The latest on renewing the New START Treaty

From Politico’s Morning Defense Newsletter, October 23, 2020:

FRESH START OR FULL STOP? “President Donald Trump has been eager to notch a major election-season win on arms control with Russia — and that prospect looked promising early this week when Moscow appeared to give in to a major U.S. demand,” Seligman and your Morning D correspondent report.

“But a top Trump official, and now Russian Vladimir Putin, are making clear there is still a serious divide between the two nuclear heavyweights.”

National security adviser Robert O’Brien told Seligman that an agreement to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for another year is not “a done deal” because the two sides still need the procedures for verifying the terms of an agreement “that are suitable to both parties.”

At issue is Washington’s requirement that an extension of the 10-year-old agreement include a temporary freeze on all nuclear weapons, including strategic weapons covered by the treaty and tactical weapons that aren’t.

“In any negotiation but especially in arms control, the devil is always in the details,” O’Brien said in an interview. “Assuming that we can get suitable verification on the freeze, I think we should be able to get a deal. At least I hope so. I think we will propose something very shortly in the next couple days, or next week.” 

Putin also threw more cold water on the prospect of an imminent victory for Trump on Thursday. “The agreement expires in February and what I proposed is very simple,” Putin said in an online appearance at the Valdai forum in Moscow. “Nothing terrible will happen if we extend it for a year, without preconditions, and we can continue to work with determination on resolving all the issues that concern us and the Americans.”

Washington has already rejected an extension without preconditions, so the comments dimmed hopes for an agreement just days after Putin indicated that his government was open to a one-year freeze, including tactical weapons that aren’t covered by New START.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also told a Russian newspaper on Thursday that the two sides are far from a deal. “So far, at this stage, it cannot be said that we are on the verge of agreements,” he told Kommersant.

What the U.S. is demanding is considered extremely ambitious: a full accounting of all of Russia’s nukes and protocols for verifying it is abiding by a freeze, including on-site inspections. That’s especially true when it comes to the thousands of weapons Russia is believed to possess that are not covered by New START. 

“You can’t freeze what you can’t count, so you have to get an accurate count,” said Peter Huessy, director of strategic deterrent studies at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “New START gives us a fuzzy start. The hard part will be to freeze non-strategic systems which are not even accounted for.”

He predicted that fashioning a viable process for verifying a freeze would take “many months” and “probably over a year.” That could mean a freeze will not be formalized until after the treaty extension expires. 

The graybeards weigh in: Some of the leading architects of the Cold War arms control regime that birthed New START are hoping things can be salvaged so the last remaining nuclear treaty between the two sides doesn’t disappear.

“The United States and Russia should seal the deal now to extend New START, because if the last remaining bilateral treaty governing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces ends in February, the world’s most destructive nuclear arsenals will be unlimited and unverified for the first time since the end of the Cold War,” former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Sen. Sam Nunn wrote in The Washington Post.

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If all wars are based on lies, truth is our greatest weapon

by Rick Staggenborg, MD. Originally posted at OpEdNews, Sept. 2, 2020

In this article, the new President of the Linus Pauling chapter makes the case that to make the public understand what really causes war, we have to challenge the propaganda that is used to manufacture consent for it. When Americans realize how extensively they are being lied to about what is being done in their names, they may just get angry enough to demand an end to the forever wars.

The problem of manufacturing consent for war.

Respect for national sovereignty has been the basis of international law designed to prevent preemptive warfare since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 ended the 30 Years War. The idea was to prevent wars by agreeing that empires and international alliances would not interfere with the internal affairs of any nation. The idea was rejected by later Empire builders, leading to two world wars. This practice of the US ignoring international law has become increasingly blatant ever since. It now poses a risk to peace and national sovereignty everywhere.

Rick Staggenborg

Americans are taught that Hitler’s attempt at creating a fascist New World Order was the result of his insane personal ambition alone. Raised to believe that America is champion of freedom and democracy, most of us do not see that since the end of WWII the US has been working to create its own empire, one that is fast coming to resemble Hitler’s. The major difference is that it is not run by a dictator but by an oligarchy who exert much of their influence through our privately financed system of elections and their control of an increasingly interlocked network of powerful corporations controlled by a relative few.

American exceptionalism: The American Empire is no longer a secret

Despite the obvious signs of a police state being created in the US with the passage of the Patriot Act, the 2012 NDAA authorizing Presidents to arrest and indefinitely imprison without charge Americans he or she deem enemies of the state and the NSA program of unlimited domestic surveillance, most Americans refused to see this trend until Trump made it obvious with his authoritarian behavior. Many think that everything will go back to normal if Biden defeats him in November. However, other than taking on a more sophisticated tone, the bellicose nationalism that so alarmed Democrats when Bush was in office continued largely unchanged during the Obama-Biden years. It seems that American exceptionalism is not a partisan issue. It’s a fundamental principle in US foreign policy and whoever the Current Occupant of the White House is, they challenge it at their peril.

The Bush Doctrine of preemptive war has been replaced by the Obama Doctrine of “responsibility to protect,” first implemented in Kosovo by Bill Clinton. Obama used the same rationale to justify intervention in Libya and Syria. In all three cases, the results have been disastrous. “Humanitarian intervention” differs in name only from the neocon practice of making war against (or at least destabilizing) any country that stands in the way of US geostrategic goals. The targets are the same. The legal principle of humanitarian intervention exists nowhere in international law. There is a good reason for that. It is a direct violation of the UN charter and of the earlier Kellogg-Briand treaty that made war illegal except in self-defense.

