The Doomsday Clock Shows 100 Seconds to Midnight

The ABM Treaty and its termination by the US – an open declaration of war in the era of nuclear weapons – Russia reacts

by Tobias Salander

Recently, the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” reported how close humanity is today to a nuclear war.1 In 1947, “the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists” in the USA developed the Doomsday Clock, known to us as the Doomsday Clock or the Atomic War Clock. The clock showed seven minutes to midnight when it was first presented in 1947; two minutes to midnight during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And today? For the third year in a row, the hands stand at 100 seconds to midnight. As of May 2022, however, it will not be recorded until early next year. To what do we owe this? The Western narrative has quickly found the culprit. But does a look at the history of the development of an eventual nuclear warfare allow this narrative to stand as the only one? Reason enough to engage in the logic of warfare in the nuclear weapons era — and to hope fervently that personalities with a rational approach and expertise will be able to prevail over deluded ideologues. 

That nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately and thus violate the Geneva Conventions, is well known today. Whether the possession of nuclear weapons and their production constitute a crime against humanity is disputed in international law circles. If even common sense quickly finds answer to this question, it is all the more challenged when it is confronted with reality. And the reality of nuclear weapons brings with it a logic of their own, a logic any peace-loving person would rather avoid because it is so appalling. But burying one’s head in the sand does not solve the problem.
  The USA is the only power to have used nuclear weapons, and that over a country, of whose cities the majority had already been destroyed by incendiary bombs – in Tokyo, for example, more civilians died as a result of the American bomb than in Hiroshima. The fact that the “Enola Gay” with its mass-murdering cargo over Hiroshima was accompanied by an airplane packed with scientific instruments for the exact measurement of the deadly incident. The fact that the pilot showed no remorse until the end of his life is one thing. That the airdrop was not necessary from a military point of view, but a demonstration of power, especially against the Soviet Union, is another. Florian Coulmas, Paul H. Johnstone and others have long since meticulously demonstrated this.2
  The Doomsday Clock then set the hands to three to twelve in 1949, when the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear weapons test. And to two to twelve in 1953, when the two former allies tested the hydrogen bomb against the Nazis. Not everyone agreed with the pointing, however. Klaus Fuchs, for example, revealed U.S. atomic bomb plans to the Soviets in order, he said, to make the world a safer place. How so? This puts us in the middle of the logic of nuclear weapons and peacekeeping in the nuclear age, the “balance of terror.” The Cuban Missile Crisis made it clear: U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey, Russian nuclear weapons in Cuba were not to be tolerated by either side, since the reaction time in the event of a real or perceived attack would have been fatally short. Khrushchev and Kennedy came to an understanding, fortunately. But as the then US Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara put it in his lifetime confession “Fog of war”, it was really pure luck, “it was luck. It was luck that prevented nuclear war.”

ABM Treaty 1972 – keeping the “window of vulnerability” open

A red telephone was installed, because the development of intercontinental missiles demanded rapid communication between the two commanders-in-chief.
  So, the 1970s dawned, the situation had not become cosier on our planet. And in this situation, the leaders of the two superpowers managed to reach an agreement, the ABM Treaty. The Anti-Ballistic Missiles Treaty, concluded on 26 May 1972, followed the logic of warfare with nuclear weapons: Both sides wanted to keep the so-called “window of vulnerability” open. In other words, after a nuclear first strike, both sides deliberately refrained from being able to repel the expected counterattack by the enemy with missiles set up especially for this purpose. Why so complicated? Quite simply, if both sides were in a position to retaliate and also wipe out the other side, both sides would refrain from a first strike. Because that would be mutual suicide. So, they would grant each other the so-called “second-strike capability”. If this seems simply crazy to you: Et voilà, that was also the abbreviation of this nuclear weapons logic: MAD, which, in addition to the word for crazy, is also the acronym for “Mutual Assured Destruction”. This was the basis of the highly shaky “security” architecture in the Cold War. There was also talk of the “balance of terror”.
  The treaty not only prohibited the construction of national (i. e., protecting the territory of Russia or the USA) defence systems against ballistic missiles, but it also included a ban on the stationing of system components for missile defence at sea, in aircraft and space.
  It was clear to the signatories: without a treaty, each side would try to develop new nuclear missiles that could overcome missile defences – a mutual arms build-up would be the result.
  The ABM Treaty was a great success – we were spared a nuclear war. Even though we came close to annihilation a few times: Cue NATO exercise “Able Archer” of 1983: NATO’s realistic simulated nuclear warfare let the Soviet Union get its bombers ready for take-off in Poland and the GDR and equip them with live nuclear warheads! And shortly before that, the courageous action of Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov on duty at the Serpukhov missile defence centre near Moscow, on the occasion of a false alarm, had prevented a Soviet nuclear strike back against a non-existent US nuclear attack. As Mc Namara had said: “At the end we lucked out. It was luck that prevented nuclear war.”

Jimmy Carter’s “Presidential Directive 59”:
Winning the Nuclear War

But then in 1980, when Jimmy Carter, who had become famous for his pithy words “What’s our oil doing under their sand”, moved into the White House. And the question is asked today: Did the peanut farmer from the American South understand the logic of nuclear weapons? Or was he deliberately playing with fire? For, what he did can only be understood as an open declaration of war against the Soviet Union. Or, after all, as a defensive measure? What was the logic of nuclear weapons? Carter, according to the politically unsuspicious, certainly not anti-U.S. online reference work Wikipedia, heralded the departure from the MAD doctrine: “On 25 July 1980, in Presidential Directive 59, US President Jimmy Carter spoke of a “countervailing strategy”. From then on, the goal of US planners was to be able to win a nuclear war. The declared target of the nuclear warheads was not the Soviet population, but first and foremost the command centres, secondly military targets. This was combined with the speculation that the Soviet Union would give up before there was total destruction of the USSR and the USA.3 Imagine how an identical Soviet declaration would have been received in the USA. The logic of nuclear weapons: It needs even better, faster, more efficient missiles and warheads to be able to prevent the first strike, the decapitation strike. So exactly what MAD had wanted to prevent. And further in Wikipedia: “US President Ronald Reagan banked on this direction and planned, with his Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), to replace the balance of MAD with a new strategy of American superiority. By building a comprehensive missile defence, the US was to be protected from attack or counterattack from the Soviet Union, but retain its own first-strike capability.”
  That the US under the Reagan presidency took this aggressive line toward the Soviet Union is also shown in the film already broadcasted in 2015 on ARD, “Operation Deception – The Reagan Method. Documentation by Dirk Pohlmann”.4
  The ARD website, staunchly loyal to the US, astonishingly states: “With Reagan’s rise to power, the strategy of the US in the Cold War changed fundamentally: attack instead of defence. His secret ‘Committee for Deception Operations’, whose existence is confirmed for the first time by contemporary witnesses in this documentary, plans brilliant and perfidious intelligence operations – against the Soviets, but also against the policy of détente of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. Upon coming to power in 1981, Ronald Reagan redefines the US strategy in the Cold War: attack instead of defence. His 'Committee for Deception Operations’ is one of the most important instruments in the fight against the Soviet Union, along with rearmament. Gas pipelines are sabotaged with smuggled-in computer chips and Trojans, air and sea manoeuvres are carried out in front of the Soviets’ most important base in Murmansk. The goal: to create uncertainty and humiliation while demonstrating strength and technical superiority. And how did such a humiliated person have to react? As we know today, the Soviet Union did not exist for much longer, deceived; economically down also due to the investments in armaments to ward off the Americans, the 1990s came with the sell-out of the country to Western corporations. This was an unparalleled humiliation, that Putin put an end to – one of the reasons, as we hear from Russian friends, that Putin still enjoys such high approval ratings among the Russian people.
  But what does the ARD portal say further about the actions of the US? “These actions bring the world to the brink of nuclear war. When in the 1980s the Swedish Social Democratic Prime Minister Olof Palme proposes his strategy of common security with Willy Brandt and Egon Bahr and no longer wants to make Sweden available to NATO as an ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier,’ he not only makes an enemy of the conservative power elites in his own country. His approach is also a thorn in Reagan’s side at an early stage, because a relenting of the Soviet Union in the Cold War arms race would be counterproductive for his strategy. Thus, the rapprochement talks are sabotaged and the person of Palme is discredited. In February 1986, Palme is assassinated by an unknown perpetrator. The film shows the significance of the secret warfare of the USA during the Cold War with reference to high-profile contemporary witnesses and exclusive film material. Once again it becomes clear that the USA did not stop at the sovereignty of democratic states in order to enforce its own interests. A topic that is of noteworthy importance, especially in view of the current political situation and the recent intelligence scandals.” So in 2015 – how much the tone has changed towards the USA since then...!

