It’s Not Five Minutes to Midnight

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a magazine dedicated towards ending nuclear weapons. It’s most famous for the “Doomsday Clock.” The magazine describes the Doomsday Clock as so:

The Doomsday Clock conveys how close humanity is to catastrophic destruction–the figurative midnight–and monitors the means humankind could use to obliterate itself. First and foremost, these include nuclear weapons…

In some ways the magazine is a lingering remnant of another time. The Doomsday Clock used to be much more well-known than it is now. Today most young people have never heard of it.

Currently the clock stands at 5 Minutes to Midnight. That is, the world is figuratively five minutes away from nuclear warfare and the end of the comfortable, mostly peaceful world we live in.

There’s just one problem: the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is wrong. It’s not five minutes to midnight.

Of course five minutes to midnight is a figurative term; the world will not literally end in five minutes as of this writing. It’s impossible to say just what “five minutes to midnight” actually means in real terms. How can I argue, then, that the scientists are wrong?

Because the world today is much safer than it ever was during the Cold War.

The Cold War was shaped by the threat that one misunderstanding, or the actions of one crazy general, would cause the world’s two superpowers to unleash their weapons. There was a constant threat that the Cold War would turn into a Hot War – a world war far worse than the last one.

There is no such threat today. People rarely use the term nuclear winter anymore, or at least they use it much less today. The nuclear threats today are merely local ones. Even if Iran or North Korea (or both) launch nuclear weapons, the devastation will merely be local rather than global. A Pakistani-Indian nuclear war would likewise be a local war, not a global one.

In 1963 and in 1972 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists stated that the world was 12 Minutes to Midnight. The world is much farther away from nuclear catastrophe today than it was in 1963 or 1972.

So, at the very least, the world is 13 minutes away from midnight.

 

 

North Korea: A Very Rational Country

 

By: inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

It’s popular amongst the media to characterize North Korea as an irrational state run by a madman. North Korea continuously provokes the West, it is said, for no apparent reason. Proof that it’s an unpredictable, irrational actor that could do anything.

There are in fact very few states in history that could actually can be said to have behaved irrationally. I can only think of one state in the twentieth century which fits the description above. That was Germany just before and during the Second World War.

North Korea has in fact behaved quite rationally throughout the past few years. As a pariah state with only one ally, a very weak economy, and the enmity of the world’s superpower – the government of North Korea has to realize a way to protect itself. This is especially true given that said superpower has repeatedly used its military to strike down dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi who have earned its hostility.

Muammar Gaddafi is an extremely telling example. One unfortunate side-effect of the successful American intervention there is that the intervention has probably permanently ruined any possibility of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons. Just look at Muammar Gaddafi to see what happens when countries hostile to America give up their nuclear weapons. And in fact, North Korea has done just this. The rational, logical conclusion: the only sure deterrence is nuclear weapons, especially with Seoul and Tokyo as hostages located so conveniently close to North Korea.

The death of Kim Jong-il also explains a lot of North Korea’s recent aggressiveness during the past couple of years. North Korea’s leaders knew that Kim Jong-il’s health was in dire straits after his stroke, and that he was probably going to die very soon. They were thus preparing hastily for his succession. The new leader needed a military accomplishment to add to his belt before entering power. Thus the artillery bombardment of a South Korean island, repeated nuclear tests, and the sinking of a South Korean ship. These were designed to be just enough for the new leader to boast about without actually getting North Korea in any danger of being seriously attacked.

North Korea is not another Nazi Germany. It’s just a very weak, very poor country whose government is trying its best to survive against the might of the world’s superpower.

 

 

Lugar rips Romney over nuclear weapons

As you may have heard by now, Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post this week about the New START treaty rivaling only Sarah Palin for sheer incompetence. Fred Kaplan, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the US-Soviet arms race, called it “shabby, misleading and—let's not mince words—thoroughly ignorant.” I highly recommend Kaplan’s article at Slate, which points out the factual flaws in nearly every single line of the piece.

What’s particularly remarkable, however, is that it’s not just experts like Kaplan taking on Romney – it’s his own party. Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote an equally devastating critique not as an op-ed or blog post but as an unsolicited 782-word statement from his own office. "Governor Mitt Romney's hyperbolic attack on the New START Treaty in the July 6 edition of The Washington Post repeats discredited objections and appears unaware of arms control history and context." The full statement is below the jump.

