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MARJORIE COHN JD

Marjorie Cohn, signature news reporter and contributor of Global News Aruba, is a professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law where she taught from 1991-2016, and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures, writes, and provides commentary for local, regional, national and international media outlets. Professor Cohn has served as a news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, as well as a legal and political commentator on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, and Pacifica Radio.

The author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice (with David Dow) and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd), Professor Cohn is editor of and contributor to The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

One of her books was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court opinion and her articles have appeared in numerous journals such as Fordham Law Review, Hastings Law Journal, and Virginia Journal of International Law, as well as The National Law Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Chicago Tribune. Professor Cohn is a contributing editor to Jurist and National Lawyers Guild Review, and her frequent columns appear on Huffington Post, Truthout, Truthdig, Consortium NewsCommonDreams, Counterpunch and ZNet.

She has been a criminal defense attorney at the trial and appellate levels, and was staff counsel to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board. Professor Cohn is the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the Association of American Jurists, and is deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.

A veteran of the anti-Vietnam War movement, Professor Cohn received her B.A. from Stanford, where she majored in Social Thought and Institutions, and her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law. She testified in 2008 about the U.S. government interrogation policy before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and has also testified at military courts-martial about the illegality of the wars, the duty to obey lawful orders, and the duty to disobey unlawful orders.

Professor Cohn sits on the board of directors of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign and Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, the national advisory boards of Veterans for Peace, and Progressive Democrats of America, and she is a civilian member of the board of GI Voice. She is also a member of the advisory board for the American Constitution Society – San Diego Chapter.

The recipient of the San Diego County Bar Association’s 2005 Service to Legal Education Award, Professor Cohn was recognized as one of San Diego’s Top Attorneys in Academics for 2006, 2008 and 2009, and was given the 2007 Bernard E. Witkin, Esq. Award for Excellence in the Teaching of the Law by the San Diego Law Library Justice Foundation. She received the 2008 Peace Scholar of the Year Award from the Peace and Justice Studies Association, the 2009 Amnesty International-San Diego Digna Ochoa Human Rights Defender Award, and the 2010 Alumni Achievement Award from the Santa Clara University School of Law. In 2010, Professor Cohn debated the legality of the war in Afghanistan at the prestigious Oxford Union. She received the Debra Evenson Venceremos Award from the National Lawyers Guild in 2018.

A legal observer in Iran on behalf of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers in 1978, she has participated in delegations to Cuba, China and Yugoslavia. She lived in Mexico and is fluent in Spanish.

( source www.marjoriecohn.com )

"US Takes Illegal, Dangerous Actions Toward Regime Change in Venezuela"

By Prof. Juris Doctor Marjorie Cohn

www.truthout.org 

Signature News Reporter and Contributor

GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA 

AINA - ARUBA'S INTERNATIONAL NEWS AGENCY

Pro-government supporters march during a rally on April 6, 2019, in Caracas, Venezuela. Image Courtesy of EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI / GETTY IMAGES

The United States is taking illegal and dangerous actions to execute regime change in Venezuela. In January, Juan Guaidó declared himself “interim president,” in a strategy orchestrated by the United States to seize power from President Nicolás Maduro.

In March, Guaidó announced that “Operation Freedom,” an organization established to overthrow the Maduro government, would take certain “tactical actions” beginning on April 6. Part of the plan anticipates that the Venezuelan military will turn against Maduro.

This strategy is detailed in a 75-page regime change manual prepared by the U.S. Global Development Lab, a branch of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The manual advocates the creation of rapid expeditionary development teams to partner with the CIA and U.S. Special Forces to conduct “a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations [in] in extremis conditions.”

Some of these actions will, in all likelihood, involve combat operations. A USAID official said, “Anybody who doesn’t think we need to be working in combat elements or working with SF [special forces] groups is just naïve.”

The manual was written by members of Frontier Design Group (FDG), a national security contractor whose “work has focused on the wicked and sometimes overlapping problem sets of fragility, violent extremism, terrorism, civil war, and insurgency,” according to its mission statement. FDG was the “sole contractor” that USAID hired to write a “new counterinsurgency doctrine for the Trump administration,” Tim Shorrock wrote at Washington Babylon.

Guaidó is funded by USAID’s sister organization, the National Endowment for Democracy, which is notorious for meddling in other countries and putting a good face on the CIA’s dirty business, as the late journalist William Blum explained.

Writing in Salon, Medea Benjamin and Nicolás J. S. Davies cited Blum’s statement that the United States generally opts for “low-intensity conflict” over full-scale wars. They noted that “’low-intensity conflict’ involves four tools of regime change: sanctions or economic warfare; propaganda or ‘information warfare’; covert and proxy war; and aerial bombardment. In Venezuela,” they added, “the U.S. has used the first and second, with the third and fourth now ‘on the table’ since the first two have created chaos but so far not toppled the government.”

Indeed, a combination of punishing sanctions imposed by the United States and blackouts exploited if not engineered by the U.S. have been unsuccessful in removing Maduro and installing Guaidó.

U.S. Sanctions Intensify Suffering of Venezuelan People

The Venezuelan economy was in dire straits before the Trump administration imposed harsher sanctions in January.


Crude oil production in Venezuela fell by 142,000 barrels a day in February, according to OPEC. “This shows that the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration in January had an immediate, very harsh impact on Venezuela’s economy, and on the general population, which depends on the export revenue from oil for essential imports inclu

ding medicine, food, medical equipment, and other life-saving necessities,” Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, stated.


If this drop in oil production continues at the same rate, Venezuela stands to lose more than $2.5 billion in oil revenues during the next year. The U.S.-imposed sanctions will speed that decline.


On April 4, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Human Rights Watch issued a 71-page report documenting food and medicine shortages and sharp increases in disease throughout Venezuela. They characterize the situation as a humanitarian emergency and recommend a full-scale response by the United Nations secretary general.

U.S. Misuses Humanitarian Aid as a “Political Weapon”

Guaidó’s opposition “plans to use aid as their chief political weapon,” according to The New York Times.


Although in February, the United States tried to deliver humanitarian assistance to Venezuela though Colombia, Maduro refused to accept it.

“The U.S. misuse of ‘humanitarian assistance’ as a cover for smuggling weapons and other non ‘humanitarian’ items also has a long history” in Latin American countries, Alfred De Zayas, former UN special rapporteur in Venezuela, said in an interview with AntiDiplomatico. De Zayas called out the United States for its hypocritical policy: “It is not possible to be a major cause of the economic crisis — having imposed … sanctions, financial blockades and economic war — and then mutating into a good Samaritan.”


The U.S. government’s cynical strategy is to increase the suffering of the Venezuelan people, in hopes they will rise up against Maduro. This flawed approach was used by the Eisenhower administration after the 1959 Cuban Revolution. It was based on a State Department memo that proposed “a line of action that makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and the overthrow of the [Fidel Castro] government.” The U.S. economic blockade against Cuba continues to hurt the people but they have not overthrown their government.


At the end of March, the Venezuelan government and the opposition agreed that the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies would establish a global relief campaign for humanitarian aid.


Venezuela has asked for and received assistance from the United Nations, Russia, China, Turkey, India and Cuba, De Zayas reported, “but that was humanitarian and offered in good faith and without strings attached. U.S. aid is the ‘fruit of the poison tree.’”


On April 3, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), who has helped lead the charge for regime change in Venezuela, introduced a 76-page bill in the Senate that would approve $400 million in assistance to Venezuela and take steps to facilitate regime change. It would assess “the declining cohesion inside the Venezuelan military and security forces and the Maduro regime,” and “describe the f

actors that would accelerate the decision making of individuals to break with the Maduro regime” and recognize Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.


The Rubio bill would also require briefing on “the full extent of cooperation by” Russia, China, Cuba and Iran with the Maduro government.

U.S. Opposes Russia-Venezuela Cooperation

At the end of March, the Russian government sent 100 troops to Venezuela. Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, “Russian specialists … arrived in accordance with the clauses of a bilateral agreement on technical-military cooperation.”


In early April, Russia announced plans to install a training facility for military helicopters in Venezuela. The Trump administration is rattling its sabers at Russia. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton warnedthat the United States considers the presence of military forces from outside the Western Hemisphere a “direct threat to international peace and security in the region.”


Russia, however, denies that its military presence in Venezuela poses a military threat. “The Russian side did not violate anything: neither the international agreements nor Venezuelan laws,” according to Zakharova.


Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza cited the hypocrisy of U.S. policy. He said it is “such cynicism that a country with more than 800 military bases around the world, much of them in Latin America, and a growing military budget of more than US$700 billion, intends to interfere with the military-technical cooperation program between Russia and Venezuela.”


In late March, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill called the “Russian-Venezuelan Threat Mitigation Act” to gauge Russia’s influence in Venezuela. It aims to devise a strategy “to counter threats … from Russian-Venezuelan cooperation.” The bill also requires assessment of “national security risks posed by potential Russian acquisition of CITGO’s United States energy infrastructure holdings.”


Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, an organization of former intelligence officers and other national security practitioners, wrote in a memo to Donald Trump, “Your Administration’s policies regarding Venezuela appear to be on a slippery slope that could take us toward war in Venezuela and military confrontation with Russia.”


The U.S. government has also threatened Cuba for its support of Venezuela. Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration would take “strong action not only to isolate Venezuela but also we’re looking at strong action against Cuba.” On April 5, Pence announced that the United States is imposing sanctions on two companies that deliver Venezuelan crude oil to Cuba. And, egged on by Rubio, Trump is considering extending the economic blockade against Cuba.

Forcible Regime Change Is Illegal

The United Nations Charter prohibits the use or threat of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another nation. Likewise, the Charter of the Organization of American States forbids any country from intervening in the internal or external affairs of another nation. And the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees the right to self-determination.


Idriss Jazairy, the UN Special Rapporteur on the negative impact of sanctions, said, “Coercion, whether military or economic, must never be used to seek a change in government in a sovereign state.”


In mid-March, nearly 40 organizations, including CODEPINK, American Friends Service Committee, Peace Action, Just Foreign Policy and VoteVets, sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging support for the bipartisan measure, H.R. 1004 – “Prohibiting Unauthorized Military Action in Venezuela Act.” The groups called it “a critical safeguard against unconstitutional U.S. military action.”

H.R. 1004 “prohibits funds made available to federal departments or agencies from being used to introduce the Armed Forces of the United States into hostilities with Venezuela, except pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) a specific statutory authorization that meets the requirements of the War Powers Resolution and is enacted after the enactment of this bill, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States or the Armed Forces.”


It is imperative that Congress invoke the War Powers Resolution, passed in the wake of the Vietnam War, to prevent the president from escalating the dangerous U.S. economic and military aggression against Venezuela. On April 4, for the first time since its enactment, Congress used the War Powers Resolution to end unauthorized U.S. military involvement in Yemen.

Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

www.truthout.org 

Global News Aruba offers factual information and viewpoints that might be useful in arriving at an understanding of the events of our time. We believe that the information comes from reliable sources, but cannot guarantee the information to be free of mistakes and incorrect interpretations. Global News Aruba its associates, the editor in Chief Norberto Tjon Ajong has no official position on any issue and does not necessarily endorse the statements of any contributor. For more information on any article or news reports of or by Dr Marjorie Cohn contact the journalist, writer, columnist or contributor Attorney Marjorie Cohn at www.truthout.org 
 
President Trump arrives before delivering the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 5, 2019, in Washington, D.C.ZACH GIBSON / GETTY IMAGES

'  Trump Moves the World Closer to “Doomsday”  '

By Prof. Juris Doctor Marjorie Cohn

www.truthout.org 

Signature News Reporter and Contributor

GLOBAL NEWS ARUBA 

AINA - ARUBA'S INTERNATIONAL NEWS AGENCY

In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union adopted the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) in an effort to eliminate missiles on hair-trigger alert for nuclear war due to their short flight times. It was the first time the two countries agreed to destroy nuclear weapons. That treaty outlawed nearly 2,700 ballistic or land-based cruise missiles with a range of roughly 300 to 3,000 miles.

The Trump administration thought nothing of pulling out of the INF. On February 2, the United States suspended its obligations under the treaty, starting a dangerous chain reaction that brings us closer to nuclear war. Russia followed suit and pulled out of the treaty the next day.

Then the three countries with the largest nuclear arsenals quickly test-launched nuclear-capable missiles. France conducted a test of its medium-range air-to-surface missile on February 4. The next day, the United States fired a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). And an hour and a half later, Russia launched an RS-24 Yars ICBM.


Richard Burt participated in the negotiations of the INF during the Reagan administration. Last fall, he predicted that U.S. withdrawal would lead to Russia’s deployment of intermediate-range missiles and the United States’ development of new sea- and air-based weapons systems. Sure enough, on February 4, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, announced his country plans to build mid-range, nuclear-capable missiles within two years.

“New intermediate-range cruise and ballistic missiles and low-yield warheads now being planned both in Russia and United States are nothing other than filed-down triggers to all-out thermonuclear war,” Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, told Truthout. He warns of “nuclear winter,” which is the end of civilization as we know it. A consultant to the Defense Department and the White House in 1961, Ellsberg drafted Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s plans for nuclear war.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, concurs. “Trump has fired the starting pistol on Cold War II. Only this one could be bigger, more dangerous, and the world may not be so lucky this time around.”


Trump’s Actions Undermine Nuclear Disarmament

The adoption of the INF led to the 1991 signing of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which considerably reduced the number of long-range strategic nuclear weapons. The New START, signed in 2010, requires the U.S. and Russia to reduce the number of deployed nuclear warheads from a maximum of 2,200 in 2010 to 1,550 in 2018. Trump’s cavalier withdrawal from INF does not portend well for the renewal of New START in 2021.

Moreover, Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review of 2018 would allow the United States to use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear attacks. This new U.S. policy opens the door to first-use of nuclear weapons, which is prohibited by international law.

Trump and Putin are both posturing as gunslingers in a Western movie. But this is not high noon; it is two minutes to midnight.

Jane Doe - Another Company, LLC

The Nuclear Posture Review also violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which the United States is a party. This treaty requires parties “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”
The Doomsday Clock Says “Two Minutes to Midnight”

In order to convey the urgency of the threat to humanity and the planet, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock. It uses imagery of the apocalypse (midnight) and a nuclear explosion (countdown to zero). The decision to either move or leave in place the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made each year. The Clock is a universally recognized measure of vulnerability to catastrophe caused by nuclear weapons, climate change or other emerging technologies that could pose a threat. On January 24, the Bulletin once again kept the Doomsday Clock at two minutes to midnight. And that was before the U.S. and Russia pulled out of the INF.

“Trump and Putin are both posturing as gunslingers in a Western movie,” Ellsberg warned. “But the weapons in their quick-draw holsters are not pistols; they are doomsday machines. And this is not high noon; it is two minutes to midnight.”

Toward Denuclearization

In his book, Ellsberg proposes the U.S. government undertake the following measures toward the goal of abolishing nuclear weapons:

  1. A U.S. no-first-use policy;
  2. Probing investigative hearings on war plans to avoid nuclear winter;
  3. Eliminating ICBMs;
  4. Ending the pretense of preemptive damage-limiting by first-strike forces;
  5. Foregoing profits, jobs and alliance hegemony based on maintaining that pretense; and
  6. Otherwise dismantling the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which Ellsberg calls the American Doomsday Machine.

On January 30, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, took a good first step. They introduced the No First Use Act, to establish in law that it is the policy of the United States not to fire nuclear weapons firstso “that the United States should never initiate a nuclear war.”

