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  Print view: Start Treaty Hypocrisy
COMMENTARY:

Start Treaty Hypocrisy

by Stephen Lendman
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Propagandists for the powerful dress up such deals as serving the 'national interest' to enlist public support, omitting back room dealmaking to enrich the nuclear weapons establishment and other war profiteering interests.

Hyped support reveals gross hypocrisy about a deeply flawed process and outrageous price for it. More on that below. Yet a September 14 New York Times editorial headlined, "Ratify the New Start Treaty," saying;

"Failure to ratify this treaty would be hugely costly for American credibility and security....The Senate needs to ratify New Start now." In fact, endorsing ratification undermines The Times credibility. More why below.

A more recent Washington Post November 19 editorial headlined, "The New START pact should be passed, not politicized," saying:

"....the treaty ought to be approved. But no calamity will befall the United States if the Senate does not act this year....In reality, Mr. Obama's urgency (has) less to do with national security than with the upcoming shift in Senate seats" next year.

The Los Angeles Times said ratifying Start could "be a defining moment for Obama. Failure might be regarded abroad as confirmation that the administration is too weak to put its stamp on world affairs."

Most major media reports endorse ratification. None explain key facts about a deeply flawed treaty or what's ahead when implemented. An earlier article on Obama's Nuclear Posture Review explained why.

Calling it old wine in new bottles, it explained that nuclear disarmament or serious reductions aren't envisioned or planned. New and upgraded weapons will replace outdated ones. Dangerous testing will continue, and billions of dollars will be committed to proliferate a first-strike capability with overwhelming destructive power, including from space.

Obama's Nuclear Posture Review was more about war making than prevention. Also unchanged is the 2005 Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations, removing the distinction between defensive and offensive deterrents. It includes the most modern triad of land and sea-based strategic bombers, land-based missiles, and ballistic missile submarines as well as robust research development and industrial infrastructure to develop, build, and maintain unchallengeable offensive and defensive systems.

It exceeds deterrent, calling for preemption with nuclear or non-nuclear weapons against named adversaries, whether or not true. In other words, aggressive wars for unchallengeable global dominance are planned, especially against nations in resource-rich areas.

Missile defense is also misnamed. It's, in fact, for offensive first-strike, notably against Russia and China in case confrontations erupt for resource control. Whether ratified or not, America's permanent war agenda is unchanged, falsely justified to seek peace, democracy and world stability. It's about power threatening global survival to assure America has more than anyone and keeps it.

Start is a smoke screen, more hypocrisy than substance. Disingenuous media hype suppresses the truth without explaining what's needed - full nuclear disarmament without which world safety is impossible.

The Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) on Start

WSLF "monitors and analyzes US nuclear weapons programs and policies and related high technology energy and weapons programs, with a focus on the national nuclear weapons laboratories." It believes that "nuclear weapons threaten our fundamental human security" and must be abolished.

WSLF's Andrew Lichterman headlined a commentary, "The START Treaty and Disarmament: a Dilemma in Search of a Debate," saying:

Public discussion and full disclosure have been absent as negotiations continued. The real adversary "is the US military-industrial complex and its representative in the United States Senate." Those in it want unchallengeable US military supremacy, using the ratification debate "to extract both policy and spending commitments in return."

Start "will have little effect (on) the arms race." It will only minimally affect "nuclear weapons deployments, and places no meaningful limit on the modernization of nuclear arsenals or the development of strategically significant weapons systems such as missile defenses and conventional 'prompt global strike' weapons with global reach."

The treaty's only purported benefits include verification and reestablishing a negotiating framework for future negotiations. However, the ratification price extracted huge concessions to the "weapons establishment," beginning with "increases in....budgets and accelerated construction of new nuclear weapons facilities" to design, develop, produce, and deploy the most modern ever destructive arsenal globally, assuring "civilization-destroying" capability "for decades to come," as well as impeding disarmament efforts.

Yet congressional and public debate didn't discuss it. Instead, so-called experts, former key public officials, and disarmament organizations endorsed ratification, "parroting" Obama's devoid of substance talking points, leaving out future costs and concessions to the "nuclear weapons establishment." Nor explaining that without them, ratification possibilities were nil. Democrats as well as Republicans would balk.

The Start deal will do little to deter nuclear weapons proliferation. It's mainly about counting rules and verification. In addition, the actual number of warheads isn't reduced. America and Russia will be able to deploy almost the same number of strategic ones as the 2002 Moscow Treaty permitted.

