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Sunday, January 14, 2018

US to Loosen Nuclear Weapons Constraints and Develop More 'Usable' Warheads



 















Depiction of 'tactical' nuclear weapons in use.



New proposal is significantly more hawkish than Obama-era policy

 

Critics call development of new weapons ‘dangerous, Cold War thinking’


By Julian Borger
The Guardian in Washington DC

Jan 9, 2018 - The Trump administration plans to loosen constraints on the use of nuclear weapons and develop a new low-yield nuclear warhead for US Trident missiles, according to a former official who has seen the most recent draft of a policy review.

Jon Wolfsthal, who was special assistant to Barack Obama on arms control and nonproliferation, said the new nuclear posture review prepared by the Pentagon, envisages a modified version of the Trident D5 submarine-launched missiles with only part of its normal warhead, with the intention of deterring Russia from using tactical warheads in a conflict in Eastern Europe.

The new nuclear policy is significantly more hawkish that the posture adopted by the Obama administration, which sought to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in US defence.

Trump is the real nuclear threat, and we can’t just fantasise him away

Arms control advocates have voiced alarm at the new proposal to make smaller, more “usable” nuclear weapons, arguing it makes a nuclear war more likely, especially in view of what they see as Donald Trump’s volatility and readiness to brandish the US arsenal in showdowns with the nation’s adversaries.

The NPR also expands the circumstances in which the US might use its nuclear arsenal, to include a response to a non-nuclear attack that caused mass casualties, or was aimed at critical infrastructure or nuclear command and control sites.

The nuclear posture review (NPR), the first in eight years, is expected to be published after Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech at the end of January.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

35 Peace Groups Demand Congress Protect Public From Nuclear 'Bomb Threat' Trump



President's 'bellicose rhetoric and reckless actions pose a clear and present danger to national security,' groups tell lawmakers.


By Andrea Germanos
Common Dreams

Jan 5, 2018 - Nearly three dozen grassroots organizations on Friday demanded that members of Congress do their jobs and put a leash on nuclear "bomb threat" President Donald Trump.

In an open letter to lawmakers, they write that the president's "bellicose rhetoric and reckless actions pose a clear and present danger to national security."

"Time and time again, Trump has proven just how dangerous it is for him to have thousands of nuclear weapons at his fingertips. He doesn't believe in science and doesn't consult experts," the progressive groups,  including Greenpeace USA, Indivisible, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Ultraviolet, and Veterans for Peace, write.

"There's no better example of the unique danger Trump poses than the unfolding crisis with North Korea, where his cavalier attitude towards nuclear war puts the whole world at risk."

That attitude was put on display late Tuesday when Trump boastfully tweeted about the size and power of his "nuclear button"—a tweet the groups characterized as a "schoolyard taunt" directed at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump has threatened the nation numerous times since taking office, including saying he would hit North Korea "with fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before."

In their letter, the groups point to two specific pieces of legislation the lawmakers should back to put a check on Trump's power to launch a nuclear war—the "No First Use" bill introduced by Rep.  Adam Smith (D-Wash. ) and the bicameral "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act" introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

"Congress has the ability to rein in this world-ending power, but has mostly chosen to sit on the sidelines," the letter states. "This abdication of responsibility cannot continue."

It concludes: "The majority of Americans agree: Trump is a bomb threat. It's time you do something to stop him."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Can We Break Our Addiction to the Military Budget?




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






How many dollars and working hours are rusting here in the desert?

 

Seymour Melman and the New American Revolution


By Jonathan Feldman
Counterpunch
 

Dec 29, 2017

Seymour Melman believed that both political and economic decline could be reversed by vastly scaling back the U.S. military budget which represented a gigantic opportunity cost to the national economy. He believed in a a revolution in thinking and acting centered on the reorganization of economic life and the nation’s security system.  The core alternative to economic decline was the democratic organization of workplaces.

American Capitalism in Decline

On December 30, 1917 Seymour Melman was born in New York City.  The 100th anniversary of his birth helps bring his intellectual legacy into focus.  Melman was the most significant reconstructionist thinker of the 20th Century, championing alternatives to militarism, capitalism, and social decay by advancing a systematic counter-planning program for disarmament and economic democracy.  His legacy remains of critical importance because today the United States is currently a society in which the economic, political and cultural systems are spiraling into an abyss.  Economic and social reconstruction is the idea that planned alternatives to the incumbent mechanisms for organizing economic, political and cultural power exist in alternative institutional designs and matching systems to extend these designs.

The economic realities are well-known, defined by an economic system in which the richest 1% of the population controlled 38.6% of the nation’s wealth in 2016 according to the Federal Reserve.  The bottom 90% controlled only 22.8% of the wealth.  This wealth concentration is well-known and is linked to financialization of the U.S. economy which is matched by deindustrialization and the decline of the “real economy.” Melman analyzed this problem tied to Wall Street hegemony and managerial attacks on worker’s power in his classic 1983 study Profits without Production.  Here Melman illustrated how profits –and thus power—could be accumulated despite the decline of industrial work and manufacturing.  In fact, the rise in administrative overheads associated with the over-extension of managerial power has actually helped reduce both the competiveness and competence of U.S. firms. 

In politics, the Republican Party has emerged as a Trojan Horse society, helping to defund the welfare state and advancing the aims of the predatory warfare state.  The 2018 defense bill signed by President Trump allotted about $634 billion for core Pentagon operations and allotted an addition $66 billion for military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.  


More money was available for troops, jet fighters, ships and other weapons, even though there are millions of U.S. citizens living in poverty (40.6 million in 2016).  Melman addressed the problem of the enduring post-war militarism of the U.S. in perhaps his most famous book, The Permanent War Economy, first published in 1974.  The subheading of that book was “American Capitalism in Decline.”  This economy emerged as way to consolidate the military largess bestowed on aerospace, communications, electronics and other war-serving industries, not to mention universities, military bases and associated institutions serving the military economy.  This corporatist system, linking the state, corporations, trade unions and other actors was described by Melman in Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War, a 1971 book which showed how the state was the top manager who used its procurement and managerial power to direct these various “sub-managements.”