Is There Any Hope in a Nuclear Empire?

Those in power often make fallacious arguments that in order to reach peaceful ends, societies must use violent means. A programmed and indoctrinated sense of superiority and exceptionalism causes many to internalize the idea that in certain circumstances, many innocent people must be killed in order to achieve peace; that mass-murder is both a fact of human nature and a necessary evil. Nothing could be further from truth, however.

It’s not war that creates peace, but rather, its absence that marks it. Take the United States’ nuclear bombing of Japan. Howard Zinn says, “The justification for these atrocities was that this would end the war quickly, making unnecessary an invasion of Japan,” which would cost “millions of lives;” however, such reasoning is pure fabrication and unfounded. Zinn says, “It is still one of the great myths in US culture that we saved lives by bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and we did not … the Japanese were about to surrender; we killed several hundred thousand people unnecessarily.” The last sentiment ought to linger in the US conscience; unnecessary remains a fact of preemptive use of Western violence throughout the world.

President Obama, in a recent speech, said to the people of Japan, “We must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without” nuclear arms. However, his presidency continues to chart a path of modernizing globalized nuclear weapons systems. Thus, rhetoric of hope and change contradict a reality of despair and stagnation. Many leaders are quick to reduce the horrid consequences of war to a “base instinct for domination or conquest that had caused conflicts among the simplest tribes,” rather than planned, calculated and rationalized methods used to secure wealth and power for the few, and which spread fear and instill obedience in the many. Too often, those at the helm are wont “to justify violence in the name of some higher cause,” like that of increasing tomorrow’s profit shares and the bottom line of corporate arms dealers.

Indeed, in order for the United States to secure its global supremacy and domination, it must ensure — to the tune of trillions of dollars and through promoting great terror and fear throughout the world — “more efficient killing machines” and “the capacity for unmatched destruction.” Without this, US leaders and profiteers fear, the United States cannot deter the constant threat of the democratic many, which insistently attempts to take back much of its wealth and power from the hands of the few. In part, inequalities are maintained by the notion that, “Nations arise telling a story that binds people together in sacrifice and cooperation.”

For example, the idea that corporations in the United States must develop nuclear missiles that can penetrate caves and tunnels dug deep into the earth, like those in North Korea, are among such stories. Yet strangely, many of those advanced weapons systems, once developed, are marketed and often sold to Israel, which, coincidentally, has a long record of destroying Palestinian caves and tunnels in Gaza. Stories told to the empire’s populations are more often than not, “used to oppress and dehumanize those who are different” — in other words, those who do not have a monopoly on power and wealth, and who do not receive over half of the United States’ Foreign Military Financing budget, to the tune of $3.1 billion a year, for technology like the “new US-Israel tunnel detection program,” which are among the newest of the efficient killing machines.

What commenced once the United States entered World War II was not calculated and planned attacks against strategically placed military targets and top officials, but “the heaviest bombardment of civilians ever undertaken in any war: the aerial attacks on German and Japanese cities.” Killing civilians remains a primary means to maintain US “security,” coincidentally, always in places that suit the interests of business, corporate profit, wealth and power.

The United States’ use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Japanese civilians was symbolic. It was a way for the burgeoning empire to display and prove its so-called “might,” in a rather cowardly way. Washington’s “decision to use the nuclear bomb against Japan in August 1945 was clearly motivated, at least in part, by a desire to show Stalin the enormity of the destructive power at its disposal.” Threats of and shows of extreme force and violence are still used today. Elite planners often reason that, “In order for enemies to be deterred by American nuclear weapons, they have to believe the United States is actually willing to use them,” which it has proven it is, without regard for consequences.

Wars and sanctions are planned and calculated affairs, not merely a necessary consequence. This is marked by the fact that those in power are, at times, made to reconsider certain paths when threatened by democratic forces of public outrage, protest and dissent. In the absence of popular uprisings, free speech and the ability to question authority in mainstream spheres, violence and wars have no end. Which, moreover, can lead to atrocities like the decades of carpet bombing Vietnamese civilians, the invasion of Iraq and subsequent assassin drone program, or, perhaps, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Zinn’s words, therefore, remain ever true: “The easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all) — that is still with us.” We mustn’t forget, it wasn’t Japan or Germany’s mass-murder of civilian populations that drew the United States into war; it was the direct threats to US business interests and profits from things like tin, rubber and oil — it was the threats of encroachments upon the hope for a future of US imperialism.

Arguments are still made today by policy analysts and planners that the United States must maintain highly destructive nuclear arms as a means to prove its capability to destroy wide swaths of civilian populations. Obama’s anti-nuke rhetoric, however, in light of the latest budget proposals and increasing support for nuclear states, is “divorced from reality.” For example, “The Fiscal Year 2017 proposal contains significant increases for several Defense and Energy department nuclear weapons systems.” The United States continues an “all-of-the-above approach to remodeling the arsenal.” This comes at the price of not only an increased potential for nuclear war amongst nuclear-capable states, but also comes at a great financial cost to the taxpayers who, without a say in such matters, must foot the bill, at great cost, perhaps even, at the expense of the future of the species. Moreover, the “direct costs of the administration’s plans for nuclear forces will total about $350 billion between fiscal 2015 and fiscal 2024. Over the next 30 years, the bill could add up to $1 trillion.” A further sobering fact is, “it seems unlikely that there will be enough money to fund all of the military’s nuclear and conventional modernization proposals” unless there are “substantial and prolonged increases to overall military spending over the next decade,” which is highly probable as Washington fabricates new budget proposals, like its absurd invention, the need for “Nuclear Counterterrorism.” Thus, in spite of promises to adhere to non-proliferation treaties and international laws, Obama’s “pledge to move the US toward nuclear disarmament seems to have been abandoned.” The United States is planning to “rebuild all three legs of the nuclear triad,” and in true form, is doing so while barring democratic opposition.

Despite promises to lead in a course to decrease nuclear waste, over the past few decades, “the United States helped spread nuclear explosive materials around the globe” by helping “smaller, non-nuclear weapons-enabled countries build research reactors.” Thus, so-called non-proliferation programs, in reality, have only led to proliferation in the United States and throughout the world. Moreover, countries that don’t have access to Washington’s lap see little danger in producing small amounts of nuclear energy. After all, the United States has “thousands of nuclear weapons in its stocks,” why can’t they? Such privileges, however, are reserved for “the community of civilized nations.”

Many analysts and policymakers hope the next president will continue to modernize and expand the United States’ nuclear space programs rather than urge non-proliferation for all nuclear States. Such archaic and irrational thinking, however, should send a chill down the spine of any reasonable, morally conscious, forward-thinking person. We must, therefore, rethink and change our current course toward what seems certain and imminent destruction. That is, if we wish to avoid such ends, we cannot afford not to.