"Anyone who nonconsensually violates your brain/mind/mentation using Mengele-like methods is a Nazi pig. You do not care what a Nazi pig thinks. You do not care about a Nazi pig's opinions. You do not respond to a Nazi pig ridiculing you, threatening you, trying to distract you, or otherwise trying to manipulate you. You work to get a Nazi pig hanged." - Allen Barker, NPT Theorem

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jeremy Radlow

Note: Like other useful website for TIs, Jeremy Radlow’s Are you targeted? web-site followed the same fate of Raven 1 and C-A-T-C-H CANADA, it seems like everytime TIs managed to have a relevant and effective source of information, they eventually all closed down, eaten up, and swallowed by the draconian “evil-puppet-master!.” Here are the debris, the information that we can salvaged from the aftermath. Radlow also closed down his You Tube channel and his Talkshoe podcast. He indicated in one of his last podcast that a major changes in priorities and research triggered his decision to ceased from active participation in the TI communities.


• It’s a brainwashing program. Brainwashed people don’t know they’re brainwashed.
• The disturbing things you experience are real. The narrative is in your mind. Your imagination has been primed by a single source, disguising itself as multiple sources.
• Treat this explanation as a hypothesis. Do all the strange happenings around you seem less disturbing when you assume all the suggestive performances, loaded conversations, and veiled references to your personal life are coming from people who have no idea what they’re doing? Look at things a different way. Does it make you feel better?
• There is no authoritative source of information about this program or the underlying tools. Think otherwise? Listen to the podcast.


• New tools have added a new dimension to an old game.
• The game: provocation, misdirection, disinformation.
• Numerous “fake” events can be anchored to real events, amplifying the perceived threat and getting the witness to report outlandish stories.
• Individuals whose brain centers are electrically stimulated believe their evoked actions are their own ideas; their conscious mind rationalizes the evoked actions away. People experiencing this electrical stimulation aren’t consciously aware of an external influence. (José Delgado, Physical control of the mind: toward a psychocivilized society; p. 116.)


• It costs them little to disseminate disinformation, but you’ll find it very costly.
• Disinformation spreads because it gives the recipients what they want. What you want is vindication, validation, and public acceptance. Beware information that plays on these desires.
• Are you experimenting on them and testing the boundaries of your prison? Or are they toying with you?


• Real skepticism is great.
• A select group of public relations specialists – and a community of online bullies – have adopted the language of skepticism to get what they want. They’re not sincere. Recognize them for what they are.
• Distraction and misdirection are the tools of magicians as well as intelligence agencies. The skeptic community has been put to work attacking corporate- and government- created straw men, discrediting the real issues by association; they’ve been played.


• A very cheap and harmless countermeasure: listening to binaural beats (alpha, theta, delta waves) on a portable music player with stereo headphones. Reports indicate this works well with beating sleep deprivation as well as auditory disturbances. The probable cause is binaural entrainment. Search YouTube for binaural beat sound tracks.
• Whether or not they’re interested in poisoning you; whether or not they’re interested in breaking in at night; you can take some simple steps to earn peace of mind and help the fear recede. Try barricading your door at night (if you think “they” are still getting in, check out the podcast explaining “the program”, above). Hang on to food receipts – toss them in a waste basket in a corner.
• Shielding integrity: It’s pretty easy to verify the integrity of shielding with cheap equipment. If you can reduce your cell phone to zero bars, or block reception for a portable radio, you’re off to a great start. Ordinary window screens can let air pass into a shielded enclosure without compromising its integrity.
• If your enclosure is blocking cell phones / radio transmissions, but it’s not shielding you, you’re probably bringing the source of your problems inside the enclosure with you.
• Don’t use metal foil. It’s a stereotype, and besides, unless you know exactly what you’re doing, it’s probably not going to work. You can mix iron filings (or iron oxide, for a smoother finish) with ordinary paint and coat your walls with it - the recommended ratio is 4:1 paint-to-iron. Please note that this may not block broadcast EMF – see the shielding integrity advice, above.


• Passive shielding is basically a solved problem, but it might not be practical. You can’t spend your life in a steel coffin. Plus, you don’t know exactly what you’re shielding against (but you can rule out a lot of possibilities using brute force).
• 60+ Ghz EMF is quickly attenuated (blocked) by ordinary obstacles, including wood and brick. Here’s a CBS News video showing a reporter blocking the 95 Ghz Active Denial System with a board of plywood, as well as a mattress.
• Starting points to investigate shielding advice: Electromagnetic shielding; Skin effect; Dielectric heating (Wikipedia).


• A frequently-cited article, Mind Fields (Omni Magazine, 1985) doesn’t say what Nick Begich has led his readers to believe what it says. In the article, Delgado scoffs at the notion of long-distance EMF attacks, but Begich doesn’t quote that part of the article.
• A patent doesn’t mean anything without a working model. Bad patents do slip past USPTO examiners.
• Anybody can claim anything in a lawsuit. A lawsuit filing isn’t proof of anything.
• Reputable scientific journals generally don’t have to announce that they’re “peer reviewed”; it’s a given.
• Electrical pollution: look a lot more closely at the existing studies. You’re going to find flaws, even in “peer reviewed” studies. Magda Havas’ infamous double-blind heart rate experiment, for example, doesn’t allow for electrical interference with the measurements of the subjects’ heart rates.
• Studies that show correlation – without leading researchers to underlying causes – have to be dismissed. You see, the truth wears off.


• Where does the terminology you use come from? Do you know? Are you being misled by it?
• Neurotechnology instead of electronic mind control (sounds fringe) or mind control (ambiguous). Dennis Kuchinich (D-OH) tried to outlaw psychotronics but that’s his word, not anybody else’s.
• Stop labeling everyone you’re bothered by as a perpetrator; do you like being labeled? But there are going to be players who are “in on it”, such as assets, operatives, and handlers.
• High-tech stalking by proxy instead of organized stalking (which implies agency). Gang-stalking is okay as slang, but never say gang stalkers.
• Augmented reality instead of holograms.
• Evoked actions or inner voice cloning instead of subliminals.
• Consider describing yourself and those around you as subjects of experimentation or assets instead of targeted individuals.
• Auditory disturbance(s) instead of v2k, which implies a particular technology is being used. V2K is convenient slang, though, and it’s not going away.


• You’re being coerced into interacting with certain people.
• You pick up misconceptions from the company you keep: bad science, misleading framing, unreliable testimony. If you act on those misconceptions, your actions are the product of coercion.
• In your search for allies, you’ve lowered your standards. You need to restore them.
If everyone knew: 5 documented facts that everyone should know.


Friday, October 26, 2012

MKULTRA Documents

1977 Senate MKULTRA Hearing - In June 1977, a rare cache of MKULTRA documents were discovered, which had escaped destruction by the CIA. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence held a hearing on August 3, 1977, to question CIA officials on the newly-discovered documents. The complete 171-page record is included here, including testimony and dozens of MKULTRA documents on various subprojects.

