My wife and I were in Hiroshima in June of 2016 just three weeks after US President Barack Obama became the first sitting US President to visit the Holocaust Memorial in that city. With the help of the World Federalist Group in Hiroshima, we met with the mayor of that city, Kazumi Matsui, in his offices. As always in such meetings, we gave him a copy of the Constitution for the Federation of Earth and explained why it is imperative to unite humanity under this Constitution.
I explained to him about the threat of nuclear holocaust that has been with us since the 1950s. I explained about the many times that the fate of humanity has hung in the balance since that time and the fact that today (as of 2016) these weapons of mass destruction have proliferated to ever more nations leaving us with the same “Sword of Damocles” hanging over the fate of humanity.
These facts, described early on by such scholars as Errol E. Harris in his 1966 book Annihilation and Utopia, have been further elaborated in such books as The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (2017) by Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg was a Pentagon insider during the Vietnam War and the key person in the release of the famous “Pentagon Papers” documenting the real (then secret) views of that war from inside the Pentagon. He also described the US plans to use nuclear weapons in the Vietnam War and how this was narrowly avoided.
In our meeting with the mayor of Hiroshima, we also, of course, described the terrible threat posed by our collapsing planetary ecosystem, which likewise demands the uniting of humanity under a democratic world government with the authority and the means to protect and restore the environment while simultaneously respecting the human rights and dignity of all persons on Earth. The mayor was unmoved. While a kindly man who showed us great respect (as is customary in Japan), he responded that he had just met with President Obama three weeks earlier and that Obama was a great man of peace dedicated to eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons. Here are excerpts of Obama’s speech made in Hiroshima at that time:
Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering. But we have a shared responsibility to look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again….Some day, the voices of the hibakusha [atomic bombing survivors] will no longer be with us to bear witness. But the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change…. Among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them….It is an ideal to be strived for, an ideal that extends across continents and across oceans. The irreducible worth of every person, the insistence that every life is precious, the radical and necessary notion that we are part of a single human family — that is the story that we all must tell.1
The Mayor of Hiroshima appeared to have been deeply moved by Obama’s speech and his commitment to end the war and establish peace. He did not see any need for an Earth Constitution that created a democratic world authority above the nations capable of making war illegal and disarming them, beginning with all weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Was the mayor aware that Obama had already, during his presidency, signed one trillion-dollar upgrade in the US nuclear weapons system? I very much doubt it.
Like nearly all Presidents, Obama was a consummate propagandist, a spokesperson for the empire that soothingly spoke the very opposite of what he was doing with the war system—his escalations in the Afghanistan war and the system of militarized drones that he sanctioned, arbitrarily killing perceived enemies around the globe (so much for “the irreducible worth of every person”). He “regretted” blowing up funeral processions or wedding parties, but the borderless and endless “war on terror,” like its policy of nuclear brinkmanship, continues to give the world more terror than any private groups of terrorists could ever dream of. Obama’s one trillion-dollar upgrade in the nuclear weapons arsenal included “tactical” nuclear weapons designed for actual combat, and the US has always affirmed its right to “first use” of nuclear weapons in any conflict anywhere in the world.
In 1969, President Nixon threatened to use nuclear weapons in Vietnam. But public opinion in the USA (the only opinion that has even the slightest influence on Pentagon policy) helped force him to back off from this idea. However, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 had taught the Pentagon a lesson—although it was the wrong lesson. The Soviet Union had been in the process of installing nuclear weapons on missiles in Cuba when the US discovered this and reacted violently—threatening nuclear war unless the USSR backed down.
Instead of thanking God that humankind narrowly escaped Armageddon and taking steps to mitigate and eliminate the possibility that we would ever again come that close to planetary hell, the Pentagon (and Nixon) learned that nuclear brinkmanship can lead to victories for the US empire. Nixon’s strategy in the conflict over Vietnam was even to pretend to be a nuclear-armed “madman” in order to intimidate the Soviets.2
Then came 9/11 and the blessing (from the point of view of the Pentagon and the Bush Administration) that the “Project for the New American Century” could be realized. This project, formulated two years before G.W. Bush was elected, involved an ideology that Bush and key players in his administration deeply believed in, that is US world military domination. The document declared that the new American century of strategic world domination could only happen if American public opinion was galvanized through “a new Pearl Harbor,” an actual attack on American soil3. With 9/11, all bets were off. Whatever international limits or rules regarding the war had been there previously were repudiated by the United States. A galvanized American public opinion was ready for endless war.