New Start is also "missile defense-friendly," including America's research for new propulsion and delivery technologies able "to hit a target anywhere on earth in less than one hour" with nuclear or non-nuclear warheads. No "global strike" capabilities will be compromised. Nor are constraints placed on modernizing nuclear arms. What the Obama administration promotes as a plus, in fact, is continued proliferation of new generations of humanity-destroying weapons, while at the same time, enriching the nuclear weapons establishment.

His FY 2011 budget request included 10% more for nuclear weapons programs, and continued increases for the next five years. Last May, a budget commitment included $180 billion over the next 10 years for nuclear weapons and delivery systems. All along, "the nuclear weapons establishment played its usual double game," promoting Start while seeking greater financial commitments. By November, Obama promised billions of dollars of additional increases, including an "extraordinary commitment to ensure the modernization of our nuclear infrastructure."

Contrast the commitment to war making and nuclear weapons proliferation to promoting austerity in discretionary spending for vital homeland needs, including millions of households suffering from lost jobs, homes, savings and futures.

A new US Census report confirms it, saying nearly one-third of working families struggle to meet basic needs. From 2007 through 2009, low income households (earning less than 200% of the official threshold) increased from 28 - 30%. The report came days after congressionally approved tax cuts enriched corporations and America's aristocracy, giving chump change to struggling workers, facing austerity cuts in 2011.

Start and nuclear proliferation, however, get top priority to fuel the Pentagon's war machine, endangering global security and survival. Moreover, despite rhetoric, "prospects for significant reductions below proposed....levels (meaning current deployments) are at best highly debatable."

Couched in rhetorical deterrence, actual policy is escalation and dominance, combining the world's most powerful conventional forces with enough nuclear capability "to threaten everything from credible use of small numbers of nuclear weapons up to societal annihilation."

Without significant change, reductions will only be cosmetic, "leaving unaltered the fundamental danger" that a globally destructive force stays intact and improves by continued modernization. Further, other nuclear powers will be challenged to keep up, fueling a dangerous arms race, heightening even greater risks.

Shamefully, the "new START turns disarmament polices on its head with many" supportive groups, experts and pundits uncritically adopting the administration. Lacking, however, is any understanding of disarmament obstacles, costs or risks. For its part, the public is left entirely uninformed, hearing hype with no substance, including advocacy for urgent ratification of a treaty yielding no real change.

"(P)ropagandists for the powerful....dress up such deals as serving the 'national interest' " to enlist public support, omitting back room dealmaking to enrich the nuclear weapons establishment and other war profiteering interests. In this environment, chances for disarmament and non-proliferation are nil, especially with public ignorance and indifference not demanding it.

As a result, Lichterman argues "for turning disarmament work right side up," thinking not just about short term possibilities "in the halls of government in corrupt, bellicose, and heavily armed states," none truer on all counts than America. Longer-term efforts "can confront the institutions of the nuclear-military-industrial complex where we find them," and learning from "a half-century (of) concentrated, unaccountable power on our communities and natural world," seeking change to preserve societies and global survival. It remains endangered under new Start.

A Final Comment

For months, the Obama administration maintained a drumbeat of hype for new Start, including in a November 17 press release headlined, "Fact Sheet: An Enduring Commitment to the US Nuclear Deterrent," saying:

"President Obama has made an extraordinary commitment to ensure the modernization of our nuclear infrastructure...." Plans ahead including investing "over $85 billion over the next decade" for modernization and deterrence. In fact, over double that amount will be spent plus likely future add-ons. The press release mentions several programs with few details, bemoaning "America's aging nuclear complex and stockpile."

In a May 13 message to the Senate, Obama said:

"The Treaty will enhance the national security of the United States. It mandates mutual reductions and limitations of the world's largest nuclear arsenals. (It) promote(s) transparency and predictability in the strategic relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation," and will assure each side can verify the other.

As explained above, it represents old wine in new bottles, dressed up in rhetorical mumbo jumbo, suggesting changes that, in fact, leave everything virtually the same.

An earlier March 26 press release headlined, "Key Facts about the New START Treaty," covering:

  • "treaty structure;
  • strategic offensive reductions;
  • verification and transparency;
  • treaty terms; and
  • no constraints on missile defense and convention strike."

In fact, details provided obscured more than clarified new Start details, part of regular White House disinformation to keep public opinion uninformed and unaware that claimed changes are more hype than substance. Ahead for decades, global security will remain threatened, perhaps more so as sophisticated technologies and powerful new weapons are developed and deployed, including from space.

No matter. On December 22, the Senate voted 71 - 26 to pass Start, what The New York Times called Obama's "most tangible foreign policy achievement." Thirteen Republicans joined Democrat unanimity, exceeding the constitutionally required two-thirds majority.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 23, 2010.

 

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