MKULTRA Subproject No. 83 - This declassified CIA memo was written on April 18, 1958 by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, chief of the Chemical Division of the agency's Technical Services Staff. Gottlieb, who oversaw many of the MKULTRA projects, reviewed covert CIA support for research studies of "controversial and misunderstood" areas of psychology such as hypnosis, truth drugs, psychic powers and subliminal persuasion. Text Transcript

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MKULTRA Hypnosis Experiments - This memo, written by the CIA's Sidney Gottlieb, is one of the earliest records available from the MKULTRA project. One month after CIA Director Allen Dulles authorized the program, Gottlieb writes of a "planned series of five major experiments" which are to examine "hypnotically induced anxieties," the "relationship of personality to hypnosis," and other matters of the hypnotized mind. Text Transcript

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MKULTRA and LSD - This June 1953 document records Dr. Sidney Gottlieb's approval of an early CIA acid test. "This project will include a continuation of a study of the biochemical, neurophysiological, sociological, and clinical psychiatric aspects of L.S.D.," the CIA scientist writes. Text Transcript

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MKULTRA Trickery - This document reveals the CIA's concern with covert means of administering the mind- and behavior-altering substances researched in MKULTRA projects. In 1953, the Agency commissioned a "manual on trickery," to be authored by a prominent magician, who described ways to conduct "tricks with pills" and other substances. Text Transcript

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MKULTRA Materials and Methods - This 1955 CIA document reviews the Agency's research and development of a shocking list of mind-altering substances and methods, including "materials which will render the indication of hypnosis easier or otherwise enhance its usefulness," and "physical methods of producing shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use." Text Transcript

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MKULTRA: CIA Mind Control by Jon Elliston 

MKULTRA is one of the most disturbing instances of intelligence community abuse on record. For many Americans, the 1950s were a docile decade. In U.S. history books, the period is mostly portrayed as a mellow, orderly one, especially in light of the social upheavals that followed in the 1960s. But for the CIA, the "I Like Ike" years were packed with adventure and action, much of it conducted outside of the public's view. Few programs were sheltered with more secrecy than the Agency's mind control experiments, identified together with the code-name MKULTRA. Concerned about rumors of communist brainwashing of POWs during the Korean war, in April 1953 CIA Director Allen Dulles authorized the MKULTRA program, which would later become notorious for the unusual and sometimes inhumane tests that the CIA financed. Reviewing the experiments five years later, one secrecy-conscious CIA auditor wrote: "Precautions must be taken not only to protect operations from exposure to enemy forces but also to conceal these activities from the American public in general. The knowledge that the agency is engaging in unethical and illicit activities would have serious repercussions in political and diplomatic circles."

Though many of the documents related to MKULTRA were destroyed by the CIA in 1972, some records relating to the program have made it into the public domain, and the work of historians, investigative reporters, and various congressional committees has resulted in the release of enough information to make MKULTRA one of the most disturbing instances of intelligence community abuse on record. As writer Mark Zepezauer puts it, "the surviving history is nasty enough." The most notorious MKULTRA experiments were the CIA's pioneering studies of the drug that would years later feed the heads of millions: lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD. The CIA was intrigued by the drug, and harbored hopes that acid or a similar drug could be used to clandestinely disorient and manipulate target foreign leaders. (The Agency would consider several such schemes in its pursuit of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who they wanted to send into a drug-induced stupor or tirade during a public or live radio speech.) LSD was also viewed as a way to loosen tongues in CIA interrogations.

In his thorough book on MKULTRA and similar projects, The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate," John Marks reports that most of the CIA researchers tried LSD themselves. In fact, an early phase of the experiments was probably the setting for the first acid trip in the United States -- experienced by a courageous CIA man no less! The fact that these experiments took place is remarkable in and of itself, but the story of the CIA's LSD trips approaches the unbelievably bizarre when the cast of characters is considered. In his recent history of the early exploits of the CIA, The Very Best Men, Evan Thomas describes Sidney Gottlieb, the Stranglovian scientist who ran the MKULTRA project: "Born with a clubfoot and a stutter, he compensated by becoming an expert folk dancer and obtaining a Ph.D. from Cal Tech. A pleasant man who lived on a farm with his wife, Gottlieb drank only goat's milk and grew Christmas trees, which he sold at a roadside stand." When he wasn't busy on the farm, Dr. Gottlieb was dosing subjects with LSD-laced drinks, scrutinizing their reactions, and searching for qualities of the drug that would benefit CIA covert actions.

The CIA's LSD experiments were conducted on many unwitting subjects, most often prisoners or patrons of brothels set up and run by the Agency, which had installed two-way mirrors in the establishments to allow for observation of the drug's effects (these studies were referred to as "Operation Midnight Climax"). Some of the MKULTRA subjects who were informed faced even more inhumane treatment: during one experiment in Kentucky, seven volunteers were given LSD for 77 days straight. One of the experiments probably proved fatal. On November 19, 1953, an Army scientist and germ warfare specialist named Frank Olson, who was working on an MKULTRA project, was slipped a solid dose of LSD in his drink. Then, after spending eight days stumbling about in what many observers described as a paranoid, depressed state, Olson jumped through his hotel window in New York and fell ten stories to his death. The Agency covered up its role in Olson's demise, and twenty-two years would pass before his family would learn of the events leading up to his death. When the CIA's acid exploits were made public in the mid-1970s, the Agency found itself facing heavy criticism. One Senate committee put it this way in 1975:

"From its beginning in the early 1950s until its termination in 1963, the program of surreptitious administration of LSD to unwitting non-volunteer human subjects demonstrates a failure of the CIA's leadership to pay adequate attention to the rights of individuals and to provide effective guidance to CIA employees. Though it was known that the testing was dangerous, the lives of subjects were placed in jeopardy and were ignored.... Although it was clear that the laws of the United States were being violated, the testing continued." Though the most prominently discussed aspect of MKULTRA is the CIA's LSD work, the program included many other unusual investigations relating to the science of mind control. CIA researchers probed the potential of numerous parapsychological phenomena, including hypnosis, telepathy, precognition, photokinesis and "remote viewing." These studies weren't conducted merely to satisfy the CIA's scientific curiosity -- the Agency was looking for weapons that would give the United States the upper hand in the mind wars. Toward that objective, the Agency poured millions of dollars into studies probing literally dozens of methods of influencing and controlling the mind. One 1955 MKULTRA document gives an indication of the size and range of the effort; the memo refers to the study of an assortment of mind-altering substances which would:

"promote illogical thinking and impulsiveness to the point where the recipient would be discredited in public" "increase the efficiency of mentation and perception" "prevent or counteract the intoxicating effect of alcohol" "promote the intoxicating effect of alcohol" "produce the signs and symptoms of recognized diseases in a reversible way so that they may be used for malingering, etc." "render the indication of hypnosis easier or otherwise enhance its usefulness" "enhance the ability of individuals to withstand privation, torture and coercion during interrogation and so-called 'brainwashing'" "produce amnesia for events preceding and during their use" "produc[e] shock and confusion over extended periods of time and capable of surreptitious use" "produce physical disablement such as paralysis of the legs, acute anemia, etc." "produce 'pure' euphoria with no subsequent let-down" "alter personality structure in such a way that the tendency of the recipient to become dependent upon another person is enhanced" "cause mental confusion of such a type that the individual under its influence will find it difficult to maintain a fabrication under questioning" "lower the ambition and general working efficiency of men when administered in undetectable amounts" "promote weakness or distortion of the eyesight or hearing faculties, preferably without permanent effects"  Few of MKULTRA's objectives were realized, but the very conduct of these experiments caused many critics of the CIA to argue that successful or not, CIA scientists shouldn't pry at the doors of perception (MKULTRA: CIA Mind Control by Jon Elliston).

Related Reading:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


On June 2, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge signed a warrant for the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal, a former Black Panther and an award-winning journalist who was convicted in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Ridge set the execution date for 10:00 P.M. on August 17 (coincidentally or not, the birthday of Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey). Mumia Abu Jamal, whose slave name is Wesley Cook, earned the title of "voice of the voiceless" for his exposure on radio and in print of former Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo's racist policies, in particular the persecution by Philly police of the radical Black back-to-nature group called MOVE. In the early morning hours of December 9, 1981, Officer Faulkner was found dying of gunshot wounds to the head and back at the corner of Locust and 13th Streets in downtown Philadelphia, with Mumia lying critically wounded no more than four feet away. Both were taken to the hospital, where Faulkner died shortly afterward.

At Mumia's 1982 trial, the prosecution used eleven preemptory challenges to exclude potential Black jurors, ending up with a jury of nine whites and three elderly Blacks. This jury heard evidence to the effect that Faulkner had stopped a Volkswagen driven by Mumia's brother, Billy Cook, and that some sort of struggle was going on when Mumia arrived on the scene. A taxi driver named Robert Chobert also testified against Mumia, but Chobert told a very different story than he did on the night of the killing. At the scene of the killing had told police investigators that he had seen a Black man of approximately 225 pounds shoot Faulkner, then run away; later that night Chobert told investigators at Police Headquarters that he saw the shooter run approximately 30 steps on the opposite side of the street. But when confronted on cross-examination with the fact that Mumia weighed only 170 pounds, Chobert admitted that Mumia did not look like someone who weighed 225 pounds and was not "heavy." Chobert said that he had been mistaken on the night of the murder, and told a new story in which the killer fell to the ground no more than ten feet from Faulkner. Could it be that Chobert's turnabout had something to do with pressure from the cops? It turns out that Chobert was on probation for arson (he had thrown a Molotov cocktail at a school for pay) and was under threat of being sent back to jail because of a drunk driving conviction. Similarly, the only person to testify that Mumia had a gun in his hand was Cynthia White, a prostitute who worked the area who had three open prostitution cases the time of Mumia's trial. During that trial, White was protected by undercover police officers while working the streets. None of the other witnesses testified that they saw Cynthia White at the scene of the killing. The jury was also told by Officer Faulkner's partner that Mumia had blurted out a "confession," while lying wounded in the hospital.

Another cop, Officer Gary Wakshul, who was there at the time the confession was purportedly made, wrote a police statement noting that "the negro male made no statements." Wakshul was, however, unable to testify at Mumia's trial because the police department had sent him on vacation. No ballistics or other tests had been done to prove that Mumia's gun, which had been introduced into evidence, was indeed the weapon that killed Faulkner. Mumia's attorney, Leonard Weinglass, is demanding a new trial, and is also demanding that Judge Albert Sabo, who presided over the trial at which all of this misinformation was introduced into evidence, be removed from the case. Sabo, who imposed the death sentence was deemed "a defendant's nightmare" by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Judge Sabo refused to postpone the proceedings to enable Officer Wakshul to return from vacation. Sabo also refused to allow Mumia's lawyer to cross-examine witness Robert Chobert about his troubles with the law. A former sheriff, Sabo has had a long-time connection with Philadelphia's Fraternal Order of Police, which is currently lobbying for Mumia's execution. Sabo also allowed the prosecutor to question Mumia regarding his political views, and his statement (as a teenager more than a decade before the killing) that "political power grows out of the barrel of a gun."

In the days after the signing of the death warrant, activists have gathered to demand a stop to the execution of Mumia Abu Jamal. In Minneapolis, a June 3 demonstration against the execution was violently dispersed by police who sprayed pepper gas and arrested 11 people on charges of "probable cause to riot." In New York, one thousand people marched around Penn Station on June 5 in a demonstration that seemed to bring out every political activist in New York City. The large crowd was hemmed in on the sidewalk in spite of obvious opportunities to take over Penn Station or at least the street, thanks in part to the demonstration marshals (from Workers' World Party and December 12 movement) who passed around a flyer that stated "no civil disobedience of any kind will take place." (Actually, demonstrators did move aside police barricades that had been set up to impede the march.) Numerous demonstrators expressed dissatisfaction with this policy in spite of cooperating to avoid a display of dissention among the supporters of Mumia. It remains to be seen how long this "protest as usual" policy will persist as the date for the judicial murder of Mumia Abu Jamal draws near (There'll be fire in the skies if mumia dies! by A. Kronstadt).

Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook on April 24, 1954) was convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death. He has been described as "perhaps the world's best known death-row inmate", and his sentence is one of the most debated today. Before his arrest, he was an activist and radio journalist who became President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He was a member of the Black Panther Party until October 1970. Since his conviction, his case has become an international cause célèbre, and he has become a controversial cultural icon. Supporters and opponents disagree on the appropriateness of the death penalty, whether he is guilty, or whether he received a fair trial. During his imprisonment he has published several books and other commentaries, notably Live from Death Row (1995) (Wikepedia).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Midnight Never Came 3/3

"War-fighting," anyone? - Just 12 months later, the outlook for the world seemed even dimmer. The Soviet Union had dispatched tanks, troops, and dive bombers to Afghanistan in December 1979 to prop up a puppet government, further poisoning a none-too-cordial relationship between Moscow and Washington. President Jimmy Carter, who had sent SALT II to the Senate for ratification, condemned the Soviets for "invading" their neighbor, cancelled U.S. participation in the upcoming Olympic Games in Moscow, and asked the Senate to postpone action on SALT II. More chillingly, the Carter administration, in an attempt to bring order to decades of jury-rigged nuclear-response plans and to enhance the "credibility" of deterrence, had devised a wider range of nuclear options, including the implementation of command-and-control measures that would--in theory--insure that the United States could fight a "protracted nuclear conflict." Then in November 1980, former governor and movie star Ronald Reagan, a defense hawk who had campaigned on the premise that the United States had become dangerously weak vis-á-vis the Soviet Union, was elected president.

SALT II was "fatally flawed," said Reagan, and the Soviets routinely flouted SALT provisions. In contrast, the United States, which played by the rules, had laced itself into a straitjacket. The way to end the Cold War, Reagan said, was to win it. Feld wrote in the January 1981 issue: "Nuclear weapons--more and more unambiguously aimed at war-fighting rather than war-deterrence--are now being rapidly deployed by the East and West in Europe. The Russian SS-20 and the U.S. MX blatantly announce a new race in improved missile accuracy and mobility, heralding the acceptance of counterforce first-strike by both sides. "These ominous signs of deterioration are cast into starker relief by the flat unwillingness of either the United States or the Soviet Union to reject publicly, and in all circumstances, the threat of striking the other first. Both sides willfully delude themselves that a nuclear war can remain limited or even be won. In 1980, both sides officially declared nuclear war 'thinkable.'" The minute hand was moved up to four minutes to midnight.

Ideologues take control - The early Reagan years alarmed the Bulletin's editors, along with millions of other people in the United States and Western Europe. Reagan, who may have believed more ardently than any previous president in the ultimate abolition of nuclear weapons, nevertheless expanded and accelerated a weapons buildup that Jimmy Carter had begun. Reagan also seemed to enjoy tossing incendiary rhetoric into the dry-as-straw East-West barn. In his first presidential news conference, he asserted that Soviet leaders "reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat." While the comment would not have raised an eyebrow if a historian had uttered it, it seemed recklessly provocative coming from the commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation on earth. Two years later, Reagan trumped his any-crime-any-time comment by calling the Soviet Union the "Evil Empire" in a speech redolent of Old Testament rhetoric about the final showdown between the forces of Good and Evil. To manage domestic affairs, Reagan surrounded himself with moderates and pragmatists. But in foreign affairs, many of his key advisers were anti-Soviet ideologues--hardliners who believed that the United States should throw out the idea of nuclear parity. Eugene Rostow, for instance, became director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Previously, he had been co-chair (with Paul Nitze) of the Committee on the Present Danger, a Carter-era organization dedicated to persuading the nation that the Soviet Union was dangerously ahead of the United States in nuclear weaponry.

In 1983, Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), resurrecting the long-dead fantasy of unfurling an anti-ballistic missile umbrella over the United States. The president's March 23 speech came as a surprise to almost everyone, including some of Reagan's closest advisers. The space-based SDI plan was quickly dubbed "Star Wars," after the movie trilogy of that name. Reagan's Star Wars plan, if developed and deployed, would surely violate the ABM Treaty, critics said. It would lead to a resumption of an all-out nuclear arms race. And--as a final irony--it almost surely would not work in the event of an all-out attack. The Bulletin's first unsigned clock editorial appeared in the January 1984 issue: "As the arms race--a sort of dialogue between weapons--has intensified, other forms of discourse between the superpowers have all but ceased. There has been a virtual suspension of meaningful contacts and serious discussions. Every channel of communications has been constricted or shut down; every form of contact has been attenuated or cut off. And arms control negotiations have been reduced to a species of propaganda." The minute hand was moved up to three minutes to midnight.

Breakthrough - Western Europe had been seen as a potential nuclear battleground virtually since the beginning of Nuclear Time. In the 1950s, U.S. bombers with nuclear weapons had been stationed in England and tactical nuclear weapons had been deployed with NATO troops, all to discourage the Soviet Union from gobbling up Bonn and Paris and London and Rome without a burp. In the 1950s, the West European nations were generally comfortable basking in the shade of the U.S. nuclear umbrella. The threat of nuclear retaliation, went the conventional wisdom, kept the Russian bear in hibernation and away from the Fulda Gap. When the Soviets caught up, in a rough sort of way in the 1960s, nuclear intimidation was no longer a game of solitaire. If the NATO nations, led by the United States, used nuclear weapons to fend off a Soviet invasion, the Soviets could now strike the United States. Given that, would the United States actually come to the aid of Europe if it meant possible national suicide? This "coupling" debate, always surreal, had waxed and waned through the 1960s and 1970s. Britain developed nuclear weapons in part to maintain its "special relationship" with the United States. In contrast, Charles DeGaulle had so little confidence in U.S. nuclear commitments that he insisted that France have its own independent nuclear retaliatory force.

In the late 1970s, in an attempt to enhance deterrence and tighten the coupling between between Europe and the United States, the West European members of NATO obtained a U.S. promise to deploy 464 ground-launched nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on NATO soil, as well as 108 nuclear-armed Pershing II intermediate-range ballistic missiles. In theory, the missiles would counterbalance a nasty-looking Soviet force of 243 triple-warhead SS-20 missiles aimed at NATO targets. They would also be bargaining chips. Deployment--even the threat of deployment--would give the West additional leverage in pushing for a treaty that would sharply constrain such weapons worldwide. In the early 1980s, as deployment of the new missiles loomed and NATO and Soviet rhetoric became more alarming, popular opposition in Western Europe became a force to be reckoned with. In the fall of 1981, more than 250,000 people turned out for a protest in Bonn; the following month, some 400,000 protested in Amsterdam. Deploying Pershing missiles that could hit Soviet targets in five to 10 minutes was utterly mad, said the protesters in Europe and in the United States. It would make the Soviets even more edgy, ultimately leading to an unintentional but devastating nuclear war. ABC-TV's two-part movie, The Day After, linked Pershing deployment to a civilization-ending war. It played to huge audiences on two continents.

The fact that the United States and the Soviet Union eventually signed an Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in December 1987--which eliminated all such weapons (including Pershing IIs and SS-20s) rather than merely cutting their numbers--struck many people, including the editors of the Bulletin, as near-miraculous. But it wasn't quite that. Public opinion in Western Europe and the United States had made it plain to the Reagan administration that people were fed up with having to live at Ground Zero. Public pressure to do something about the nuclear arms race had become a potent political movement. As surprising as Reagan's agreement to the INF Treaty may have been, it was even more startling to learn that the Soviet Union, long victimized by constipated and unimaginative leadership, finally had a top man--Mikhail Gorbachev--with the wit and the imagination and the courage to finally end the Cold War. The editorial in the January-February 1988 Bulletin said: "For the first time the United States and the Soviet Union have agreed to dismantle and ban a whole category of nuclear weapons. They have crafted provisions that enable each to be confident that the other will comply with the treaty's terms. The agreement they have fashioned can serve as a model for future accords. That agreement would not have been possible without the leadership displayed by General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan. We applaud them." The minute hand was moved back to six minutes to midnight.

The great melt - The Berlin Wall came down at the end of 1989, symbolizing the end of the Cold War. Gorbachev had long realized that the Soviet Empire, which had rested on a foundation of fear and intimidation for more than four decades, could not be sustained. His goals were to shore up Soviet society, to repair the collapsing Soviet economic machine, to introduce democratic reforms, to end Soviet isolation from the Western world, and to bring new life--"new thinking"--to the desperately outdated Communist Party. Meanwhile, new thinking was far advanced in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Romania. Men and women who had danced tepidly to Moscow's balalaika since the end of World War II would do it no longer. Revolution was in the air from the North Sea to the Black Sea. And Gorbachev was not about to send tanks into Eastern Europe, as his predecessors had, to keep the East Bloc nations in line. The editorial in the April 1990 Bulletin remarked: "Now, 44 years after Winston Churchill's 'Iron Curtain' speech, the myth of monolithic communism had been shattered for all to see, the ideological conflict known as the Cold War is over, and the risk of global nuclear war being ignited in Europe is significantly diminished..." The minute hand was moved back to 10 minutes to midnight.

The coup that failed - The old era ended abruptly. Few had anticipated it; even fewer seemed to have a clear notion of what would--or should--come next. From a Washington perspective, change was good as long as it didn't get out of hand. The Reagan and Bush administrations had come to see Gorbachev as an ally, as a friend, as a bulwark against chaos in a troubled Soviet Union. Back home in Russia, Gorbachev didn't have a prayer. He was said to be chiefly responsible for every problem and disgrace tormenting the Soviet Union--ranging from the nation's decline as a world power to its free-falling economy to an increase in public drunkenness to the imminent dissolution of the Union itself. By the the beginning of 1991, the general secretary was foundering, although official Washington seemed not to know it. The end came in late August, when reactionaries mounted a near-bloodless coup. The coup failed to install a government of revanchist communists, but Gorbachev was finished, although he remained in office through the remainder of the year. Discredited and virtually deposed, yes. But Gorbachev had not been a failure. Beginning in 1985, when he took over as general secretary, Gorbachev had forced democratic reforms onto the moribund Soviet system. Although the reforms helped foment the turmoil that led to his downfall, they had become so ingrained by August 1991 that a successful right-wing coup was not possible. As unpopular as Gorbachev had become, the rightist alternatives looked worse to most Russians.

Shortly before the coup attempt, Gorbachev had signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the Reagan-era successor to SALT and the first nuclear arms agreement that mandated steep rollbacks in so-called "strategic" weapons. And in September and October, as the Soviet Union sputtered to an end, Presidents Bush and Gorbachev announced a series of unilateral but parallel initiatives taking most intercontinental missiles and bombers off hair-trigger alert, and withdrawing thousands of tactical nuclear weapons from forward bases. The Bulletin editorial in the December 1991 issue said: "The 40-year-long East-West nuclear arms race has ended. The world has clearly entered a new post-Cold War era. The illusion that tens of thousands of nuclear weapons are a guarantor of national security has been stripped away. In the context of a disintegrating Soviet Union, large nuclear arsenals are even more clearly seen as a liability, a yardstick of insecurity..."We believe that Presidents Bush and Gorbachev have guided their respective nations to a historic intersection of mutual interests. Continuing boldness and imagination are called for. Men and women throughout the world must vigorously challenge the bankrupt paradigms of militarism if we are to achieve a new world order. The setting of the Bulletin Clock reflects our optimism that we are entering a new era." The minute hand of the clock was pushed back to 17 minutes to midnight.

Off the scale - The new man in Moscow was Boris Yeltsin, a self-styled radical democrat. As president of the Russian Federation, he presided over the formal demise of the Soviet Union. Russia, he said, would adhere to the letter and the spirit of arms control agreements negotiated by the old Soviet Union. To symbolize the dramatic nature of the changes marked by the the 1991 clock move, the Bulletin's Board of Directors had moved the minute hand "off the scale," to 17 minutes to midnight. By Bulletin standards, that represented an unprecedented burst of enthusiasm and optimism. By 1995, that enthusiasm had cooled somewhat. Further arms reductions had stalled, while global military spending continued at Cold War levels. There was also a growing fear of nuclear "leakage" from poorly guarded facilities in the former Soviet Union. The minute hand of the clock was moved back "on the scale," to 14 minutes to midnight.

* * *In May 1946, Albert Einstein, one of the Bulletin's more notable godfathers, looked toward the future and said: "The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe." The goal of the Bulletin--founded 50 years ago in December--has been to render that wonderfully apt Einstein quote obsolete. The Bulletin has been--and still is--committed to changing the way people think about war-and-peace issues. Its "Clock of Doom," as Eugene Rabinowitch used to call it, has been a major part of that effort. The clock quickly became the symbol of the Bulletin. But it also came to symbolize something far larger than a magazine published in Chicago, just blocks from where the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear reaction took place. The clock became an icon of the Nuclear Age, a centerpiece of pop culture, an image so clearly on target that if the Bulletin had not invented it, a Nehru or a Cousins or a Kennedy would have come up with it eventually. The Bulletin Clock is not just the property of a magazine. It belongs to everyone who cares about the future of humankind. --Mike Moore is the former editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.-- © 1995 by the Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science (Midnight Never Came by Mike Moore Part 3).

Nine Minutes to Midnight

CHICAGO, JUNE 11, 1998—The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the minute hand of the "Doomsday Clock," its symbol of nuclear peril, five minutes closer to midnight.

Yesterday it stood at 14 minutes to midnight. Today, it stands at nine. - The Bulletin's Board of Directors moves the hand not only in response to the addition of two more states as declared nuclear powers, but also to dramatize the failure of world diplomacy in the nuclear sphere; the increased danger that the nonproliferation regime might ultimately collapse; and the fact that deep reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons, which seemed possible at the start of the decade, have not been realized. The movement of the minute hand follows the unfortunate May tests of nuclear devices by India and Pakistan. The consequences of a possible nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan are unforeseeable. But if barriers to the use of nuclear weapons ever fail, the physical, economic, and psychological security of every person on the planet will be threatened. But the heightened sense of peril has roots that extend far beyond the Indian and Pakistani tests. The tests are a symptom of the failure of the international community to fully commit itself to control the spread of nuclear weapons -- and to work toward substantial reductions in the numbers of these weapons.

The end of the Cold War gave the world a unique opportunity to control and reduce the threat of nuclear catastrophe. It is clear that much of that opportunity has been squandered. Seven years ago, the nuclear face-off between the Soviet Union and the United States had ended. The two superpowers had signed a major strategic arms reduction treaty. The Soviet Union itself had collapsed and a new democratic Russia seemed about to be born. The United States had begun to cut back military spending and the United Nations seemed poised to become a more effective force for peace. In that flush of optimism, the Bulletin in 1991 moved the minute hand of the clock "off the scale" -- to 17 minutes to midnight. The Bulletin hoped to call attention to a breathing space that the world had not enjoyed since the Cold War began. By 1995, that optimism had faded. East-West nuclear arms reductions had stalled and U.N. peacekeeping efforts had not proven effective. The Bulletin, suggesting that "opportunities have been missed and open doors closed," moved its clock closer to midnight -- to 14 minutes.

But even in 1995 there were grounds for optimism. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in effect since 1970, had been made permanent. And a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, an idea proposed decades earlier, seemed likely. In fact, a test-ban treaty was concluded in 1996, and 149 nations -- not including India and Pakistan -- have signed it. The nonproliferation treaty commits the established nuclear-weapon states to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." Although the East-West nuclear arms race is clearly over, no nuclear state is moving significantly toward nuclear disarmament. Between them, Russia and the United States still have upwards of 30,000 nuclear weapons -- strategic and tactical -- in various states of readiness. Nine years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States and Russia collectively have some 7,000 warheads ready to be fired with less than 15 minutes notice.

Meanwhile, only 13 nations have ratified the test-ban treaty. Of the established nuclear-weapon states, only Britain and France have ratified it. Neither the United States Senate nor the Russian Duma has acted. We urge the Senate to consider the treaty this year. The Bulletin's clock has appeared on every cover since June 1947, and it is meant to symbolize the possibility of nuclear catastrophe. Today we move the minute hand five minutes closer to midnight. Only once before have we moved the hand forward so many minutes. That was in 1968, after France and China had joined the nuclear club, and as wars raged in the Middle East, South Asia, and Vietnam. In the words of the late Eugene Rabinowitch, one of the Bulletin's founding editors: "The Bulletin's clock is not a gauge to register the ups and downs of the international power struggle; it is intended to reflect basic changes in the level of continuous danger in which mankind lives in the nuclear age, and will continue living, until society adjusts its basic attitudes and institutions" (Nine Minutes to Midnight).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Midnight Never Came 2/3

Fear keeps the peace - People sometimes assume that the minute hand of the clock is moved frequently. In fact, the clock has been reset just 14 times in its 48 years. Clock moves reflect major trends, not transient events. For instance, the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 failed to produce so much as a blip in the clock. The crisis--a frightening exception to the still developing "rule" that the United States and Soviet Union should not directly confront one another--came and went too fast for the Bulletin to act on it. A year after the missile crisis, in October 1963, the Bulletin moved the minute hand back in recognition of the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty, an agreement banning atmospheric nuclear testing. Rabinowitch explained in his editorial that the treaty was not a "significant step toward disarmament"-- after all, underground tests would continue. Nor would the treaty prevent additional nations from acquiring nuclear weapons, Rabinowitch added. Indeed, he believed that China would shortly join the nuclear club. (China's first test of a fission device came in October 1964.)

Nevertheless, the treaty, said Rabinowitch, was tangible evidence that the "cohesive force" was still alive and well. Both sides of the East-West confrontation continued to experience "naked fear for survival," and that fear helped keep the peace. The treaty also suggested that "the forces of realism" were winning; on both sides of the East-West divide, "obstinate dogmatism" was in retreat. The minute hand was moved back to 12 minutes to midnight.

Failure of imagination - By 1968, it was clear to Rabinowitch that the "dogmatists" had not been routed, after all. Cooperation between and among nations, never a strong trend, had waned. Nationalism and "international anarchy" were in flower. "De Gaulle's France and Mao's China led the way," said Rabinowitch in the January 1968 issue. "Both devoted enormous efforts to the development of nuclear weapons as a visible sign of their sovereignty, and a guarantee of freedom of action. "Stirrings of military nationalism appeared all over the globe. India and Pakistan went to war in 1965; Israel and the Arab countries did the same in 1967. And the United States was already embarked on a growing military intervention in Southeast Asia, without the U.N. label that had so irritated American nationalists in the Korean conflict." Rabinowitch seldom expected much from Soviet leaders, whom he generally thought to be benighted and paranoid, but he expected a lot of American leaders. The United States, despite its many flaws, was still the last best hope of mankind. More than any other nation, it could demonstrate--by example--that military spending was wasteful, and that it was far better to help Third World nations develop their own peace-time economies then to supply them with arms. But American leadership--particularly the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson--had not been up to the task. The great U.S. failure of the 1960s, said Rabinowitch, was not so much a "sin of commission"--the Vietnam War--as a "sin of omission," a failure to use American power and wealth in imaginative ways to lead a worldwide mobilization of technical, economic, and intellectual resources for the building of a viable world community. "The day of reckoning may be approaching, not in the form of American withdrawal and communist takeover in the Far East, but in a wave of world hunger, and the accompanying surge of world anarchy." The minute hand was moved up to its original slot, seven minutes to midnight.

A "first step" - The previous year's clock editorial, called "The Dismal Record," reflected disappointment over missed opportunities. But in Geneva, a process had been going on since the mid-1960s that looked promising. On the theory that it only takes one spark to start a forest fire, nations--nuclear as well as non-nuclear--were attempting to limit the "horizontal" spread of nuclear weapons. Many of the non-nuclear weapon states were also fearful of "vertical" proliferation in the United States and the Soviet Union, while they remained enamored of nuclear power, which was seen as the cure for virtually all ills. In 1968, a deal was finally struck: Under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the nuclear weapon states would help non-nuclear weapon states develop nuclear power. In turn, the "have-not" states would agree not to develop or obtain nuclear weapons. Finally, the five nuclear weapon states promised to work toward a cessation of the nuclear arms race and eventual disarmament. More than 100 nations signed the NPT, although some of the holdouts were worrisome--especially Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil.

But even with holdouts, Rabinowitch was heartened by the deal, if not overwhelmed. In the April 1969 issue, he wrote: "This treaty reasserts the common interests of all signatories in avoiding new instabilities, bound to be introduced into the precarious balance of nuclear terror with the emergence of new nuclear nations..."The great powers have made a first step. They must proceed without delay to the next one--the dismantling, gradually, of their own oversize military establishments. Otherwise the hope raised by the treaty will prove futile." The minute hand was moved back to ten minutes to midnight.

Parity cometh - In 1964, Stanley Kubrick released Dr. Strangelove, a wickedly funny satire of deterrence theory, and Sidney Lumet gave audiences Fail Safe, an earnest and plodding essay on the same topic. Both films explored scenarios in which U.S. bombers erroneously attack the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons. In Fail Safe, Moscow and New York are destroyed; in Strangelove, the planet is fatally irradiated by a secret Soviet "Doomsday Machine." In a sense, Kubrick and Lumet were cockeyed optimists. Sure, things didn't turn out so well for a few million people (Fail Safe) or a few billion (Strangelove), but in each case, a fictional president had hours to correct the original attack-the-Soviets mistake. But in the real world, the time scale was about to be reduced to minutes. There would no time for reflective assessment, no time for call-backs. By the mid-1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union were working on antiballistic missile systems (ABMs), with the Russians showing far more enthusiasm for the concept than the Americans. To Soviet leaders, a defense system seemed reasonable, even morally compelling. But in the United States, a host of influential policy-makers, including Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara, argued that an effective ABM system would be dangerous.

Mutual terror, went the argument, was still the great peacekeeper. As long as both sides knew that each could destroy the other, no matter who struck first, an uneasy peace would prevail. But ABMs had the potential for disrupting that rickety balance of terror. They would encourage a rapid acceleration of the nuclear arms race, because increases in offensive weapons were the surest and cheapest way of offsetting advances in defensive systems. And in moments of high East-West tension, the side that believed that it had the most effective ABM system might be tempted to launch a first strike, confident that it could ride out the weakened retaliatory attacks with minimal damage. But in an obscene game of chicken, the side that feared a preemptive first strike might well launch its own preemptive attack. Meanwhile, the other side, assuming that the enemy would reason thusly, would have even more reason to strike first...Fear of Russian progress on ABMs inspired the United States to enhance its offensive forces by developing missiles that carried "multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles"--MIRVs. The last stage of an ICBM was merely a "bus" carrying several warheads, each of which could be released at a different time in a preplanned sequence. Thanks to in-flight course corrections by the bus, the warheads would have different ballistic trajectories and different targets.

In this new post-Strangelove world, an enemy who struck first would have a clear advantage, said nuclear strategists. Because one MIRVed ICBM could theoretically knock out several enemy missiles in their silos, the side that struck first could retain many of its missiles for a possible second strike. The only way to level the "bolt-from-the-blue" playing field was for the target nation to launch its missiles before they could be destroyed in their silos. In a MIRVed use-'em-or-lose-'em world, the U.S. and Russian command authorities might have just minutes to make a launch-no launch decision, even if the information they had was muddled and ambiguous. By the late 1960s, U.S. and Soviet leaders had come to suspect that the two nations were lurching toward an abyss. In an attempt to pull back from the edge, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) began in Helsinki in November 1969. The central idea of SALT was that the United States and the Soviet Union would give up their respective dreams of achieving clearcut nuclear superiority. Instead, they would begin a process designed to produce a rough sort of "parity." In turn, that might bring a measure of predictability and stability to East-West relations.

In 1972, two agreements were signed. One, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, effectively put an end to most ABM work, thus making an out-of-control nuclear arms race less likely. In effect, the treaty said that each nation must remain vulnerable to the other side's missiles; continued willingness to abide by a mutual suicide pact had become the Golden Rule of deterrence theory. Meanwhile, the five-year SALT Interim Agreement froze the number of ballistic missile launchers--that is, the number of land-based missile silos and submarine-based missile launch tubes--at 1972 levels. It was an exceedingly modest start toward nuclear arms control; it did not actually limit the number of missiles each side could have or the number of warheads that a given missile might carry. Bernard T. Feld, a member of the Bulletin's Board of Directors, was generally pleased with the ABM Treaty, but wary of the Interim Agreement. Feld, whose sarcasm was not always hidden, wrote the clock editorial for the June 1972 issue: "Now we have been presented with the greatest step towards world peace since the Sermon on the Mount, and we are torn between the impulse to cry 'bravo' and the desire to shout 'fraud.'"

MIRVed missiles were meant to counter the ABM "threat," he said. But now the ABM threat had faded--yet MIRVs remained. That was "because we are too far along with deployment and the Russians too far behind--an asymmetry that we do not want to give up and they do not want to freeze. So we have accepted that we will both go to MIRV, after which it will be too late to avoid MIRV without unacceptably intrusive inspection." The ABM Treaty was fine, but the Interim Agreement was thin gruel. Nonetheless, the United States and the Soviet Union had accepted the principle of parity, and that was a foundation to build upon. The minute hand was moved back to 12 minutes to midnight.
Premature optimism - The cover of the September 1974 Bulletin was an editorial cartoon come to life. It featured a photo of an alarm clock with its minute hand approaching midnight. The clock, a battery, and a globe were wired together into a primitive time bomb. It was not a wholly unreasonable image, given the facts: instead of reducing their numbers, the United States and the Soviet Union were MIRVing and modernizing their nuclear arsenals at an alarming rate; India had exploded a nuclear device; and SALT II was at an impasse. Founding Editor Rabinowitch had died in 1973. Feld was now editor-in-chief, but his deputy, Editor Samuel H. Day, wrote the September 1974 clock editorial: "Despite the promise of the 1972 accords, it is now apparent that the two nuclear superpowers are nowhere near significant agreement on strategic arms limitations. The failure was manifest at the recently concluded summit conference in Moscow. This in itself is cause for concern in view of the arms buildup which has continued during the course of the negotiations, and particularly since 1972.

"In anticipation of [arms] limitations agreements that have never come to pass or were of little consequence, more and more weapons have been built and tested, and more and more weapons systems have been developed and deployed. Far from restraining the forces which it was intended to curb, SALT has sustained and nourished them, providing acceptable channels for conducting business as usual." The Bulletin's optimism in resetting the clock to 12 minutes to midnight in 1972 had been "premature," said Day. The "danger of nuclear doomsday is measurably greater today than it was in 1972." The minute hand was moved up to nine minutes to midnight.

Nucleoholics, greed, and irrationality - As the Bulletin entered its thirty-fifth year, Editor-in-Chief Feld offered a general assessment of the world situation in the January 1980 issue. It was not a happy prospect. SALT II negotiations had concluded in 1979, and it took a heroic act of optimism to conclude that much had been accomplished. Weapon ceilings were set so high, and MIRVed weapons had become so commonplace, that a nuclear Armageddon seemed as likely now as when the talks began. Feld wrote: "More than ten years after the start of the SALT negotiations, we are still struggling with the acceptance of an agreement which, far from embodying significant nuclear disarmament, retains--if it does not encourage-- the accumulation of astronomical numbers of deliverable nuclear weapons by both the so-called 'superpowers'; which is not yet able to address the dangers of an irrational and growing nuclear confrontation in Europe; and which has not even begun to take the minimum steps of restraint needed to shore up a rapidly deteriorating nonproliferation regime."

The United States and the Soviet Union, said Feld, were equally to blame. The former had a "self-defeating propensity for the premature introduction of destabilizing new technologies." The latter was stubbornly wedded to the sanctity of large numbers of huge missiles to counterbalance a lack of technical sophistication. Both had "been behaving like what may best be described as 'nucleoholics'-- drunks who continue to insist that the drink being consumed is positively 'the last one,' but who can always find a good excuse for 'just one more round.'" But the accelerating arms race was just one source of instability, albeit the darkest. Feld said that increased competition among nations for ever more scarce resources, often a cause of conflict and war, would get worse in the coming decades, not better. The developed world used a disproportionate share of the world's resources and would continue to do so. Conservation did not come naturally to the affluent. Meanwhile, the developed world made only token efforts to help improve living conditions in the poorest nations of the Third World.

Also serious was a "spreading trend toward irrationality in the national and international conduct of many states, of peoples aspiring to nationhood, and dissident minorities (down to minorities comprising only a few individuals) within nations. Each one of us can easily find many examples of this trend toward a return to the the social and political behavior of the Middle Ages: the provisional branch of the Irish Republican Army or the Italian Red Brigade; the religious fanaticism now in control in Iran and other parts of the Islamic world; the systematic dismemberment of Lebanon, the outstanding modern example of a secular democratic state; the genocidal orgy in Cambodia, demonstrating the contemporary possibility that innocent people may, without choice, end up both red and dead while the rest of the world impotently stands by." Despite his gloomy analysis, Feld reminded readers that the Bulletin was "essentially optimistic," and he exhorted the Bulletin community not to give up on SALT or the SALT process. But for now, the minute hand of the clock was moved up to seven minutes to midnight, where it had started in 1947 (Midnight Never Came by Mike Moore Part 2).
Continue to Part 3 of "Midnight Never Came"

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Midnight Never Came 1/3

For nearly five decades, the Bulletin clock has told the world what time it is.  The best known symbol of the Nuclear Age--the Bulletin's "Doomsday Clock"--had a hard-to-ignore debut. Early Bulletins were newsletters, lacking magazine-style covers. But when the June 1947 Bulletin arrived, it had a first-ever cover--a pay-attention-to-me jack-o'-lantern orange cover. Imprinted over the orange: a boldly simple seven-inch by seven-inch clock face. The hour hand was at 12; the minute hand at about seven minutes to. Humankind, the clock said, was in dire straits. The clock dominated most Bulletin covers until 1964, although, thankfully, less garish hues were generally used for the background. The clock, said an editorial in the July 1947 issue, "represents the state of mind of those whose closeness to the development of atomic energy does not permit them to forget that their lives and those of their children, the security of their country and the survival of civilization, all hang in the balance as long as the specter of atomic war has not been exorcized." And so the Bulletin Clock (first called "The Clock of Doom" and then "The Doomsday Clock") entered folklore as a symbol of nuclear peril and a constant warning that the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union had better sit up and fly right.

Editorial cartoonists in the Western hemisphere and Europe pirated the clock shamelessly, using it as an off-the-rack metaphor for the general madness of the Nuclear Age. In most cartoon incarnations, the clock was either a windup alarm clock or a globe with hour and minute hands. Either way, it was rigged to an explosive--sometimes dynamite, but usually a hulking nuclear bomb. The clock also became a deadline-friendly factoid for journalists. Whenever U.S.-Soviet relations hit a bad patch, dozens of reporters and editors would call from as far away as Germany and New Zealand. "Are you going to change the clock?" In the post-Cold War era, reporters call and ask the same question whenever someone, say France, does something dumb, like resuming nuclear tests. The clock has insinuated itself into the brick and limestone halls of academe. How many professors over the years have referred to the clock--approvingly or disparagingly--in history and international relations classes? No one knows, of course. But at least one academic, Joel Slemrod, a professor of business and economics at the University of Michigan, has used the clock in a research study.

After postulating that ordinary people are likely to spend more when the international situation looks uncertain and gloomy and save more when it looks as if there will be a morrow, he found a positive correlation between clock moves and savings rates. (Not that the clock caused variations; it merely served as a dandy barometer of East-West tensions.) Politicians have also used the clock, no matter where they stood on the peace-and-security continuum. For hawks, the clock was a handy reminder of how dangerous the world was, thus justifying yet another multi-billion-dollar arms buildup. For doves, the clock also said the world was dangerous, but that called for conciliatory gestures and arms control treaties. Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat and a member in good standing of the olive branch school of international relations, titled his 1990 book on the perils of Cold War thinking, Five Minutes to Midnight.

It moves! - The clock was the creation of a Chicago artist known as Martyl, the wife of physicist Alexander Langsdorf, a Bulletin founder. Years later, Martyl said she hit upon the idea "to symbolize urgency." She got that message across by using just the final quadrant of a clock face, which clearly suggested that the end of time was nigh. As for putting the minute hand at seven--that was, she said, merely a matter of "good design." The minute hand stayed at seven minutes to the hour until the fall of 1949, when President Harry S. Truman announced that the United States had evidence that there had been an atomic explosion in the Soviet Union. The Soviets promptly disputed Truman. In a statement issued by Tass (and reprinted in the October issue of the Bulletin) the Soviet government claimed that U.S. experts had confused a large conventional explosion with an atomic explosion. That was understandable, explained Tass; the Soviet Union was blasting a lot as it built hydroelectric stations, canals, and the like. And, too, did not Western reporters recall that the Soviet Union had announced in November 1947 that it already had the weapon "at its disposal"?

The editors of the Bulletin, always mindful that Soviet leaders often lied, didn't buy the Tass explanation. Truman was right; the Soviet Union had set off an atomic detonation, and that was proof that the East-West nuclear arms race, long predicted by the Bulletin, was well under way. "We do not advise Americans that doomsday is near and that they can expect atomic bombs to start falling on their heads a month or a year from now," wrote Editor Eugene Rabinowitch in an October 1949 essay. "But we think they have reason to be deeply alarmed and to be prepared for grave decisions." In the October 1949 issue, the Bulletin moved the clock's minute hand for the first time, to three minutes to midnight.

Birth of the "evil thing" - The Soviet atomic explosion caught the Truman administration flat-footed. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, the director of the wartime Manhattan Project, had repeatedly predicted that it would take the Soviet Union a generation or more to make a bomb. Truman was even more confident; he believed that the Soviet Union lacked the scientific and industrial competence to ever mount a successful atomic bomb program. The Bulletin was founded in December 1945 on the contrary notion. Back then, most of the scientists connected with the Bulletin believed that Soviet scientists and Russian industry were fully capable of building an atomic bomb in just a few years. (In November 1945, Harold C. Urey, a Bulletin founder, told the Senate Special Committee on Atomic Energy that "we should not think of a longer time than about five years.") The way to avoid a destructive nuclear arms race, the Bulletin said, was to put the control of nuclear energy, including weapons, into the hands of an international agency. That didn't happen, of course. And now the Soviet fission explosion had given new urgency to a secret, high-level U.S. debate that had been simmering since the early days of the Manhattan Project: should the United States build a "Super," a "hydrogen bomb" far more powerful than the largest fission weapon? A host of scientists advising the government opposed the Super. Morally, it would be so large as to be potentially genocidal. From a utilitarian point of view, it would serve no clear military purpose; fission bombs would be all anyone really needed. Physicists I.I. Rabi and Enrico Fermi, both key scientists during the Manhattan Project, described a hydrogen bomb as an "evil thing." James Conant, an adviser to Roosevelt and Truman on nuclear matters, said the "world is loused up enough"--it didn't need a hydrogen bomb.

In the end, anti-Super reservations were washed away in a tide of Realpolitik. Truman's key political advisers, including Secretary of State Dean Acheson, were convinced that the Soviets could--and would--build an H-bomb. Given that, it would be intolerable for the United States not to. (Today we know that the Soviets did indeed push ahead from fission to fusion, with scarcely a pause.) On October 31, 1952, the United States tested its first true thermonuclear device, a thuggish thing called "Mike" that had a yield nearly a thousand times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. The islet of Elugelab in the Pacific, upon which it was detonated, disappeared, leaving a crater 160 feet deep and more than a mile wide. Nine months later, in August 1953, the Russians exploded a less powerful but still awesome thermonuclear device. The September 1953 Bulletin cover was remade at the last minute, as soon as word of the Soviet test got out, and the minute hand moved to two minutes to midnight. In the following issue--October 1953--Editor Rabinowitch said: "The hands of the Clock of Doom have moved again. Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization."

Massive retaliation and a "cohesive force" - In the 1950s, the U.S. consumer society boomed as a prosperous suburban lifestyle spawned highways, barbecue grills, TV sitcoms, and children. But abroad, the news was mostly bad. The Soviets were building nuclear weapons at a rapid pace, and they had even produced a few intercontinental ballistic missiles. (Emphasis on "few." Ardent Cold Warriors, including Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, charged that a complacent President Eisenhower had let the Russians pull ahead in ballistic weapons, thus producing a "missile gap." But it was a phantom gap, the product of misinterpreted intelligence, over-reliance on worst-case scenarios, anti-Soviet hysteria, and cynical domestic political calculation.) In Europe, homegrown attempts to introduce democratic reforms in Hungary, encouraged by "liberation" rhetoric from Washington, had been aborted by Russian tanks. And in divided Germany, U.S.-Soviet relations were in perpetual crisis over the future of West Berlin, a let-it-all-hang-out oasis of capitalism in the heart of drab East Germany. On the other side of the world, the Korean Peninsula, where the United States (with help from U.N. and South Korean allies) had fought North Korean and Chinese soldiers, was still a potential flashpoint. The Korean war had not quite ended; it was merely on hold.

Farther south, Communist China and the old Chinese warlord, Chiang Kai-shek, were at one another's throats. At the end of a bloody civil war, Chiang and his remaining troops had taken refuge on the island of Formosa, just off the Chinese mainland, and war in the Formosa Straits seemed perennially possible. As Chiang's protector, the United States would surely be involved. In the Korean War, Eisenhower hinted broadly that he might use nuclear weapons to bring the war to an end. As for the war of nerves in the Formosa Straits, the president got the message across that the United States would not shrink from using nuclear weapons to protect Chiang. In Southeast Asia, the colonial French government had suffered a humiliating defeat in Indochina, and there was anti-colonial, nationalist, and separatist turmoil from the South China Sea to the Bay of Bengal. In fact, the colonial world was everywhere in revolt, and the Soviet Union and the United States were in sharp competition to win the affection--or at least to buy the allegiance--of the newly independent nations. Some Third World leaders had already become adept at playing Americans and Russians off one another. But when Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser announced Egypt's neutrality, Eisenhower grew tired of the game, and a U.S. offer to help finance a high dam on the upper Nile was withdrawn. In retaliation, Nasser nationalized the British- and French-owned Suez Canal; toll revenues from the canal would build the dam.

In late 1956, the Israelis invaded Egypt and were soon joined by the British and the French. Their unspoken agenda: to regain the canal and topple Nasser. Eisenhower was in a bind. If the United States supported its friends--the British, French, and Israelis--Nasser might turn to the Soviet Union for help. After that, anything could happen. Eisenhower took the cautious route: His administration condemned the invasion at the United Nations. The invading troops withdrew, the Soviets stayed out of the fracas, Nasser paid $81 million for taking the canal, and the Russians eventually financed the Aswan High Dam. Despite the tumult and bloodshed, Rabinowitch found reasons in January 1960 to be moderately encouraged by the way the decade had unfolded, at least on the nuclear front. He noted, for instance, that the "Suez expedition was called off after the fighting was well under way--in fact, when it was almost over--although vital interests of two great powers had to be sacrificed." The Suez outcome suggested that the "world map has been frozen by universal fear of a great war," he explained. In the pre-nuclear era, turmoil in many parts of the world would have led to a major war. But now, "war threats and counterthreats have become bluffs and counterbluffs."

Rabinowitch was right. Talk was often bellicose--"massive retaliation" and "we will bury you" are only two of the truly memorable phrases from the decade. But the Soviets and the Americans had clearly become cautious vis-a-vis one another's vital interests. Direct confrontation between the superpowers was generally to be avoided; confrontation by proxy was just rearing its head. Meanwhile, there were at least a few positive signs of multinational cooperation-- among them, the International Geophysical Year, the efforts of U.N. organizations such as UNESCO and UNICEF, and the Pugwash meetings involving Soviet and Western scientists. Rabinowitch believed that "a new cohesive force has entered the interplay of forces shaping the face of mankind, and it is making the future of man a little less foreboding." The minute hand was again put at seven minutes to midnight, its original setting (Midnight Never Came by Mike Moore Part 1)
Continue to Part 2 of "Midnight Never Came

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