The dangers of nuclear hubris, Praful Bidwai Thursday, Jul 25, 2013, Agency: DNA Nuclear weapons and aggression always go together. So do nuclear weapons, hubris and machismo. Aggressiveness — and readiness to wreak mass destruction or inflict great cruelties upon an adversary’s civilians — lies at the heart of the nuclear weapons rationale, the acceptance and normalisation of their mind-numbing violence, and the development and deployment of such armaments, whether they are used or not.
Nuclear deterrence seeks security through terror, by threatening the enemy with “unacceptable” damage. As the Dr Strangelove film shows, nuclear scientists and experts quintessentially, yet naturally, imbibe deeply cynical, male-supremacist and pathologically aggression-prone attitudes. Many of them personally, literally, exude violence.
as more nations like North Korea obtain nuclear weapons, and as the US struggles to keep a credible nuclear umbrella over its allies from Asia to Europe to the Middle East, the world needs to find a replacement for the current system of maintaining stability based on the mutual fear of nuclear war.
North Korea’s threats show just how urgent that need is.
North Korea Has Feared An American Nuclear Attack For Decades http://au.businessinsider.com/north-korea-has-feared-an-american-nuclear-attack-for-decades-2013-4 THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITORTODAY THOSE AMERICANS WHO MAY BE FEARFUL OF NORTH KOREA‘S VERBAL THREATS AND ITS MISSILE-LAUNCH PREPARATIONS SHOULD TAKE NOTE: ITS LEADERS HAVE LONG EXPRESSED A FEAR OF AN AMERICAN NUCLEAR ATTACK.
As historian Ward Wilson points out in a new book, “Five Myths About Nuclear Weapons,” atomic bombs “were born out of fear, nurtured in and sustained by fear.” Their power to devastate requires a mutual fear to avoid their use.
The current escalation of threats between the US and North Korea illustrates how this reliance on fear can falter. Nations that rely on maximizing fear as a primary tool for defence will find the emotion very difficult to manage in all cases.
The North’s threats, for example, have now led South Korea to consider ending its ban on developing its own nuclear weapons. It is asking for US support to start a nuclear program.
Many in Seoul, South Korea, see the American people as too weary for war and the Obama administration as too eager to reduce the US nuclear arsenal unilaterally. They fear that the American “nuclear umbrella,” which has protected South Korea for 60 years, may no longer be credible enough to deter North Korea from either launching nuclear weapons or using them as blackmail.
MONITOR’S VIEW: Cyberattack on South Korea needs constructive responseFor two decades, the US has tried to talk down North Korea from possessing nuclear weapons by offering hope in place of fear. It tried to convince Pyongyang that the US was not a threat while offering its food aid and oil supplies in return for nuclear disarmament. It hasn’t worked, despite some limited help from China.
Similar persuasion is now being tried on Iran: Give up your nuclear ambitions and instead become a regional power through the strength of your economy, ideas, and culture. In other words, replace the fear that looks to nuclear power for comfort and instead build up your nation’s “soft power.”
President Obama, who came into office with the goal of eliminating the world’s nuclear weapons, has had a difficult time making his case. Instead, he has to now send B-2 bombers near North Korea to assure South Korea of the US nuclear umbrella and as a threat to North Korea. The tit-for-tat of fear only keeps rising.
MONITOR’S VIEW: In Obama trip to Israel, signs of US redirectionHis recent trip to Israel was designed in part to persuade Iran to cease its uranium enrichment. His visit was an attempt to reinforce faith in the US nuclear umbrella for the region, especially Israel. But as with North Korea, the logic of deterrence assumes that the leaders in Iran will be both fearful and rational.
In the past few decades, a dozen countries have given up their nuclear programs or handed over nuclear weapons on their soil. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, for example,Kazakhstan cooperated with Russia and the US to hand over the weapons in its possession. Most of those nations chose to seek safety in being a nation of peace, goodwill, and prosperity while also relying on an international system that depends to a large degree on the US maintaining it.
And most nations abide by international agreements banning the use of chemical and biological weapons. Fear of those weapons has been largely contained.
Yet as more nations like North Korea obtain nuclear weapons, and as the US struggles to keep a credible nuclear umbrella over its allies from Asia to Europe to the Middle East, the world needs to find a replacement for the current system of maintaining stability based on the mutual fear of nuclear war.
North Korea’s threats show just how urgent that need is.
the international scientific community has failed us and become the promoter of “Dysfunctional Science.”
