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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

President Donald Trump’s control of U.S. nuclear forces is no longer a laughing matter.

TrumpThe Trump Nuclear Threat, It’s time to worry about Donald Trump’s control of U.S. nuclear forces. US News, By Louis René Beres | Feb. 21, 2017,

“The man who laughs,” warned the poet Bertolt Brecht, “has simply not yet heard the horrible news.” President Donald Trump’s control of U.S. nuclear forces is no longer a laughing matter.

Further, no longer does such a concerning conclusion have to be extrapolated from this president’s overall indifference to reason, facts and logic. Now, instead, it flows directly and unambiguously from his explicit press conference declaration last week that, regarding a Russian ship off the East coast, “the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.”  There was absolutely no defensible reason for this gratuitous declaration. These are not the musings of an ordinary or normal American president. Rather, extraneous to any other purpose than incessantly bizarre self-promotion, they represent revealingly clinical warnings of deep emotional disturbance, especially when examined together with other blatant and incontestable signs of malignant narcissism. Naturally, all decent and informed U.S. citizens will hesitate to concur offhandedly, or to in any way appear disrespectful to longstanding presidential authority, but there now also exists a much higher citizen obligation: This is the unavoidable responsibility to speak openly and candidly about a plainly emerging existential threat.

To be sure, as I know personally from almost 50 years of scholarship involving core matters of U.S. senior command authority (National Command Authority, or NCA), there are various institutional protections built into any presidential order to use nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, virtually all of these safeguards are prescriptively operational only at lower command levels, and not at the very highest level of decisional authority. In other words, succinctly, there are no permissible or codified legal grounds to disobey a presidential order to use nuclear weapons.  This means, inter alia, that if a U.S. president were sometime to issue an irrational nuclear order, the only way for the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and possibly several relevant others to obstruct this unwarranted order would be prima facie illegal. Of course, such informal safeguards might still manage to succeed, but we really ought to inquire, now, about implementing certain other more suitably predictable and formally structural impediments….

…..Thus far, we have witnessed a new president who inappropriately analogizes the conduct of world affairs to real estate haggling, and who confuses personal bluster and bravado for usable strength and power. More than anything else, we must now prepare to speak more openly about this confusion, and also about Trump’s correspondingly dangerous behaviors. American national security can never be properly served by a president who proudly announces his own decisional infallibility (“I alone can fix it”), and who identifies growing international chaos as a distinctly positive negotiation opportunity.http://www.usnews.com/opinion/world-report/articles/2017-02-21/the-existential-threat-of-donald-trump-and-nuclear-weapons

February 22, 2017 Posted by | politics, psychology and culture, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Our only hope against nuclear pollution and annihilation – an informed citizenry

 

Hope-Dove-FlyingExtremely Cautionary Catastrophes: Fukushima And Chernobyl, By Robert Snefjella, 28 May, 2016, Countercurrents.org “………wherein does our best chance lie of reducing the harm and risk of our nuclear folly? How do we provide the basis by which we could begin to dismantle our folly and reconstruct cultures that are viable.

Those iconic personages Albert Einstein and Dwight Eisenhower are among the many concerned people who have located hope for policy sanity in an informed public:

Einstein found our “only hope” [regarding nuclear technology] in “an informed citizenry” [that] “will act for life and not for death.”

Eisenhower offered that

“only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Note well: they did not base their hope on experts or oligarchs or generals or silly people who are enthralled by the illusion of their own extraordinary intelligence. They based hope on a well informed us.

Implied in Einstein and Eisenhower’s hope is that the broad public, well informed, has a far greater potential repository of creativity and common sense and decency and such – beneficent functionality – than any cult, tribe, institution or faction thereof. Continue reading

May 30, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

Psychology and Culture: the Pitfalls for Nuclear Deterrence

The nuclear deterrence game: Promises and pitfalls , BY  on JANUARY 29, 2016 in ASIA TIMES NEWS & FEATURES  By Michael Rühle ………….Perhaps the most common mistake in thinking about nuclear deterrence is the belief that the larger your nuclear arsenal, the more credible your deterrent. This is way too simplistic. Since a state will only take nuclear risks in defense of existential interests, an opponent may still resort to force if he concludes that the issue at stake is not existential to the defender.