The U.S. withdrawal from the INF treaty is designed to ensnare Russia and the world in a new nuclear arms race.

Jane Doe - Another Company, LLC

The U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) forbids ratifying countries “never under any circumstances to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also prohibits the transfer of, use of, or threat to use nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. The treaty, adopted in 2017, will enter into force after 50 nations have ratified it. Thus far, it has 21 ratifications. But the five original nuclear-armed countries, which also happen to be the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the U.S., Russia, France, China and the U.K. — did not participate in the treaty negotiations and have not agreed to it.

Resistance against nuclear weapons also takes the form of civil disobedience, such as the recent action by the Kings Bay Plowshares 7.

The Kings Bay Plowshares 7

When I was growing up in the early days of the Cold War, the fear of nuclear annihilation was pervasive. Although U.S. nuclear weapons have been on hair trigger alert for 73 years, “nuclear weapons have become normal,” Patrick O’Neill told Truthout. He and six other Catholic activists are facing up to 25 years in prison for their symbolic action to disarm the nuclear weapons on Kings Bay Naval Base in Georgia. They chose April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to mount their protest.

In May 2018, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 were charged with conspiracy, destruction of property on a naval station, depredation of government property, and trespass, stemming from their action at the Kings Bay Naval Base. The base is homeport to six nuclear ballistic missile submarines each armed with 16 Trident II missiles. They carried with them a copy of Ellsberg’s book and left it on the base.

The defendants, who will likely go to trial this spring, maintain that any use or threat to use nuclear weapons of mass destruction is illegal, Kings Bay Plowshares 7 spokesperson Bill Ofenloch told Truthout. They are also arguing that their prosecution violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because their actions were motivated by their Catholic belief that nuclear weapons are immoral and illegal. The Act was passed in 1993 to strengthen protection of free exercise of religion. Finally, the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 are claiming that Trump’s repeated threats to use nuclear weapons and his illegal conduct have not been prosecuted, so the government’s decision to prosecute only those who protest against nuclear weapons constitutes unlawful selective prosecution.

Co-defendant Martha Hennessy is the granddaughter of Catholic Worker Movement co-founder Dorothy Day. The movement, founded in 1933, comprises 203 Catholic Worker communities committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, prayer, and hospitality for the homeless, exiled, hungry and forsaken. Catholic Workers protest war, racism, violence and injustice. (The Catholic Worker newspaper is still published and sells for a penny a copy.)

Hennessy told Truthout, “The U.S. withdrawal from the INF treaty is designed to ensnare Russia and the world in a new nuclear arms race.” She warns, “This is empire run amok, we have lost our democracy, let us pray we don’t lose our world and each other.”

It is incumbent upon all of us to resist the inexorable march toward nuclear winter. We must join together in coalitions and protest to Congress, the White House, in writing and in the streets. There is no time to lose. It is two minutes to midnight on the Doomsday Clock.


Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

www.truthout.org 


"Pentagon to Allow Nuclear Responses to Non-Nuclear Attacks" 

By Prof. Juris Doctor Marjorie Cohn

www.truthout.org   

Signature News Reporter and Contributor

Global News Aruba

USA


(Image Courtesy of rudall30 / Shutterstock)


Amid the media frenzy surrounding the Nunes-Trump memo, the Pentagon officially released its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) last week. The NPR calls for the development of leaner, meaner nuclear weapons and lowers the threshold for the use of nukes. Donald Trump must be thrilled. During the presidential campaign, he questioned a senior foreign policy adviser about nuclear weapons three times during a briefing, asking, “If we had them why can’t we use them?”

This new strategy opens the door to first-use of nuclear weapons, which is prohibited under international law

Jane Doe - Another Company, LLC

The NPR calls for “low-yield” nuclear weapons on submarine-launched ballistic missiles — weapons that could cause as much damage as the bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

For the first time, the new NPR states that the United States could use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear attacks, including cyberattacks, in “extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies and partners.” This new strategy opens the door to first-use of nuclear weapons, which is prohibited under international law.

