerous Drug Class
Jill Richardson
The Attorney General Thinks Aspirin Helps Severe Pain – He’s Wrong
Mike Miller
Herb March: a Legend Deserved
Ann Garrison
If the Democrats Were Decent
Renee Parsons
The Times, They are a-Changing
Howard Gregory
The Democrats Must Campaign to End Trickle-Down Economics
Sean Keller
Agriculture and Autonomy in the Middle East
Ron Jacobs
Re-Visiting Gonzo
Eileen Appelbaum
Rapid Job Growth, More Education Fail to Translate into Higher Wages for Health Care Workers
Ralph Nader
Shernoff, Bidart, and Echeverria—Wide-Ranging Lawyers for the People
Chris Zinda
The Meaning of Virginia Park
Robert Koehler
War and Poverty: A Compromise with Hell
Mike Bader – Mike Garrity
Senator Tester Must Stop Playing Politics With Public Lands
Kenneth Culton
No Time for Olympic Inspired Nationalism
Graham Peebles
Ethiopia: Final Days of the Regime
Irene Tung – Teófilo Reyes
Tips are for Servers Not CEOs
Randy Shields
Yahoomans in Paradise – This is L.A. to Me
Thomas Knapp
No Huawei! US Spy Chiefs Reverse Course on Phone Spying
Mel Gurtov
Was There Really a Breakthrough in US-North Korea Relations?
David Swanson
Witness Out of Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
George Brandis, the Rule of Law and Populism
Dean Baker
The Washington Post’s Long-Running Attack on Unions
Andrew Stewart
Providence Public School Teachers Fight Back at City Hall
Stephen Cooper
Majestic Meditations with Jesse Royal: the Interview
David Yearsley
Olympic Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail