[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Return to main CEDA-L Archive Page
nuclear war & reality
- To: CEDA-L@cornell.edu
- Subject: nuclear war & reality
- From: TROND E JACOBSEN <ANTEJ@acad2.alaska.edu>
- Date: Mon, 24 Apr 1995 20:15:48 -0800
- Alternate-recipient: prohibited
- Hop-count: 1
- MR-Received: by mta ORION; Relayed; Mon, 24 Apr 1995 20:15:49 -0800
- X400-MTS-identifier: [;94510242405991/4603750@ORION]
Perhaps I am mistaken, or presumptuous (or both), but I also feel
that as relatively open-minded, intellectually-oriented, research
demons, questions pertaining to nuclear war and colonialism
and our advocacy and activism are inherently relevant to the
I note that the only criticism advanced (by anyone) is that I
did not prove that my examples constitute "nuclear war". Are there
no responses to the substance (as opposed to the semantics) of what
My argument perhaps did suffer from a failure to define terms. The
instances I reviewed clearly constitute nuclear acts of *some* sort
(they are nuclear devices and explosions). Are they war? In my
judgement, international law supports my interpretation that they
should be so considered (that the U.S says no and is able to make
this stick is really more a testament to the scope of U.S. power
than the legal standing of its actions and interpretations.
Consider Reagan's rebuke of the World Court regarding the CIA
bombing of the Nicaraguan port of Corinto).
For the purposes of clarity, though, let's adopt
Petr4561@Asterix.ltr.com's common sense evaluation of this term.
No reason to get bogged down in definitions! Besides, I think for
the most part it is a very appropriate starting point for this
discussion. S/he write:
"there has to be some sort of aggression involved in war,
a CONFLICT between two or more states in which both sides are
using some degree of force to overtake or defend against the
other side. You know, Axis v. Allies kind of thing."
-I will argue (and implicitly DID argue) that what has occurred in
each instance constitutes "some sort of aggression".
-I also believe that in each case, the CONFLICT is also apparent.
-I will more explicitly prove here that these conflicts involve
"two or more states".
-If the preceding claim is true, then, even without clear standards
of measurement, it seems likely that the Shoshones have, over the
years, used "some degree of force" to defend their territory. If
they were, however, to choose an exclusively non-violent method of
resistance (such as asking the U.S. to honor its own laws) while
the U.S does not (which I think has been proven), I can think of no
reason the conflict under review would not fall under the rubric of
"war". If I beat someone up and they don't (or, more to the point,
can't) fight back with violence effectively, it is still
AGGRESSION. When nations do it, it is WAR (what the Nazi's did to
Poland the first week of September 1939, was war).
-The idea that the specific character of a conflict involving major
European, North American and Asian nation states is the *sine qua
non* of warfare (if that is what is intended) is too absurd to
warrant comment- history is a much larger animal.
So let's get it on.
Quoting me and responding, s/he writes:
"1. They AND she dramatically underestimate the risks of nuclear
war. It HAS happened, over and over again.
And then supports it with:
In fact, there have been MANY since the criminal bombing of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to UC-Berkeley geographer
Bernard Nietschmann and coauthor William LaBon, the United States
(651) and Great Britain (19) have exploded 670 (!) nuclear weapons
or devices on Newe Segobia (or Western Shoshone) land making it
"the most bombed nation in the world", and surely the most heavily
irradiated (Cultural Survival Quarterly, Vol. 11,. No.4, p.5).
Hmmm, where exactly was this WAR? Oh, there wasn't one, I see.
I won't argue that we have TESTED weapons but so far, I see NO
proof of a war, let's wait..."
It is, again, a matter of international law that violations of
standing treaties between duly recognized sovereign nations by one
signatory, at the expense of the other and without their consent,
may constitute an act of war.
In 1863 the United States the nation of Newe Segobia signed the
Treaty of Ruby Valley. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in
1866. As per our constitution (and as a matter of international
law), treaties are the "law of the land" and impose the highest
obligations on our nation's comportment. For the exact same
reasons, ANY act of congress, ANY directive of the executive
branch, ANY ruling of the Supreme Court, and ANY policy of any non-
federal level of government CANNOT override, supersede or obviate
any treaty obligation because that is the same as, say, removing
Article II of the constitution (that we do and have done so
repeatedly, says a great deal ONLY about our nation's lack of honor
and wanton lawlessness).
We at UAA were fortunate to be visited by Indian rights activist
and UC-Boulder professor and scholar Ward Churchill a few days
after nationals. Professor Churchill has rightly pointed out on
many occasions that Article I, Section X, of the U.S Constitution
"precludes the federal government from entering into treaty
agreements with any entity other than another *fully sovereign
national entity* [my emphasis]". (Ward Churchill and Glenn T.
Morris, "Key Indian Laws and Cases" in M. Annette Jaimes. ed., The
State of Native America, 1992, p. 13).
