Nothing will accelerate global warming like a nuclear war

Media Release

2nd August 2019

This is an image from WW1 but is used here to illustrate how much of the world would look after a nuclear exchange.

Nuclear weapons pose the single biggest threat to the Earth’s environment.  Even a small-scale war would quickly devastate the world’s climate and ecosystems, causing damage that would last for more than a decade.

Detonating between 50 and 100 bombs – just 0.03% of the world’s arsenal -would throw enough soot into the atmosphere to create climactic anomalies unprecedented in human history.

The effects would be much greater than global warming and anything that has happened in history with regards to volcanic eruptions.

Tens of millions of people would die; global temperatures would crash and most of the world would be unable to grow crops for more than five years after the conflict.

In addition, the ozone layer, which protects the surface of the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation, would be depleted by 40% over many inhabited areas and up to 70% at the poles.

“We can’t risk nuclear war as nothing ruins the environment like war.  Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reduced to rubble instantly by nuclear weapons,”  Denis Doherty from the Hiroshima Day Committee said.

“It is a tragedy that the world still needs to understand the possibility of doomsday.

“We cannot sit by and do nothing with the United States building new nuclear weapons, threatening to use them in pre-emptive strikes and planning to put them into space.

“We will be speaking out tomorrow at the Hiroshima Day remembrance to play our part in saving the future.”  Mr. Doherty said.

For more information contact:

Denis Doherty, Hiroshima Day Committee on 0418 290 663

Saturday 3 August

Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park

12 – rally followed by march to PM’s office

Speakers: Dr Keith Suter, Hector Ramage, David Shoebridge MLC

Nuclear weapons cost too much Media Release no 2 Hiroshima Day 2019

Media Release

Aug 2, 2019

Hiroshima Day no 2

Nuclear weapons cost too much

Over the next 10 years, governments will spend a staggering US$1 trillion on nuclear weapons globally – that is US $100 billion annually.

Against the backdrop of increasing budgetary austerity and widespread cuts in health and social spending, such allocations for weapons systems appear not only exorbitant, but also counter to the economic and social needs of the nuclear armed States.

In order to spend such large budgets on nuclear weapons, they are forced to reduce the budgets in other areas such as health, education, environmental protection and welfare.

Zulifkar Ali Bhutto, architect of Pakistan’s atomic program acknowledged this ‘opportunity cost’ of nuclear weapons programs, asserting that “if India builds the bomb, we will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

Overseas development aid from the nuclear armed States to the developing countries remains way under the agreed target of 0.7% of GDP, a target which could easily be reached if the funding for nuclear weapons was re-directed towards development aid.

Most of the nuclear weapons money goes to private companies which are awarded contracts to manufacture, modernize and maintain nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles.

For these companies, the bloated budgets are in their interests.  Indeed, the companies actively lobby their own parliaments and governments to continue allocating the funds to nuclear weapons.  And they support think tanks and other public initiatives to promote the ‘need’ for nuclear weapons maintenance, modernisation or expansion.

On Saturday we will be calling for the Australian Government to help reverse this doomsday scenario by signing the United Nations treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, signed by 123 countries.


Saturday 3 August

Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park

12 – rally followed by march to PM’s office

Speakers: Dr Keith Suter, Hector Ramage, David Shoebridge MLC


Nuclear Danger from forgetting the past Media release 1 2019

Nuclear danger from forgetting the past


August 6 and August 8 1945 were the days when the first nuclear weapons were used by the USA on two cities in Japan, killing 200,000 people. These days are marked all over the world with “Never Again” rallies, public meetings, concerts and other events. In Sydney our major event will begin at 12 noon on Saturday 3 August.

In 2019, just 74 years after the devastating first use of these nuclear bombs, most of Australia has forgotten that to use or threaten to use these atomic bombs is a crime against humanity.

Most of Australia has forgotten that the human and environmental devastation caused by these weapons is so grossly out of proportion to a civilised nation’s values and so threatening to our entire planet that they should be immediately eliminated for all time.

This collective amnesia opens the way for the current debate about the possibility of Australia adopting nuclear power and even nuclear weapons.

This would be a terrifying step backwards for the more nuclear weapons, the more likely thy will end up in the hands of terrorists and the more likely it is that they will be used by accident or design.

The lesson of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is just as true now as it ever was. A nuclear conflict must never happen, and no country can legitimately hold nuclear weapons ready for war.  The only answer to the nuclear threat is to abolish all weapons.

