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  • News highlights, Feb. 8 at Forget the Rest
    the Pentagon s Budget About To Be Nuked The Pentagon is ready to begin sweeping nuclear modernization Can it afford to do it Can it afford not to Aaron Mehta Defense News Nice review of nuclear weapons modernization issues with interesting quotes insights data and pictures An excellent if partial update on the Syria war in the Western press where they are relatively scarce The Syria War Will Not Be a Quagmire Because Putin and Assad Are Winning Alastair Crooke Ukraine A USA Installed Nazi Infested Failed State Lendman Lendman is the editor of the excellent Flashpoint in Ukraine How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III 2014 In this short essay he summarizes the results so far of the U S driven coup for Ukraine U S oil production is falling and imports are rising These trends will continue for a while because the U S is now sliding irrevocably down the far slope of its second oil production peak See a comment today by Jeffrey Brown with link to Department of Energy DOE Energy Information Agency EIA data For more insight from oilman Brown see also The Great Condensate Con Is the Oil Glut Just about Oil and this fine comment over the weekend Matt Mushalik offers an outstanding analysis of the overall U S situation savaging the myth of oil independence Don t miss it Why is this important Because the world is running out of cheap oil the kind that supports our present extravagant civilization The present downturn in price has already cancelled so much capital investment in oil production that 2015 is now sure to stand as the year of peak production in my opinion The world s economies are too morbidly unequal and obese to pay enough for oil to support the

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/wordpress/2016/02/08/news-highlights-feb-8/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Perspectives on the 2016 disarmament “Open-Ended Working Group, ” now beginning at Forget the Rest
    jure legal as well as morally necessary in the eyes of those who possess them until they are made illegal This work of delegitimation has to be done by non nuclear weapon states not by nuclear weapon states The latter will resist Without a treaty on the table the various well intentioned and indeed excellent statements by diplomats are really just opinions and postures Given the short working time of the OEWG I hope that all involved will make every effort to help leading states focus on negotiating or more realistically laying the groundwork for negotiating a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons Anything else will play into the hands of the nuclear weapon states and their weasel allies again by de focusing diluting delaying distracting and dividing our efforts If the OEWG fails to achieve a clear path to make nuclear weapons illegal there are other ways forward We think the 30th anniversary of the Reykjavik summit October 11 12 1986 would be a good time to unveil a ban treaty for signature The nuclear weapon states obviously oppose prohibiting nuclear weapons and can play no constructive part in negotiations These states have never played any constructive part in multilateral disarmament negotiations over the past 25 years full stop Their weasel allies generally also have opposed and will oppose practical disarmament measures for now So calls to make negotiations universal are quite premature and misplaced Godspeed to everybody Our thoughts and prayers are with those of you who are there 2 A Ban Treaty would be very powerful including in the U S without U S participation A ban treaty would be the natural culmination of the decades of brilliant civil society work that have brought us to this point Such a treaty would be voluntary and non coercive yet ever more normative as more countries joined It would grow in importance only in the most democratic manner It would affect nuclear arsenals in an indirect and therefore flexible manner and only according to the evolving unique security circumstances of each state It would not conflict with any existing or future disarmament or nonproliferation agreement or treaty but rather would support them all It would not add new obligations for NPT non nuclear weapon states that are not in nuclear security relationships which is most of the countries in the world All these states have nothing to lose in a ban apart from whatever nasty forms of leverage some nuclear weapon states like the U S and their allies might try to apply A ban would stimulate and empower civil society in many countries with benefits across humanitarian issues Here in the U S a ban treaty would tremendously empower everything we are doing against nuclear weapons I would like to explain this further because many people think that a ban would have no effect on U S policy given that the U S won t sign it Nuclear policy in the U S is not made in a smooth top