“Science is at a tipping point because, having fragmented into specialties and sub-specialties, it is no longer equipped to deal with falsifying data. The barricades of technical jargon and self-serving politics prevent the specialists from seeing what would be all too obvious from a higher vantage point. Such a system is averse to outside challenges by ‘those who transcend the conventional,’ and leading authorities feel free to ignore them….
Few universities have shown the courage to insist on a broad and balanced picture of present knowledge or an even-handed comparison of theoretical assumptions and available alternatives. To apply such basic standards today would risk discrediting entire departments” (30).
Nuclear energy, which provides only 2.5 percent of global primary energy needs, is the most dangerous experiment humanity has ever undertaken. The time to end the insanity is now (31). Between reducing consumption, rearranging society in a less consumer intensive form, and implementing an array of alternative energy schemes, our problems could be solved
Underestimating Japan’s Nuclear Disaster By Richard Wilcox theintelhub.com November 30, 2012 “………Postmodern Postmortem Denial Syndrome The college aged students I teach in Japan are in denial and do not want to talk about Fukushima. Some have even give pro-nuclear presentations in class! Indeed, many are keenly aware of the nuclear dangers and are critical of nuclear power, but others have fatalistic attitudes. Some students told me their parents who live in Fukushima or near there are worried and angry about the situation, but if you ask the average person in Tokyo about the issue, they would probably just shrug their shoulders. People do not like having bad news pointed out to them or having their noses rubbed in radioactive debris. If they feel, or the mass media helps them to believe, that they are far enough away from the problem, they can convince themselves that it is not worth worrying about.
Escapism and distraction is the name of the game. Japanese TV variety shows can only be described as narcissistic, self-absorbed, childish, silly and often substance-less nonsense. This is great for creating a dumbed-down and subservient society but not good for long term sustainability. A thriving democracy depends upon a well informed public. The situation is similar in many countries.
What is the psychological dimension for understanding how a society can become so complacent while life-threatening dangers stare us in the face? Like a beautiful but beguiling snake that has been trampled upon, the venom released from the bite of its fangs can be deadly to the victim.
An apt illustration of our cognitive dissonance comes from journalist David McNeil, who endured the 311 nuclear crisis in Tokyo and notes with irony, “[t]hroughout the worst week of the crisis, a diligent clerk at my local video store phoned daily to remind me that I had failed to return a DVD” (27). Even though the country had been nearly brought to its knees, it was business as usual. Political analyst, Dean Hendersen, notes an historical aspect of this behavior:
“By indoctrinating people as to the omnipotence of the Emperor and of the need to make sacrifices in his name, the Japanese become in many ways the most exploited people on the planet- working long hours, never questioning their supervisors, singing company songs and drinking only with company cohorts after hours. Any resistance to this fascism is instantly branded anti-Japanese behavior. The perpetrator is considered mentally disturbed. Rather than challenge this state terror regime, most Japanese have learned to suppress their feelings…” (28).
The cultural underpinnings that led to the nuclear disaster are explained by Professor Shaun O’Dwyer, who studies modern Confucianism.
“There are two important habitual attitudes in postwar Japanese and East Asian governance that are arguably Confucian. There is paternalism on the part of governments, legitimized by the efficiency of a highly educated, meritocratic bureaucracy; and (until recently) reciprocating loyalty from citizens, grounded in a faith in the moral and intellectual ability of their leaders to work for their good.
Only 23.4 percent, down from 43.8 percent a year earlier, said they “can agree” with the view that “the safety awareness and efforts of those engaged in the use of nuclear energy are trustworthy.”
Atomic engineers feel less confident about nuke safety September 22, 2012 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN After watching one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters in their own backyard, members of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, a pro-nuclear association of nuclear engineers, are not surprisingly feeling much less confident about the safety of their industry. Continue reading
Designed for Death Guernica , Helen Caldicott interviews Hugh Gusterson September 4, 2012 As we grapple with the legal, political, and cultural implications of drone warfare and targeted killing, the renowned anthropologist draws on an older turning point in military ethics—weapons design at Los Alamos…
…. . A pioneer in the anthropology of science and current professor at George Mason University, Gusterson has studied the culture of nuclear weapons scientists and antinuclear activists in the United Sates and Russia. He is a vocal critic of government recruitment of anthropologists in counterinsurgency projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists.
