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Wednesday, 08 June 2016 17:23

Serody: Nuclear war a reality?

Written by  Bob Serody

Posted June 8, 2016

War and Peace and Politics, including Election of US President, cont'd.
SCPA Member Opinion*

Nuclear War a Reality?
By Bob Serody

Prior to Obama’s trip to Hiroshima to honor the victims of the nuclear holocaust, I wrote that when the United States decided to use the bomb against Japan for the purpose of quickly ending the war, it also served as an example of what using nuclear weapons would be like in the future. It was my hope that its very use on the Japanese homeland would serve to prevent sane people throughout the world from resorting to nuclear weapons to settle disputes. Mankind had finally turned the corner, where the survivors of such a war would rather have preferred choosing death. And yet, the ceremony at Hiroshima was clouded by Obama’s previous approval of a one trillion dollar program over the next 30 years to upgrade our nuclear weapons stockpile, and to produce tactical delivery systems with smaller warheads. This act of insanity would just introduce a shorter fuse for enabling total annihilation in the future.

Academics Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino conducted research (footnote 1) on the US public's attitude regarding nuclear bombing and recently published a summary of their findings in a Wall Street Journal story titled "Would the US Drop the Bomb Again?" From a survey of a "representative sample of 620 Americans" administered by YouGov last July, Sagan and Valentino revealed results that were "unsettling about the instincts of the US public." Specifically, the pair reported that, "When provoked, [US citizens] don't seem to consider the use of nuclear weapons a taboo, and our commitment to the immunity of civilians from deliberate attack in wartime, even with vast casualties, is shallow."

Admittedly, the sample of 620 citizens can hardly be expected to reflect the sentiments of 320 million Americans. Nevertheless, the pair’s findings should not surprise anybody who has paid attention to US foreign policy since 1945. In his 2002 book, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace, Gore Vidal points out that, according to the Federation of American Scientists, there have been 200 aggressive US military engagements since the end of WWII. This was tallied before the debacle in Iraq and the "liberation" of Libya; the drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; President Obama's plan to "degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL"; not to mention the unconstitutional drone strikes on US citizens abroad.

The Sagan and Valentino survey sets forth a fictional scenario mirroring Pearl Harbor: an Iranian attack on a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf that kills 2,403 US sailors. Faced with this scenario, would the US public support the dropping of a nuclear weapon on an Iranian city killing 100,000 civilians?

Sagan and Valentino found that the results were "startling." In this case, 59 percent of respondents backed "using a nuclear bomb on an Iranian city."

In light of the results of this survey, our choice of the next president of the United States has great significance. There is, of course, Donald Trump, whose remarks indicate that our chance of having a nuclear war is very high indeed. Even Hillary Clinton is right of center regarding her statements on foreign policy. Then there is Bernie Sanders, the only candidate whose position on foreign engagements favors prevention over belligerence.

But according to this recent survey, Americans no longer relate to the horrific events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Those who witnessed the aftereffects of those two nuclear explosions are no longer here to tell us, “Don’t ever use this weapon again.” Instead, most of us appear to have become lemmings eager to follow our next leader over the cliff.

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Footnotes:
(1)  Dana E. Abizaid; US Survey Reveals Public Support for Nuclear Strikes and a Disconnect From Their Bloody RealityTruthout Op-Ed, June 5, 2016.

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Bob Serody is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance.

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local,regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, please contact SCPA.

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 June 2016 18:06
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