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/wordpress/2016/02/08/perspectives-on-the-2016-disarmament-open-ended-working-group-now-beginning/ (2016-02-16)
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  • The New York Times gathers a “critical” mass of former insiders now dissing nuclear modernization plans at Forget the Rest
    For example is the risk of nuclear escalation from an accurate B61 12 detonation significantly and knowably different than that from detonating a B61 4 So then how is the B61 12 more usable or more credible as a deterrent than the B61 4 it is to replace How is the proposed new bomb smaller in this sense from the point of view of prospective nuclear war To take another example we say that the combination of high accuracy stealthy delivery forward basing and selectable yields enables the B61 12 to address a larger target set all of which is certainly true to some extent But what is the actual increment of that B61 12 target set beyond the target set of a life extended B61 4 with the same forward basing same stealthy delivery and the same original selectable yields In other words how much of this bomb s purported greater utility is just hype What about collateral damage then Wouldn t that be smaller Well blast overpressure and thermal deposition from nuclear weapons scale with the 1 3 power of the yield so the B61 12 s highest yield 50 kt would produce a given overpressure or thermal pulse reaching to 67 the radius of the B61 3 s 170 kt explosion or to 52 of that from the B61 7 s 360 kt To my view this is not an impressively smaller bomb in this sense either In what important sense for civilization or for the target country would the detonation of a B61 12 be much smaller than that of any other nuclear bomb or warhead Would a blast of more than three times the size of Hiroshima be more acceptable So I would say that Broad and Sanger have fallen into the trap of privileging the nuclear war fighting perspective Unfortunately most arms control discourse about this bomb does so also The great bulk of arguments against this weapon have rested on its novel features The differences are real but narrow and overall they do not touch or refute enough of the real political and strategic motives for pursuing this bomb That is one reason they fail You could say that we who oppose this bomb have too often confined ourselves to arguments that are so narrow that they are logically and factually flawed For example we say that the B61 12 costs more than a simpler LEP That is true But what if spending money hiring new weapons engineers and supporting the labs and plants and giving them all something to do are goals not costs And of course they are In that case the greater the cost the better And in comparison to the goal of keeping NATO nuclear and Europe in the U S geopolitical orbit the cost of the B61 12 is beyond trivial What about the increased risk of nuclear war it appears to represent Yes every gain in deterrent credibility is also an increase in the risk of nuclear

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/wordpress/2016/01/12/the-new-york-times-gathers-a-critical-mass-of-former-obama-insiders-now-dissing-aspects-of-nuclear-modernization/ (2016-02-16)
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  • “What is to be done” at Forget the Rest
    group that the distortions and strategic silences of the elite press and the misdirection and distancing practices that usually dominate academia are especially aimed We have to re educate ourselves and it has to be done in part bodily through action and socially as well as intellectually Denial and distancing are to be expected in any heavily propagandized society organized largely around material possessions and the elaborate system of faith based beliefs that supports it Richard Norgaard identifies our dominant religion as economism in a particularly cogent recent essay The Church of Economism and Its Discontents In response to this weakening of personal relations and increasing distance from nature economism glorifies the individual and rationalizes material greed Economic models focus on the individual assume utility maximization treat society as the sum of individuals and omit society s influence back on the individual Care for others and the land may give people utility but there is no obligation to care This view runs contrary to all major religious traditions effectively competing with the teaching they provide emphasis added Economism in other words is anti religion This cult pervades our society s whole mental sphere In its practical application it is little more than the worship of money We train our best and brightest to be its acolytes its excellent sheep I qualified our basic tasks with the adjective effective We all aspire to effectiveness in our political action but the fact is that effective action is quite rare among liberals and progressives They are losing and they are taking us down with them Too many people want to believe in almost anything Technology will save us Bernie will save us Hillary will save us Renewable energy will save us Just fill in the blank What this kind of hopeful ideation means is that we hope we will be able to remain prosperous and secure keep on shopping and keep taking climate destroying vacations halfway around the world We would be wrong in all of that We have a doctor friend in Santa Fe who often says by way of parting benediction Avoid optimism It is very good advice given his and our environment of pervasive brightsiding see Ehrenreich Bright sided How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America In many circles and not just those of New Age would be magicians negative thinking is not allowed Illusions must be maintained We are all awash in fallacious positive propaganda about our economy which is deteriorating not improving and this process will continue about climate policy baby steps are too slow to matter and neither the administration nor Congress has proposed even baby steps the Clean Power Plan won t help the climate about oil and gas reserves depleting not increasing with new oil increasingly unaffordable about the U S role in the world principally responsible for the wars underway today as David Stockman recently explained about our democracy almost nonexistent on a national level and so on It is for us as Chris Hedges