Saturday 3 August

Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park

12 – rally followed by march to PM’s office

Speakers: Dr Keith Suter, Hector Ramage, David Shoebridge MLC

Lisa Natividad arrives in Sydney

A highly respected indigenous Chamoru woman from the US colony of Guam will be in Sydney on Wednesday 31 August.

Dr. Lisa Natividad is the President of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice and has shared Guahan’s plight with militarization in countries all over the world and at the United Nations.. She is an Associate Professor of social work at the University of Guam.

The Pacific atoll of Guam lies on the edge of the South China Sea, currently s focus of US-China rivalry.

Well over half of Guam has been turned into a US naval, airforce and Marine base which has been described as the tip of the US spear aimed at China.

Guam is part of the Marianas islands which were the site of 47 US nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s. Some tests led to radioactive fallout contaminating the area with appalling effects on the health of the community and considerable environmental damage.

Dr Natividad will speak at a public meeting on “The Anti-Nuclear Struggle in the Pacific –The Perspective from Guam at 6.30pm at the NSW Teachers Federation, 23-33 Mary Street, Surry Hills.

For more information and interviews,

contact Dr Hannah Middleton on 0418 668 098

Report on Joseph Gerson tour 2018

Report on the Joseph Gerson tour

The 2018 Hiroshima Day celebration was planned to be dominated by the presence of a powerful and energetic speaker from overseas so that some media discussion of nuclear disarmament could take place. Joseph Gerson fitted the bill so we set about encouraging him to come to Australia.  He was delayed due to his commitments in Hiroshima and Nagasaki so we put our events back to August 11.

Joseph has experience over many years in the peace movement, and is currently the Vice-President of the International Peace Bureau and President of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security.

Financial support

The Sydney Hiroshima Day Committee is most grateful for the financial support received from the NSW Quakers and PND. Their donations were sufficient to cover internal travel and living expenses. The HDC paid the international flights.

Financially we raised enough money to continue our work another year!  At present our balance is near $5,000.


The rally in Sydney was about the same size as in previous years but had the most powerful platform. We had an overseas speaker of some standing and a double Nobel peace prize winner in Prof Tilman Ruff from ICAN.

The speeches were really of a high quality and many participants expressed their gratitude to the speakers and to us for organising it.


Joseph spoke at a dinner and at a small demo in Brisbane


report from organisers David Purnell and Kathryn Kelly, IPAN (ACT)

Joseph Gerson  visited Canberra from 12-14 August 2018. On 13 August he met with ALP Senator Lisa Singh, Greens Senators Peter Whish-Wilson and Janet Rice, and ALP MP Sharon Claydon, and several staff/advisers at Parliament House. He supported their efforts to get Australia to change its position, and to sign and ratify the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty passed  by the UN in 2017 by a large majority (122 nations). He stressed the critical importance of reversing the nuclear arms race at a time when threats to use nuclear weapons are greater than ever.

Later in the day he spoke at the ANU College of Law to a public meeting, attended by around 30 people, outlining the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the failure of the nuclear weapons states to live up to their promise to move towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, in response to other nations foregoing acquiring nuclear weapons. He urged us to work for Australia (as a middle power and part of the US ‘nuclear umbrella’) to support the ban treaty, as an example to other nations (eg NATO countries) that have not already signed.

In the evening Joseph was welcomed to a shared meal at the Canberra Quaker Meeting House by around 25 Quakers and others. He spoke further about the dangers posed to the world by nuclear weapons as well as climate change, and gave examples of work done to promote dialogue across ideological and national divides.

It was inspiring to have Joseph among us, able to share such a wide range of knowledge and commitment to peacemaking.

report from Romina Beitseen, CICD

Joseph Gerson visited Melbourne from 14-16 August 2018 as guest of the CICD with the sponsorship of IPAN Victoria, Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church, Pax Christi and Quakers.

Joseph arrived in Melbourne on Tuesday 14 August at 12.00 noon.  We had time to have a quick look at the Queen Victoria Market and lunch before heading to a 2.30 pm meeting with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

The meeting was attended by around 14 people. Joseph reported on his attendance at the 2018 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs in Japan.  He said for the last 34 years he has been attending the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He briefly spoke about his involvement over many years in the peace movement. He also reported on his visit to Brisbane and Canberra and his meeting with Labour and Greens members of Parliament. He said he supports their efforts to get Australia to change its position, and to sign and ratify the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty passed by the UN in 2017.

Joseph stressed the importance of reversing the nuclear arms race by campaigning and lobbying the politicians in particular around time of elections. He said 75% of ALP MP’s have signed a letter in support of the UN Treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Later in the day he met with some of the CICD committee members.

This was followed by a social dinner attended by 14 people including Nic McClellan who is a correspondent for Islands Business magazine in Fiji, and for other regional media, and is an associate researcher with the School of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities at Swinburne University of Technology, Jacques Boulet, Interdependent Researcher General Editor at New Community Quarterly Director Borderlands Co-operative, Hans Baer, an anthropologist and development studies specialist at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Melbourne Unitarian Church, Joan Coxsedge the first Labor woman to be elected to the Victorian Legislative Council in July 1979, anti-Vietnam War activist, Save our Sons campaigner, artist, peace activist and CICD member. John Speight, CICD executive Chairperson, Len Cooper, executive vice chairperson, Andrew Irving, vice chairperson, Romina Beitseen CICD Secretary, and a number of CICD committee members.

Joseph briefly spoke about his trip in Japan and the history of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the failure of the nuclear weapons states to live up to their promise to support the ban treaty.  He said we have a lot to do to get Australian to support the ban treaty. Joseph was able to share a wide range of knowledge and history of peace movement.

On Wednesday 15 August Joseph spent an hour at the community radio station 3CR. Here Romina Beitseen interviewed him for the CICD radio program Alternative News and Jan Bartlett interviewed him for Tuesday Hometime. Joseph was generous in answering questions about himself and the work he has been and is involved with and his opinion on US wars and aggression around the world.

Joseph met with Pax Christi and the Victorian Council of Churches members and friends at 11 am – there were about 13 people at the meeting. He spoke about the importance of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted by the UN conference on July 7, 2017which marked a historic step forward towards a world without nuclear weapons. During the year since then, civil society movements, including Hibakusha, have joined forces with governments to support the treaty to make headway toward achieving the total abolition of nuclear weapons. There was a positive feedback from Pax Christi saying they had a very good conversation with Joseph which will, they hope, lead to ongoing contact.

This meeting was followed by Joseph enjoying a short tour to the Melbourne museum (First Peoples section). Following a visit to the CICD Hiroshima exhibition we shared a meal before the public meeting at 7 pm which was held at the Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church and was attended by over 50 people.

Joseph spoke about the movement and political forces that are needed for change. He said the reason for accepting the invitation and coming such a long way is because Australia can play a central role both in helping to advance the nuclear prohibition treaty and also in doing so to help break the status quo in nuclear disarmament diplomacy. He spoke about the importance of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty which is one of the three most important treaties of the 20th Century. He explained that North Korea has nuclear weapons because of repeated threats to attack North Korea with nuclear weapons.

Joseph appealed to the audience to do education work and to campaign. He we can make a difference. Governments are not going to deliver us a nuclear free world – the only way to get it is from the people’s power from below – we have to exert the pressure to move governments.

Dr Joseph’s contribution was outstanding.  He shared a wide range of knowledge and commitment to peacemaking.

Back to Sydney

Back in Sydney Joseph addressed a function in Ashfield hosted by the Quakers. About 30 people were present and they included mainly Quakers and some religious leaders.

Joseph shared the platform with Professor Jake Lynch and Nick Deane. There was particular interest in his point about President Trump’s inconsistency — reassuring about North Korea when he does not have an agreement and aggressive about Iran when he does have an agreement.

On Friday morning Joseph had time for sight seeing and lunch at Watsons Bay before attending a 3 pm round table discussion hosted by PND.

The visit ended with a Lebanese dinner much enjoyed by all.

Some lessons

  1. The Committee

It was a great rally in Sydney and there some positives that we should take away with us. So often at different meetings there is constant moaning about how hard it is to get people out about nuclear weapons.  Well this little committee did it!

  1. We contributed to the anti-nuclear the campaigns in Sydney, Brisbane, ACT and Melbourne.
  2. We live fed the event through facebook and got nearly 900 hits
  3. We sent social tweets to Government and Opposition representatives
  4. We distributed about 200 postcards to Malcolm Turnbull about nuclear disarmament.
  5. We have made a great impact on efforts to get the ban treaty signed..

The march through the crowded shopping streets of Sydney gained us many thumbs up.

  1. To improve
  • We need to invite more people onto the committee and to advertise the date, venue and time of the meetings.
  • We should be better at sharing the jobs – too much is done by one or two
  • Publicity is our big fall down issue
  • Our affiliated groups do not contribute talent and energy but leave it all to a small donation. For example WILPF was working hard on the bike ride to Canberra while the HDC was largely ignored.)
  • Social media is improving our exposure but not our attendance.
  1. The wider debate
    • The debate has to heat up
    • We sparked some interest
    • Our live feed caught some interest
    • The media is terrible
    • The growing militarism of our society – commented on by Joseph Gerson.

An Interview with Joseph Gerson 2018

An interview with Dr Joseph Gerson

Dr Joseph Gerson was in Australia for a speaking tour to four cities as the guest of the Sydney Hiroshima Day Committee. Dr Gerson is president of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, vice president of the International Peace Bureau, and the author of Empire and the Bomb: How the U.S. Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World.

While he was in Australia for the annual commemorations of the 1945 atomic bombings by the USA of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Guardian took the opportunity to interview him.


Guardian:  Do you see or hear much evidence that Australia is important to the US?

JG:  What we mostly hear about is Pine Gap and its role in intelligence collection in the US network of over 1,000 bases worldwide.

Pine Gap is very important in its role in the militarisation of space. The US is seeking to control space. This control is essential for running its wars whether they are drone, conventional, or nuclear wars. The base provides navigation for missile guidance and Pine Gap is especially important in that regard.

We have heard about the new Marine base in Darwin. This is clearly part of the US campaign to surround China, in preparation for military conflict with China.

There is also the geopolitical situation. Australia is located in the vicinity of the South China Sea, control of the Western Pacific and up into the Indian Ocean.  If you were located say where Tanzania is, then Australia would be much less important.

Guardian: Why did you accept the invitation to come to Australia?

JG:  Honestly there is always the sense of curiosity but I must say that I pushed myself to do this trip after an arduous time in Japan because Australia has the potential to play a significant role in opening nuclear arms policy diplomacy.

The nuclear prohibition treaty is important step in moving towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.  It has a possibility to build power from the non-nuclear weapons states against the nuclear weapons states.

The nuclear states have to fulfill their treaty obligations to campaign for the elimination of these weapons but so far they have not bothered to act on those provisions.  If 50 countries like Tonga, Tanzania, Venezuela and Cuba sign the treaty, this does not bother or influence nuclear states and the US in particular.

Not that we are denigrating those countries but when or if a so called ‘umbrella state’ like Australia, South Korea, Japan or a NATO state signs that treaty this would be much more powerful and influential. This would say that these states are so worried about human survival that they are willing to break with alliances by joining the call for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

This move has the possibility of exerting a strong tug on the illegitimate consensus that exists among nuclear weapons states.  We need the nuclear umbrella states to have the courage to step outside and challenge the international order based on the fear of genocide and even omnicide (the elimination of all life on this planet).

If we can get Australia as a key umbrella state to reject nuclear weapons then a significant step would be taken to exert the kind of pressure we need on the nuclear weapons states and the US in particular.

Guardian:  You have come to us via Japan where you spent time in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Can you comment on how well the movement for nuclear disarmament is doing in Japan? 

JG:  Japan is one of the very few countries where you have a social movement committed to nuclear disarmament.  This grows out of the history that Japan is quite literally the only country to be attacked with nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fact that the country suffered from the effect of the Bikini tests which irradiated a number of Japanese fishermen as well their food supplies.

They know what nuclear weapons do the way most of the rest of the world don’t so their movement is fairly strong,

I was at the World Conference against Hydrogen and Atomic Bombs which brought together about 9,000 people from across Japan for a rally. It was also attended by about 100 delegates including some highly placed diplomats to exchange information and to do some joint planning.

In Japan the culture is different and a major way they organize is through petition campaigns.  In 2010 and 2015, at the time of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), they brought to the United Nations about 7 million petition signatures.

None of these were collected on the internet but they were collected by people going out to workplaces, the streets and other public places with a petition calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  They shipped them to the United States and presented them to the President of the NPT review conference and to UN officials.

They are now in the process of following up on a petition modeled on the ‘Stockholm appeal’ from the 1950s during the Korean War.  Their aim is not to get 7 or 10 million signatures but hundreds of millions of signatures.

One thing all Australians can do is to take this petition off the web and to promote here.

Their way of doing it is a little bit different to the way we would do it in the United States. They don’t begin by going out to the street corner to gather signatures. First they go to Governors, City Councils Mayors and they get those ‘notables’ to sign. This encourages other people down the line to do it and it also gets them some media attention.