In ratifying the Treaty of Ruby Valley, we recognized Newe Segobia
as a nation with sovereign standing equal to that of the United
States, France or Britain (we might be able to construct an
argument questioning some of the basis for claims of U.S. equal
sovereignty, but let's set that aside for the sake of this
What, for our purposes, is important about this treaty? As cited
by Glenn Morris in Critical Issues in Native North America, Volume
II, (also the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs
Document No. 68), Rudolph Ryser pointed out that:
"Nothing in the Treaty of Ruby Valley ever sold, traded or
gave any part of Newe Country to the United States of
America...Nothing in this treaty said that the United States
could establish settlements of U.S. citizens that would be
engaged in any activity other than mining, agriculture,
milling, and ranching." (p. 87)
Would we call it war if the United States military set up shop in
Provence, France, uninvited, and in a generation and a half
exploded 651 NUCLEAR DEVICES, destroying cropland and livestock,
uprooting and irradiating French citizens, permanently scarring
land the locals considered sacred, and leaving the region, for all
intents and purposes, permanently radioactive? I think we would.
I think we should.
The Nietschmann and LaBon article cited in the original post,
captured an assessment of some of the Shoshone people that frames
this issue rather well:
"Because they destroy, the 670 nuclear explosions in Newe
Segobia have been classified by the Western Shoshone National
Council [i.e. the government of one of the two states
involved] as bombs, rather than 'tests.' The purpose of a
bomb is to destroy; if the 'tests' were not destructive, the
would have been performed in the 'Americans'' territory. A
part of the nation of Newe Segobia has been destroyed by the
nuclear bombs from two nuclear powers. No treaty, accord,
agreement, vote or sale exists that gives the U.S. permission
to explode nuclear bombs or devices on or under the Western
Shoshone Nation. The bombs constitute an attack against the
Shoshone nation because they destroy a part of it. The U.S.
nuclear test site is located on another nation that does not
consent to U.S. occupation and the explosion of U.S nuclear
weapons. The U.S. cannot show ownership of the site; the
Western Shoshones can." (p. 73)
I believe this amplification of my discussion of the Newe Segobia,
even in the ABSENCE of ALL the other arguments and examples in the
original post, is sufficient to prove my claim that:
"1. They AND she dramatically underestimate the risks of
nuclear war. It HAS happened, over and over again."
Now, let's clear away the remaining detritus.
Petr4561@Asterix.ltr.com also writes (quoting me first)
"His next attempt:
In 1954, the United States detonated the Edward Teller-designed
"Bravo" (!!??!!) H-bomb, 1,000 times more powerful than used in
Hiroshima at Bikini Atoll. This bomb was designed for maximum
dispersal of fallout, and several populated islands were indeed
blanketed with radioactive death.
Bzzz. Let me check with the judges... NOPE, not a WAR.
Most importantly you have never cited any actual or implied
aggression on the part of the US/UK/FRANCE etc."
I disagree. (Note: there was no *argument* countering the claim
that the facts, as presented in the original post, constitute
evidence of nuclear war). The bomb was *designed* for maximum
fallout. My quote from AEC Director Merril Eisenbud in the
original post seems to imply a certain measure of "actual or
implied aggression" on the part of the United States, generally,
with respect to nuclear tests and long-term exposure studies. A
closer examination of the article quoted in my original post (Glenn
Alcalay, "Pax Americana in the Pacific, Covert Action Information
Bulletin, Summer, 1992) would have revealed that Air Force weather
personnel present for the detonation have challenged the official
explanation that the exposure was "accidental" by noting that "The
wind was blowing straight at us for days, before, during and after
IN ANY CASE, turning closer to home, Secretary of Energy Hazel
O'Leary has recently, and with much fanfare, declassified thousands
pages of federal documents that prove that the government
deliberately exposed thousands of Americans to levels of radiation
*it* knew to be dangerous. For an incredibly depressing review,
examine the brilliant book by Carole Gallagher, American Ground
Zero: The Secret Nuclear War, published in 1993 by MIT Press.
And finally, s/he writes:
"In his next effort:
More than a decade ago, Daniel Ellsberg, of Pentagon Papers fame,
determined that the United States threatened to initiate nuclear
war on NO LESS THAN NINETEEN occasion during the Cold War.
Well the last time I checked, threatening to use, and ACTUALLY
using nukes are two completely different things (thank god, or JFK
or Nikita, whoever decided against the conflict) I think that the
fact that we have threatened 19 times proves we will never use
them, especially after the cuban missle crisis turned out to be
nothing more than a month of sweating in October '62. If anything,
WWII served as a deterrent against the use of nukes. we saw what
happended and got scared. Now, if we use them to threaten other
countries to do something that doesn't constitute a war and
we are not *using* them in the real world sense of the word."
Again, I can only disagree. There is, perhaps, an obivious
distinction to be made between types of uses, but s/he does
not do so. I am not sure how past instances of U.S. saber
rattling, which then induced *some* willingness on the part of
hopelessly outmatched opponents, proves that will always be
the case. WWII (kind of) ended with the use of nuclear weapons: I am
not sure how it served to deter the use of nuclear weapons.