In its 1996 advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded that while the use of nuclear weapons might be lawful when used in self-defense if the survival of the nation were at stake, a first-strike use would not be.

The ICJ held in its “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons” case that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.”

“However,” the IJC continued, “the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.”

Framing Russia and China as Nuclear Threats

Russia, China and North Korea are singled out as potential nuclear threats in the NPR. The document “erroneously states that the United States needs new nuclear weapons because ‘China is expanding and modernizing its considerable nuclear forces’ and is pursuing ‘entirely new nuclear capabilities,'” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Gregory Kulacki, China project manager at the UCS Global Security Program and author of the UCS’s newly released white paper, said, “There is no evidence that nuclear weapons are becoming more prominent in China’s military strategy or that China has changed its longstanding no-first-use policy.”

US casualties, Payne argued, could be limited to “approximately 20 million people,” which, he called, “a level compatible with national survival and recovery.”

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The NPR has alarmed foreign leaders. Mohammad Javad Zarif, foreign minister of Iran, tweeted that the NPR brings “humankind closer to annihilation.” The United States is “shamelessly threatening Russia with a new atomic weapon,” Iranian president Hassan Rouhani stated. “The same people who supposedly believe that using weapons of mass destruction is a crime against humanity are talking about new weapons to threaten or use against rivals,” he added.

Ren Guoqiang, a spokesman for the Chinese defense ministry, said in a statement, “We hope the US side will discard its ‘cold-war mentality,’ [and] shoulder its own special and primary responsibility for nuclear disarmament.”

Both Beijing and Moscow reaffirmed that nuclear weapons are not “first strike” weapons. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that nuclear weapons are only a defensive deterrent. He listed the following “entirely defensive scenarios” for the threshold use of nuclear weapons: “in response to an act of aggression against Russia and (or) against our allies if nuclear or other types of mass destruction weapons are used, and also … with use of conventional arms but only in case our state’s very existence would be in danger.”

Where Is This Coming From?

Keith Payne, president of the National Institute for Public Policy, was one of the key drafters of the NPR. In 1980, Payne astoundingly claimed in Foreign Policy that the United States could win a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. US casualties, Payne argued, could be limited to “approximately 20 million people,” which, he called, “a level compatible with national survival and recovery.”

Derek Johnson, executive director of Global Zero, the international movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, said in a statementthat the NPR is “a radical plan written by extreme elements and nuclear ideologues in Trump’s inner circle who believe nuclear weapons are a wonder drug that can solve our national security challenges. They aren’t and they can’t.”

Indeed, a retired senior Army officer told The American Conservative that the lower-yield warheads give Trump “a kind of gateway drug for nuclear war.”

“This plan would be troubling under any Administration,” Johnson observed, “but given this President’s consistent and unabashed displays of ignorance, ballistic tendencies and dehumanizing world views, we should all be on red alert.” Johnson expressed support for legislation that would restrict the first use of nuclear weapons.

Sixteen senators wrote in a letter to Trump on January 29, “[Y]our NPR would undermine decades of U.S. leadership on efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons.”

The senators noted that the NPR fails to mention Article VI of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which enshrines a commitment “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” The United States is a party to the NPT.

A “senior nuclear thinker and NPR critic” explained how the document’s recommendations were developed. “[T]he story you won’t hear is how this really came about,” he told The American Conservative. “One day, Sean Hannity got on television and talked about how we need more nuclear weapons and Donald Trump heard this and went over to the Pentagon and presto, we got Keith Payne and his crew. That’s the truth, and that’s what got us to where we are.”

Apparently, Hannity, whose hype on Fox News about the Nunes-Trump memo continues to poison the national debate, is becoming Trump’s main foreign policy guru.

Sixty percent of Americans don’t trust Trump with nuclear weapons, according to a recent NBC News/Washington Post poll.


Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

www.truthout.org 

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