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A New Nuclear Arms Race: As NATO Marks 70th Anniversary, Threat of Nuclear Confrontation Grows

DEMOCRACY NOW APRIL 08, 2019 Commemorations—as well as protests—were held last week to mark the 70th anniversary of the formation of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. President Trump used the anniversary to push for NATO countries to increase military spending. During an Oval Office meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump demanded Germany and other NATO countries increase their military spending from 2 to 4 percent of GDP. The push for more military spending could benefit U.S. weapons manufacturers including Boeing. This comes as Acting Pentagon Chief Patrick Shanahan is under investigation for improperly advocating on behalf of Boeing, where he worked for 30 years. We speak with Joe Cirincione, president of the global security foundation Ploughshares Fund……….

JOE CIRINCIONE: We’re cursed in this discussion by a very narrow definition of national security. We’ve all come to accept that national security equals military forces and weapons, when, in fact, as you point out, a national security is more often determined by the health and welfare of its citizenry, the system of justice, whether citizens feel that they’re engaged in the country and have a role in the governance of that country. And spending on military is just one small part of national security, but this has become the test of whether a country is carrying its fair burden. So, burden sharing with NATO countries has been an issue in this town for decades. Republicans and Democrats have both harped on it, because it’s kind of an easy way for them to show that they’re tough, that they’re strong.

But let’s put this in perspective. What are we talking about here? The world as a whole, every year, spends about $1.7 trillion on military weapons and forces. One-point-seven. The United States and our NATO allies account for $1 trillion of that. So more than half of all global spending is spent by the United States and our NATO allies. The NATO allies alone account for about $240 billion. That’s what they spend. What are they spending it to guard against? Well, if you think that Russia is the main threat, Russia only spends about $66 billion every year on defense. In fact, its spending dropped by 20% between 2016 and 2017, the last year we have figures for. So, its spending is going down.

So why this demand for the NATO allies to spend more, when they’re beset with all kinds of problems that have nothing to do with military, all kinds of internal, economic, immigration problems, social justice problems, health and welfare problems? Why? Well, one, it’s simple. The 2% solution, it’s a simple mantra that is repeated. And, two, this directly benefits military contractors.

Who makes the money off of this? Well, most of the money that we spend in this country on defense, and that the Europeans spend, go to a relative handful of defense contractors: Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc. And they lobby incessantly for these kind of increases, in Washington, in NATO headquarters, in the capitals of Europe.

And now we have the absurd situation where a 31-year veteran of Boeing, a corporate executive, Patrick Shanahan, is the acting secretary of defense. I mean, this is such an obvious conflict of interest, you would think that people would say, “Well, no, you can’t do that.” But, of course, this is Trump’s Washington, where oil industry executives are running the EPA, and pharmaceutical companies run the FDA, so it’s become accepted. But it’s not right. It’s not fair. And it distorts us.

And it’s dangerous. Just one last fact: If you take Trump at his word that he wants them to contribute 4%, well, that means you want Europe to double their defense spending, from about $230 billion to $460 billion. For what? To do what? What does this go towards? We’ve lost track of the real security needs we face, and we’ve become obsessed with spending more and more on military weapons that in fact have only a minor role to play in the national security of a country.-year veteran of Boeing, a corporate executive, Patrick Shanahan, is the acting secretary of defense. I mean, this is such an obvious conflict of interest, you would think that people would say, “Well, no, you can’t do that.” But, of course, this is Trump’s Washington, where oil industry executives are running the EPA, and pharmaceutical companies run the FDA, so it’s become accepted. But it’s not right. It’s not fair. And it distorts us.

And it’s dangerous. Just one last fact: If you take Trump at his word that he wants them to contribute 4%, well, that means you want Europe to double their defense spending, from about $230 billion to $460 billion. For what? To do what? What does this go towards? We’ve lost track of the real security needs we face, and we’ve become obsessed with spending more and more on military weapons that in fact have only a minor role to play in the national security of a country…….

AMY GOODMAN: Joe, you’ve written several books, one of them Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late, and Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons. Do you think it’s too late? And what do you think needs to happen?