George W. Bush terminates ABM Treaty – “for the sake of peace”.

But back to the chronological sequence: Since Carter and Reagan, then, the USA had been endeavouring to build up a worldwide missile defence system, also including space components. This programme, especially strengthened by the administration under George W. Bush, would have violated the agreements of the ABM Treaty. 9/11 was then the appropriate occasion for Bush to unilaterally terminate the treaty in December 2001. The termination took effect in June 2002 after a period of six months.
  And what was the reasoning for the termination? “Today, our security environment is profoundly different. [...] Russia is not an enemy, but in fact is increasingly allied with us on a growing number of critically important issues. [...] Today, the United States and Russia face new threats to their security. Principal among these threats are weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means wielded by terrorists and rogue states.”5
  George W. Bush was a master of political untruth – and so, even with this statement, one wonders how terrorists would come to possess intercontinental ballistic missiles. Where to place them? And with “rogue states”?
  In 2001, the staunchly transatlantic magazine Der Spiegel wrote as follows: “For the sake of peace, Washington must defy the ABM Treaty, written ‘in another era for another enemy’, Bush declared at the Citadel Military Academy. Washington had to protect America and its friends against all forms of terror, ‘including terrorism that might arrive with a missile’”.6
  Der Spiegel reader then learns, after all, that political Washington was not at all united on this issue. The Democratic majority leader in the Senate, Tom Daschle, declared that “he was against the withdrawal from the agreement. He said this was a slap in the face to many people who had spent years, if not decades, advocating for arms control.”
  Who, then, were the circles that delivered this slap in the face? Der Spiegel: “In Washington, the decision in favour of missile defence is seen as a victory for the forces around Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz over the more moderate Secretary of State Colin Powell. According to government circles, Bush's security adviser Condoleezza Rice initially wanted to mediate between the two sides, but then supported Rumsfeld’s stand.”
  Remember: Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz belong to the group of neoconservatives whose present-day representatives such as Robert Kagan and Viktoria Nuland stir up aggressive sentiment against Russia. The neoconservatives, as can be read in Norman Podhoretz and others in their magazine Commentary, have always been opposed to the Soviet Union and subsequently to Russia.
  And how did Russia react to this blatant renewal of Jimmy Carter’s and Ronald Reagan’s declaration of war? Der Spiegel squirms, but then formulates: “Russian President Vladimir Putin had threatened several times in recent months with nuclear rearmament if the USA unilaterally terminated the ABM Treaty. Most recently, however, the Russian leadership had shown a clear concession in the talks with Washington on a disarmament of the nuclear arsenals of both countries.” What justifies the last sentence, however, remains a mystery to the reader, especially when one considers that US President Trump terminated the INF Treaty in 2019.

