[He was going to speak at the Rage against the War Machine rally, scheduled for February 19 at the Lincoln Memorial but for personal reasons will no longer be speaking.]
Thank you very much for allowing me the opportunity to address you today.
I speak to you from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a place of history filled with gravitas worthy of the task we have set for ourselves at this time in our collective history: to stand up—no, to rage—against a war machine that has perverted the very definition of what it means to be an American.
We stand here today at the very nexus of this war machine. To our right, just over the Potomac River, lies the Pentagon, a structure built at a time when America called upon its collective might to defeat the scourge of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, but which has since then morphed into the very symbol of evil itself, a breeding ground for weapons and plans that are used by the other partners, in what has become known as the military-industrial complex, to spread malfeasance around a world we once protected, but now enslave through a process of perpetual conflict used to sustain the American war machine.
And who are these other partners? Before us, past the monument to our founding father, George Washington, stands the Capitol of the United States, where the people’s representatives fund, in great secrecy, the nefarious schemes cooked up in the bowels of the Pentagon.
And to our left stands the White House, the seat of Executive authority, where individuals we invest with singular authority betray the trust of those who put them there by conceiving and implementing policies designed to further the Pentagon’s war efforts.
This is the very nexus of evil, an unholy trinity of terroristic madness, which some 61 years ago Dwight D. Eisenhower, an American warrior turned political leader, warned the American people about, cautioning that “in the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
In the history of the United States that has transpired since that speech, no truer words have been spoken by an American president, and no greater wisdom has been disregarded by those whom Eisenhower entrusted with that message—we, the people of the United States.
We stand here today to announce to this terrible trinity, this military-industrial complex, this war machine, that we hear you now, President Eisenhower—we hear you, and we will act on your warning to bring this nexus of un-American conspiracy to an end.
Of all the weapons produced by the military-industrial complex, of all the evil schemes hatched in the minds of the so-called national security experts—most of whom are unelected by, and unknown to, we, the American people—none reek of madness more than nuclear weapons.
“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds,” the father of the American atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, said at the time of the first American nuclear test.
Destroyer of worlds.
This is the ever-present reality that we all live in today—that from this nexus of evil we call the military-industrial complex comes the very weapons necessary to bring the words of the Hindu sacred text that Oppenheimer quoted—the Bhagavad-Gita—to life and, in doing so, bring about our collective deaths.
Most Americans, including many of you assembled here today, live in blissful ignorance of just how close the world has come to being destroyed by Oppenheimer’s progeny.
On 26 September 1983, a Soviet Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Petrov, was on duty at a nuclear early-warning station when the system reported that five nuclear armed missiles had been launched from the United States. Colonel Petrov disregarded protocol requiring him to report this detection as a factual launch, an act that would have triggered a Soviet response, and in doing so bought precious time for the error to be identified, and nuclear war averted.
In November 1983 the United States and NATO carried out a command post exercise code-named “Able Archer 83” which tested the launch control procedures for the release of NATO nuclear weapons against Soviet and Warsaw Pact targets. The Soviets, believing this exercise to be a cover for a first strike, placed its nuclear forces on high alert. Later, the CIA assessed that the Able Archer 83 exercise brought the US and Soviets closer to nuclear conflict than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
And on January 25, 1995, the Soviets detected the launch of a Norwegian atmospheric test rocket that mimicked the track of a US Nay Trident submarine-launched nuclear weapon. Fearing a high-altitude nuclear attack that could blind Russian radar, Russian nuclear forces went on high alert, and the “nuclear briefcase” was delivered to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who had to make a split-second decision whether to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike against the United States
These three incidents underscore the razor’s edge we all walk daily when it comes to living in a world where nuclear weapons exist. One mistake, one error or judgement, and the Bhagavad-Gita becomes reality.
We were saved from the inevitability of our collective demise by one thing, and one thing only—arms control. The deployment into Europe by both the US and Soviet Union of intermediate-range nuclear armed missiles in the 1980’s only increased the possibility of a mistake or misunderstanding that could trigger a nuclear conflict. The fact that these weapons could reach their respective target in five minutes or less once launched meant that the 30–40-minute buffer of time that existed regarding the use of strategic nuclear forces was no longer there.
To put it more starkly, if it were not for the implementation of the intermediate nuclear forces treaty in 1988 that eliminated these new and dangerous weapons, the January 25, 1995 atmospheric rocket incident would have more than likely resulted in a general nuclear war, simply for the fact that Boris Yeltsin would have been denied the luxury of time to decide not to launch his missiles.
Everyone standing here today should reflect on this statement and say a quiet word of thanks to those men and women, American and Soviet alike, who made the intermediate nuclear forces treaty a reality and, in doing so, literally saved the world from nuclear destruction.
Arms control, however, is no longer part of the US-Russian dialogue. The American war machine has conspired to denigrate the notion of mutually beneficial disarmament in the minds of the American public, instead seeking to use arms control as a mechanism to achieve unilateral strategic advantage.
When an arms control treaty becomes inconvenient to the objective of American global domination, then the war machine simply quits. America’s record in this regard is damnable—the anti-ballistic missile treaty, the intermediate nuclear forces treaty, the open-skies treaty—all relegated to the trash bin of history in the cause of seeking unilateral advantage for the American war machine.
D Johnston said:
Yet another excellent analysis by the esteemed and erudite Scott Ritter.