By John Scales Avery*
1 December 2015
In a recent article, Bruce G. Blair of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University writes that “The Russian warplane recently shot down inside Turkey’s border with Syria fits a pattern of brinkmanship and inadvertence that is raising tensions and distrust between Russia and U.S.-led NATO….
… Low-level military encounters between Moscow and Washington are fanning escalatory sparks not witnessed since the Cold War. And there exists a small but steadily growing risk that this escalation could morph by design or inadvertence into a nuclear threat.”
He goes on to say “And believe it or not, Russia has shortened the launch time from what it was during the Cold War. Today, top military command posts in the Moscow area can bypass the entire human chain of command and directly fire by remote control rockets in silos and on trucks as far away as Siberia in only 20 seconds.”
“Why should this concern us? History shows that crisis interactions, once triggered, take on a life of their own. Military encounters multiply; they become more decentralized, spontaneous and intense. Safeguards are loosened and unfamiliar operational environments cause accidents and unauthorized actions…
… Miscalculations, misinterpretations and loss of control create a fog of crisis out of which a fog of war may emerge. In short, the slope between the low-level military encounters, the outbreak of crisis and escalation to a nuclear dimension is a steep and slippery one.”
Another recent article, entitled “Why We’re Sliding Towards World War”, points to economic and political motivations.
War is threatened because heightened tensions can distract the public from a threatened economic collapse.
The US dollar’s status as a reserve currency is threatened because new transactions by the BRICS countries bypass the dollar.
The military-industrial establishments of the United States, Europe and Russia all wish for heightened tensions.
The threat of war justifies the 1.7 trillion dollars per year that the world now spends on armaments. However, threats can all too easily become reality.
Brinksmanship is an insane and immoral game played by our arrogant and power-mad leaders.
It is a game that the world could all too easily lose.
We know from histories of the start of World War I how easily a small incident can escalate uncontrollably into a catastrophic global conflict.
With thermonuclear weapons, the stakes are much higher today. The future of humanity and the biosphere are at stake.
The world has been very close to a catastrophic thermonuclear war a number of times,
We have been very lucky and, until now, we have escaped the catastrophic nuclear destruction of our beautiful world.
But we cannot expect our good luck to continue forever.
We must stop the arrogance, hubris and madness of our leaders. We must stop the madness of nuclear brinksmanship.
*John Scales Avery, Ph.D., who was part of a group that shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in organizing the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and Associate Professor Emeritus at the H.C. Ørsted Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
He is chairman of both the Danish National Pugwash Group and the Danish Peace Academy and received his training in theoretical physics and theoretical chemistry at M.I.T., the University of Chicago and the University of London.
He is the author of numerous books and articles both on scientific topics and on broader social questions. His most recent book is Civilization’s Crisis in the 21st Century http://www.learndev.org/dl/Crisis21-Avery.pdf.
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**Painting shells in a shell filling factory during World War I. | This artistic work created by the United Kingdom Government is in the public domain. | HMSO has declared that the expiry of Crown Copyrights applies worldwide | Wikimedia Commons
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