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Saturday 6 September 2014

Our world is governed by nuclear terrorists

"Civil society and popular movements must start to act", yes, and I am willing to spread this message, but as long as the question of European nuclear disarmament is not high on our agenda, our "Peace in Europe" action will be groping in the dark and our future will be decided by the great powers and big corporations. And the Ukrainian crisis will continue to escalate into a new "Cold War", and the world will continue to drift towards a "Hot War" in which nuclear weapons will be used.

1.

A senior analyst of US-Russian relations, prof. Stehen F. Cohen, recently stated (here comes four full paragraphs of quotation):

"Ukraine is linked to Russia not only in terms of being Russias essential security zone, but its linked conjugally, so to speak, intermarriage. There are millions, if not tens of millions, of Russian and Ukrainians married together. Put it in NATO, and youre going to put a barricade through millions of families. Russia will react militarily.

"In fact, Russia is already reacting militarily, because look what they're doing in Wales today. They're going to create a so-called rapid deployment force of 4,000 fighters. What is 4,000 fighters? Fifteen thousand or less rebels in Ukraine are crushing a 50,000-member Ukrainian army. Four thousand against a million-man Russian army, its nonsense. The real reason for creating the so-called rapid deployment force is they say it needs infrastructure. And the infrastructurethat is, in plain language is military basesneed to be on Russias borders. And they've said where they're going to put them: in the Baltic republic, Poland and Romania.

"Now, why is this important? Because NATO has expanded for 20 years, but its been primarily a political expansion, bringing these countries of eastern Europe into our sphere of political influence; now its becoming a military expansion. So, within a short period of time, we will have a new -- well, we have a new Cold War, but here's the difference. The last Cold War, the military confrontation was in Berlin, far from Russia. Now it will be, if they go ahead with this NATO decision, right plunk on Russias borders. Russia will then leave the historic nuclear agreement that Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987 to abolish short-range nuclear missiles. It was the first time nuclear -- a category of nuclear weapons had ever been abolished. Where are, by the way, the nuclear abolitionists today? Where is the grassroots movement, you know, FREEZE, SANE? Where have these people gone to? Because were looking at a new nuclear arms race. Russia moves these intermediate missiles now to protect its own borders, as the West comes toward Russia. And the tripwire for using these weapons is enormous."

"One other thing. Russia has about, I think, 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons, sometimes called battlefield nuclear weapons. You use these for short distances. They can be fired; you dont need an airplane or a missile to fly them. They can be fired from artillery. But they're nuclear. They're radioactive. They've never been used. Russia has about 10,000. We have about 500. Russia's military doctrine clearly says that if Russia is threatened by overwhelming conventional forces, we will use tactical nuclear weapons. So when Obama boasts, as he has on two occasions, that our conventional weapons are vastly superior to Russia, he's feeding into this argument by the Russian hawks that we have to get our tactical nuclear weapons ready." (You ought to look up the full interview with Stephen F. Cohen yesterday at Democracy Now!, -- thanks to Toshimuro Ogura who pointed at it at WSF-Discuss)

2.

Prof. Cohen mentioned the huge American mass movements FREEZE and SANE of the 1980s. He also ought to have mentioned END, that is, European Nuclear Disarmament, the immense popular and anti-systemic European movement of the same decade.

END, being a non-aligned and Neutralist movement, not committed to "the East" nor to "The West", was opening a perspective towards an alternative world system. Our Social Forum has hitherto lacked this perspective. It has postponed it, and in so doing it has been mistaken. Another world is not possible without nuclear disarmament, and nuclear disarmament will not be decided multilaterally. It has to begin in some particular country and/or region. It has to start unilaterally.

Unilateral nuclear disarmament is the right thing to do, morally. But it is also the right thing to do from a military, strategical, point of view -- a necessary condition for what can possibly be meant with "a victory".

It is politically right, because the "weapons" of today (the nuclear, but also the new genetic, nanotech and robotic weapons) are incompatible with justice and democracy.

Economically: disarmament indeed opens up an economic perspective, and the nuclear armament systems are the top of the iceberg, that is, of our "war economy", which contributes, probably more than anything else, to destroying the conditions of life on this planet.

And culturally?

3.

Our world is governed by nuclear terrorists.

"It is hopeless. And we are not giving up." -- Jan Erik Vold

Thursday 20 March 2014

A letter from Brussels

Dear all,

Wall Street Journal yesterday (19 March) had an editorial speaking volumes about how they see the situation. Subject: Ukraine and nuclear proliferation. Thesis: The lesson learnt most recently is that Ukraine would had been better off in its conflict with Russia had it not decided to abandon its nuclear arsenals to Russia in the 1990s. Iran, North Korea, etc. will have learned the lesson. Corollarium: V. Putin is reponsible for causing even more nuclear proliferation. My comment: yes, the nukes are political weapons. Unfortunately, they are also nuclear weapons. Would it be possible to  prove that the nukes are not only political weapons? Of course, after a nuclear attack (and a possible counter-attack) one could say: Look, I was right!  But then, who would like to be proven right in that case?  It is wiser to  prefer nuclear disarmament. Would not nuclear disarmement, too, be a kind of proof?

The situation reminds me about le pari de Pascal. Oppenheimer might have agreed with the comparison. Yet it is not Shiva who has become the multi-faceted Destryoer of Worlds. It is us. After the nuclear war, it would no longer be possible to determine who was responsible. We would all be. The Mayor of den Haag is said to have forbidden demonstrations during the Nuclear Security Summit there next Monday and Tuesday. Demonstrations and protest there will certainly be, nevertheless. And for a good reason: nuclear disarmament and general denuclearisation! And against the hypocrisy about nuclear non-proliferation and the possible (because I am afraid it is possible, after all) nuclear terrorism. May I remind you once again that Altiero Spinelli was in favour of American military disengagement from Europe, and European denuclearisation, already in the sixties. He actually said so in the American journal Foreign Affairs. Of course that was well before Chernobyl and Fukushima and the fall of the USSR. And well before the internet. Which does not mean that the Spinelli's opinion has become obsolete.

I have just returned from the NATO in Brussels where I was one in a group of visitors from Finland. I did not go there to protest or demonstrate. It was more like a fact-finding mission. And it proved to be an interesting visit. However, in the short time we had, it was not possible to go very deeply into the nuclear issues. After the main lecture, I managed to ask whether all member states of NATO do have a say about the nuclear weapons and their use, or whether NATO should have or use such weapons at all. Background: the question whether  my country (Finland) should now join NATO is presently being discussed with fervour there, and I have heard people say, that Finland should join, because then we the Finns could influence NATO to become better, read: to abolish its nuclear weapons doctrine. The answer I got was that NATO is not really the forum for discussions about nuclear weapons. The weather is sunny and warm here in Brussels. Have a good day,

Mikael

Wednesday 19 March 2014

The size of Guy Verhofstadt's slice

Like so many others, I was rather disturbed by Guy Verhofstadt's way of presenting Europe to the people on Maidan. Also, I was thinking about the size of the slice of the Spinellian legacy that Guy Verhofstadt believes that he has managed to cut for himself. However, to try to polemicize directly with the leaders of the Spinelli Group seems to me less likely to be successful. True Eurofederalists now rather need to develop and update the legacy of Spinelli, that is, to present an alternative Spinellian vision, one that is more based on the Manifesto of Ventotene and the original plans of a Defense Union (from the beginnigs of the 1950s) than on the perhaps a bit too corporation-friendly Spinelli the Commissioner of the 1970s. The nuclear question is key, even more today than in the period of the Cold War: how to get rid of the WMDs, the NPPs and the existing (and ever growing) huge stockpiles of radwaste, enriched uranium, plutonium, etc.? That goal needs to be written clearly into a new edition of the Spinellian constitutional Treaty of EU which the EP would have preferred to see adopted (1984). The EU ought to take the lead in the necessary general nuclear exit.

A second essential question is internet governance. A clever solution on how to build a common - not corporate - telecoms infrastructure is badly needed. I would opt for a public and municipally owned physical (fiber optics) infrastructure, and a strong role of the public libraries and their personnel - the librarians - as "governors" oft the internet - to the extent that ihe internet needs to be governed. The Internet is, and it has to remain, a predominantly self-governing ("cybernetic") institution. And we all need to start talking more about cyberpeace instead of cyberwar.

Addition to what was said above on the nuclear issues: notice the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in den Haag next Monday and Tuesday (24-25 March)? Ironically, it is only meant to be about nuclear terrorism. Admittedly, that's a big issue in itself. But then, the root of the problem is the very use of the nuclear technology itself (both the "military" and "civil" variants) by governments and corporations.

Also Ironically, Ukraine's stockpiles of highly enriched uranium (HEU) - which is precisely the material that supposed nuclear terrorist most want to get their hands on - has been one of the big issues of previous NSSs.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Was the new Europe born on Maidan?

Below, please find my reply to a posting on the mailing list of the European Social Forum earlier today.

Good afternoon,

the Declaration RUSSIA, STOP THE WAR AGAINST UKRAINE! from the Queen Sofia Museum in Madrid makes me want to add a mild word of protest.

"STOP THE WAR IN UKRAINE" -- yes, but the guilt for the present situation does not lay sqarely on "Russia" or its government. This is not the right moment to stand up against, or for, Russia, or for some other nation.

The idea that Ukraine has in the recent days and weeks seen an "emancipative people's uprising" and a genuine democratic revolution might be what an American assistant secretary of state like e.g. Ms Victoria Nuland believes. We Europeans should know better.

The text from the Queen Sofia Museum is related to the event ''The New Abduction of Europe. Debt, War, Democratic revolutions'' (27.2 - 2.3.2014, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid). In the Manifesto of this cultural event it is said that the event "hopes to lay the foundations for a radically new European cultural and political agency, driven by the urgency of the situation."

But did not the Capitalist abduction of Europe happen already in the 1950ies? And, did not some interns on the prison island of Ventotene draw up excellent guidelines for another possible Europe already in 1941?

It is absolutely necessary to try to dig a tunnel under the deep structures of the Cold War, which are still in place, although we may nowadays be inclined to deny their existence.

"New Europe was born on Maidan," proclaims the text from the Queen Sofia Museum in Madrid. No, I think the new Europe which would be worthy of our "solidarity, dignity, self-organization and freedom" should be neutral and non-aligned, cooperate economically with all its neighbours (including Russia), abolish all nuclear arms and other wmd on its soil, start converting its military-industrial complex to civil industry, abstain from building more nuclear power stations and dismantle the existing ones, create a pan-European, municipally owned, telecommunications infrastructure (the fiber-optic cables ought to be owned by the cities and the communes as natural monopolies) and shift towards food soverignty. Please make this European project more concrete and realistic.

But, for gods sake, don't forget the European Nuclear Disarmament (END) because that is where any genuinely "new Europe" begins.

Greetings from Finland,

Mikael

PS Want to read something more specifically on the Ukraine and the politics there? May I recommend two articles by the Russian sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky, translated into English and published by the Australian journal Links.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Ukraine’s two sides dig in for a fight, but they do not dig deep enough

(this entry is my response to an Indian friend who, like myself, is trying to understand the news from Ukraina)

Dear J.,

thank you for drawing even more attention to the Ukrainian situation and, by consequence, to the situation in Europe. The article you have chosen as a backgrounder reflects the standard views and attitudes of the American mainstream press. We really need to come up with a more complete picture.

It would not be a bad idea to read some good article that represents the opinions and feelings of the majority of Russians who voted for Vladimir Putin. It could actually help us a long way. However, in this case, even that would not solve the problem, which is to understand what is happening in Europe and Ukraina.

It is absolutely necessary to try to dig a tunnel under the deep structures of the Cold War, which are still in place, although we may nowadays be inclined to deny their existence.

For instance: today's morning news edition from the Finnish public broadcasting company Yle tells that Russia has placed Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. This was revealed by the German Bild-Zeitung (!) and has been confirmed by the Sov..., excuse me, Russian authorities. The Russians say that this stationing of middle-range nuclear missiles is made as a response to the missile defence building plans of NATO. Because that planned missile defence shield of NATO is seen as offensive by the Russians. And rightly so, I would say. Not that I want in the least to legitimize the threatening of Berlin with nuclear extinction from Russian military bases in old Königsberg (Kaliningrad).

So the nuclear war between "East" and "West" is still being prepared here in Europe even if we who live here - I mean the French, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Finnish, Georgian, British, Hungarian, Italian, etc. - refuse consciousness of it. Everybody seems to prefer to speak about climate justice -- as if a nuclear war, even a limited one, would not be a major threat against the climate (and a wholly unjustified threat, by the way) and as if the nuclear armaments, including, in particular, the so called missile defence, would not be a driving force of this capitalist war economy that is heading fast towards ecological catastrophe (including climate change). In short, it seems that we prefer banking on the Bomb. (http://www.dontbankonthebomb.com/).

True, Ukraine's two sides dig in for a fight, but they don't dig deep enough.

Greetings,

Mikael