In addition to the encouragement that the Japanese movement gives internationally it also creates a break on Japanese nuclear ambitions.  The goal of having half the population signing a nuclear petition sends a powerful message to the military and Government

Guardian:  As an outside observer, what similarities have you noticed about Australian and US militarism?

JG: I found similarities and differences. The similarities are the degree of militarism and culture mixing which is very dangerous.

I am struck by the exulting role and myth of ANZAC from World War 1. I wrote to friends this morning explaining that it was counter intuitive that Australians by the thousands were openly sacrificed in a war that had no meaning.

It was ostensibly in the West a ‘war to end all wars’ but in essence it was a war for greater power between the British Empire and the rising German Empire.  For this thousands of Australians risked and lost their lives and now somehow this is to be honoured?  It was a huge mistake and people should learn from that mistake rather than reify it.

The reality of the Australian-US alliance is that Australia plays such a junior role.  It means that Australians have been involved in US wars for empire whether it be in Korea, South Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.  This should be a source of shame and embarrassment for Australia.

I was in Canberra briefly and looking at the layout of the city, there is a major road that leads up to the monuments of all wars Australians have participated in.  Australians need to look at the sadness and tragedy of that and consider that there are far better things that could be honored in Australian history and culture.

In the United State after the Vietnam War we had what was known as the ‘Vietnam syndrome’. Across the culture there was a perception that this war had been wrong, that young men and women had been unnecessarily sacrificed and for a period of time this served as a break on US foreign and military intervention.

This was consciously attacked by the 1991 Gulf War with President Bush saying we had ‘to create a new world order’ and certainly after 9/11 we are in position where the military in the United States is increasing reified.

The Pentagon spends millions and millions of dollars for advertising, to have military ceremonies in football matches and baseball games.  So we are now in period where the military is the most highly respected institution in the United States.  This is deeply concerning to us both in relation to present and future wars but also as a threat to our democracy.

It should also be deeply concerning to people around the world and especially to people in Australia who are likely to get co-opted and to those who may be at the other end of the guns.

Guardian:  You travelled to four different regions of Australia. What are your impressions of the peace movement in this country from what you’ve seen?

JG:  I am impressed with the spectrum of who is involved in the movement.  You’ve got the left, left labour, those across the religious sector, medical professionals, and a number of scholars. That’s an impressive base to have. I have also been impressed by the movement’s ability to work with this cross section of people.

The big sign of hope is the support for the nuclear ban treaty from the Greens and at least by the pledge of many ALP members of Parliament.  So one can imagine that if the Liberals are ousted from power there will be room for Australians to struggle to get the ban treaty signed.

If that happens that will move the Australian movement to the height of visibility and respect of the world’s peace and justice movement.

My guess is that if this opening appears there will be ‘push back’ from the United States on Labor and from Britain as well.  This will have to be a time when the peace movement moves into a very high gear to keep the pressure on them.

Austria marches against Nuclear Weapons and signs the treaty!

In 2017, civil society achieved a special success. On July 7, 2017, 122 states decided on a legally binding nuclear weapons prohibition treaty and launched it on 20 September 2017 for signature at the UN in New York. Then the Foreign Minister Kurz signed this document for Austria.

Austrian diplomacy and numerous civil society organizations had a significant share in the conclusion of the contract. In May 2018 Austria was the fifth country to deposit the instrument of ratification of the agreement with the UN Secretary-General.


Now the signatory states have to move to early ratification. The contract comes into force after the deposit of fifty documents within the prescribed period. It is equally important to encourage all deny countries (for example, where nuclear weapons are stationed, all NATO countries, etc.) to join. Here all people are called to exercise about the messages, pressure on the non-signatories.


The initiators of the remembrance regret the US withdrawal from the Iran deal, although Iran has met the treaty meticulously in Vienna after repeated information from the Atomic Energy Agency IAEO. We hope for a successful dialogue between North and South Korea and the US for a nuclear-weapon-free Korean peninsula. Just as we demand more nuclear-weapon-free zones (Europe and the Middle East).


Those civil society organizations that supported the prohibition treaty (peace movement, IFOR, ICAN, IPPNW, Red Cross) are organizing a memorial service for the victims of the atomic bombings of Japan 1945 and the other victims of military and civilian application of nuclear technology at the Stephansplatz in Vienna on 6th August 2018. On the 9th of August

2018 a commemoration will take place at the Peace Pagoda in Vienna.


As part of these commemorative events, we collect messages of support from peace-loving people, which will be printed on Stephansplatz and electronically retrievable on the homepage Your message of stpport is linked to this type of publication.


With a statement against nuclear weapons, we ask you to commit ourselves to the abolition of this most inhumane weapon of mass destruction to give another public vote. We are engaged in a Hiroshima action for a world without nuclear weapons, without nuclear power plants and without war!!!


We ask you to send the message of support until July 31, 2018 to


We thank you very much for your valuable support in advance and remain with solidary peace greetings


Andreas Pecha and Alois Reisenbichler

Hiroshima Group Vienna – Vienna Peace Movement


Media Release for August 6 2018

Hiroshima Day 73rd Anniversary

August 6th 1945 at 8.10 am Hiroshima time the first atomic bomb was dropped in anger on this Japanese city and August 9 another bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.  Almost instantly over 200,000 were killed by this most violent of weapons.  For 73 years the people of the world and Australia have been calling for the destruction of this most horrible weapon.  In 2018 there is still a long way to go!

There have been recent victories with the UN decision to sponsor a ban nuclear weapons treaty which was passed by 120 countries (Australia voted NO).  In September of 2017 the number of countries that had ratified the treaty was 59.

The other victory was the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Melbourne inspired group ‘International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ (ICAN).  The Australian Government has failed to acknowledge the great work of ICAN Australia and its success on the international stage.  Contrast that with the praise (well deserved) heaped on the Australian divers who rescued the boys in the Thai cave recently.

As dawn breaks on August 6 2018 we still need to get Australia to sign the treaty and have us come out from the US nuclear umbrella and fight for a world free of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear exchanges are still a possibility in many parts of the globe and we still need to have nuclear disarmament.

The Sydney Hiroshima Rally will held on Sat Aug 11 at 11 am Town Hall Square.

For more information: Denis Doherty 0418 290 663


Major new Gerson article


by Joseph Gerson Truthout PUBLISHED July 10, 2018


As the world gears up for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit this week in Brussels and Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for July 16, there is uncertainty and anxiety across the world about the outcomes of these encounters. Will Trump swing his wrecking ball at NATO allies? Can he engage in serious negotiations with his Russian counterpart to extend the New START Treaty and save the increasingly endangered Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement, which ended the Cold War?


Contrary to popular opinion, NATO needs to be recognized as an imperial military alliance that includes a first-strike nuclear warfighting doctrine. Consistent with what Zbigniew Brzezinski later described as the geopolitical requirements for US domination of Eurasia, and thus the world, NATO’s first secretary general explained that the alliance’s purpose was to keep Germany down, Russia out and the US in. With the negotiation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987, the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the more publicly articulated rationale for the alliance — defending Western Europe against Soviet communism — had disappeared.


Rather than being retired and becoming a subject for historians of the Cold War, NATO was repurposed. Contrary to the 1991 US-Russia agreement that permitted German reunification on West German terms in exchange for the commitment not to move NATO a centimeter closer to Moscow, President Clinton launched NATO’s expansion to Russia’s borders. Then, with Russia at its military nadir and European integration moving forward, the 2010 Lisbon NATO summit transformed the alliance’s primary mission to focusing on “out-of-area operations”: Securing the free flow of minerals and money to the Global North became the NATO’s focus.


Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revitalization of autocratic — if corrupt — order in Russia, the Maidan protests and coup in Ukraine, and Russia’s annexation of Crimea and covert military intervention in Eastern Ukraine, NATO’s primary mission changed once again. Preparing for a possible great power war with Russia or China became the alliance’s priority. Beginning in 2016, NATO forces were dispatched to Poland and the Baltics, massive military exercises followed there, in the Black and Baltic Seas, and even in ostensibly neutral nations like Sweden. And NATO’s military ties with its “major non-alliance partner” Japan were deepened.


If we understand NATO to be an expression and instrument of US foreign and military policies, we need to pay close attention to the ambitions and policies of those who now set its policies.


The Trump Doctrine and Uncertainty in Brussels

Donald Trump, whose reign is increasingly and properly seen in the tradition of European fascism and early Nazi rule, was recently described in the pages of The New York Times as “trying to remake America … into a selfish, dishonest country, with no close friends, totally unpredictable, free of any commitment to enduring values, ready to stab any ally in the back … if it doesn’t do our bidding and much more comfortable with mafia-like dictators than elected democrats.”


