April 10, 2000
Subject: A brief comment on the "Fail Safe" movie premiered tonight (April 4, 2000) on CBS in their first national live program from coast to coast in 39 years
I'd like to say a few words about the hauntingly scary movie "Fail Safe" I just saw on TV. Twenty millions Americans were expected to watch this movie which depicts the harrowing tale of a nuclear safety system that was supposed to be "fail safe" in preventing an accidental nuclear assault during the tense years following the discovery of the hydrogen bomb and the escalating arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 50's. Although some could fault the scenario as highly exagerating the risks of an accidental onslaught of the nuclear monster we, humans, have created, this black and white movie nevertheless drives home the still existing possibility that despite all precautionary measures taken to prevent an accidental nuclear war, this mother of all exterminations can still be unleashed at very short notice with hardly anything that can be done to undo the unthinkable once the missiles have been launched.
Recently CBS also premiered an excellent documentary featuring the American and Russian generals who had the control over their respective nuclear arsenal as they were touring each other's central command posts and weaponry system in a secret effort, at the time (in 1998), to lower the risks of a nuclear war -- see more on this below.
But it's not just the Russian and American nuclear arsenals that are suspended above our heads like 6,000 Swords of Damocles. These horrific weapons of mass destruction are also in the hands of England, France, China, Israel, Pakistan, India and North Corea as listed at the end of the Fail Safe movie. Nuclear proliferation, which seemed for a long time to be only a remote possibility, is now very real and it is there to haunt us for a very long time unless there is a real global awakening and realization that we simply can no longer take the risk of a nuclear holocaust, accidental or intended. As the U.S. President rightly said towards the end of the movie, man built these weapons and man is responsible for whatever happens because of them.
Some will say that it will take a real miracle to rid the world of these terrible, insane bombs and all other weapons of mass destruction. I say it is within our power to accomplish just such a miracle. Driven by fear and pride, governments have built the most formidable war machine that has ever existed on the face of the Earth for the sole purpose of imposing their will and domination over other so-called "enemies". Some of the best minds of our planet and humongous amounts of money have been marshalled in this continuing effort to claim the highest ground and project the military might necessary to bully everyone else into submission. "We live in a dangerous world and if you are not stronger than your adversaries, you risk being run over by them" has always been the mantra of all those blindly perpetuating the arms race that began when for the first time one naked prehistoric man raised his arm to kill another man with a club.
Isn't it time that we snap out of this collective trance? Isn't it high time that we discover that despite our differences, we are all brothers and sisters in the One great human family? Isn't it at long last time that we refocus our ingenuity and resources to save our home planet from environmental havoc before we pass the point of no return in our headlong rush towards ecological oblivion in the name of economic progress?
We can create a paradise of beauty and harmony for all living, sentient beings on Earth, but all we seem able to do is to be hellbent on pursuing the very policies and ways of life that are responsible for the pollution of the air, land and water and the wholesale destruction of the forests and irreplaceable biodiversity on which our very future as a species depends.
There are so many aspects of ourselves and our actions that need to be re-examined at the light of what we know today and yet, we hear very few voices, especially in the mainstream media that hold so much power to sway world public opinion one way or another, demanding the shifts in policies and priorities that can best lead us towards a world of peace, justice and environmental sanity.
I hope and pray that the example set by CBS, amongst others, in producing and/or broadcasting more and more programs about the things and issues that really matter for our common future will be followed by ever more media until the clamor for change and peace becomes so deafening and compelling as to shatter the obstacles still preventing the *miracle* from occuring and thus allow for a new earth and a new humanity to be born out of the ashes of millennia of war and our oh! so painfully slow learning experiences.
The future we shall reap is being created right now...
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
Reference material mentioned above:
Here is what can partly be found at: http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,158208-412,00.shtml
The Missiliers - Is The Cold War Really Over?
60 Minutes II Presents Exclusive Report
Features Those With Fingers On Nuclear Trigger
Here is a relevant quote:
"The Cold War was a unique war," says Eugene Habiger, a retired four-star general who has a great deal of experience with that conflict. He began his career 40 years ago as a B-52 pilot and served on the frontlines of America's nuclear forces until he retired a year and a half ago.
"When the war ended, the loser didn't really lose. We still had this massive military might on both sides staring each other in the face," he says.
Both sides still have the capacity to destroy the planet, Habiger says. When the Cold War ended, America and Russia agreed to cut in half their arsenals of 12,000 nuclear weapons. But soon enough, relations with Russia began to disintegrate, and no further reductions were authorized.
