James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A terrifying book, but read it anyway

By Will Shapira

Empire And The Bomb: How the U.S. Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate The World. Joseph Gerson, Pluto Press, www.plutobookscom 348 pages soft cover, $28.95.

I don’t know if they test the civil defense warning systems in your hometown but come 1 p.m. Central Time on the first Wednesday of each month in good old Minneapolis, Minnesota---the heart of the heartland--- the sirens are sounded and those of us who know the drill chant, “Put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.”

I thought of that immediately after reading only two pages of this incredible book.

Simply stated, Joseph Gerson has written the doomsday book of doomsday books. He only explodes every myth most of us learned in school about the benevolence of America and how we “needed” to drop atomic bombs on Japan to end WWII, and cites one instance after another of how we not only use our atomic weaponry to support a policy of blatant, unabashed and unapologetic imperialistic, capitalistic global hegemony but apparently don’t mind running the risk of starting a nuclear war to advance our policies, knowing full well that such could trigger the war to end all wars and wipe out the human race. (Nothing like sticking by your principles, eh?)

Such statements may sound extreme, but only until you have delved into what may be the most important book written in decades. With all due to respect to the many diligent works on global warming, Iraq, Afghanistan, human and civil rights, poverty, racism, and all of the other extremely important topics of the day, the very real possibility of our country causing not just genocide but omnicide (yes, a new word for me, too) chills the blood, bones and soul and reduces what formerly was an “impossible” abstraction into a frightening reality.

Gerson cites no fewer than 40 occasions since 1946 when the U.S. has broached the threat of nuclear weapons to achieve its goals and he shows that we came closer than anyone ever thought to causing a full-blown nuclear exchange between Russia and the U.S. during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Of all the statistics Gerson produces, none is scarier than this: “At the beginning of the twenty-first century, only 51 U.S. strategic warheads would be needed” in a nuclear attack on Russia, “yet Washington’s arsenal numbered more than 10,000 weapons.” (And, mind you, this is being written two days after we learned an Air Force B-52 flew a training mission from North Dakota to Louisiana with nuclear weapons on board. (“Cripes, I just plain forgot to remove them damn bombs before the plane took off; sorry about that.”)

And, adds Gerson, it was during the Clinton presidency that “The Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence” were adopted, committing the U.S. to maintaining “’a fear of national extinction’ in the minds of those it seeks to intimidate.”

In his excellent foreword, Prof. Walden Bello declares that “unless the people of the United States and the world are able to push the U.S. get rid of its nuclear arsenal, there will be no real peace. This book is a forceful reminder of this truth and challenge.” Indeed.

Section by section, chapter by chapter, Gerson effectively and inexorably makes his case. Yet, he is not without hope. While our war-mongering politicians and military personnel may have their itchy fingers on the nuclear trigger, Gerson says peacemakers such as he “have road maps to a nuclear weapons-free world. We can reach the destination of nuclear weapons abolition only if we find within ourselves the moral and political will that has been lacking for far too long…Hope, imagination and resolute will can be contagious. They also are essential for human survival.”

This book is must reading for every American and world politician, every media person, every educator and every student capable of understanding the magnitude of its message and especially every American who can get beyond the conventional un-wisdom of our nation’s lap-dog media and mis-education system and face the awful truth of what our country really is all about and maybe why “they” hate us so much.

Now, will a Ken Burns, a Michael Moore, an Al Gore or some other filmmaker step up and convert Gerson’s book into a film that cries out to be shown in the theatres and on the television screens of the world---before it’s too late?

The nuclear clock is ticking.

Will Shapira, a former news writer for radio and television and retired public relations man, wrote this review for a publication of Veterans for Peace, of which he is a member.


-- For those who missed it, Alan Greenspan, that idol of the right and icon of conservatives, observed the other day that he just can't understand why Americans won't accept the truth of the situation in Iraq – that it is about oil. (That doesn't mean he disapproves; just that we should accept the reality.)

-- Many newspapers outside the United States now are writing about a U.S. attack on Iran as though it is a given and the question is not if but when. Most of reported what most American newspapers have not: That under direction of the White House (as personified by Dick Cheney), the Pentagon has identified about 2,000 bombing targets in Iran and mapped out plans of attack.

-- Hotmail (Microsoft) and AOL and apparently some other Internet carriers are blocking the newsletter emails of TruthOut.org to some of its subscribers. The deliberate censorship appears to be haphazard, or just plain not terribly efficient, as yet, but it's ongoing and probably will become more encompassing with time. You can see an article on the situation at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/091307Z.shtml

There is no explanation for the censorship other than political views, though it's not clear why TruthOut was chosen to start censoring views the corporate bigwigs at the various Internet powerhouses don't like. Perhaps it appears more vulnerable than, say, MoveOn with its millions of members and not so dangerous to cross as some of the veterans' organizations such as Veterans for Common Sense. Also, TruthOut is known to be struggling financially of late.

Best thing you can do is send TruthOut money and contact your senators and member of Congress, demanding an investigation and legislation preventing the Net bigwigs from imposing their views on the public.