As we have seen from his insults to the leaders of the G7, his efforts to topple the Merkel government in Germany and the repeated shocks to Japan, Trump has made it clear that “America First” means that if the US is to have allies, they must accept their roles as the vassal states Brzezinski thought they should be, and that US commitments cannot be trusted.


John Feffer of Foreign Policy in Focus wrote that the “Trump doctrine “is not unilateralism but “unileaderism” which “strikes a chord with a segment of the American public. It’s not just the Russians who crave an ‘iron fist’ leader,” Feffer writes. “Trump’s tactics run afoul of the basic laws of geopolitics: identifying long term goals, developing corresponding strategies, and cultivating key allies to achieve those goals. The allies that Trump has cultivated — Poland, Hungary, Russia, North Korea, and the Philippines— don’t advance any particular national security interests. They reflect only the personal preferences of Trump himself.”


Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine polled White House staff to learn how those who are developing and implementing Trump’s foreign and military policies would name the Trump doctrine. The two most telling responses were: “Permanent destabilization creates American advantage,” and “We’re America, Bitch!”


This leads to uncertainty about how Trump, with National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at his side, will wield his “unileaderism” wrecking ball at the NATO summit. How will Trump reconcile his relationship with Putin with the agenda of the NATO summit, which will address, among other issues, the security threat posed by Russia? Even before the summit, Trump is demanding massive and unwanted increases in European military spending, saying that the current arrangements with the European allies are “no longer sustainable.”


The answer lies in the imperial systems built over generations. In his new book The World as It Is, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes explains one of the challenges facing any US president: From special operations warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan, to the delivery of warplanes around the world, the institutions of the national security state operate “on their own momentum — rooted in a vast complex of deployments, alliances, international agreements and budget decisions that could have been made a month, a year or decades ago…. Every agency has its own interests, which don’t change with the presidency.”


How should we understand NATO’s “out-of-area” operations and its globalization? Although they had precedents in the 1990s with the participation of seven NATO nations joining the US in its 1991 Gulf War, the no-fly zone and bombing of Bosnia and the 1994 creation of the Mediterranean Dialog, out-of-area operations began in full force with the 1998 Kosovo War against Serbia. As Michael J. Glennon wrote at the time, the US and NATO “with little discussion and less fanfare… effectively abandoned the old UN Charter rules that strictly limit international intervention in local conflicts … in favor of a vague new system that is much more tolerant of military intervention but has few hard and fast rules.”


In 2001, following the September 11 attacks, the administration of George W. Bush invoked NATO’s Article 5 of the NATO alliance, which made it the responsibility of all Alliance members to consider 9/11 an attack against their country, and to join the US in responding.


In his recent definitive history of the CIA and its war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Steve Coll writes that in addition to destroying AL-Qaeda and the Taliban, “A secondary aim for the US in invoking Article 5, was to prove that the compact of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization … had meaning, and that N.A.T.O. could operate if necessary outside its defensive perimeter in the West.”


By 2002, the Bush administration concluded that, “There are no more threats to NATO from within Europe, but from a nexus of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.” Consequently, the administration pressed for the creation of a NATO “expeditionary force, a strike force that can move fast.” And, by late 2003, with Kabul and other key Afghan population centers thought to be secure from enemy combatants, the Unauthorized the gradual expansion of NATO’s mission. By 2006, with the Taliban again on the offensive, the entire country was a theater for NATO operations.


In 2011, driven by Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power, we witnessed NATO’s catastrophic war on Libya, and the rest is history.


NATO: The Global Alliance


How global is NATO? It spans the planet, providing the US with military allies, military bases for wars and military interventions from the Middle East and Africa to Latin America and East Asia, as well as ensuring markets for weapons sales and providing access to cutting edge technologies. In each case, deep geopolitical and military calculations have been involved in the invitations and decisions to collaborate with NATO. Not surprisingly, given its size and the competing ambitions of its elites — as we see today in Turkey’s flirtations with Russia and the pressure Trump claims to be placing on Pakistan — NATO partnerships come with inevitable contradictions.


In Europe, prospective future members of the alliance are members of the “Partnership for Peace” program. Countries in this program, which are first in line for full NATO membership and which are already deeply engaged with NATO militarily include Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Georgia and Ireland.


The Europe-Atlantic Partnership Council is a forum for dialogue and consultation, and provides the overall political framework for cooperation between NATO member states and 21 partner countries, and for a time included Russian participation.


Established in 2004, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative engages four Gulf States to counter weapons of mass destruction, counterterrorism, training and education, participation in NATO exercises, promotion of military interoperability and disaster preparedness.


