Arms Control: Worse Than Baby Steps

Nuclear weapons are as much of an emergency for the earth as global warming, but their abolition is treated as if we have all the time in the world. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

Nuclear weapons are as much of an emergency for the earth as global warming, but their abolition is treated as if we have all the time in the world. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

In the realm of public opinion, nuclear weapons have been replaced by global warming as the world’s greatest existential threat. One can debate which is more of an emergency, but we don’t wish to contribute to any perceived need for them to compete for space in the minds of the public. In his latest Bulletin for the Los Alamos Study Group, Executive Director Greg Mello writes about nuclear weapons:

We’re past the time for baby steps. This is not 1990. We don’t have the climate stability we had or the oil, or the cohesion in our society, or the skills.

… Said simply, U.S. nuclear weapons policies need radical change, not minor reforms, if the United States is to survive. We cannot afford a refreshed Cold War.

… We cannot afford Cold War institutions; leaving them intact was and is one of the greatest follies of the arms control community. We cannot afford what our nuclear weapons and associated military policies do to us and do to the rest of the world.

“In point of fact,” Mello adds, “they are destroying us. To a great extent they have already succeeded.” He continues:

… We have now reached the point – and this seems quite new in degree – where our biggest newspapers of record routinely, even daily, print falsehoods about critical subjects such as our oil and gas supplies and our foreign coups d’etat and wars, to pick a few. They maintain a coy silence about existential threats to our civilization.

… The result of all this is that citizens and political leaders alike cannot understand what is happening to our country and the world, and they cannot prioritize their responses.

… It is necessary now to triage issues, as Helen Caldicott reminded us in a conference last year at the New York Academy of Medicine. How can this be done, with the organs of public consciousness enthralled by the trivial, enslaved to myths that are long past their sell-by dates?

No need to choose between global warming and nuclear weapons: They can be bundled. After all, what is nuclear war but instant global warming (even though the subsequent nuclear winter, it has been said, would “solve” global warming).

Mello’s proscription? You won’t like it.

For most of us I think it starts by walking away from our computers, out our front doors and into the streets, into the churches, and the environmental and arms control groups. We all need to talk.

It starts by conversations that lead to actions. Information is not enough. Opinions don’t matter. Participation matters. Make no mistake, mass denial and the growth of social psychosis and tyranny won’t go away by themselves. Confrontation in one form or another is required.

Those of us incapable or indisposed to confrontation can at least support those who are.