UN General Assembly 1999:
Termination of the ABM Treaty is a threat to world peace

If you want to understand history better, you have to consult as many sides and perspectives as possible. So, it is now imperative to listen to the Russian side as well. To this end, I would like to give the floor to a journalist from RT German – a website that has been banned in the EU. A slap in the face of every historian! Leo Ensel points out that as early as the beginning of 1999, Bill Clinton had the “National Missile Defence Act” passed, aiming at a slimmed-down national missile defence, thus circumventing the ABM Agreement. And what happened? The United Nations General Assembly recognised the explosive nature of the issue and passed a resolution in December 1999 to the effect that the USA should abandon these plans. And who voted against? With the USA, only Israel, Albania and Micronesia. The world community had thus made it clear that the abrogation or circumvention of the ABM Treaty was a deadly threat to world peace because it made the waging of nuclear war possible again!
  And Russia’s reaction? Withdrawal from the START II agreement. START II banned land-based intercontinental missiles with multiple warheads – particularly suitable for overcoming missile defence systems. Therewith, everything that had been painstakingly built up since 1972 seemed lost!
  And Leo Ensel: “What followed was a tortuous manoeuvring lasting almost twenty years about the US missile defence system Aegis, that is supposedly directed against approaching Iranian missiles and has two modules right on Russia's doorstep, in which the USA – like most of its European NATO partners – always presented Russia with a fait accompli and studiously ignored Russian fears and all compromise proposals from Moscow. In the meantime, the decisive modules in Devesulu (Romania) and Słupsk-Redzikowo (Poland) are ready for operation. The Aegis system is – according to official Western statements – purely defensive, can be converted into an offensive system merely by changing the software – the defence company Lockheed Martin unabashedly advertises this fact – and its Mk 41 VLS launch pads can also fire Tomahawk cruise missiles, i. e., offensive weapons. In short, modules of this system, the US has been working on for over two decades, would have violated the INF Treaty a year and a half ago when it still existed!” The INF Treaty, valid from 1987–2019, was, in short, intended to help prevent the nuclear battlefield of Europe, especially the GDR and the FRG. Definition Wikipedia: “The INF Treaty (Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty) refers to a set of bilateral treaties and agreements between the USA and the USSR/Russia on the destruction of all ground/land-based missiles of intermediate and shorter range (between 500 to 5500 kilometres). The Treaty was signed on 8 December 1987 at the Washington Summit and, after ratification, entered into force on 1 June 1988 during the Moscow Summit. It was concluded for an unlimited period, but has been out of force since 2 August 2019.”7
  Without the ABM Treaty and the INF Treaty, the world is once again at a point that we thought we had overcome in 1972, namely at the beginning of a phase of nuclear armament in order, according to nuclear logic, to retain second-strike capability. And this is how Vladimir Putin’s statements can be better classified when, on 1 March 2018, at the end of his annual State of the Union address, he opened up to the world public that Russia now had new types of weapons systems such as non-ballistic hypersonic missiles with a speed of up to Mach-20 and nuclear-powered cruise missiles against which Western defence systems were powerless. A second Sputnik shock for the West, according to Leo Ensel?
  You can spin it any way you like: we are living in a phase of a second Cold War that could lead to a nuclear inferno at any time. When asked when the new arms race began – and it is undisputed that it did – the answers from East and West differ: Putin did it, according to the Western narrative, while Putin is convinced: “With the American termination of the ABM Treaty!”8

US Peace Council: Call for ceasefire – criticism of NATO and USA

This tour d’horizon through a truly crazy world, namely the world with nuclear weapons and their own, actually banal logic, is concluded with the call of the US Peace Council.9 Yes, there are also such voices in the USA – prudent voices that want to save the world from a nuclear war and know their friends in the State Department, less so in the Pentagon, who have been underpinning their planning with the use of nuclear weapons since 1945.
  Said US Peace Council states: “NATO’s success in its effort to expand to the Ukraine-Russia border would create a hellish world and lead to the possibility of a nuclear war. Let us not forget that the story would not end there, and Belarus could be the next target. So, it is imperative for the peace movement to do everything we can to guarantee Ukraine’s neutrality and US/NATO’s recognition of it.” And her assessment of responsibilities: “The US with its NATO allies have not only provoked this tragedy but have sought to prolong it in their refusal to engage in negotiations for a ceasefire. While no one wins in a war, the US has had the most to gain: further unifying NATO under US domination, reducing Russian economic competition in the European energy market, justifying increasing the US war budget, and facilitating sales of war materiel to NATO vassals A Europe further divided between the EU/UK and Russia benefits none but the imperial US.” And then the demands:

"1. Immediate ceasefire and dispatch of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including the self-proclaimed independent republics.
2. Recognition of the neutrality of Ukraine.
3. Withdrawal of foreign militaries, weapons, and equipment – including mercenaries – from Ukraine.
4. Resumption of negotiations for a permanent settlement of internal conflicts in Ukraine with the participation of all parties concerned.

