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Editorial & Opinion

Peter Nightingale: Security of the People is not a concern



On August 7, UPI reported that Lockheed Martin Space received a $400M+ contract modification for the United States Army‘s Hypersonic Conventional Prompt Strike missile program. The new contract comes within a week after the United States withdrew officially from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed in 1988 with the former Soviet Union. Russia did the same a little over a month ago. In February, Lockheed also received a similar contract worth nearly $850M from the United States Navy.

Although the name of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty suggests differently, it did cover ballistic and cruise missiles regardless of warhead type, conventional or nuclear.

As a report issued in January of this year by the Congressional Research Service states:

Many analysts also argued that the deployment of CPGS (Conventional Prompt Global Strike) might upset strategic stability and increase the likelihood of nuclear war. Although the United States President might choose to initiate a conflict or respond to a threat with a conventional attack, it is not clear that the adversary would know that the incoming weapons carried conventional warheads.

In other words, “there is simply no ‘bright line’ between nuclear and conventional systems.” This is to be contrasted with Senator Jack Reed’s statement made when on June 27 the United States Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 with a bipartisan vote of 86-8.

This is an important bipartisan package that will strengthen our military, support our troops, and enhance national security.

Rather than using tax payer money to address the existential threat of climate chaos caused by global heating, sustained bipartisan spending continues to support development of nuclear weapons. Support of the private sector war industry always takes precedence and exacerbates the other existential threat: nuclear war followed by nuclear winter. This care and feeding of war racketeers is documented in great detail in a May 2019 report by PAX, a partner of ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

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As the PAX report states,

The United States and Russia are leading the way for a new nuclear arms race, one that will be even more dangerous and unpredictable than the one we narrowly escaped from during the cold war.

The PAX report also contains a detailed discussion of the beneficiaries of the United States congressional misappropriation of our tax dollars. The following table lists contributions from these companies to the Rhode Island congressional delegation during the 2018 cycle. Obviously, the numbers expose only a minuscule part of the legalized bribery that is our political system. The table contains donations made by the PACs (political action committees) of the U.S. companies listed in the PAX report.

Bechtel Group$6,000
General Dynamics$4,000$4,000$10,000$6,500
Huntington Ingalls Industries$7,500$5,000
Lockheed Martin$1,000$6,005$10,000$4,000
Northrup Grumman$2,000$2,500$10,000

In addition, Senator Reed has his Narragansett Bay PAC, which contributed $2,000 to both Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline, and $5,000 to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. The top war industry contributors of Senator Reed’s PAC are, with minor exceptions, the very same companies: General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, BoeingHuntington Ingalls Industries, Norfolk Southern, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.

This month, 74 years after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all of the above is brought into focus by a statement made by Leo Szilard, one of the scientists who first realized the destructive power of nuclear chain reactions and who in 1939 strongly supported the development of nuclear weapons. In a letter dated July 3, 1945, Szilard urged President Harry Truman not to use the atomic bomb on Japan. Szilard wrote: “Atomic bombs are primarily a means for the ruthless annihilation of cities.”

Contrast this with the specious rhetoric contained in Nuclear Operations, a recent publication prepared under the direction of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff:

(5) Law of War. The law of war governs the use of nuclear weapons, just as it governs the use of conventional weapons. For example, nuclear weapons must be directed against military objectives.

As always, follow the money to find the truth. As Noam Chomsky put it:

We’re told all the time that everything has to be done in the name of security, but what you find is that security, at least security of the population, is not a concern.

Security of the People was never a concern. That was the case even from the very first nuclear test in July of 1945, Trinity: The most significant hazard of the entire Manhattan Project.”

On Sunday, August 18, Senator Whitehouse will host his 10th annual Clambake, a fundraising event at Kempenaar’s Clambake Club in Middletown. Sunrise Providence will be present. For further details see this Facebook event. The question is simple: “Who’se side are you on, Senator Whitehouse, nuclear and fossil fuel annihilation or construction for the People?”

Peter Nightingale is a theoretical physicist and teaches at the University of Rhode Island. He strives to leave behind a more just, peaceful, and sustainable post-capitalist world for future generations, and for his children and grandchildren in particular.