If we turn our back on peace and pursue the path to nuclear war, we can be absolutely assured that it will not go well for human beings, and that's the truth !!!
Publisher's note for The Progressive:
October 7 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the beginning of the longest war in U.S. history. Midday on Sunday October 7, 2001 U.S. president George W. Bush addressed the nation from the Treaty Room in the White House. As Bush himself noted, this is “a place where American presidents have worked for peace.”
However, on this day, he chose that room to announce the beginning a war with no clear end in sight and no single enemy or battlefield. In the nationally televised address, Bush ominously proclaimed:
“Today we focus on Afghanistan, but the battle is broader. Every nation has a choice to make. In this conflict, there is no neutral ground.”
Throughout its 107-year history, The Progressive has always stood as a voice for peace and against militarism and war. Our November 2001 issue had many voices speaking out against this doctrine of endless war. One of the most powerful of these voices was historian Howard Zinn, who regularly wrote for the magazine. His essay, reprinted below, reminds us of powerful lessons yet to be learned by our country’s leaders.
The Old Way of Thinking
The images on television were heartbreaking: people on fire leaping to their deaths from a hundred stories up; people in panic racing from the scene in clouds of dust and smoke.
We knew there must be thousands of human beings buried under a mountain of debris. We could only imagine the terror among the passengers of the hijacked planes as they contemplated the crash, the fire, the end. Those scenes horrified and sickened me.
Then our political leaders came on television, and I was horrified and sickened again. They spoke of retaliation, of vengeance, of punishment.
We are at war, they said. And I thought: They have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, from the history of the twentieth century, from a hundred years of retaliation, vengeance, war, a hundred years of terrorism and counterterrorism, of violence met with violence in an unending cycle of stupidity.
"War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times."
We can all feel a terrible anger at whoever, in their insane idea that this would help their cause, killed thousands of innocent people. But what do we do with that anger? Do we react with panic, strike out violently and blindly just to show how tough we are?
“We shall make no distinction,” the President proclaimed, “between terrorists and countries that harbor terrorists.”
So now we are bombing Afghanistan and inevitably killing innocent people because it is in the nature of bombing (and I say this as a former Air Force bombardier) to be indiscriminate, to “make no distinction.” We are committing terrorism in order to “send a message” to terrorists.
We have done that before. It is the old way of thinking, the old way of acting. It has never worked. Reagan bombed Libya, and Bush made war on Iraq, and Clinton bombed Afghanistan and also a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan to “send a message” to terrorists. And then comes this horror in New York and Washington. Isn’t it clear by now that sending a message to terrorists through violence doesn’t work, that it only leads to more terrorism?
Haven’t we learned anything from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
Car bombs planted by Palestinians bring air attacks and tanks by the Israeli government. That has been going on for years. It doesn’t work. And innocent people die on both sides.
Yes, it is an old way of thinking, and we need new ways. We need to think about the resentment all over the world felt by people who have been the victims of American military action.
In Vietnam, where we carried out terrorizing bombing attacks, using napalm and cluster bombs, on peasant villages.
US Prepares For Nuclear War
presented on OpEdNews from Popular Resistance By Marcus Weisgerber
The tests in the Nevada desert come as tensions rise with Russia and the Pentagon seeks to replace its aging nuclear arsenal.
A pair of U.S. Air Force B-2 bombers dropped two 700-pound faux nuclear bombs in the middle of the Nevada desert within the past few days. Now the Pentagon wants to tell you about it.
Conducted “earlier this month,” according to an Oct. 6 press release, the test involved two dummy variants of the B61, a nuclear bomb that has been in the U.S. arsenal since the 1960s. One was an “earth penetrator” made to strike underground targets, the other a tactical version of the B61. Neither carried an actual warhead.
“The primary objective of flight testing is to obtain reliability, accuracy, and performance data under operationally representative conditions,” said the statement from the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department arm that oversees such tests. “Such testing is part of the qualification process of current alterations and life extension programs for weapon systems.”
But why now? Perhaps it has to do with tensions with Russia, which are higher than they have been in decades, and which have sparked fears of a new nuclear arms race. Earlier this week, the Russian government announced it would conduct a massive drill to prepare its citizens for nuclear war.
