Dr Strangelove or demented pensioner?

Here’s a joke, there are five retired Generals, an American, a British, a French, a Dutch and a German and one of them asks “how do we halt the spread of nuclear weapons?” they all pause to think for a moment and then all together they say “we nuke them!”

But this is no joke.

The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction. (link)

This is the central point of a proposal for the review of Nato policy to be discussed this April at a summit in Bucharest and setting apart the evident nonsensical nature of stating that you would start a nuclear war to avoid starting a nuclear war, wouldn’t this be the trigger for a prospective enemy to adopt the same policy and for the current escalation of tension and armament to increase further?

The article on the Guardian newspaper ends with this paragraph:

Naumann (one of the proponents, Ed.) suggested the threat of nuclear attack was a counsel of desperation. “Proliferation is spreading and we have not too many options to stop it. We don’t know how to deal with this.”

Well, at least they’re honest, the proponents of this policy, a group of retired generals, are aware that don’t know how to deal with the issues they have set themselves to solve and they admit it.

But if this wasn’t enough:

The manifesto has been written following discussions with active commanders and policymakers, many of whom are unable or unwilling to publicly air their views.

Excellent, some clueless retired generals representing the views of policy-makers too coward to speak their minds openly. The other advisers were ‘active commanders’.

These active commanders are surely very good people, only that they have this problem that they spend all their lives in military environments and after a while they develop bunker mentality.

I have met my fair share of them, my daddy spent many years in the navy and most of his friends were officers. I remember it as if it was today when once at dinner one of them (that retired as an Admiral) turned towards me and speaking in a hush-hush tone whispered “the Russians say that they have disarmed but you know what they have done, they transformed their tanks into tractors but have kept the bodyworks in storage, ready to be refitted!”. He then explained to me that they would have soon invaded Hungary all over again.

This is why military men should not be in charge of defense policies.

Want somebody tell them please?

Some consider war an extension of politics, some a sign of failure of politics, I tend to agree with the latter and consider the first a delusional belief.

But to state that you would be the first one to pull the trigger is not politics and it’s not even war, it’s just wargames of retired generals that give the only answer they know to a question that doesn’t belong to them.

This is altogether damaging of international relationships, it only raises the temperature, there’s little difference in value between this and some crazy proclaim of Ahmedinejad.

It is also the replacing of what should be done, that is a focus on disarmament and how to achieve it, with the perfect recipe for nuclear war.

To understand what it has damaged look no further than today’s Guardian Cif where former American ambassador Bob Barry says:

UK readers may be surprised to hear that the call in the US for abolition involves 17 of the surviving 24 former secretaries of state, defence and national security advisors from both parties – people devoted to and personally involved in the deployment of nuclear weapons when in office. In the US presidential primaries, all of the Democratic candidates have supported the goal of zero nuclear weapons to one degree or another.

The challenge “abolitionists” face in the US and the UK is in convincing sceptics that a world without nuclear weapons is not simply a pacifist pie-in-the-sky wish, and convincing others that outlining the vision is essential. True, abolition will not come any time soon, but without embracing the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, nuclear arms control will remain in the dustbin of history where it now languishes, and our world will descend into a nuclear nightmare of horrendous and unacceptable risk. We do also need a credible path to the goal, otherwise cynics will have every reason to deride the concept as nothing but a “nice” idea.

This is what we need to speak of, it’s high time for a debate of how to get out of the bunker mentality that the last few years have thrown us into.

To start I suggest that retired generals would consider relaxing on some Saga cruise to try to heal the psychosis that they have developed during the cold war rather than trying to bring everlasting peace on earth.


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