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Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident

11 Dec

 

 

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has published several reports over the last few years. They discuss geopolitics and related themes, one of which is the likelihood of nuclear war or accident, including what it means for long-term survival.

Experts say that even a so-called limited exchange or accident would be catastrophic. For example, a recent paper in Earth’s Futurecalculates that the most optimistic scenario of a “small,” regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan would wipe out millions of people through famine and result in a nuclear winter. An exchange between the USA and Russia, for instance, could be even bigger and more devastating.

America’s ongoing “Asia Pivot” encourages China to build up its arsenals. Proxy wars in Syria and Ukraine with Russia and continuing tensions with North Korea also increase the risk of brinkmanship and miscalculation between those nuclear powers.

Britain’s Role 

By training rebels in Syria and armed forces in Ukraine, the UK is particularly responsible for contributing to escalating tensions. Britain remains one of the USA’s closest allies and enjoys a “special relationship” with the US. It serves as a proxy for US Trident nuclear weapons systems. The UK’s Vanguard submarines host US-supplied Trident II D5 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. In 2016, a dummy ICBM was launched by the UK at a test target off the coast of Africa. It self-destructed and headed for Florida, according to news reports. The event took place a time when the British government voted to upgradeTrident in violation of Britain’s Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations and at a time when the newly-appointed Prime Minister, Theresa May (not yet elected), answered “Yes,” when asked by a member of Parliament if she would launch a nuclear missile and kill hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Let’s look at some examples of the UK MoD’s admissions that: 1) the world is getting more dangerous, 2) it is likely that some states will use nuclear weapons at some point, 3) brinksmanship increases the risk of miscalculation, and 4) that such events threaten human existence. These admissions are startling for a number of reasons: the MoD possesses nuclear weapons, yet acknowledges their danger; the media fail to report on these matters, despite their coming from establishment sources; and governments are not inherently compelled by this information to de-escalate.

 

 

“Doomsday Scenarios.”

Every few years, the MoD updates its studies concerning the nature of global developments. The third edition of the Strategic Trends Programme predicts trends between the years 2007-2036. It states (MoD’s emphases):

Accelerating nuclear proliferation will create a more complex and dangerous strategic environment, with the likely clustering of nuclear-armed states in regions that have significant potential for instability or have fears about foreign intervention. For example, North Korean, Pakistani and potentially, Iranian nuclear weapon capability will increase significantly the risks of conflict in Asia if a system of mutual deterrence does not emerge. In addition, nuclear possession may lead to greater adventurism and irresponsible conventional and irregular behaviour, to the point of brinkmanship and misunderstanding. Finally, there is a possibility that neutron technologies may reemerge as potential deterrent and warfighting options.

Neutron weapons supposedly kill living things but do not harm property. The report also notes a potential “revival of interest” among “developed states” in “neutron and smarter nuclear technologies.” Neutron bombs could become “a weapon of choice for extreme ethnic cleansing in an increasingly populated world.” The document concludes rather casually, stating: “Many of the concerns over the development of new technologies lie in their safety, including the potential for disastrous outcomes, planned and unplanned.” Note the word planned. It goes on to say: “Various doomsday scenarios arising in relation to these and other areas of development present the possibility of catastrophic impacts, ultimately including the end of the world, or at least of humanity.”

Will the US or Israel get impatience and attack Iran or North Korea? The now-archived Future of Character of Conflict (2010) predicts trends out to 2035 and states:

The risk of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) use will endure; indeed increase, over the long term. The strategic anxiety and potential instability caused by CBRN proliferation is typified by international frustration over Iran and North Korea, with the risks of pre-emptive action and regional arms races, and where soft power alone has not been notably successful.

Soft power refers to economic and diplomatic coercion. As the US expands its global reach, other countries might seek possession of nuclear weapons to deter the USA: “[t]he possession of nuclear weapons, perceived as essential for survival and status, will remain a goal of many aspiring powers.”

Unless enforcement mechanisms are imposed, will arms controls and treaties be effective? Out to the year 2040, says the MoD’s fourth edition of its now-withdrawn Strategic Trends Programme, “[t]he likelihood of nuclear weapons usage will increase.” It goes on (MoD’s emphases):

Broader participation in arms control may be achieved, although this is unlikely to reduce the probability of conflict. Effective ballistic missile defence systems will have the long-term potential to undermine the viability of some states’ nuclear deterrence.