The Mediterranean Dialogue, established shortly after the first Gulf War, provides a framework for US and European military and diplomatic influence with seven Middle East and North African nations. The rationale for its creation, consultations and joint military exercises was “the understanding that security in the Mediterranean is vital to assure the security of Europe.”


And Partners across the Globe, established at the 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, brings together a disparate group of middle and lesser powers in the Asia-Pacific the Middle East and Latin America to extend NATO’s reach and capabilities. Global partners have fought in Afghanistan, joined anti-piracy campaigns, and collaborated in anti-terrorism, intelligence sharing and cyber defense efforts.


Colombia is NATO’s newest Global Partner and the first Global Partner in Latin America. It had earlier sent troops for training in Germany and Italy and dispatched troops to the Horn of Africa. By 2013, it had agreed “to cooperate in intelligence sharing, military-training exercises,” and in so-called humanitarian interventions.


Additionally, the United States recognizes 15 nations and Taiwan as Major Non-NATO Allies. While this status does not in all cases include mutual defense pacts, it provides military collaborations and financial support not available to other non-NATO states.

NATO’s expansion and the partnerships created in the post-Cold War era reinforce US and European ambitions and interests in the Global South. NATO’s expansion has included deployment of a multinational force in Romania to counter Russia along its eastern flank and to check a growing Russian presence in the Black Sea. Last year, NATO jets “confronted a plane carrying Russia’s defense minister in neutral airspace over the Baltic Sea.” This, of course, does not absolve Russia of its military provocations, which together with those of NATO and the US risk accidents and miscalculations that could escalate beyond control.


Where does this leave us? With untethered Trump now focused on his tête-à-tête with Vladimir Putin, which will likely overshadow the NATO summit, the centrifugal forces within the global alliance are at play,and anything seems possible.


Copyright © Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission. Joseph Gerson


Dr. Joseph Gerson is president of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security, vice president of the International Peace Bureau, and the author of Empire and the Bomb: How the U.S. Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World.


Important Conference on Australian Peace and Independence

By Denis Doherty

Melbourne has just (September 8-10) hosted a highly significant peace meeting. The fifth annual conference of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) marked a growth in numbers and breadth of the new national peace network, an aim of communists and many others after the demise of the Australian Peace Committee as Australia’s national peace organization.

IPAN now has over 60 affiliates and, most importantly, at this conference over 20 delegates from a growing number of trade unions attended.

The conference was hosted by the MUA and MUA Assistant General Secretary Warren Smith spoke on why peace is union business and how the peace question is a class question. His contribution was warmly received and many conference goers expressed surprise and delight, saying they have wished for years for a union to say these sorts of things.

The MUA announced that IPAN documents would become part of education courses for union members. Conference delegates were also delighted when MUA branches around the country began texting in donations to the IPAN cause.

Indigenous speakers at the opening night public forum emphasized that the struggle for Aboriginal land and sovereignty, begun in the Frontier Wars, continues to this day and that the peace movement must support this fight. This was a theme which recurred throughout the conference.

The conference was held on the theme of War, Peace and Independence: Keep Australia out of US Wars.

Keynote speaker Prof David Vine from the American University in Washington and author of a seminal book Base Nation, was a standout contributor and was supported by a superb range of informative and empowering overseas presenters. They included Korean representative and Jeju campaign activist Sung Hee Choi, Olivier Bancoult from Diego Garcia, Murray Horton from the Aotearoa New Zealand anti-bases movement and Stephanie Rabusa from the Philippines.

Australian politicians, unionists, activists and academics gave inspiring and valuable contributions to the conference. They included Warren Smith (MUA), Scott Ludlam (Greens), Prof Richard Tanter, James O’Neill, Dr Vince Scappatura, Dr Margie Beavis (MAPW) and others.

David Vine argued that US bases harm America domestically and harm the countries where they are imposed. He pointed out that the first bases were established on Native American territory to steal the land from the indigenous people of North America. This tradition has continued with the US today maintaining an ‘empire’ of about 800 bases in 80 countries around the world.

These bases are called “gifts” to the host countries but David Vine says they are better described as a Trojan House, intended to exercise control, intimidate and threaten the host nation. They are set up for the benefit of US aims and objectives

The final conference declaration says in part that we have a vision of an independent Australia that plays a positive role in building peace in our region and beyond through peaceful resolution of International conflicts.  Presently an Australia joined at the hip with the US plays a negative role in the world and we work to change that!