By Alice Slater, July 7, 2018.
Less than a week or so before Donald Trump’s groundbreaking meeting planned with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, to take place after the NATO summit in mid-July, the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons celebrated its first birthday on July 7 when 122 nations voted a year ago in the UN General Assembly to ban the bomb, just as we have banned biological and chemical weapons. The new ban treaty shattered the establishment consensus that the proper way to avoid nuclear catastrophe was to follow the endless step by step path of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, now 50 years old this month, which has only led to nuclear weapons forever.
In light of the new détente Trump succeeded in negotiating with the long-despised and isolated North Korea, it just might be possible that peace is breaking out, to the great consternation and disapproval of the military-industrial-academic- congressional-media complex and the traditional neoliberal Republicrats who have been opposing any efforts of these sorts, and badmouthing and diminishing the positive effects of the encouraging news that resulted from the Korean negotiations and the possibility of its achieving any promising outcomes. Other naysayers are the members of the US nuclear alliance including NATO states as well as Australia, South Korea, and most surprisingly, Japan, the only country to have ever suffered catastrophic nuclear bombing which was wreaked upon it twice in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US in August 1945.
Let us do a thought experiment:
The megalomaniacal Trump and the egomaniacal Putin decide to be the greatest heroes the world has ever known! They recreate the negotiating environment in Reykjavik with Reagan and Gorbachev and Putin repeats Gorbachev’s offer to the US that he is willing for both countries to rid the world of all their nuclear weapons if Reagan drops his plans to dominate and control the military use of space with Star Wars. Trump agrees to give up his planned Space Force, converting it into an international space inspection regime in partnership with Russia and other spacefaring nations under UN supervision to make sure floating debris doesn’t injure any of our critical communications equipment orbiting in space. Trump also agrees to sign the treaty that China and Russia have been proposing since 2008 and 2014 to keep weapons out of space which the US has blocked to date. They both agree to sign the provision in the new ban treaty that was provided for nuclear weapons states to enter into the treaty and work out a way to verify and dismantle their arsenals, after they get agreement from the other 6 nuclear weapons states—England, France, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel. North Korea has already agreed to denuclearize once appropriate conditions are met. Surely the total elimination of nuclear weapons by all the other states and ratification of the ban treaty would be adequate reassurance to North Korea to get rid of its nuclear weapons as well.
Another negotiating tactic they could revisit is for Putin to repeat the offer to Trump which he made to Clinton to cut the US and Russian arsenals to 1,000 warheads each and call all the other parties to the table to eliminate nuclear weapons and reinstate the ABM Treaty, which Bush walked out of in 2002, while Trump could promise in return to remove our missiles from Romania and the ones planned for Poland and not to put any more missiles in Eastern Europe under the newly reinstated ABM Treaty.
Putin could also remind Trump that Reagan promised that if Gorbachev didn’t object to a united East Germany entering NATO, after the wall came down and Gorbachev miraculously let go of all of Eastern Europe without a shot, the US would not expand NATO one step to the east. In light of that broken promise and how NATO has now expanded to all of the former Soviet occupied Eastern Europe, Trump should agree to Putin’s request that he disband NATO. (Let Trump remember, and the rest of us as well, that Russia lost 29,000,000, that’s 29 million, people to the Nazi onslaught, and feels very threatened to have NATO breathing down its neck with military maneuvers on its borders.)
One more agreement Putin might negotiate with Trump in their efforts to achieve the very greatest negotiations for peace ever! He should remind Trump that in 2009 Obama rejected his request that the US and Russia negotiate a cyberwar ban treaty. What could be more beneficent while saving trillions of competitive dollars chasing superiority in cyberwarfare, and wasting hundreds of thousands of IQ points on a senseless and perilously dangerous kind of novel warfare, when the world needs all the brainpower and resources it can use to avert the coming climate catastrophe and save Mother Earth.
Then the US could promise to commit the $1 trillion it had budgeted for new nuclear bomb factories, weapons, and delivery systems to a fund to help rebuild war torn countries, from which the largest waves of immigrants are fleeing. Trump should ask Russia as well as other countries who are leaving NATO and giving up their nuclear weapons and joining the ban treaty to also commit to donate those funds no longer needed to support their nuclear military budgets which would more than adequately and generously support the “Keep People Safely and Happy in Their Home Countries Fund”, so we won’t need to build walls and hire police forces and homeland security guards to stop impoverished, war-torn, threatened people from migrating. Who would ever want to leave their homeland if they could live in the land of their birth in peace and prosperity?
Now is the time to urge that another world is truly possible!
Alice Slater serves on the Coordinating Committee of World BEYOND War
Imagine John Lennon’s ode to Peace.
If we can’t imagine a path to peace, we’ll never get there!
I admire this article. Alice draws a very exciting and inspiring picture. Would we be so lucky that Trump & Putin would go for a safer world? That’s why there’s a proposal for a Global Peace Summit circulating between peace activists in Russia and the US. Let’s get China, India, the European Union, and the UN Secretary General in the mix, perhaps including Pakistan and Israel.
But treaty-based agreements are too fragile when it comes to war and weapons of mass destruction. Next step must be a “new UN” under a real world constitution (Earth Constitution) to form a world federal union government with enforceable world law. Otherwise, any treaty agreements will soon fall apart due to the poison of unlimited,excessive sovereignty and lack of global law and order. There’s no sheriff in town at the global level.