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/wordpress/2015/12/31/what-is-to-be-done/ (2016-02-16)
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  • The “Manhattan Project National Historical Park”: Moral Failure for America, Danger to This Country and the World at Forget the Rest
    The significance and continuing legacy of the Manhattan Project is politically contentious and disputed This significance is central to the Park idea The original bill S 507 at sec 2 2 A and SA 2492 at a 2 A quotes a panel of experts who state that the the development and use of the atomic bomb during World War II has been called the single most significant event of the 20th century Really Creating such a Park inherently endorses the Manhattan Project and its modern day successor activities as positive national achievements Indeed that is the purpose of the Park Supposedly objective background materials supporting the Park proposal are already one sided significantly incomplete and or historically incorrect Bechtel National Park The balkanization of ownership and control of these sites between federal and powerful non federal actors ensures in practical terms that NPS will be subordinate to these other actors For example Los Alamos National Laboratory LANL is operated by a for profit consortium of contractors Los Alamos National Security LLC which annually receives and spends in the neighborhood of 2 2 billion LANS and DOE jointly control access security safety and maintenance at LANL LANS is a highly interest conflicted party DOE does not manage these sites Quite simply this proposal aims to use NPS for propaganda purposes for the state and for its contractors This will be quite apparent and jarring to many domestic and international visitors The propaganda aspect of the proposed Park is oddly invisible to many well intentioned supporters The Park Adds No Real Value The proposal does not involve significant natural or national resources and is therefore not harmonious with core National Park missions The DOE properties at LANL involved in this proposal are basically worthless ugly sheds and bunkers These sites will not provide a comprehensive picture of the Manhattan Project which occurred at dozens of sites not three Extensive interpretative museums concerning the Manhattan Project already exist at Los Alamos and elsewhere Some are taxpayer funded Extensive resources are available on the internet for those who are interested Few if any of these sites will be tourist draws or provide marginal economic value to the surrounding communities At LANL that s a fantasy Some sites are already national landmarks It is not clear there is any added benefit to National Park status At Los Alamos Park status will not add preservation value These assets are already protected Some sites will be accessible by the public only rarely and under guard and public access will interfere with the national security missions underway surrounding those sites At other sites public access may interfere with cleanup activities Public enjoyment referencing here the NPS mission will be minimal for these locations The Park Will Be Costly and Hard to Administer The cost of the proposed Park which is not yet fully known will compete with the massive maintenance backlog in the National Park system Or if borne by DOE these additional costs will compete with other

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/wordpress/2015/11/10/the-manhattan-project-national-historical-park-moral-failure-for-america-danger-to-this-country-and-the-world/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Beyond “peace” at Forget the Rest
    worst of war is that it ends in peace that is it absents itself from remembrance a syndrome Chris Hedges calls collective or blanket amnesia beyond understanding beyond imagining Peace is visible already writes Marguerite Duras It s like a great darkness falling it s the beginning of forgetting I will not march for peace nor will I pray for it because it falsifies all it touches It is a cover up a curse Peace is simply a bad word Peace said Plato is really only a name Even if states should cease from fighting wrote Hobbes it is not to be called peace but rather a breathing time True yes cease fire yes surrender victory mediation brinkmanship standoff these words have content but peace is darkness falling The dictionary s definition an exemplary of denial fails the word peace Written by scholars in tranquillity the definition fixates and perpetuates the denial If peace is merely an absence of a freedom from it is both an emptiness and a repression A psychologist must ask how is the emptiness filled since nature abhors a vacuum and how does the repressed return since it must The emptiness left by repressing war from the definition of peace bloats it with idealizations another classic defense mechanism Fantasies of rest of calm security life as normal eternal peace heavenly peace the peace of love that transcends understanding peace as easy shalvah in the Hebrew Bible and completeness shalom The peace of naivete of ignorance disguised as innocence Longings for peace become both simplistic and utopian with programs for universal love disarmament and an Aquarian federation of nations or retrograde to the status quo ante of Norman Rockwell s apple pie These are the options of psychic numbing that peace offers and which must have so offended Jesus that he declared for a sword To dispel such quieting illusions writers along with those hounded by Mars roil the calm The pages are thick with death because writers do not hold their peace keep silent play dumb Books of war give voice to the tongue of the dead anesthetized by that major syndrome of the public psyche peace The one virtue of the dictionary s definition of peace is its implied normalization of war War is the larger idea the normative term giving peace its meaning Definitions using negation or privation are psychologically unsophisticated The excluded notion immediately comes to mind and in fact the word peace can be understood only after you have grasped the war War is also implied in another common meaning of peace peace as victory The fusion of peace with military victory shows plainly enough in the prayers for peace which tacitly ask for winning the war Do people ever pray for surrender Unconditional surrender would bring immediate peace Do they ever light candles and march in supplication of defeat The Romans understood this inner connection between peace and victory Pax the goddess of peace was usually configured with a cornucopia of