The following interview is excerpted from the forthcoming Loving This Planet: Leading Thinkers Talk About How to Make a Better World, a collection of transcripts from the weekly radio program of physician-turned-activist Dr. Helen Caldicott. …. . A pioneer in the anthropology of science and current professor at George Mason University, Gusterson has studied the culture of nuclear weapons scientists and antinuclear activists in the United Sates and Russia. He is a vocal critic of government recruitment of anthropologists in counterinsurgency projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a founding member of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists.
The following interview is excerpted from the forthcoming Loving This Planet: Leading Thinkers Talk About How to Make a Better World, a collection of transcripts from the weekly radio program of physician-turned-activist Dr. Helen Caldicott. ….
Hugh Gusterson: There are two nuclear weapons labs: one is Los Alamos, which developed the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the other is Lawrence Livermore in San Francisco, which was established in 1952. I have done extensive fieldwork at both labs….I vividly remember one weapons scientist telling me that he could never work on conventional weapons, because it would be immoral. He felt much more comfortable working on nuclear weapons, because he was convinced that nuclear weapons would never be used. I was very struck that he felt morally cleaner working on weapons that could destroy a city than he would have felt working on napalm….. most of the weapons scientists didn’t see much conflict between Christianity and designing weapons of mass destruction, and they were quite sure the weapons would never be used……
Hugh Gusterson: They also talk about missiles being connected to the outside world by umbilical cords. The very first bomb tested was referred to as Oppenheimer’s baby. The one dropped on Hiroshima was Little Boy. So there is this language of metaphors of birth that surrounds this bomb enterprise. They talk about the results of radioactive decay processes as being daughter products. So there is this language of fertility and birth….. The language of death is banished from the world of nuclear weapons scientists; they don’t talk about killing people; they talk about collateral damage. People are not incinerated; they’re always carbonized—anesthetizing language from which death is banished. But there’s this very rich set of metaphors about birth. I’ve always wondered if that wasn’t an attempt on their part to say, We’re really about life, we’re not about killing people. Which you can see as a form of denial…..
As an anthropologist, I find it particularly offensive when you talk to weapons scientists, or to other kinds of nuclear weapons professionals, that there’s a uniform assumption that Americans are the only people who can be uniquely trusted with nuclear weapons in a way that black and brown people, non-Christians in particular, cannot. You hear it said that only Americans and Europeans have the strength required of people to have nuclear weapons. This flies in the face of the evidence, since the United States is the only country ever to abuse weapons….. http://www.guernicamag.com/interviews/designed-for-death/
Nuclear Workers Stressed After Japanese Quake Med Page Today, By Michael Smith, August 14, 2012 Reviewed by Dori F. Zaleznik, MD; Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston and Dorothy Caputo, MA, BSN, RN, Nurse Planner
This study of psychological distress and post-traumatic stress response among workers at two nuclear power plants involved in the Fukushima earthquake/tsunami found high levels of self-reported distress especially among workers at the plant that suffered the meltdown…
Psychological distress and post-traumatic stress response (PTSR) were common among workers at two Japanese nuclear plants in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, researchers reported. But rates were significantly higher among workers at the Daiichi
plant, which suffered a meltdown, than they were at the Daini plant, which was damaged but remained intact, according to Takeshi Tanigawa, MD, PhD, of Ehime University Graduate School of Medicine in Ehime, Japan, and colleagues.
Both groups of workers were exposed — at much the same rate — to slurs and discrimination because the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plants, was widely criticized for its response to the disaster, Continue reading
Thousands More Radiation-Related Deaths Expected From Fukushima, Asian Scientist, Study By Rebecca Lim July 20, 2012 Thousands of deaths could still be expected from the Fukushima nuclear fallout in the years to come, according to the first estimate of the disaster’s worldwide impact AsianScientist (Jul. 20, 2012) –
The research, published in the latest edition of the journal Energy & Environmental Science, found that inhalation exposure, external exposure, and ingestion exposure of the public to radioactivity may result in up to 1,300 cancer mortalities and up to 2,500 cancer morbidities worldwide, mostly in Japan.
Stanford University researchers John Ten Hoeve and Mark Jacobson feel that the risk of a meltdown is not small, given that “modest to major radionuclide releases (occurred) in almost 1.5 percent of all reactors ever built.”….
Estimates in the paper do not account for the increased radiation risk to the roughly 20,000 workers at the plant in the months following the accident.
Psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, fear, and unexplained physical symptoms which were seen post-Chernobyl, are likely to be repeated in evacuees after Fukushima, they say….
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