The US government declared a huge military build-up and a war on terror without end, a war that included any nation or group anywhere in the world that it perceived as hostile or a possible threat to “US security.” The militarization of space was already quite advanced4. All potential rivals to the US-dominated global order would be eliminated. In 2015, one of Donald Trump’s campaign spokespersons asked, “What good is having nuclear weapons if you’re afraid to use them?”5 and Trump himself, when asked whether he would use nukes against Europe, declared “I would never take any of my cards off the table.”6
But there was a fly in the ointment, Russia and China have been growing and prospering, both implicitly and explicitly demanding a “multipolar world system” predicated on international law and mutual respect among nations. This had to be stopped, and the Biden administration is living proof of this foreign policy, demonizing both Russia and China and militarily challenging them both with reckless brinkmanship dedicated to reasserting US hegemony.
Today, the Russians are facing their very own version of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The right-wing neo-fascist regime installed in Ukraine with the CIA’s help in 2014 has declared its “sovereign right” to violate the Kremlin’s absolute red line (which is no NATO nuclear-capable weapons systems on its borders) the very same red line that the US imposed upon Cuba (only 90 miles from its borders). But there is a difference, the US may well have no intention of backing down as the USSR did in 1962.
The Ukraine ultimatum, which gave Russia no choice but to invade or risk nuclear blackmail on its borders, may, at last, provide the US with the cover and justification to initiate nuclear war. The Pentagon and the White House, under Obama, Trump, and cold warrior Joe Biden, have been engaged in a comprehensive “Nuclear Posture Review.” Geopolitical analyst Mike Whitney recently described this review:
The primary purpose of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is to deceptively “rebrand” the offensive use of nuclear weapons as a justifiable act of defense. The new criteria for using these lethal WMD has been deliberately maligned with the clear intention of providing Washington with a green light for their use and proliferation. Accordingly, US foreign policy war-hawks have established the institutional and ideological framework needed to launch a nuclear war without fear of legal reprisal. These arduous preparations were carried out with one objective in mind, to preserve America’s steadily-eroding position in the global order through the application of extreme violence.7
Whatever Putin’s faults may be, his IQ is clearly double that of Biden (and quadruple that of Trump). Putin knows that the very existence of his country is at stake. In a recent speech, he declared:
The United States has a theory of a ‘preventive strike’…Now they are developing a system for a ‘disarming strike’. What does that mean? It means striking at control centers with modern high-tech weapons to destroy the opponent’s ability to counterattack.8
Ukraine has sent missiles into Russian territory recently, as well as “by mistake” into Poland. This and other provocations may well be designed to bait Russia into doing something that instigates a war directly with NATO, in which case the US will have nuclear weapons ready “to destroy the opponent’s ability to counterattack.” Ellsberg, once an insider at the Pentagon and since a close follower of US the top-secret nuclear weapons policy, shows how “first strike” to take out the opponent’s capacity to respond, like the policy of nuclear brinkmanship, has long been very much part of secret Pentagon strategy. The world teeters, once again, at the abyss.
In my view, our only hope for survival is to ratify the Constitution for the Federation of Earth, truly representing the right of all the people of Earth to a government that ends the war and protects our precious planetary environment. A multipolar world order, as advocated by Russia and China, can never work as long as there are militarized sovereign nation-states recognizing no enforceable laws over themselves. Arms races with high-tech weapons must be replaced by dialogue and discussion among nations committed to our common human civilizational project. The World Parliament will have the explicit authority to eliminate weapons of mass destruction, end war, and disarm the nations. It is either this, the rule of democratic world law for everyone on our planet, or the collective suicide of humanity.
Which path are you willing to choose?
1 President Obama’s speech made in Hiroshima.
2 Nixon's "Madman Theory" Was Not the Vietnam War's Only Nuclear Weapons Test Case. FPIF.
3 Project for the New American Century. SourceWatch.
4 See Chalmers Johnson. Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006.
5 Trump Spokesperson: Why Have Nuclear Weapons ‘If You’re Afraid To Use’ Them?. ThinkProgress.
6 Daniel Ellsberg, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. New York: Bloomsbury, 2017, p. 330.
7 Putin's Conundrum.