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/wordpress/2015/09/23/beyond-peace/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Comment to colleagues regarding a comprehensive nuclear disarmament treaty as a viable diplomatic option at Forget the Rest
    US and Russia understand what is going on not just in Ukraine but in many other modalities and across many other fronts as a kind of hybrid but real conflict or in a single syllable a war This is a very serious situation with deep US roots and it will not be resolved into the kind of relative amity many thought existed during the START II era for the foreseeable future NATO expansion Yugoslavia US withdrawal from the ABM treaty and now Ukraine have permanently ended that among many other insults Politics in the US and in Russia have moved to the right in the last decade or two In the US I would say this process has gone on since the late 1970s In the US this process is continuing with no end in sight In the US it takes 67 Senate votes to ratify a treaty and those 67 votes wouldn t be there even if a president wanted such a treaty which no foreseeable future US president will I say foreseeable because these conditions will eventually change in the US but only I believe when the existence of the US state is visibly threatened from non military threats internal and external or else when a thorough political change occurs as a result of unmistakeable magisterial forces that galvanize ruling elites and citizens alike Don t think of the US as a democracy please Meanwhile while nuclear weapons are expensive they are expected assuming a trillion dollar outlay over the next 30 years a low estimate for the program of record to not rise to more than 6 of all military spending While DoD and military leaders already say repeatedly that the program of record is not affordable under current budgets and Republicans look to further cuts to social programs including from mandatory spending in pension accounts filled by paycheck deductions over many years nuclear weapons aren t so expensive as to drive the US to seek a nuclear weapons convention or ban One interesting question is the limit of foreseeable how far in the future lies the prediction limit of even the most broad brush judgments such as the above For example will the US be able to put a single new Ohio class replacement submarine into service in 2031 as planned The US Navy is a very impressive organization the contractors are very capable and the individuals in charge of this program are very impressive people Even so I for one can t say for sure they will succeed because there are too many environmental and resource issues that will come to bear which will be expressed economically socially industrially and politically These are black swans or really grey swans because some of the coming crises are already visible to some extent The nature of these and other growing problems and of our social and political response to them is unknowable of course But the default political tendency in the US is to move to the

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/wordpress/2015/04/19/comment-to-colleagues-regarding-a-comprehensive-nuclear-disarmament-treaty-as-a-viable-diplomatic-option/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Pouring Gas on the Ukrainian Fire at Forget the Rest
    act of war on the part of the Russian Federation This means that there is going on in Ukraine today a literal invasion it is not a proxy war it is a literal invasion by the Russian Armed Forces it is a literal occupation of large parts well beyond Crimea of Eastern Ukraine and it is a virtual annexation of a lot of territory other than just the Crimea And in that respect this is a major threat to the peace of Europe to the peace of Eurasia and therefore a threat to the interests of the United States and I would say a threat to the chances of a peaceful 21st century However I would note that the Chief of Staff of Ukraine s Armed Forces General Viktor Muzhenko stated on January 29th 2015 stated that there was no evidence of the presence in the conflict zone in the southeast of Ukraine any regular units of the Russian army Muzhenko said that There is absolutely no way you can possibly hide huge military formations on a relatively small territory wide open to reporters and OSCE representatives It is certainly true the war in Ukraine has become a proxy war between the US and Russia and no doubt the Russians are supplying arms and material along with troops not in Russian uniforms But if the US chooses to take the course recommended by Brookings et al this will surely cause a major reaction from Russia and it will encourage the ultra nationalists and neo Nazis in Kiev to continue the war This is a deadly combination of events that will propel the US and Russia ever closer to armed conflict At present the Ukrainian military forces are about to suffer another major defeat in Donbass having something like 8 000 of its troops surrounded and cut off in a cauldron If they do not surrender they are likely to be butchered Meanwhile the Ukrainian currency has lost half its value the economy is in ruins and armed groups are forming in many of the largest cities apparently in anticipation of a coup against Poroshenko It is precisely these armed groups who are made up of the neo Nazi factions who have absolutely no intention of seeking a diplomatic solution with the separatists in Donbass The country is in utter turmoil with some of the most violent extreme right wing groups having the most control in the Kiev government Is this who we wish to arm It is not clear that Poroshenko can even remain in power much longer Hence the hasty trip by Merkel and Hollande to Moscow to meet with Putin Note that no American representative went with them and that the meetings with Putin were held without any staff members attending It seems fairly clear that Merkel and Hollande do not want a US Russian war to break out in Ukraine which seems to put them at odds with the majority of politicians in the US But it

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/wordpress/2015/02/08/pouring-gas-on-the-ukrainian-fire/ (2016-02-16)
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