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Michael Klare: Whose Finger on the Nuclear Button?
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I was born on July 20, 1944, the day of the failed officers’ plot against Adolf Hitler. That means I preceded the official dawning of the nuclear age by exactly 369 days, which makes me part of the last generation to do so. I’m speaking not of the obliteration of two Japanese cities by America’s new “wonder weapon” on August 6th and 9th, 1945, but of the Trinity test of the first atomic bomb in the New Mexican desert near Alamogordo on July 16th of that year. When physicist Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” witnessed that explosion, the line from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad Gita, that famously came into his head was: “I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

How apt it still remains more than seven decades later, at a moment when nine countries possess such weapons — more than 15,000 of them — in their arsenals, most of which are now staggeringly more destructive than that first devastating bomb, and as TomDispatchregular Michael Klare points out today, some of which are closer to possible use than at any point in at least a couple of decades. For those of us who lived through the years of bomb shelters, atomic movie monsters, the Cuban Missile Crisis (which left me, age 18, fearing I might be toast in the morning), the rise and fall of antinuclear movements, and nuclear nightmares of a sort I still remember vividly from my youth in a way I no longer recall the dreams of last night, it’s a horror to imagine that nuclear war is still with us; even more so, because, in Election 2016, we have a presidential candidate who is not only ignorant about those weapons in hard-to-believe ways, but who wonders why “we can’t use them,” and who might months from now have his finger on that “nuclear button” (or rather command of the nuclear codes that could launch such a war). Don’t tell me that this isn’t a living nightmare of the first order.

I find it eerie in the extreme and unnervingly apt that the Clinton campaign has brought back a living icon of our nuclear fears, the little girl from the 1964 election who appeared in the famous (or infamous) “Daisy” ad President Lyndon Johnson ran against Republican contender Barry Goldwater (who, in retrospect, seems like the soul of stability compared with you know whom). She was then seen counting to 10 as she plucked petals off a daisy just before an ominous, echoing male voice began the countdown to an atomic explosion that filled the screen. Now, that girl, Monique Luiz, a grown woman, is shown saying, “The fear of nuclear war we had as children, I never thought our children would ever have to deal with that again. And to see that coming forward in this election is really scary.”


She’s now 55 years old and, however the Clinton campaign may be using her, there’s still something deeply unnerving for those of us who had hoped to outlast the nuclear age simply to see her there more than five decades later. And if you think that’s unnerving on the eve of the most bizarre presidential election in memory, then read today’s piece by Michael Klare and imagine just how unsettling, in nuclear terms, the years ahead may prove to be.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: 2016 Election, Nuclear War 
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  1. Miro23 says:

    Just about the only two rules that work in psychology are, 1) The best predictors of future behaviour are past behaviour and performance on carefully standardized tests. 2) good evidence that changing our behaviour will change our internal state and feelings.

    PAST BEHAVIOUR: Clinton supported the WMD story, the Iraq war, the destruction of Libya, urged a first strike on Iran and is currently stirring trouble with Russia in Syria with a proposed no-fly zone over the country (shooting down Russian aircraft?). She has the full backing of US Neo-con war party (who aggressively oppose the Republican candidate).

    CHANGING BEHAVIOUR: Clinton has not expressed any desire to pull back from the US Middle East first strike policy and in fact seems to be a Neo-con spokesperson – not surprising given her long history of Pay for Play, so there’s no expectation of changed behaviour.

    In contrast, the Republican candidate is on record as opposing Middle East wars and wants more constructive relations with Russia

    Like he said, “We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people that, frankly, if they were there and if we could have spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges, and all of the other problems — our airports and all the other problems we have — we would have been a lot better off, I can tell you that right now.
    We have done a tremendous disservice not only to the Middle East — we’ve done a tremendous disservice to humanity. The people that have been killed, the people that have been wiped away — and for what? It’s not like we had victory. It’s a mess. The Middle East is totally destabilized, a total and complete mess. I wish we had the 4 trillion dollars or 5 trillion dollars. I wish it were spent right here in the United States on schools, hospitals, roads, airports, and everything else that are all falling apart!”
    Donald Trump GOP debate 15th Dec.2015

    Conclusion – This article is a standard piece of MSM propaganda.

