BY JOSEPH H. CARTER SR.
“Why must the exclusive ‘nuclear club’ maintain a stockpile of 20,000 or so atomic and hydrogen bombs?”
Neither Dr. Davis nor students volunteered an answer. I was uplifted when exactly one year later Barack Obama was elected under an illusion that as president he would rid the planet of these bombs. Why not? At the dawn of the nuclear age, even Albert Einstein warned of the “unparalleled disaster” if they all started popping.
In office, the Democratic president moved courageously and effectively. Thirteen countries eliminated their stockpiles and 15 more disposed of some of their bombs.
What about the U.S.? Well, folks, Obama met Republicans, Tea Party and neo-conservatives. These “patriots” demanded that, in return for Senate ratification of the “New Start” arms control treaty with Russia, that Obama would spend $84 billion upgrading the U.S. arsenal instead of the $70 billion-a-year that was in the budget he inherited from President George W. Bush. The budget to upgrade the nuclear arsenal would total $355 billion in a decade.
Among the powerful neo-conservatives in Washington, there is a more ambitious trillion-dollar dream of a dozen new missile submarines, maybe 100 new bombers, 400 additional land-based missiles and upgrades for eight major laboratories and bomb-building plants.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma, its entire Congressional delegation is in the pocket of the ultra-right war hawks. And, at the state level, the Republican governor declines to spend ample money to even build tornado shelters. The idea of bomb shelters that glowed across America during the perilous 1960s is a forgotten topic.
Recently, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists riddled my claim about the “nuclear club” being exclusive. Nuclear weapons are cocked to blow in 98 sites in 14 countries, the scientists say, with 25 countries owning ample raw materials to build a weapon.
While noting that most of the fission bombs are in Russia and the United States, the scientists warn that many of the sites are vulnerable to terrorists. And, as the situation looks now to me, President Putin himself acts like a “terrorist.”
In this context, moreover you may ask, why does it matter if Iran gains ample resources for a bomb? Israel, that owns a nuclear stockpile of its own, is terrified by the specter of Iran making an atomic bomb.
Students at Wales should not worry so much now as in 2007 when I leveled my warning. It happens that my “20,000 or so” nuclear bombs estimate was overstated. The scientists say the number now is a mere 16,300 hydrogen and atomic beauties available to snuff out all life on Planet Earth.
Or as Nobel Prize winner Ira Helfand of the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War said: “A tiny fraction of the current American arsenal would cause catastrophic global climate change and famine that would have disastrous effects here in the United States as well as the rest of the world.”
Then, Dr. Helfand asks: “Do we see ourselves as a nation of suicide bombers?”
Better those voters ask for the views of those candidates for Congress and the U.S. Senate who will be voting on the issues. Oh, shucks, you already know how the Republicans will vote.
Therefore, you folks around awesome Tinker Air Force base that surely is a programmed target of a few bomb owning nations: sleep tight. And Oklahoma voters continue to elect hawks dedicated to blocking President Obama’s nuclear disarmament efforts. If even half of those available nuclear bombs explode, there will be no more pesky debates.
— Joseph H. Carter Sr., a frequent contributor to The Oklahoma Observer, is a former White House and Congressional aide who held top-secret clearance but, like Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, poses no specific expertise on the issues of nuclear disarmament.