nuclear explosion


Push the US govt. to sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty. No matter which party wins this week.

As I write this, it is three days until the 2020 election. And during my customary morning scan of world events, I happened upon a notice that would dominate the news cycle for weeks in any sane society. Yet, as I’ve written previously regarding other important but little discussed topics, I know that most Americans heard nothing about it. Which I believe would have been the case even in a slow news period. Since, as has been long observed by journalism researchers, the stories of most importance to ordinary people are largely ignored by major news organizations in the service of global elites.

To my point, the necessary 50-nation threshold allowing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to enter into force was achieved on Oct 25 when the island nations of Jamaica and Nauru ratified it.

Hell, Honduras ratified it on Oct 24.

Seriously. Honduras. Meaning even an oligarchy and perennial dictatorship run by a few rich families—enabled by the likes of Hillary Clinton during her tenure as secretary of state—is capable of doing the right thing and working to ban nukes the way other weapons of mass destruction have been banned by international accords in the past.

But the US refuses to sign and ratify the treaty. As do all the other nuclear powers.

And what’s that I hear grassroots Democrats say? America would absolutely do so if their party was in power? No no no no. Absolutely false. The Obama administration was engaged in “modernizing” US nuclear weapons stocks when the Trump administration came into office. That is, not eliminating the worst existential threat facing humanity next to global warming. Rather, both administrations have exacerbated that threat. Made it worse. Because every minute we continue to have operational nukes anywhere on the planet means we’re one minute closer to some power or faction doing what America, alone among nations, did in 1945—using those weapons. Their use is inevitable as long as they exist.

Unfortunately, the Democratic position on nuclear weapons remains to keep those weapons in service. To nibble away at US stocks here and there—mostly by taking old weapons offline and replacing them with smaller numbers of more effective ones. To modernize them—that is, making them lower yield, faster, and more accurate. Thus making it ever more likely they will be used, as President Trump has threatened to use them. The latest in a long line of Democratic and Republican presidents to do so over the last 75 years. I can already hear the propaganda leading up to said use: “Using a tactical nuke will save more lives than it takes!” Right right. We’ll only drop a little baby one on the bad-doers, yes?

It will then merely be a matter of course when the nation (or organization) we nuke—or one of its allies—responds with its own little baby one. And then naturally the US would have to respond with another nuke. Which would draw a predictable counterstrike. And soon enough we will have a global nuclear conflagration that could very well wipe out the human race. One that would accelerate quickly over just a few days. Or a few hours. Or, now that computer algorithms are responsible for a lot of war fighting by major powers, and the US, Russia, and China are engaged in building hypersonic delivery vehicles, over merely a few minutes.

So as Chris Faraone and I wrote in a recent editorial, much as we dislike Trump and his minions, we don’t feel like much is going to change for the better for working people should the Democrats take power in January. Unless Americans and immigrants hoping to become Americans—particularly Democrats and the growing numbers of people to their left—put very heavy pressure on both Democratic and Republican leaders alike to pursue policies that will enable all of us to survive the manifold crises of this era. Instead of policies that simply benefit the rich and powerful first and foremost. A sin that both major parties are guilty of.

In the case of pushing both parties to do the right thing—the sane thing—on the subject of this epistle and agree that the US will sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons then eliminate all its nukes, there’s an easy way readers can get involved. Just support the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and help it ensure the treaty is fully enacted and adopted by every nation on the planet. 

Here’s the link: Make some time to plug in after your post-election fury or elation abates a bit. Because the fate of humanity really does depend on it.

Apparent Horizon—an award-winning political column—is syndicated by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism’s Pandemic Democracy Project. Contact for more information. Jason Pramas is BINJ’s executive director, and executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston. Copyright 2020 Jason Pramas. Licensed for use by the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and media outlets in its network.