But it may also have to do with the Pentagon’s quest to replace its decades-old nuclear arsenal with new bombs and delivery vehicles, an endeavor whose price tag tops several hundred billion dollars. The Air Force, for one, has been making its case for new intercontinental ballistic missiles and a nuclear cruise missile. At an Air Force Association conference in the Washington suburbs last, Boeing touted its work on the Minuteman III ICBM, mounting large-scale models of the long-range missiles front and center in its sprawling display area.
“[We] are used to sustaining the [current] systems in pieces,” said Larry Shafer, a Boeing executive working on the company’s work to build a new ICBM to replace the Minuteman III. “This is a unique opportunity to build an ICBM system as a whole.”
There has been much debate over building new ICBMs, a project the Air Force calls the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent. Former Defense Secretary William Perry has argued that it is unnecessary. The cruise missile project, called the Long-Range Standoff weapon, has also been called redundant to the improved version the B61 set to enter service in the 2020s.
The Air Force put out a notice in August that it is soliciting bids from companies to build new ICBMs and a nuclear cruise missiles. At the time, Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson, commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center and Air Force program executive officer for strategic systems, called the Long-Range Standoff weapon “a critical element of the United States’ nuclear deterrence strategy.”
Last year, the Air Force inked a deal with Northrop Grumman to build a new long-range, stealth bomber — recently named the B-21 Raider — that will eventually be equipped to carry nuclear weapons. At the same time, the Navy is preparing to buy 12 newColumbia-Class submarines that will replace the Ohio-Class, which can launch nuclear missiles.
The total price tag for the all of the new nuclear weapons is projected to cost between $350 billion to $450 billion over the next two decades.
In Iraq, where more than 500,000 children have died as a result of economic sanctions that the United States has insisted upon.
And, perhaps most important for understanding the current situation, in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, where a million and more Palestinians live under a cruel military occupation, while our government supplies Israel with hightech weapons.
We need to imagine that the awful scenes of death and suffering we were witnessing on our television screens have been going on in other parts of the world for a long time, and only now can we begin to know what people have gone through, often as a result of our policies. We need to understand how some of those people will go beyond quiet anger to acts of terrorism. That doesn’t, by any means, justify the terror. Nothing justifies killing thousands of innocent people. But we would do well to see what might inspire such violence. And it will not be over until we stop concentrating on punishment and retaliation and think calmly and intelligently about how to address its causes.
We need new ways of thinking.
A $300 billion military budget has not given us security.
Military bases all over the world, our warships on every ocean, have not given us security.
Land mines and a “missile defense shield” will not give us security.
We need to stop sending weapons to countries that oppress other people or their own people. We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.
War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.
Yes, lets find the perpetrators of the awful acts of September 11. We must find the guilty parties and prosecute them. But we shouldn’t engage in indiscriminate retaliation. When a crime is committed by someone who lives in a certain neighborhood, you don’t destroy the neighborhood.
Yes, we can tend to immediate security needs. Let’s take some of the billions allocated for “missile defense,” totally useless against terrorist attacks such as this one, and pay the security people at airports decent wages and give them intensive training. Let’s go ahead and hire marshals to be on every flight. But ultimately, there is no certain security against the unpredictable.
True, we can find bin Laden and his cohorts, or whoever were the perpetrators, and punish them. But that will not end terrorism so long as the pent-up grievances of decades, felt in so many countries in the Third World, remain unattended.
We cannot be secure so long as we use our national wealth for guns, warships, F-18s, cluster bombs, and nuclear weapons to maintain our position as a military superpower. We should use that wealth instead to become a moral superpower.
We must deal with poverty and sickness in other parts of the world where desperation breeds resentment. And here at home, our true security cannot come by putting the nation on a war footing, with all the accompanying threats to civil liberties that this brings. True security can come only when we use our resources to make us the model of a good society, prosperous and peacemaking, with free medical care for everyone, education and housing, guaranteed decent wages, and a clean environment for all. We cannot be secure by limiting our liberties, as some of our political leaders are demanding, but only by expanding them.
We should take our example not from our military and political leaders shouting “retaliate” and “war” but from the doctors and nurses and medical students and firefighters and police officers who were saving lives in the midst of mayhem, whose first thoughts were not violence but healing, not vengeance but compassion.
From the November 2001 issue of The Progressive
© 2016 The Progressive
Howard Zinn (August 24, 1922 - January 27, 2010) was a historian, playwright, and activist. Howard authored many books, including “A People’s History of the United States,” “Voices of a People’s History” (with Anthony Arnove), and “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress."