Our so-called self-government rarely agrees with what we tell pollsters, and yet it does what it does with our acceptance. We may have fallen for the pretense that we’re powerless. Our ignorance and xenophobia should never be underestimated as explanations for what we do. But consider the following public policy and then tell me the clearest explanation isn’t that we all want to rush our arrival at death’s door.
Not only do we spend over half of public discretionary funds on war preparation without a particular war in mind, but we spend a huge chunk of that on weapons we can never use without destroying life on the planet, including in our own country, including if we use those weapons and nobody else retaliates. The earth has one atmosphere, and if we wreck it with nuclear weapons, it won’t matter that we’ve done so on another continent.
We put these evil, useless, apocalyptic weapons on ships and sail them as close as possible to the most dangerous spots on earth. Then we threaten war with the countries they’re floating next to. We stick them on planes and fly them around the skies. Despite hundreds of near-disasters due to human and mechanical mistakes over the years, we spread these weapons (and the energy technology that is closely related to them) to more and more countries. We ignore our treaty obligation to disarm and falsely accuse a nation that has no nuclear weapons yet of violating the treaty, building hostility and the likelihood of war.
The nuclear weapons on planes and ships make nuclear missiles on land obsolete. The United States has 450 land-based Minuteman III nuclear missiles. They are easily targeted. And should they all be destroyed, and should we want to seize the opportunity to all hurry up and die together, the bombs on planes and ships could do the job many times over.
Yet the land-based missiles in the United States are not only still sitting there ready to serve no purpose whatsoever, but they’re on high alert. These nuclear-armed missiles could be sent by a U.S. president in 13 minutes or less. Thirteen minutes, with the very real possibility that false information, an electronic glitch or bad signal, or an error in human judgment, would bring the world as we know it to an end.
President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor was about to wake him up in the middle of the night to inform the President that 220 Soviet nuclear missiles were headed our way, when he learned that someone had stuck a game tape into the computer by mistake. Three years later a Soviet Lieutenant Colonel acted out the same scene, with the computer glitch on his side this time. Then in 1984 another U.S. computer glitch led to the quick decision to park an armored car on top of a missile silo to prevent the start of the apocalypse. And again in 1995, the Soviet Union almost responded to a U.S. nuclear attack that proved to be a real missile, but one with a weather satellite rather than a nuke. One Pentagon report documents 563 nuclear mistakes, malfunctions, and false alarms over the years — so far.
Minuteman III missiles would not, and nothing can, prevent retaliation. Even without retaliation, their unilateral use would ruin the earth’s atmosphere — all over the earth. The missiles’ only function is to kill others in a process that kills us too.
Is that what we want? I’m not imagining we have a democracy. I’m not discounting the power of financial corruption. I’m not suggesting that we are all driven by the same lust for power that moves elected officials and their staff. But look at popular opinion. War is exciting. Peace is dull. Oil drilling is sexy. Solar panels are lame. Storms are cool. Safety and survival are not fashionable at all. We have 450 missiles whose sole purpose is to kill us all. They cost us a fortune every year, while we whine and moan about money as if it were all that mattered. And where is the resistance? It’s in a handful of activists.
You don’t want to die, you say? Freud was a freak? You don’t envy penises or intend your accidents or think the slightest little bit about Bill Clinton when you see a cigar? O.K. I’m thrilled to hear it. Go ahead and prove me wrong.
An easy immediate step toward sanity would be to de-alert the missiles so that 24 to 72 hours would be needed to launch. This would increase our security by reducing the likelihood of an accidental or unauthorized launch. Again, those intent on achieving nuclear doomsday could rest assured that U.S. submarines and bombers would remain able to complete that job many times over.
A second obvious step that would also work wonders for our federal budget would be to decommission these missiles.
You don’t have to click the links above. You don’t have to help end this end-game policy. But don’t come crying to me that you want to live. I’ll not be inclined to believe it.