US Peace Council, 24 March 2022”.

A call that can only be agreed with also from a European perspective, the next nuclear battleground, since the protection of the ABM and INF treaties have been removed. Or should the conflict be effectively resolved militarily, as Josep Borrell – High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, already once legally convicted for insider trading10 – demands? Would he then leave for California? Or to Mars, when the first nuclear missiles hit Poland and the Czech Republic, as Putin has announced? That is where the missile defence and attack batteries of the USA are located. And the nuclear bomb sites of the USA in Germany, southern Italy, etc., would also be targets for Russian nuclear missiles. Where would the American nuclear missiles be aimed? At eastern Ukraine? Or straight into Russia?
  Politicians, let the military tell you what nuclear war means. According to reports, influential circles in the Pentagon are against the plans of the neoconservative military greenhorns and warmongers. God grant that the levelheaded military there will prevail against windy politicos.  •



1 https://www.faz.net/aktuell/gesellschaft/menschen/die-weltuntergangsuhr-und-putins-angriff-17834025.html
2 Coulmas, Florian. Hiroshima. ISBN 978-3-406-58791-7. München 2010; Johnstone, Paul H.; Johnstone, Diana. From Mad to Madness: Inside Pentagon Nuclear War Planning. Atlanta 2017. ISBN 978-0-9972870-9-7
3 https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleichgewicht_des_Schreckens#Abkehr_von_der_MAD-Doktrin
4 https://programm.ard.de/?sendung=2872414477346630
5 Announcement of Withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. – Media release from the White House of 13 December 2001; https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/12/20011213-2.html
6 https://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/raketenabwehr-usa-kuendigen-abm-vertrag-a-172585.html
7 https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/INF-Vertrag
8 https://de.rt.com/opinion/leo-ensel/128380-startschuss-zum-wettrusten-usa-kuendigen-abm-vertrag/
9 https://uspeacecouncil.org/u-s-peace-council-statement-on-russias-military-intervention-in-ukraine/
10 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josep_Borrell

 

The USA destroys the disarmament treaties and rejects Russia’s proposals

Sergej Lawrow:“Today, few rules remain. We have the New START – the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. […]
  At the same time, the other arms control and non-proliferation instruments have been destroyed. The ABM Treaty limiting missile defence systems and the INF Treaty – the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, no longer exist. The US has turned down our proposal to introduce a mutual moratorium, even though we proposed agreeing on verification mechanisms as part of this proposal. The main objection the West has is that they do not “trust” us that the Iskander systems in Kaliningrad do not violate the terms of the INF Treaty. Guided by the principle of reciprocity, we offered them to visit Kaliningrad, while we would visit US missile defence bases in Poland and Romania. This was an honest proposal, but they have been refusing it ever since. The Open Skies Treaty has also run its course. It does not exist anymore.
  The New START is the only remaining arms control treaty. […]
  The United States cancelled almost all contacts due to the fact that we were forced to stand up for the Russians in Ukraine. Those people lived under constant shelling for eight years without any response from the West. On the contrary, all the West did was encourage Russophobic and neo-Nazi actions by the Kiev regime. […]
  To follow up on ‘rules’, it’s a buzzword the United States and its allies use when they tell everyone to behave. They now insist on compliance with the rules-based order rather than international law. No description of these rules is available.”

Source: Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview with Channel One’s The Great Game political talk show,
Moscow, 25 April 2022, https://mid.ru/en/foreign_policy/news/1810694/

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