Please post the link to the this new proposal that’s circulating so we can all support and promote it! Thanks.
Please post the link to the this new proposal that’s circulating so we can all support and promote it! Thanks.
For those who missed this article during the presidential campaign, I’m linking it here, because it has never rung more true than it does right now. Unlike the author, however, I could not bring myself to vote for Trump and instead went with Stein. Although the article is too generous toward Trump, it incisively explains why Clinton was simply not an option for a thinking, principled voter, and also accurately describes what has happened–even, more sadly, since the election–to what was once a proud, peace-loving American left.
Thank you Alice,
For your realistic dose of optimism. Let’s hope your plan can refocus the discussion about the potential we have in understanding each other, with a little trial and error such as was even attempted by two recent leaders representing equally skeptical and mistrustful as the leaderships in the US and Russia today. Let’s hope these two mutual establishments can come to their common senses. Try it, they’ll like it.
If a snake bites you once, it will bite you again. I think your joy at Trumps talks with a dictator who killed his whole family to get where he is today and a former KGB officer is definitely premature. I think both of these gentlemen are using Trump for their own gains to the detriment of democracy.
Nuclear weapons allow small countries, like North Korea, to protect themselves from being overwhelmed by one of the great powers. If we want smaller countries to give up nuclear weapons, we must give them an absolute guarantee that they will not be overwhelmed. To do that, I think that we must reduce national militaries to the size of police forces and coast guards, with the only significant military force being an international force under the command of the UN.
This sounds extremely visionary, but consider that we will need some sort of world government eventually, if only to solve the problem of corporations and the superrich keeping almost all of their money in tax havens.
Alice, while I appreciate the exercise in imagination (and agree with the premise that it is our lack of imagination and envisioning a “World Without War” that most often traps us in the downward cycle of violence) this scenario stretches credulity. And here’s the reason—not because of the imaginative, though informed and plausible, content of the scenario—but precisely because it is superimposed into the mouths of the “megalomaniacal Trump” and the “egomaniacal Putin.” The events that have taken place (especially in the short span of time since you first penned your essay, July 7th) bring this point dramatically home. In an effort to promote the cause of peace and the denuclearization of the planet you have, it seems to me, done a huge disservice to that self-same cause by linking such truthful, imaginative and courageous actions with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. When inviting people to “imagine peace” and the possibility of “another world” wouldn’t we be most wise not to align such noble aspirations with the likes of Trump and Putin? How can thinking people of conscience even give your thought experiment a chance (let alone giving peace a chance) when such a peace is framed in the actions of these “maniacal” (and we could also say authoritarian–among other descriptors) personalities?
Your first sentence unfortunately quickly betrays what feels to me (and I would sense many other readers) like a disconnect—calling Trumps planned meeting with Putin “groundbreaking.” By what measure—other than superficial? The lack of a viable U.S. Administration diplomatic strategy entering the meeting, the bizarre nature of a “closed door” one-on-one session, and the backdrop of a U.S investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections (which Trump has still not admitted to) turns “groundbreaking” into something more like the tsunami that it turned out to be. This, coupled with the moniker of “the new détente” afforded to Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong-un, disallows a thoughtful reader from taking the plea for an imaginatively genuine peace seriously. Did you really mean to say this is what “peace breaking out” looks like?!
In short, my heart-felt concern is that the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is an action worth celebrating but seems grossly undercut by putting it in the same context of your “thought experiment” trying to draw some kind of parallel to creative and courageous thinking. One can fully celebrate, support, and promote the Treaty (as I do) without imagining that the Trump-Putin scenario has much truly nonviolent/new world credibility. If it makes me a “naysayer” than so be it, but my imagination draws a line at the thought of Trump and Putin “deciding to be the greatest heroes the world has ever known.” With Gandhi, I prefer to be a “practical dreamer.”
I’m afraid that this article takes Trump at his word which is something that even he doesn’t do. This is reminiscent of the kind of stuff that the “Moral Rearmament” people used to write about Mr. Hitler and is just as silly. Trump has a long track record as an ignoramus, a fool, a liar, a cheat, and an insecure, amoral, unintelligent egomaniac. While making valid points about the military-industrial complex and its control of US foreign policy, it is beyond naive to propose that Trump might care whether or not there are more or fewer nuclear weapons in the world. He is merely interested in drumming up business for his numerous failing businesses – most especially his golf course in Scotland. Nukes are his toys.
Kudos for describing what everyone would love to happen! That ability is visionary. We might not agree with the methods of getting there, as is evident in the replies, but is PERFECT for motivating the masses.
That’s what we need — a plan to motivate the masses. What better way than to find a way to “Reach into Every Household.” Enlist the people who are socialized to be the least physically violent. Enlist the people who teach the children to “use their words.” Enlist the people who have an affinity for community and teaching the children — WOMEN.
Males think in terms of winning. Well, if I was betting on a team to win, I would want the best players in the game, not sitting on the bench. Enlist the women as peacemakers and watch what happens. They are already united (as evidenced in the Women’s March on Washington). Ask them to lead a new Global Peace Movement.
All the mechanisms are in place. Women can unite the people of the world.
Peace and Love