JOE CIRINCIONE: All the arrows are pointing in the wrong direction, so nuclear storm clouds are gathering. For example, John Bolton, the national security adviser, has been very successful in sabotaging talks with North Korea. The one benefit of the Trump presidency might be that he could negotiate a solid deal with Kim Jong-un. It now appears, according to reports this week, that at the Hanoi summit John Bolton sabotaged those talks by presenting a list of unacceptable demands, an all-or-nothing offer to the North Koreans that caused them to call off the talks.

He has killed the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty. This is a Ronald Reagan treaty, that successfully pulled out and destroyed 3,000 nuclear weapons from Europe. You may have been covering this in the ’80s, Amy. When we were pouring nuclear weapons into Europe, massive demonstrations. The biggest rift in the NATO alliance until this point was that crisis. Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev negotiated a treaty. Bolton never liked it. He killed it.

And why did he kill it? He used the excuse of a Russian violation, which I believe is real but the kind of thing that can be fixed within the treaty framework. And what—but why did they kill it? Because there are elements in the U.S. military and the defense industry that want to build new nuclear weapons that were prohibited by that treaty, to deploy against China and to put into Europe.

So, weeks after we announced we were withdrawing from the treaty, it was revealed that the Department of Defense is starting manufacturing, research and development and production of a new ground-launched cruise missile, a so-called GLCM. You may remember this phrase from the ’80s. It was GLCMs and Pershing IIs that we were pouring into Europe. And so, Secretary General Stoltenberg sought to assure the Congress that NATO would not accept a new intermediate nuclear forces nuclear weapon in Europe.

So Bolton is doing this a little cleverly. It’s like a Trojan horse. It’s going to be a conventionally armed ground-launched cruise missile, a conventionally armed GLCM, that will go into Europe, perhaps in the next couple of years. But, of course, you can easily swap out the conventional warhead for a nuclear warhead. So I think they’re planning to put these weapons in to avoid the kind of mass demonstrations, and later, possibly, equip them with nuclear weapons.

This is the kind of Cold War policy that we thought was behind us. We thought the arms race was over. It’s not over. We are in a new arms race. Every single nuclear-armed country is building new nuclear weapons and heading towards a confrontation point. You’ve got to be a real optimist to think that you can keep thousands of nuclear weapons in fallible human hands indefinitely and something terrible is not going to happen. I am very worried about the direction of the arms race, the direction of our policies.

AMY GOODMAN: Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, author of Nuclear Nightmares: Securing the World Before It Is Too Late and Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons. To see Part 1 of our interview, go to democracynow.org. This is Democracy Now!

https://www.democracynow.org/2019/4/8/trump_calls_for_growing_nato_budgets

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April 9, 2019 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

1 Comment »

  1. There is not much rhyme or reason to anything in america anymore or, what its government does.

    It is falling into decay. America’s military is too lame, bloated and corrupt to do anything in murica or anywhere in the world. It is a damaged, amoral evil-empire.

    People are getting sick and demented from the pollution and radiation. Especially the decadent rich and politicians. Brain fungus, heavy metals, radiation, chemical poisoning, skyrocketing cancer and heart disease rates.

    The civil war meme is all nonsensical and yet the extremist Bannonite neonon, screw-heads say that if anyone criticizes fuko and his white-supremecist NuclearWar crazy, imbeciles, they will start a civil war!

    Americans are too sick , stupid , lazy and selfish to do civil war. Another sick violent-fantasy of a deranged and disconnected, crud-for-brains ruling class.

    If a large group of us die from a series of nuclear accidents , the old shoddy reactors will start popping.

    The deranged-politicians and the demented fuko, are now threatening limited or full nuke wars. Decadent wallstreet, elite, and military nucleoapes that have lost their moral compasa and sanity. There will be armagedon with and nuclear detonations. It will set off floods of radionuclide fallout, from nuclear fuel and waste fires.

    Boeing Jet-Makers, cannot even make jets, that dont crash anymore, in murica . They mounted the motor incorrectly and had to make rediculous software to counteract that incredible engineering error.
    It is a metaphor for how demented, corrupt and delusional corporate-america and their partners, the MIC and government have become.
    What an absurd chaotic, evil place murica is. A chemical and radioactive sewer and wasteland where the incompetent leadership is hellbent on destroying everything and everyone

    Comment by Doug | April 9, 2019 | Reply


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