Could that last statement refer to ICBMs being integrated into a so-called defense shield and used by the few countries that possess them against ones that do not? What is the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used for warfighting? Finally, Future Operating Environment 2035 states:

Some commentators believe it is increasingly likely that a range of state actors may use tactical nuclear weapons as part of their strategy against non-nuclear and conventional threats coming from any environment, severe cyber attacks. Limited tactical nuclear exchanges in conventional conflicts by 2035 also cannot be ruled out, and some non-Western states may even use such strikes as a way of limiting or de-escalating conflict.

Conclusion

These analyses and admissions on behalf of the UK MoD and its reliance on US-produced weapons systems should serve as enough of a warning to scholars and anti-nuclear weapons campaigners to suggest that, as long as weapons of mass destruction exist and as long as international treaties have no enforcement mechanisms with regards the powerful countries, the clock to midnight will continue ticking.

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Dr. T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and the forthcoming Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

Source: Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident

 

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Noam Chomsky Warns Trump Presidency Threatens Human Survival 

7 Dec

 

Trump’s presidency will further isolate the U.S. from the world, but will also have a detrimental impact on climate change and world conflicts.

Prominent U.S. intellectual Noam Chomsky warned Monday about the possibility of a nuclear war and the further risks linked to global warming as a result of a Donald Trump presidency, during a speech for the 20th anniversary of Democracy Now!.

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Commenting on the concrete implications of the Republican candidate’s win, Chomsky said that the Iran nuclear deal could be reversed.

“Other countries who are parties to the deal might well continue,” he said. “That means ignoring U.S. sanctions. That will extend U.S. isolation, even from Europe.”

“Brexit may assist with (U.S. isolation) because Britain was the voice of the United States in NATO, the harshest voice,” he added.

“The threats and dangers are very real,” he said. Namely, the positions that Trump has taken in regards to climate change and the Iran deal pose a threat to the future of the country and the world.”

“The threats that we now face are the most severe that have ever arisen in human history,” he added. “They are literal threats to survival: nuclear war, environmental catastrophe.”

“They became more urgent on Nov. 8, for the reasons you know and that I mentioned. They have to be faced directly, and soon if the human experiment is not to prove to be a disastrous failure,” he warned.

 

Source: Noam Chomsky Warns Trump Presidency Threatens Human Survival | News | teleSUR English

 

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Nation That Says It Can’t Afford Medicare for All – Has Spent $5.6 Trillion on War Since 9/11

13 Nov

“From the civilians harmed and displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the U.S. and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors,” the new report states.

Because, as new study notes, wars force the question: “What we might have done differently with the money spent?” by 

new analysis offers a damning assessment of the United States’ so-called global war on terror, and it includes a “staggering” estimated price tag for wars waged since 9/11—over $5.6 trillion.

The Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Center says the figure—which covers the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from 2001 through 2018—is the equivalent of more than $23,386 per taxpayer.

The “new report,” said Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action’s senior director for policy and political affairs, “once again shows that the true #costofwar represents a colossal burden to taxpayers on top of the tremendous human loss.”

The center’s figure is far greater than the $1.5 trillion the Pentagon estimated (pdf) in July for the costs of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, as it gives a fuller picture by including “war-related spending by the State Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security,” writes Neta C. Crawford, a professor of political science at Boston University.

“As obscene as it is to waste so much money, it is more obscene to waste human life.”
—Win Without War
Her report notes that even the $5.6 trillion tally underestimates the true figures, as it doesn’t capture “every budgetary expense related to these wars,” such as state and local costs to take care of veterans; nor does it take into account the funds used for military equipment “gifts” to countries involved in the conflicts.

“In sum,” it states, “although this report’s accounting is comprehensive, there are still billions of dollars not included in its estimate.”

In addition, as the Washington, D.C.-based organization Win Without War notes, “let’s not forget that when we talk about what war costs there are also human costs. As obscene as it is to waste so much money, it is more obscene to waste human life.”

 

 

Moreover, a full accounting of any war’s burdens cannot be placed in columns on a ledger. From the civilians harmed and displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the U.S. and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors. Wars also entail an opportunity cost—what we might have done differently with the money spent and obligated and how veterans’ and civilians’ lives could have been lived differently.”

Echoing a point made by other observers of failed U.S. counter-terrorism strategies, the report states that “the more people the U.S. kills, the more seem to join the organizations the U.S. was already fighting, even as new radical groups spring up.”

The report also suggests the war costs will only continue to pile up: “There is no end in sight to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and the associated operations in Pakistan. Similarly, despite recent gains, there is little clear sense of how long the U.S. will be engaged in Iraq and Syria.”

Reacting to the new report, William D. Hartung , director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, writes in an op-ed at The Hill: “Was this huge expenditure of blood and treasure worth it? Did it substantially reduce the risks of terrorism, or reduce the likelihood of future conflicts? The short answer is no.”

 

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