Lugar and Kaplan both point out many of the same errors in Romney’s screed. Romney is deeply offended by a non-binding preamble that will have no affect on policy whatsoever, claims that Russia will control our arms while ignoring that the provisions in question cut both ways, screams bloody murder that we are now unable to harm our own national security by converting ICBM silos to defense against our military’s wishes, claims Russia will harm us by exploiting a loophole with weapons they don’t actually have, and says another loophole will allow Russia to hide missiles on bombers even though a) we have more bombers and b) as Kaplan points out, they’re “bombers,” not “missilers.”

I would also point out that Ronald Reagan said on multiple occasions that we need to reduce our nuclear stockpile with the ultimate goal of its elimination. The man who conservatives like to pretend single-handedly won the Cold War. This is one time when they should actually listen to him on national security.

There's more...

3-2-1 and the Social Change Film Forum at Harvard

Once upon a time, before Facebook and Twitter and everything else we consider new media, a film documentary had a limited ability to make an impact (as good as some of the older documentaries were.) An audience would file into a movie theater (distribution always being the first major barrier a thoughtful documentary would have to overcome) but then the audience would file back out into the night at movie's end, touched, moved perhaps, angered but with little means of turning those emotions enter action.

Mercifully, one of the largest advantages I see of the explosion of new media is that the film documentary is no longer the start and end of the activation process but a piece of a new media puzzle that can turn emotion into action.

Consider my friend Lawrence Bender's shocking new documentary "Countdown To Zero"about nuclear weapons. It's shocking, sobering and as Lawrence said in his intro, a documentary that is trying to not just draw attention to an issue but to drive action on this issue. The screenings and soon to be broader distribution of the film is just part of the leadership that Lawrence, Participant and other partners are involved in.

What's amazing is consider that when Lawrence worked on "An Inconvenient Truth" just a few years ago many of the tools that can be used to drive action on the nuclear weapon issue were either non-existent (Twitter) or platforms with a fraction of the power they have today (Facebook.)

This topic and many others were part of the inaugural Gleitsman Social Change Film Forum where "Countdown To Zero" was shown as was the touching "A Small Act" -- the Film Forum asks the simple question "Can film change the world?" I think the answer is clearly yes.

For any aspiring documentarian, I think the take away from the weekend was use your film as the leading piece of your movement but you can create a multi-media movement that is far more powerful than the film itself.

Oh, and one more thing about Countdown To Zero. You should definitely see it -- and I won't spoil the story too much to say except to note that when you hear the story about Boris Yeltsin, well, that drove me to sign up to take action.

Because if our future depends on leaders like Boris Yeltsin making good split-second decisions, we definitely need to get rid of all nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

3-2-1 and the Social Change Film Forum at Harvard

Once upon a time, before Facebook and Twitter and everything else we consider new media, a film documentary had a limited ability to make an impact (as good as some of the older documentaries were.) An audience would file into a movie theater (distribution always being the first major barrier a thoughtful documentary would have to overcome) but then the audience would file back out into the night at movie's end, touched, moved perhaps, angered but with little means of turning those emotions enter action.

Mercifully, one of the largest advantages I see of the explosion of new media is that the film documentary is no longer the start and end of the activation process but a piece of a new media puzzle that can turn emotion into action.

Consider my friend Lawrence Bender's shocking new documentary "Countdown To Zero"about nuclear weapons. It's shocking, sobering and as Lawrence said in his intro, a documentary that is trying to not just draw attention to an issue but to drive action on this issue. The screenings and soon to be broader distribution of the film is just part of the leadership that Lawrence, Participant and other partners are involved in.

What's amazing is consider that when Lawrence worked on "An Inconvenient Truth" just a few years ago many of the tools that can be used to drive action on the nuclear weapon issue were either non-existent (Twitter) or platforms with a fraction of the power they have today (Facebook.)

This topic and many others were part of the inaugural Gleitsman Social Change Film Forum where "Countdown To Zero" was shown as was the touching "A Small Act" -- the Film Forum asks the simple question "Can film change the world?" I think the answer is clearly yes.

For any aspiring documentarian, I think the take away from the weekend was use your film as the leading piece of your movement but you can create a multi-media movement that is far more powerful than the film itself.

Oh, and one more thing about Countdown To Zero. You should definitely see it -- and I won't spoil the story too much to say except to note that when you hear the story about Boris Yeltsin, well, that drove me to sign up to take action.

Because if our future depends on leaders like Boris Yeltsin making good split-second decisions, we definitely need to get rid of all nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

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