Like obscene profits from great fraud or theft, “wonder weapons” of mass destruction, to which the atomic bomb certainly belongs, have their origins in the inability and unwillingness to accept the equality and dignity of one’s opponents/ competitors (never mind whether one’s cause/product is legitimate).
The ambivalence of the US position during WWII — the discrepancy which became apparent after 1945 between the stated and unstated policies — allowed and even promoted the mythic justification for US atomic bombing.
When I first moved to Germany more than thirty years ago, I was appalled at the insensitivity — to put it mildly — in US policy with the deployment of the Pershings. Placing new medium-ranged missiles in Germany at that time caused vocal opposition even among those whose anti-communist credentials (no virtue in my book, but for the “alliance” at least acceptable opposition) were undisputed. However, there was no evidence that anyone (in the US) was willing to grasp that the reply to Pershings would not be ICBMs but more probably Soviet medium-ranged delivery vehicles to Germany! The general US response was that Germany should appreciate the “protection” it was getting from the US. The fact that these missiles were a threat to Germany and the Soviet Union but not to the US was simply disregarded (as is the stationing of missiles on Russia’s borders today.)
The US has the largest gratuitous war machine on the planet. Whatever its claims, as the only belligerent in the past century’s two world wars not to suffer any destruction to its national territory (colonies aside), it can safely be said that it is the only country for whom war is exclusively business. As Smedley Butler said, war is a racket!
“Fire and Fury”: Who should be feared more? Macduff or Macbeth?
The recent threats to Korea — addressed to the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea — are ultimately “business” policies. That is why they are so difficult to challenge effectively. Mr Trump is not making statements which originate in any actual threat or the imperative of a response to such. He is driven by policy objectives that simply are not subject to open discussion let alone democratic process (like most business policy).
Bruce Cumings’ detailed study, The Origins of the Korean War, upon which I have repeatedly drawn in previous attempts to explain US regime policy not only in Asia, shows just how difficult it is to ascertain the underlying policies and interests driving US regime behavior when the war against Korea began. One is forced to infer, interpolate, extract conclusions from information the coherence and relevance of which to public policy is never openly admitted. This leaves what little potential for public — democratic — intervention seriously inhibited.
It is of little help to arrive at the legitimate system level analysis and say that it is American capitalism — a particularly virulent strain of that ideology — which drives US belligerence. This does not tell anyone how to stop particular instances of egregious violence.
One point in all this is that the US policy of non-proliferation is so obviously one directed solely at those countries not utterly allied or subservient to it. (Here it is important that the US allies perceived as “white” are allowed to have atomic bombs and delivery vehicles.) But beyond that, the NPT was also an agreement to reduce and eliminate all atomic weapons — an objective with which the US regime has never materially complied — in fact, quite the opposite. Such threats against Korea — conventional bombing capacity notwithstanding — are clearly only possible because the policy of first strike and super atomic superiority (including the enormous profits this earns for those who run the industry) have never been seriously challenged, revised or abandoned.
There is no doubt, in fact, if not in rhetoric, that the US is led by some of the most spiteful people on the planet for whom gratuitous violence is not only foreign policy, but domestic and cultural obsession. “White rage” and its attendant “lynch justice” are firmly entrenched elements of American culture, not just among the elite. Here in Portugal almost every public venue has a television screen. A friend of mine has several cable channels running in his restaurant– mostly fueled with American product. Since I do not have a television and have not had one for almost thirty years I “miss a lot”.
The TV/cable/cinema programming comprises entirely allusions to libertinism (music videos) or high tech mass violence (so-called crime drama and the endless supply of films and series with highly organised state violence, usually against people in the target countries of US policy). The worst we had when I was growing up was re-runs of WWII propaganda films, Aaron Spelling/Jack Webb Los Angeles police soaps and Hoover’s FBI propaganda. Looking back that seems all incredibly harmless.
Who produces this stuff — with the enormous support from DOD et al?
As I just argued albeit tongue in cheek, the atomic power of the President is not as easy to measure as it seems. In fact, the President — whether Truman or Trump — executes policy but does not really make it. Today no serious scholar can deny that Truman’s decision was prepared for his approval. In fact, everything was done to minimize the possibility that he would deny it. I believe we have to see Trump in the same capacity. Truman is formally responsible for the mass murder in Hiroshima and Nagasaki because the law and Constitution assign that responsibility to him and because he lacked the moral fortitude to refuse mass murder, like many before him. But he did not create the weapon or order its creation nor did he start the war in which it was used.