This dismayed Habinger, who in 1996 was put in charge of the United States' nuclear missiles. Four years ago both sides had about 6,000 nuclear warheads each, he says. Since then, there have been no decreases. "The fact that we have not been able to get down to lower and lower levels of nuclear weapons is troubling to me," he says.
and from http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,158212-412,00.shtml you also find this:
"A Top-Secret Exchange Program - U.S. Generals Visit Russian Command
Russian Counterparts Go To U.S. Silos -Will Tensions Lessen?"
which I prefer to quote entirely below because very few people seems to be aware of the reasons why the U.S. and Russia have not succeeded in a long time now to actually lower the number of nuclear weapons aimed at each other - at all of us on Earth *really* for any full scale nuclear war would inevitably create a 3-year long nuclear winter that would freeze to death all remaining life on Earth...
"I'm going to put you in my chair just as you put me in your chair. And I give you the same warning: Please do not touch anything." American General Eugene Habiger to Russia's nuclear commander Russian General Yakovlev tours the U.S. nuclear nerve center.
A Top-Secret Exchange Program U.S. Generals Visit Russian Command Russian Counterparts Go To U.S. Silos Will Tensions Lessen?
(CBS) On March 15, 1998, a top-secret flight arrived at America's nuclear command center in Omaha, Neb. A month earlier, Boris Yeltsin had threatened World War III if President Clinton bombed Iraq.
The head of the U.S. nuclear forces, four-star general Eugene Habiger, had begun a different brand of secret diplomacy; he had brought Russia's nuclear commander, General Yakovlev, into America's nuclear war room. 60 Minutes II Producer George Crile was watching. The scene was extraordinary. "Welcome to my command center," Habiger told Yakovlev.
"This is where we would convene in the event of a crisis. I think you will agree it's very much like yours," he continued. "I'm going to put you in my chair just as you put me in your chair. And I give you the same warning: Please do not touch anything." Both men laughed.
Habiger then took his visitor to the Air Room, where the targets in Russia are chosen. There were no restrictions, Habiger says: "I felt like there are nine commanders in chief in the United States' military structure; we're big boys. If we can't figure out what we can say, and what we can't say, maybe we have no business being in that job."
Habiger also showed Yakovlev the "TACAMO" plane, an elaborate flying command post, built to direct the final battle, even if America has already been decimated. TACAMO stands for take charge and move out.
The crew of TACAMO prepares for the final battle every single day, as if it might happen at any moment. "Right out of high school, 18 years old, the first question right before I started my job is 'Do you have a problem launching a nuclear-loaded aircraft that could cause the destruction of the world?'" remembers one crewman. "I said, 'No sir.'"
For five days General Habiger led General Yakovlev on a sweep across the country, from the missile fields of Nebraska and Wyoming to the ballistic submarine base in Washington state - even to the NORAD Early Warning Command in Cheyenne Mountain, Colo., where the nerve center of America's nuclear empire is built deep into a mountain.
Why show the Russian everything? To gain his trust and to remind him that America's Cold War fighting machine is in good working order. The specific objective was to persuade the Russian legislature to ratify a nuclear arms reduction treaty.
The Start Arms Reduction Treaty II, which would reduce warheads to 3,000 to 3,500 per side, was signed by President Bush and Yeltsin in 1993. But five years later, in 1998, the Russian Duma had not yet ratified the treaty. With a vote due to come up, the Russian and American military leaders decided to try to help the process along.
That treaty would eliminate America's most lethal weapon: the Peacekeeper. Each Peacekeeper has 10 warheads and is 20 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
Says Habiger, who retired a year and a half ago: "We have reached the point where the senior military generals responsible for nuclear forces are advocating, more vocally, more vehemently, than our politicians, to get down to lower and lower weapons."
By the end of the tour, that mission seemed to be accomplished. At a farewell celebration, Yakovlev said that he now would be able to make a case for the passage of the missile reduction treaty.
Two months after that tour, the Russian commander gave Habiger a look at Russia's nuclear empire. The tour started in distinct Russian style with vodka toasts. Across the vast expanse of Russia, General Habiger saw the weapons built with America in mind: a Typhoon ballistic submarine able to take out a continent in less than an hour; a train, with hidden missiles, capable of launching 30 warheads on the move; and a massive nuclear warhead storage facility.
Habiger also saw General Yakovlov's secret underground war room on the edge of Moscow. The Russians did a drill to show Habiger their mobile Topol launch system. "To see those missiles come out, I'll tell you, that ran chills up and down my back," he remembers.
At the end of the tour, Habiger challenged the Russians to engage in an old bomber pilot ritual - as if they were all members of the same fraternity. The ingredients? A raw egg and a bottle of Jeremiah Weed bourbon. "When you complete this ritual, you will be a warrior, on a higher level," Habiger told his erstwhile enemies.
Habiger brought along his heir apparent, Admiral Richard Miese, to participate in the bonding experience with the Russians. Says Habiger: "It's confidence building, and how do you build confidence? You build friendship. When you build confidence, good things happen."