That’s why allies of nuclear powers constantly need to be reassured by their protector that he considers their security a truly vital interest. Or, as former British Defense Secretary Denis Healy aptly noted, during the Cold War it took only 5% credibility to deter the Soviet Union but 95% to assure one’s allies.

psychologyPsychology. A stable deterrence regime requires all actors to adhere to a “rational” cost-benefit calculus. Thus, nuclear deterrence cannot work against actors that are “irrational” to begin with, e.g. suicidal fanatics.

Deterrence may also fail when rationality evaporates, for example, when ideological beliefs make certain leaders adopt risky offensive strategies.

However, the most likely scenario in which rationality could disappear is defensive. Since humans fear suffering losses more than they value gains, the fear of losing something valuable will make leaders take far greater risks than the opportunity of changing the status quo in their favor.

Hence, as much as one would want to have the upper hand in a crisis, one should still avoid pushing a nuclear adversary into a corner.

text cultureCulture. Deterrence may be a universal concept, but its practical application may well be culture-specific. For example, a culture which attaches great value to sacrifice or martyrdom will be much harder to deter by the prospect of military punishment than a “post-heroic” society. This is not to say that certain states cannot be deterred, yet their cost-benefit calculus might be so different as to render the defender’s deterrence message ineffective.

To ensure that an adversary understands one’s deterrence message, one needs to have a fairly good grasp of his “strategic culture”: historical experiences, values, core beliefs, and military traditions. Obtaining such a thorough understanding of one’s adversary is extremely difficult. But simply hoping that an impressive nuclear arsenal will deter just by its mere existence would be a dangerous gamble. In the deterrence business, ignorance isn’t bliss — it might well be fatal.

Michael Rühle heads the Energy Security Section of NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division http://atimes.com/2016/01/the-nuclear-deterrence-game-promises-and-pitfalls/

January 30, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

Propaganda war between the two Koreas

flag-N-Koreaflag-S-KoreaKoreas Ramp Up Psychological Warfare After Nuclear Test VOA News, Brian Padden January 14, 2016 SEOUL—North Korea’s fourth nuclear test earlier this month ended a short period of inter-Korean cooperation and restarted the Cold War standoff between Seoul and Pyongyang.

While avoiding direct military confrontation that could easily escalate into a hot war, both North and South have resumed psychological war games and tactical maneuvers to demonstrate military readiness and resolve.

On Wednesday a suspected North Korean drone was sighted crossing the inter-Korean demilitarized zone. South Korean forces responded by firing about 20 machine gun rounds at the unidentified flying object but apparently did not hit it.

“Our military fired warning shots after broadcasting a warning. Then it returned to the northern side of the border right away,” said Jeon Ha-gyu, the head of public affairs for the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea’s armed forces.

North Korean propaganda

There have also been reports this week of pro-North Korean leaflets scattered throughout Seoul and its suburban areas. South Korea’s military suspects the propaganda leaflets were sent from the North by hot air balloons.

“North Korea was seen scattering leaflets from the northern area yesterday afternoon and early this morning,” Jeon said Wednesday. …….

Defense officials from China and South Korea are scheduled to meet Friday in Seoul to discuss the increasingly tense security situation on the Korean peninsula. http://www.voanews.com/content/koreas-ramp-up-psychological-warfare-after-nuclear-test/3145316.html

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, psychology and culture, South Korea | Leave a comment

Endless delays – that’s the system for Hanford nuclear waste clean-up

Hanford-waste-tanksWill Hanford’s Big Clean-Up Ever Begin?  Fifteen years past its originally scheduled start-up date, the nuclear facility’s glassification plant is way over budget and no one seems able to nail down a deadline. At fault, say critics, are mismanagement, frequent turnover in the top brass, and a culture that doesn’t take kindly to criticism.   Seattle News Weekly, By John Stang , Dec 15 2015  “……….The story of Tamosaitis’ unheralded warnings is not the exception in the ongoing struggle to contain Hanford’s waste. Rather, this episode is just the latest in a litany of setbacks that has put the project over budget and off schedule again and again.

Officially, the reasons are that this is a first-of-its-kind project with difficult-to-perfect new technology.

In reality, the glassification project—like most of Hanford—resembles a giant Dilbert comic book. The culture is the culprit. There are immense corporate and social pressures to look good now and hope someone else is in charge when things go wrong later. These pressures include high turnover in upper management, bonuses to corporations, individual career advancement, and retaliation against those who rock the boat at inconvenient times. Continue reading

December 18, 2015 Posted by | psychology and culture, USA, wastes | Leave a comment