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Dr Helen Caldicott – forthright and clear – on Donald Trump, and the nuclear war danger

 Interview A conversation with Helen Caldicott From the forthcoming issue (May 2018)Taylor and Francis online, 17 Apr 18  Dan Drollette Jr  For decades, anti-nuclear weapons campaigner Helen Caldicott (helencaldicott.com) has been educating people about the effects of nuclear weaponry and issuing rousing calls to action. A practicing pediatrician from Australia, Caldicott was the subject of an Oscar-winning short film, If You Love This Planet, and is the author of 12 books.In this Skype interview from her home in Sydney, Australia, the 79-year-old Caldicott doesn’t pull punches. For nearly six decades, she has been taking on the powers that be, in joyously feisty terms: She has said that the US Defense Department should be re-named the Killing Department and characterized Barack Obama as an “intelligent, lovely man, who failed the world” when it came to eliminating nuclear weapons. She considers the movie Dr Strangelove more of a documentary than a satire, labeled arms manufacturers “wicked,” and called American politicians “corporate prostitutes.”

And of the current president, Caldicott said: “We’ve got a man in charge who I think has never read a book, and who knows nothing about global politics, or his own country’s politics. Who operates with his own kind of sordid intuition. And he’s putting people in every department committed to destroying that department. He’s absolutely destroying the infrastructure of America.”

Noting that it was International Women’s Month, Caldicott had one thing to say to young women: “We need to take over, because we’re on the short course to annihilation, and we need to say to men ‘Look, stand aside, you need your bottom smacked.’ ”

Yet for someone who has spent a lifetime fighting vigorously against the specter of nuclear annihilation, Caldicott reveals that she is remarkably pessimistic about humanity’s chances. Caldicott said that she wants her tombstone to read: “She tried.”

Editor’s note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

……..I noticed there seem to be a lot of people in the anti-nuclear weapons movement with medical backgrounds.

Helen Caldicott:

It’s a medical problem. And explaining the medical dangers of nuclear war was a very good way to teach people what the danger is, and to bring it home to their city. That approach was – and is – very powerful. During the 1980s, when I was one of the leaders of the nuclear weapons freeze movement and one of the founding presidents of PSR, we at PSR held symposia on the medical effects of nuclear war at various universities, all around the country. It started at Harvard, where we had George Kistiakowsky, a physicist who had been in the Manhattan Project as an explosives expert (https://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/oral-histories/george-kistiakowskys-interview). It was quite wonderful.

Although afterwards, some journalists did say: “What are doctors talking about this for, this is a political issue.” And we said no, it’s a medical issue, because it will create the final medical epidemic of the human race……….

……  I think we’re actually in a much more dangerous situation than we were during the height of the Cold War, though no one’s really taking any notice. I mean, Dan Ellsberg went to 14 different publishers before Bloomsbury published his book. And my latest book, Sleepwalking to Armageddon, (https://thenewpress.com/books/sleepwalking-armageddon) is not selling very well at all. It seems like society is practicing psychic numbing and manic denial. We’re into clothes and food, and all sorts of things like that, while life on the planet just hangs in the balance………

Of course. America’s economy is built on killing. It’s the Killing Department, not the Defense Department. There’s no defense from nuclear weapons. It’s all run by voracious, wicked corporations, such as Lockheed-Martin, General Electric, General Dynamics, and the like. And many American politicians are corporate prostitutes. ……

Dan Drollette:

So you think that the military-industrial complex (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/eisenhower001.asp) that Eisenhower warned about 50-odd years ago in his farewell address is still alive and healthy?

Helen Caldicott:

Oh, it’s grown, and metastasized. 

……..Dan Drollette: How would you characterize Trump and his administration?

Helen Caldicott:

Trump is a dolt. He’s an idiot. We’ve got a man in charge who I think has never read a book, and who knows nothing about global politics, or his own county’s politics. Who operates with his own kind of sordid intuition. And he’s putting people in every department committed to destroying that department. He’s absolutely destroying the infrastructure of America.

When you think of all the brave, heroic Americans who worked hard all their lives to set up wonderful laws to protect the environment and protect the people and protect the children and protect the Earth, what’s happening is shameful. It’s all being undone, and I can’t understand why.

……..Dan Drollette:

What about his administration’s doings on the world stage?

Helen Caldicott:

For some reason, Trump likes Putin and the Russians. Well, I think I know why. I think that they and the oligarchs have funded Trump for years and years and years. It’s mostly, I think, about money. Trump wants to get on well with them, which is good because, you know, there’s almost certainly about 40 hydrogen bombs targeted on New York as we speak. So, therefore, it is imperative that America get on well with the Russians and in fact, push for bi-lateral nuclear disarmament. So, from that perspective, it makes me feel a little bit … less anxious.

………I think that enlarging NATO right up to the Russian border was extremely provocative. That policy largely came about because of people like Lockheed-Martin president Norman Augustine, who I’ve previously described elsewhere as “commander-in-chief of the Pentagon.” Because after the Cold War ended, Lockheed-Martin et al had nowhere to make money. They’re going to make money by making bombs, killing people, and then making more bombs.

So, Augustine set off on a journey to all the newly released little countries – Lithuania, Latvia, etcetera – to say “Look, if you want to be a part of NATO and have a democracy, you have to spend about $3 billion on armaments.” (http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/29/world/arms-makers-see-bonanza-in-selling-nato-expansion.html) And let’s be frank: NATO is in fact America. So that was all well and good for Lockheed-Martin, even though it meant that America went back on its promise to Gorbachev that NATO would not be enlarged. As a consequence, there are NATO missiles right up to the Russian border, on what had been territory that was previously friendly to Russian, which is extremely provocative. Imagine if the situation were reversed, and Canada became part of the Warsaw Pact, and they put Warsaw Pact-missiles on the US border. How do you think America would react? So that’s problem number one………https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/MBkXvHtz5QyAfikSM8Cv/full

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April 20, 2018 - Posted by | politics international, USA

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