The goal of all this good feeling never came to pass, however.
On Dec. 16, 1998, the United States bombed Iraq. The attacks came three days before the Russian parliament was to vote on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II. Once again, the treaty was expected to pass.
But because of the bombing, the treaty was shelved. And in the months that followed, U.S.-Russian relations went from bad to worse as NATO, with Washington leading the way, expanded by adding three former Eastern European countries to its ranks.
Habiger says that these moves confused his new friends. "The Russians continue to shake their heads," he says. "They would ask me, 'Now let me get this right, NATO is a Cold War organization? The Cold War's over. Why in the world do you still have NATO?' I didn't have a very good answer for them."
"We're doing a heck of a lot of harm to the Russians - or with the Russians - by continuing to poke this NATO stick in their eye," says Habiger.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II came up for another vote in the Russian parliament on March 16, 1999. Once again, it didn't pass. The night before the vote, NATO began bombing Kosovo. Had that not happened, the treaty would probably have passed, Habiger says.
Shortly after the war in Kosovo began, General Yakovlev deployed 10 new Topol missiles and mounted the largest nuclear exercise since the end of the Cold War.
At the same time, the Russian missilers were ordered to break all contact with their American friends. Habiger says that he is worried.
"It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that when you shut off that kind of a relationship, you're going down a path that's not pleasant," Habiger says. "And (it's) not conducive to progress."
IT IS ALSO RECOMMENDED TO LOOK AT: http://www.brook.edu/FP/PROJECTS/NUCWCOST/WEAPONS.HTM
The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project
Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940
Here is a relevant quote:
"It took four years of sifting through government records, many of them previously classified, and doing rigorous analysis to come up with the bottom line: $5.5 trillion dollars. If future cleanup, stockpiling and dismantlement is included, that rises to $5.8 trillion. Even with the Cold War over, the United States is spending $35 billion a year14 percent of the defense budget, or $96 million a dayon nuclear efforts of which about $25 billion goes for operation and maintenance of the nuclear arsenal. The rest is spent on cleanup, arms control verification, and ballistic missile defense research.
Even by government standards, that's a lot of money. Schwartz pointed out, and the media conveyed, the fact that this "exceeded the combined total federal spending on education, training, employment, and social services; agriculture; natural resources and the environment; general science and space research; community and regional development (including disaster relief); law enforcement; and energy production and regulation."
And from: http://www.brook.edu/FP/PROJECTS/NUCWCOST/DELIVERY.HTM
The U.S. Nuclear Weapons Cost Study Project
What Nuclear Weapons Delivery Systems Really Cost
- All figures in constant 1996 dollars -
The following figures include research, development, testing and evaluation (RDT&E), and procurement costs and exclude operations, support, training, post-deployment upgrades or conversions, construction, and personnel costs. Warhead and bomb costs are rough averages only based on total research, development, testing and production costs during the Cold War; actual costs are classified.
B-52H Stratofortress bomber $42.9 million each
up to 20 Air-Launched Cruise Missiles (incl. W80-1 warheads) ~$8.4 million each
or up to 20 Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missiles ~$3.8 million each
or up to 20 Advanced Cruise Missiles (incl. W80-1 warheads) ~$16.3 million each
or up to 20 nuclear gravity bombs (B61-7, B61-11, B83) ~$4.9 million each
Subtotal armament ~$76-$326 million
Total ~$119-$369 million each
B-2A Spirit bomber $2.6 billion each
up to 16 gravity bombs (B61-7, B61-11, B83, single type or combination) ~$4.9 million each
or up to 80 Mk. 82 500-pound bombs (conventional)
or up to 16 Mk. 84 2000-pound bombs (conventional)
or up to 16 GBU-36 (Global Positioning System Aided Munition) 2000-pound bombs (conventional)
Subtotal armament (nuclear only) ~$78 million
Total ~$2.7 billion each
Minuteman III missile $33.5 million each
3 W62 170 kiloton warheads
or 3 W78 335 kiloton warheads
Subtotal armament ~$15 million
Total ~$48.5 million each
MX/Peacekeeper missile $189.4 million each
10 W87 300 kiloton warheads
Subtotal armament ~$49 million
Total ~$238 million each
Ohio-class Trident submarine ~$1.9 billion each
Trident I/C-4 missile
(24 per submarine, including 5 W76 100 kiloton warheads per missile) ~$61.9 million each
or Trident II/D-5 missile (24 per submarine, including 5 W76 100 kiloton warheads per missile or 5 W88 475 kiloton warheads per missile) ~$89.7 million each
Subtotal armament ~$1.5-2.2 billion
Total ~$3.4-4.1 billion each