    • Agree: woodNfish
  2. @Miro23

    You’re comment is superb–can’t agree more. As usual, the stupid commoners–all of us not part of the media class–seem to have a deeper perspective on what is happening in the world and, more importantly, this country. All of this is lost on the repugnant media class. F*ck all of them to death.

  3. @Miro23

    Conclusion – This article is a standard piece of MSM propaganda.

    That’s Engelhardt. He’s a liberal media plant in the middle of alternative and honest media. He’s not good enough to be staff on the liberal bigs, but he’ll spew here. Nukes keep everyone who might be sane honest. Us, them, whomever. For Hillary however, to project her psychopathy to Trump when HER party just completed a deal allowing Iran the resources to have THEIR own nukes, we have to question which side is dangerous. Iran is going to launch on Israel, Europe or all when they have it together, weapons on missiles. They state it every day. If they get destroyed in response, it works for THEM because that sets the chaos to bring on the Caliph they wish the world to live in. Sure as hell, we’re going to get there.

    Engelhardt? He’s merely a shill. Always was.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  4. Rehmat says:
    @Jim Christian

    Iran’s NUKES is an Israel scam to make sure Israel doesn’t loose its CASH COW. Benjamin Netanyahu are crying foul since the 1990s even long before assuming premiership for the first time. Intelligence agencies in the US, Israel, France and Britain have all debunked Israeli claim about Iran’s military nuclear program.

    In 2014, US vice-president Joe Biden admitted that the US had not problem with a possible nuclear Iran. He said, America’s problem with Iran is Netanyahu’s desire to bring a pro-Israel regime change in Tehran.

    French philosopher Thierry Meyssan in a 2010 article, titled “Who’s afraid of Iran’s civilian nuclear program?” raised some valid points other than Jewish Lobby’s cry of “Ahmadinejad calls for a new Holocaust of the Jews”. He believes that Ahmadinejad, in the footsteps of Brazilian President Lula, wants to create a ‘nuclear free zone’ in the Middle East which if pursued by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which are also nuclear powers – would take the bite of the Zionist entity and its day of bulling its neighbors would be gone. That would also make the Jewish army an easy target for the Hizbullah fighters to play around, as they did in the Summer 2006 war.

    “The myth of an Iranian military nuclear program was concocted by the Anglo-Americans after their invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. Their ultimate strategy was to corner Iran in a pincer operation launched from the two neighboring countries. During that period, U.S. and British intelligence services propagated misleading information regarding Iran, as they had done in the case of Saddam Hussein’s purported weapons of mass destruction,” he wrote.

    • Replies: @woodNfish
  5. woodNfish says:

    Iran should be Israels problem, but unfortunately because our CIA overthrew their democratically elected government back in 1953, and because all pig-fucking muslim fascists are terrorists at heart we will probably have to deal with Iran militarily sooner or later.

    It would be in our best interest to let the sovereign nations of the world alone and stick to trading while also making certain we have a strong defensive military capable of an equally strong offense if needed.

    • Replies: @Rehmat
  6. Stogumber says:

    Being an European, I understand Tom Engelhardt’s point of view. If Hillary starts a conventional war in Europe, Americans like him will not be toasted. Eventually, all will be well for him – for us, not so much.

  7. Rehmat says:

    Wrong Moshe ….

    It were those pig-eating f***ing Zionist fascists who created the dropped their pigs in Palestine for grazing. So Israel is all pig-fucking Judeo-Christian problem. Iran had nothing to do with Hitler or Theodor Herzl.

    Ilhan Omar just became the first Muslim lawmaker in Minnesota congress by throwing your Jewish Mama Phyllis Kahn after her 44 years in the legislator.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
    , @Hibernian
  8. Hibernian says:

    The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had something to do with Hitler.

  9. Hibernian says:

    Mr. Rehmat,

    Your blog says there is no compulsion in religion and then demonizes people of the Jewish faith in crude terms. You are a hypocrite and a deceiver.

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