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START Treaty is not a Step Toward Nuclear Disarmament

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  • In order to achieve this "deal," the media told us for months, Obama "had to agree" to tens of billions in new funds for "modernizing" the US nuclear armaments. Feel safer?
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  • There is no disarmament required by the treaty.  There is no indication that it is a "first step" toward "further" "disarmament."
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  • "New START" Ratification Likely End of Obama's "Disarmament Vision," and of Arms Control Era, as New Political Alignments, Fresh Crises Loom
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Greg Mello, Tikkun

What began as a business-as-usual replacement for a Cold War arms treaty, and then became a major legislative challenge for the Obama Administration, was finally ratified by the U.S. Senate today after unusually-involved negotiations with Senate Republicans.  New START is a force-affirmation treaty, designed to clarify, but not change or disarm, U.S. and Russian nuclear arms.  There is no disarmament required by the treaty.  There is no indication that it is a "first step" toward "further" "disarmament."  

These negotiations resulted in extensive commitments by the Administration to new spending and upgrades to U.S. strategic armaments, including nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons infrastructure, missile defense research, development, and deployments, and continued development of conventional global strike weapons -- much of which is applicable to nuclear delivery systems as well, being currently barred only by (mutable) law.   
Ultra-accurate submarine-launched ballistic missile delivery systems have already been developed (but not deployed) under this last program.  
The full cost of this treaty cannot yet be assessed, as not all the details of understandings reached have been made public, and the full import of some which have depends on future decisions and events.  Just this week, and on top of announcements of two major increases in nuclear weapons spending, President Obama promised four senators (including two Democrats) that nuclear weapons complex spending would be exempt from any future fiscal austerity measures that might otherwise apply to appropriations in the Energy and Water subcommittees.  The prior increases are posted here and analyzed here and elsewhere at www.lasg.org.  

The long struggle to ratify the treaty, and its huge final cost in the very coin of arms control which the treaty purports to advance, signals just how weak the Cold War arms control consensus has become.  Prospects for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), for example, appear nil for the foreseeable future.  The U.S. will ratify this treaty, if it does, only when its progressive ratification by other states has reached a point of embarrassment wholly incompatible with U.S. geostrategic ambitions.    

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The way forward for arms controllers is not clear.  Russia has made clear on numerous occasions that it has no intention of pursuing further nuclear cuts and has halted the financially-driven erosion of its nuclear forces.  With Russia now the world's largest oil producer and the supplier of a controlling fraction of natural gas to Europe -- a fraction that is expected to grow considerably in the coming years -- Russia is not the weak negotiating partner that it was during, say, the START II negotiations.  The reality of Russian power -- and U.S. weakness vis-a-vis military operations in the oil- and gas-rich regions south of Russia -- was not lost on Republican ratification opponents.  

While on their face most of the Republican objections to ratification appeared foolish and ill-informed, these objections also conveyed a deep unease about the future of American global power, which is hardly misplaced.  

The makeup of the incoming House and Senate (112th) is likely to be much more hostile to arms control than the (111th) Congress now concluding.  
Looking ahead, prospects for conventional arms control appear worse.  There are 23 Democratic Senate seats up for election in 2012, including 2 independents who caucus with the Democrats, compared to only 10 Republican seats.  In 2014 Democrats are currently expected to have 20 seats up for election, and Republicans 13, although obviously this could change.  For these and other reasons, prospects for conventional arms control measures appear bleak for the foreseeable future.  

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At the same time fresh and far more severe crises are looming, which, in their earliest manifestations, have already begun to capture Congress's (and voters') attention.   

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The implications for the New Mexico laboratories are complex.  As noted here, they will suffer from an unprecedented infusion of cash -- about six times the total scale of the Manhattan Project in New Mexico, measured in constant dollars.  But will this bring better morale, better science, better community relations, a more wholesome community in Los Alamos -- or even better stockpile management?  That is very far from assured.  The reverse, I think, is very likely true.  The best days of Los Alamos are in the past, and if the day ever dawns when excavation begins on the giant plutonium complex slated to cost a factor of ten more any federal or state project ever conceived for New Mexico, save the Interstate Highways, it will be a dark day.  

As Robert Oppenheimer put it on the 16th of October, 1945, "If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima. The people must unite, or they will perish."

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Now we know that it may or not be atomic weaponry which kills them, but rather the distraction they have brought, and misprioritization of scarce resources they incur.  Today's treaty ratification is not an occasion of joy for the world, but rather a somber warning of the failure of our political system to understand and defend against the true dangers we face.

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Special Report | VFP-led DC Peace Action

Who Will Listen to the Voices of Veterans Calling for Peace?

5 Items including:

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  • 131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars"
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  • Bitter Memories of War on the Way to Jail
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

At a time when corporations are buying up elections – not to mention the 24-hour-news cycle – help ensure that a source for truly independent journalism lives on. Support Evergreene Digest  today by using the donation button in the above right-hand corner.