The origins of the post-WWII government propaganda apparatus

If we are ever going to see the end of war, it is imperative to understand the systematic way in which generations of Americans have been indoctrinated to accept the idea that it is inevitable. The explanation is not complicated. The problem is that so few people are working to educate Americans about their real history since WWII, leaving them to allow their leaders to repeat the same mistakes that lead to the downfall of all empires.

Continue reading here.

Rick Staggenborg is the current president of Veterans For Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter, Corvallis-Albany, Oregon. Rick is a former Army and VA psychiatrist who ran for the US Senate in 2010 on a campaign based on a pledge to introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood and regulate campaign finance.

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Making Waves: Rebirth of the Golden Rule

If you haven’t seen this short video of the VFP project, the sailing vessel Golden Rule, it’s well worth your time.

The latest info on the Golden Rule is here. They are currently sheltering in Hawaii and hope to continue their trans-Pacific public information tour soon. Donations are gladly accepted at their web site to support their work.

Click above.
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DemocracyNow!: “The Beginning of Our End”: On 75th Anniversary, Hiroshima Survivor Warns Against Nuclear Weapons

DemocracyNow!, August 6, 2020: “On the 75th anniversary of when the United States dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing some 140,000 people, we speak with Hideko Tamura Snider, who was 10 years old when she survived the attack. ‘The shaking was so huge,’ she recalls. ‘I remember the sensation, the color and the smell like yesterday.’ Tamura Snider describes her harrowing journey through a shattered city, suffering radiation sickness following the attack, and her message to President Trump.”

Hideko lives in Medford, Oregon and has been to Corvallis for talks and commemorations several times. In 2019, a Peace Tree was planted in her honor at the OSU Asian & Pacific Cultural Center.

Click for DemocracyNow! Story
Click for DemocracyNow! Story
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Gazette-Times: Corvallis display, virtual events set to note Hiroshima, Nagasaki

Jim Day, Aug. 4, 2020

To say that this year’s efforts to note the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have faced challenges would be an understatement.

Observances scheduled at sites around the world, including Corvallis, had to be postponed because of the coronavirus.

Corvallis activists for the past 38 years have organized a commemoration event. In recent years that has meant a public observance at Riverfront Park, with live music, speakers, a candlelight ceremony and a peace flotilla. Not this year.

Determined local organizers, however, wanted to find a way to keep the momentum going, particularly on the 75th anniversary.

Read the full story with interviews of local anti-nuclear activists and VFP 132 members here.

Veterans For Peace, Linus Pauling Chapter, Corvallis is a co-sponsor of the annual Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemoration.

For more commemorative events online, see this Word document posted here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9wxbh720ytht18k/hiroshima2020.docx?dl=0

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Code PINK: 10 Reasons Why Defunding Police Should Lead to Defunding War

Sometime around the 2014 police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, former VFP executive director Michael McPhearson (@MTMcPhearson) helped our organization shift focus slightly and work for “Peace at Home; Peace Abroad.”

It’s great to see Code PINK reaffirm that connection in this article by Medea Benjamin & Zoltán Grossman.

Click the image for the full article
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Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept): How Congress Maintains Endless War (Video)

We thought we had a pretty good handle on the ”inside baseball” of Congressional support for a virtually unlimited Pentagon budget, despite public demands, especially now, for domestic spending on e.g., health care, education, etc.

But this analysis by Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept is pretty mind-blowing. He takes apart the latest House Armed Services Committee (controlled by Dems, right?) deliberations on four amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—two pro-war amendments and two anti-war amendments—to illustrate how Dems collude with Republicans to keep the war machine well funded.

Click above for YouTube video
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The US Military’s Devastating Impact on Climate

Our friends at Albany Peace Seekers have produced a tri-fold brochure demonstrating the US military’s effects on climate change and detailing the threats and costs of US nuclear weapons programs.

Clicking the images below take you to a printable PDF version of the brochure.

VFP and Albany Peace Seekers are distributing the brochures in a safe, no-touch manner at farmer’s markets. Please contact us for copies.

Click this image for the printable/downloadable pdf version
Click this image for the printable/downloadable pdf version

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Empire Files: “Afghanistan War Exposed: An Imperial Conspiracy”

Click above for the YouTube video
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Empire Files: The Forgotten Wars, Part I

From Abby Martin and Mike Prysner, an Empire Files interview with USMC Afghanistan war veteran, John Motter.

If you know anyone considering joining the military, offer them this. John does a wonderful job of describing his personal experience in the pointless occupation of Afghanistan.

From Popular Resistance:

“The US war on Afghanistan will soon enter its 20th year. Two decades we’ve seen an endless loop of news stories: progress then setbacks, lies then revelations, a new end, then a new beginning. But, for the most part, it has simply vanished from media and politics–no longer discussed at all.

“However, it has not vanished for those impacted–not for the people of Afghanistan, nor the young men and women sent to fight them.

“In part one of the Empire Files series on the US empire’s forever war, Marine Corps infantryman turned anti-war activist John Motter tells Abby Martin the hidden reality of the Afghanistan War.

“From units committing war crimes to protecting opium crops, John’s experience is a harrowing and sobering reminder of why the US urgently needs to leave.”

Click for the YouTube video
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