Donald Trump has always had an inflammatory style — even when he was only a NY real estate mogul. That is nothing new. So now he is President his style is not going to change. There is something actually comical about Trump’s appearances. Who remembers Reagan’s off the cuff “joke” about bombing the Soviet Union? These are not accidents. They express the contempt which all Presidents ex officio have for the targets of their atomic bombs. Who now remembers anything Georges Bush said during their respective terms in office? Every US president has had his style of presenting the wantonly murderous capacity of the US war machine. This is also nothing new.
One has to ask two questions, one historical and the other contemporary.
Historically: It must be asked how and why under the Obama reign the largest increase in the US atomic arsenal since 1989 was performed? Mr Trump came into office with vastly more lethality because of actions taken over the previous eight years approved by his predecessor and the heiress apparent-pretender.
Contemporary: second question is really two. What and above all who is driving this policy? Who or what is their target?
I believe that there are no countries besides the US and Israel (which are for all intents and purposes one country) that seriously contemplate first strikes with atomic weapons. I also believe that the few sane people in the policy-making venues of the US regime know this — just as George Kennan knew it when he wrote his mendacious “X” article and Dean Acheson knew it too. This leaves us with two simple non-exclusive explanations for the present situation.
Enhancing deniability and lethality
One — the atomic bomb system is a perpetual motion machine for those who own it like DuPont inter alia. There is simply too much money to be made to ever willingly stop producing these weapons that no sane person would ever employ at the strategic level. However, there has been, it would seem, enormous progress in miniaturisation of atomic weapons — including depleted uranium or enhanced radiation — opening the possibility to genuinely “micro-nuke” US competitors.
I am convinced this was already tested against China. The point is that deniable atomic attacks have been on the drawing board for at least twenty years. Hollywood not only propagates fantasy but illustrates the nascent agenda of the national security state. The US generally accuses others of doing what it is, in fact, doing (e.g. brainwashing and germ warfare). So we have been saturated with films and other stories about micronukes in various forms in the hands of criminals (the illegal half of the Business community). Everyone outside the US generally knows more about US policy than the American public and as Cumings indicated in his Korea research the PDRK knew and paid more careful attention to US policy before the US war against Korea started than any reputable people in the US itself. They were not surprised like the average American — who is hermetically isolated from unpleasant reality.
In short, Trump may simply be echoing what has been apparent in the boardrooms of the US regime for the past fifteen years:
We have approached the level of atomic weapons development where we can deliver atomic devastation in ways that only experts will be able to verify. We will be able to graduate the use of our most powerful weapons in such a way that no one will be able to justify retaliation and so this option will disappear.
This is, in fact, the continuation of the policy of limited war — which was so far successful because only those who actually fought, were wounded or died, have any testimony to the fact that the US has been at war without interruption since 1945. So there is first the huge business in atomic weapons which needs targets to justify its existence. Trump is just keeping the public aware of targets so that the business continues unabated.
On one hand there is the imperative to have atomic threats to justify atomic weapons. If the only threats to US “security” came from Serbia or Samoa, this would not be very convincing and it is part of the US system that virtual unanimity for policy must be manufactured. That is about the only way to maintain the appearance of a democracy — aside from annual introduction of a “new” formula of Coca Cola or more massive versions of the terminally mediocre Microsoft products.
On the other hand, the US business elite cannot afford all out war with anyone who has the capacity to defend themselves. (Aside from the fact that the US military is only capable of “winning” aggressive war against the defenseless, like Grenada or Panama.) Yet economic domination of the world has been the number one mission of US policy since 1945. Now China (where there are many US factories) and the alliance with Russia (which under Putin seems to have resisted the continuation of the Kissinger policy of playing China and Russia against each other) can actually challenge US dominion. So the strategic issue is again (!) how to control China but not lose the economic advantages of producing there at high profit to feed US consumers.
Two: Asymetric war — as the new jargon likes to call the GWOT — is not really about the US against little “rogue states” or “state aspirants”. It is the US doctrine of “limited war” revised to include the new generation of micro-atomic weapons. The aim of asymetric war is to wage a tactically brutal assault against a US adversary/competitor which is apparently too small to allow a response that would a) threaten the US, in fact, or b) expose the US as the aggressor. Thus any response by the target would have to be (appear to the international public as) vastly disproportionate. Thus deterrence takes the old meaning from school days. The bully hits when no one is looking and knows that the counterblow comes just when the teacher is watching.
This is the kind of blackmail that all the films from Hollywood show — not because there are some “rogue criminal elements” waiting to act — but because this is the US policy for which the public has to be prepared. Just like they were prepared for the WTC destruction. Most people I know reacted the same as I did to the first images on TV — we thought this was a scene from one of those perennial Hollywood-NY disaster films.