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Mike Keefe

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131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars", BorderExplorer, All Voices
Civil Resistance to war today (Thursday, Dec 16) at the White House fence leads to 131 arrests.

Bitter Memories of War on the Way to Jail, Chris Hedges, TruthDig

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  • What can I tell you about war?
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  • 131 Choose Arrest at White House as Veteran-led Civil Resistance Demands: "Stop These Wars"
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Who Will Listen to the Voices of Veterans Calling for Peace? Hannah Lythe, Sojourners/God's Politics
How many more voices will it take for President Obama, his administration, and military officials to understand that it is time to leave this war and appropriate non-militarized solutions?

‘Hope Is Action’: Hedges and Ellsberg Arrested at White House Protest, TruthDig

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  • Ellsberg said, "This war is going to end only because the American public has awakened to their responsibilities and to the realities of this war.” The “big lie” that the American government is telling its people now, Ellsberg believes, “is that these wars are protecting us at home.”
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  • No Act of Rebellion Is Wasted
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17 Minnesotans participated in the Vets “Stand for Peace” Coleen Rowley, Evergreene Digest

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  • Steve McKeon*, Jack Neis*, Gerald Ganann*, Barry Riesch*, Coleen Rowley*, Melissa Hill*, Janice Ward*, Camille Lenling*, Molly Culligan, Bruce Berry, Bob Heberle, Bob Palmer, Charlie Bloss, Anne Bellamy, Kevin Ray Smith, Toni Radmann, Wayne Wittman
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  • 8 (*) did the Rosa Parks thing of following a higher law which got them arrested
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Daniel Ellsberg: Julian Assange Is Not a Terrorist

"Assange and Bradley Manning are no more terrorists than I am."

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!/Reader Supported News

If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will remain in a London prison until a British court takes up a Swedish request for extradition for questioning on sexual crime allegations. An international group of former intelligence officers and ex-government officials have released a statement in support of Assange. We speak to one of the signatories, Daniel Ellsberg, the famous whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War in 1971. "If I released the Pentagon Papers today, the same rhetoric and the same calls would be made about me," Ellsberg says. "I would be called not only a traitor—which I was then, which was false and slanderous—but I would be called a terrorist... Assange and Bradley Manning are no more terrorists than I am." [includes rush transcript]

More...

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Summary | The Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq: Week of December 12

3 New Items including:

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  • Fake Taliban Leader, Fake Elections, Fake Deadline, Real Trouble
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  • New Afghan War Plans Could Cost US Taxpayers an Extra $125 Billion
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

Mike Keefe

New Afghan War Plans Could Cost US Taxpayers an Extra $125 Billion, Ben Arnoldy, Christian Science Monitor

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  • US war planners have been signaling that troop withdrawals set to begin in 2011 will be mostly symbolic and that the handover to Afghan forces in 2014 is “aspirational.”
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  • A Shift in US Deadlines
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  • Higher war costs could hurt the base defense budget [and] the rest of the discretionary budget.
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Fake Taliban Leader, Fake Elections, Fake Deadline, Real Trouble, Dennis J. Kucinich, truthout

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  • Afghanistan War, Nightmare without End for Troops, Innocent Civilians and US Taxpayers
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  • Truthout Editor's Note: This is taken from a press release from Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a leading voice for peace in congress.
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War News Unfit for Print, Andrew Oxford, In These Times

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  • Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs revelations are clearer outside the United States.
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  • 'There is much less of a focus on the aspects of the leaks that make the U.S. look bad,' says Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).
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  • Wikileaks Exposes Complicity of the (US) Press
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Section(s): 

Special Report | Wikileaks II

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We should understand - and the Pentagon Papers is another case in point - that one of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population.

4 Items including:

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  • The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange
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  • The WikiLeaks Cables And U.S. Foreign Policy
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David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest

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Paresh Nath

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The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange, David Samuels, Atlantic

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  • The truly scandalous and shocking response to the Wikileaks documents has been that of other journalists, who make the Obama Administration sound like the ACLU.
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  • From Jefferson to Assange
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From Jefferson to Assange, Robert Scheer, Huffington Post
It is outrageous for any journalist, or respecter of what every American president has claimed is our inalienable, God-given right to a free press, not to join in Assange's defense on the WikiLeaks issue.

War News Unfit for Print, Andrew Oxford, In These Times

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  • Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs revelations are clearer outside the United States.
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  • 'There is much less of a focus on the aspects of the leaks that make the U.S. look bad,' says Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).
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  • Wikileaks Exposes Complicity of the (US) Press
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The WikiLeaks Cables And U.S. Foreign Policy, The Progress Report, Think Progress

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  • WikiLeaks' Julian Assange insisted that his website was "an organization that tries to make the world more civil and act against abusive organizations that are pushing it in the opposite direction."
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  • Special Report | Wikileaks
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