The writer seems to have missed entirely the point of my argument,
especially as fleshed out in the analogy I gave. Every President
of the United States, with the possible exception of Ford, actively
considered using nuclear weapons to give added weight to planned or
then underway U.S. imperial designs. In other words, they didn't
*merely* threaten use. The threats, which were serious, as far as
we know from the documentary record, were a form of *use* that
allowed the U.S. to achieve its exploitative purposes unhindered by
other, lesser powers.
These threats were not only directed at the Soviet Union. As
Ellsberg points out in his moving "Call to Mutiny" in the work
cited in the original post, U.S. willingness to use nuclear
weapons, which was first articulated in the aftermath of WWII
during a period in which the U.S. enjoyed a near monopoly on power
as the only nation in history with a global reach, did not disappear
with the collapse of that monopoly in the late 1960's and early
1970's. In fact, as he notes, "U.S. commanders-in-chief still feel
compelled to defend and assure U.S. influence within that same
immense, global sphere. They believe, and they are right to
believe, they cannot do so everywhere without being willing to
ignite thermonuclear war whenever 'necessary'."
Is anyone experiencing deja vu, what with the notion of maintaining
U.S. "influence" across the globe?
Ellsberg provides even more terrifying analysis of the issues we
"Within that sphere of influence [Middle East], the incentive
to threaten to launch nuclear weapons to protect [??]
U.S interventionary troops is *NOT LIMITED* [mine],
either, to prospective confrontation with Russian
forces...the list of incidents [of threatened use,
[19 known through 1982] reveals a clear pattern.
In *every* [italics original] one of the half-dozen
instances when U.S. of allied tactical units were...in danger
of defeat...[he lists them] the administration secretly gave
consideration, far more seriously than was ever admitted in
public, to the use of nuclear weapons...In light of this
secret history, it is worth reflecting on the potential nature
of the Rapid Deployment Force, limited in size and equipment
and intended for distant intervention, as a portable
Dienbienphu [one of the cases]. Perhaps its major function
would be as an instrument of real and visible commitment to
the possible first use of nuclear weapons by the United
States. Indeed, that is pretty much how its purpose is
described to a careful reader of official statements."
Can you say U.S. hegemony? Can you say two-war force structure?
Can you say forward deployment? Can you see the seamy underbelly
of "U.S. credibility"?
On the L there has been a great deal of talk about war and peace
consciousness, the opportunities to personally contribute to
building a new society, about the stability of the present order,
about arguing in positions you believe in, about the probability of
nuclear war, and now about the nature of U.S. foreign policy, to
point to just a few.
It would be disingenuous of me to say that I don't think I have
anything to offer to these discussions, or that I don't have an
"agenda". I think my agenda is pretty plain: Survival with
dignity. I do honestly think we can discuss these momentous issues
in a meaningful, detailed, intellectually honest, TRUTHFUL and
rewarding fashion on the L, AND IN OUR DEBATES. What do you all think?
What do you think of an argument that suggests, normatively, we
*should* debate about these kinds of issues?
In this case, as in every case, the questions we ask frame the
answers we are likely see and seek.
On that note, I leave you with a little food for thought,
vegetarian, though not exactly tasty, from Joseph Gerson of the
American Friends Service Committee:
"OBSERVATION AND HISTORY TEACH US THAT ALL EMPIRES, ALL 'GRAND
AREAS', AND 'SPHERES OF INFLUENCE' ARE BUT PASSING MOMENTS IN THE
HUMAN EXPERIENCE. YET THEY ARE REALITIES THAT TOO OFTEN DETERMINE
HOW PEOPLE LIVE, AND HOW THEY DIE. WHEN WE CONSIDER THE GROWTH,
EVOLUTION AND FALL OF THE GREEK, ROMAN, DUTCH, SPANISH, FRENCH, AND
BRITISH EMPIRES, WE ARE REMINDED THAT AS THEY DECLINED THEY CAUSED
IMMENSE HUMAN [and non-human-TJ] PAIN AND SUFFERING. IN EACH OF
THESE EMPIRES THE SEEDS FOR FUTURE SOCIETIES WERE SOWN AS THE OLD
STRUCTURES DECLINED. WITH THE AMERICAN CENTURY DRAWING TO A CLOSE,
THOSE OF US LIVING IN THE UNITED STATES HAVE A PARTICULAR
RESPONSIBILITY. IT IS WE WHO WILL DETERMINE, IN MANY WAYS WHETHER
OUR LEADERS WILL BE ABLE TO LASH ABOUT WITH WEAPONS OF MASS
DESTRUCTION, BE THE 'CONVENTIONAL' OR NUCLEAR, TAKING MUCH OF THE
WORLD WITH THEM IN A DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO RETAIN THEIR PRINCELY
peace, love and happiness
from the land of THAWING ice and snow
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
Return to main CEDA-L Archive Page