(In fact, it was filmed by crews in place before the event so that all the work was done like Hollywood would have done it in the studio.) We have been watching US policy in preparation for the past twenty years. But for most people — including many from whom one would expect more sense — it was only decided in January of 2017.
Does this offer any options for ending the crisis? Not immediately. It does tell us, however, that Trump is not the crisis. Moreover his removal from office will not alter a policy he did not make. Even the obvious questions like “what about Mr Pence?” are not asked. If the crazies (i.e. those who believe that Trump must go at all costs) were actually to force the dismissal or resignation of Donald Trump, they would then have Mr Pence as President. The administration would not change at all. (Ronald Reagan actually covered the first Bush presidency. Although Alexander Haig may have thought he was president for a few hours– which says more about what actually happens in the White House than anything we read in the organs of the Business Party. The Bush dynasty began in 1980 and has more or less continued to this day.)
It’s the Open Door that lets all the (F)lies in…
It should tell the sane, educated and those with some access to public opinion shaping institutions that the driving force of the atomic industry and those who finance it has grown enormously, not declined and that this industry, not the POTUS, is driving the war machine. So if there are any systemic interventions possible, they must be aimed at closing down the atomic bomb industry entirely. To do this it is necessary to honestly identify the people in that industry, its producing, financing, and beneficiary members natural and corporate. After 1945, certain corporations were dissolved in Germany on the premise that they were criminal conspiracies. Notwithstanding the deception and circumvention — this was public policy. That means there are precedents for dealing not only with natural criminals but with their corporate shells. In fact, the so-called RICO Act is US law. Imagine General Butler defined war as a “racket”. Taking this literally all enterprises engaged in the war “industry” are “racketeers” in the meaning of the act…
It should also tell those same people that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way Asian policy is made and the policies themselves. Cumings’ book Dominion from Sea to Sea comes very close to stating the problem in its historical essence and showing why it is almost impossible to counter US policy: namely, it enjoys a centuries old consensus among the elite and one manufactured for just about a century now for everyone else. There has been no change in the fundamentals driving it — of which most people are only subliminally aware. Nothing — even on the so-called Left — has been or is being done on a meaninful scale to revise the view of the United States of America as “god’s gift to humanity”. As long as the vast bulk of the US population (and certainly almost all “whites” who also think Jesus God is just like them — even if they do not believe in either) is convinced that they live in God’s country they can be forgiven for thinking like Harry Truman, that the atomic bomb was god’s gift to them.
In all this lies one very serious core problem — the US is an empire and there are no empires which have voluntarily surrendered their claims to power and expansion.
If my assertion about the state of ordnance and doctrine is correct — and I have every reason to believe it is — then Korea is reacting to knowledge and awareness of this policy by extroverted means. China, on the other hand, is responding introvertedly. They see the difficulty of confronting this enhanced deniability. They also do not want to provide more fuel to inflame the US lynching party. And behind the scenes the instruments of covert power are supporting whatever business objectives may best be served by this enhanced bellicosity.
Of course, I write “it should tell the sane…” If by that one means those who publish the leading organs of official opinion and that which is “fit to print” if in support of same, then there is not much reason to expect a sane response. In these venues it is not the policy which is in dispute but the sociability among the factions. One cannot expect any efforts to reorganize and reorient leading opinion (the rest of opinion does not matter anyway).
So currently the only limitations on US policy and action will come from abroad in the form of challenges that the regime is unable to suppress or where they are unable to prevail. There are indications that China and Russia are, in fact, capable of sustaining such challenges. The US regime may be losing its international diplomacy campaign with Trump — which will probably be the only factor in a potential dismissal. He is obviously trying to counter that with obsequity toward the centres of bureaucratic power — the CIA and the Pentagon (and those who own these two bureaucracies).
It is apparent to anyone outside the US that the regime has no alternative to imperialism — it has cannibalised its entire economy to maintain its “open door” (if necessary by means of a solid kick with a “standard issue”) empire. Even the US cannot live by marketing alone. It has been reduced more or less to its origins, a country ruled by traffickers in drugs, arms, contraband, bonded labour, and stolen goods — whose claim to trade is based on the imposition of the USD. Unfortunately this empire has simply more destructive power (and the nihilism to exercise it) than any previous empire of such longevity. So unless the US regime is disarmed by its population (now it seems pretty much the other way around), we will just have to watch the carnage continue. The Open Door will continue to let the flies in and there will be plenty of dead flesh upon which their larvae will feed.