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Nuclear Weapons, Fools, Folly, & The War Business

Nuclear Weapons, Fools, Folly, and The War Business

by Douglas Mattern

The existence of nuclear weapons presents a clear and present danger to life on Earth. Nuclear arms cannot bolster the security of any nation because they represent a threat to the security of the human race. These incredibly destructive weapons are an affront to our common humanity, and the tens of billions of dollars that are dedicated to their development and maintenance should be used instead to alleviate human need and suffering.
Oscar Arias, President of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Laureate

The United Nations is the one forum where the world, 192 nations, come together and consequently reveal their real policies and intentions. This occurred over the past month when, after much deliberation, all the nations in the UN General Assembly, where each nation has one vote, made their policies and objectives known on nuclear weapons and disarmament.

One resolution dealt with a critical issue that is basically unknown to most people although it could be catastrophic to this country and most of the world. Today at least 27,000 nuclear weapons are stockpiled worldwide, enough to vanquish civilization several times over. The U.S. and Russia possess about 95 percent of these weapons, and this includes several thousand strategic nuclear warheads that are continuous a hair-trigger alert, ready for a launch in a few minutes notice.

A report by the Rand Corporation think tank declared these weapons would destroy both countries in an hour. Such a doomsday scenario could result from an accidental missile launch, an early warning system error, or miscalculation. There have been many close calls to a nuclear war starting by accident over the years; therefore, to retain thousands of nuclear warheads on a hair-trigger alert, only minutes from launch, is criminal, if not utter madness.

Moreover, conditions are worsening with the Bush Administration planning to install missiles for the anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) in countries that border Russia. President Putin has responded with threats to aim Russian missiles at nations accepting U.S. missiles on their land. In addition, Russia is threatening to respond by building a new series of powerful missiles.

Recognizing this extreme danger to humanity, the UN General Assembly approved a resolution initiated by New Zealand that would lead to the removal of all nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert (high alert status). The recorded vote was 139 in favor and 3 against (U.S., UK, France) with 36 abstentions. China voted yes. Russia did not vote on this resolution. Document A/62/391

Working together with John Hallam of Nuclear Flashpoints in Australia, and Alyn Ware in New Zealand, International Consultant for the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy and the Disarmament, we produced a resolution calling for the removal of all nuclear warheads from hair trigger alert, and this resolution was endorsed by 44 of the world’s greatest minds, all Nobel Laureates, including eight Nobel Peace Laureates. This resolution was mentioned by several delegates during deliberations on this issue prior to the vote at the UN, but what is important to note is how the puny minds that are in political power refuse to listen or even acknowledge an appeal from the great minds than change and improve our lives and increase our knowledge. It's time we stop following fools and their folly and heed the wise and their vision for a better future.

At the UN, the worst offender casting a negative vote on a host of resolutions aimed at reducing the nuclear weapons danger, and the tragedy of modern weapons, was the United States delegation under what is surely the worst and most inept U.S. administration for at least the past 100 years, if not the entire history of this country.

Continuing with the voting at the UN, the General Assembly approved a resolution calling for a renewed determination toward achieving the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The recorded vote was 170 in favor and 3 against (U.S., UK, and France). Russia voted yes. China abstained. Document A/62/391.

The General Assembly approved a resolution calling for the prevention of an arms race in outer space. The recorded vote was 179 in favor and 1 against (U.S.) with 1 abstention (Israel). Document A/62/389.

The General Assembly approved a resolution on the potential harmful effects of the use of armaments and ammunitions containing depleted uranium on human health and the environment. The recorded vote was 136 in favor and 5 against (U.S., UK, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Israel) with 36 abstentions. Document A/62/391.

A resolution was approved for convening a Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament. The recorded vote was 178 in favor and 1 against (U.S.) with 1 abstention (Israel) . Document A/62/389

The General Assembly adopted a resolution stressing the vital importance and urgency of ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The recorded vote was 176 in favor and 1 against (U.S.) with 1 abstention (Israel). Document A/62/397

The General Assembly adopted a resolution on the relationship between disarmament and development. The recorded vote was 166 in favor and 1 against (U.S.) with 2 abstentions (France, Israel). Document A/62/391.

The General Assembly adopted a resolution for a nuclear-weapon-free world. The recorded vote was 156 in favor and 5 against (U.S., N. Korea, Israel, India, France. China voted yes. Russia abstained. Document A/62/391

President Kennedy said we must eliminate the weapons of war or they will eliminate us. This is a global problem with scores of countries producing and selling weapons that is turning our planet into one giant arsenal with the fuse growing shorter each year. The worst offender is the United States with an annual military budget that is nearly equal to military spending by the rest of the world combined. Moreover, the U.S. budget contains tens of billions of dollars every single year to develop and produce new weapons that guarantees a perpetual arms race and huge profits for the war industry.

There is simply no business like war business where the profits are so huge and the devastation so great.

The encouraging news is the voting pattern in the UN demonstrates the vast majority of countries want change with focus on transferring our resources from militarism to development and eliminating nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. Our responsibility is to work for this goal with an unyielding determination and an iron will, and to support only candidates that make a public campaign pledge to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons and for a world free from the scourge of war.


Douglas Mattern is President of the Association of World Citizens and author of LOOKING FOR SQUARE TWO - THE PATH TO THE FUTURE published by Jones Harvest Publishing.

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