July 1992 (vol. 8, #4)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716 c 1992 Physicians
for Civil Defense
In his State of the Union message, President George Bush said that the United States of America is the undisputed leader of the age.
``The Cold War didn't end,'' he proclaimed. ``It was won.''
We also won in the Gulf, he stated. ``We liberated Kuwait.''
It is a ``time for pride,'' all the more so because the ``world trusts us with power.'' Despite the dramatic military cuts that he outlined, the US will have to continue to shoulder the responsibility of defending world democracy because ``isolationism in the pursuit of security is no virtue.''
A different view was presented by Sam Cohen at the Tenth Annual Meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness on July 11 in Costa Mesa, CA. The author of We Can Prevent World War III and The Truth About the Neutron Bomb, Cohen is best known as the inventor of the neutron bomb.
A Shabby History
In Cohen's view, the US has not won a single victory since World War II, while expending unnecessarily vast amounts of money and blood on foreign adventures, to the detriment of ourselves and many other countries. The Vietnam War ``put me on the path to becoming an isolationist.''
At the time of the Cold War victory attributed to the Reagan-Bush military build-up, the US was ``second-best by a country mile'' in every category, nuclear and nonnuclear. ``I find that remarkable,'' Cohen said, and ``I don't know the explanation except that the Soviets decided to cave in. To what extent they have caved in militarily, I get back to the ignorance factor. Our intelligence has never been good enough to be able to determine exactly what the status of the Soviet military really is.''
Cohen cited arms control negotiations that were stalled because the Soviets claimed to have no information about the strength of their own forces. The impasse was resolved when the US offered to tell them what we thought they had. They accepted our numbers, except for telling us that they had 600 SS-20s, not just the 400 we already knew about.
In Cohen's view, the Gulf War was a nonwar that left us worse off than we were before. ``As far as Hitler II is concerned, he's still alive, not in Argentina but in Baghdad, and is busy plotting another war as far as we can see.''
Cohen was not impressed with the performance of smart weapons. ``When they did work smartly, they didn't hit anything of any value because the Iraqis understood what countermeasures were all about.'' The Patriot missile's effectiveness was far less than the 90% claimed by President Bush, Cohen said.
The worst threat to our national security is the mythology that underlies our entire military policy, in Cohen's view. Our policymakers don't like nuclear weapons, so they pretend that they don't exist. Neither the US government nor the military has ever taken them seriously. Cohen calls massive retaliation an immoral threat ``which is deplorable beyond imagination.'' But the US never had the ability to carry out its official doctrine of counterforce. ``We never had a target system,'' Cohen said. ``We had objects like holes in the ground, silos,'' but we don't really know what is in them.
Cohen believes that arms control treaties are grossly dishonest and purely political, but he is not worried about the impending emasculation of our strategic arsenal down to a small fraction of its current size, and he favors drastic cuts in conventional forces.
A more worrisome decision was made with no fanfare or media attention a decision that Bush did not mention in his State of the Union message.
According to Cohen, the whole class of tactical nuclear weapons, including the neutron bomb, has been discarded by President Bush, who has announced his intention, unilaterally, to demolish the entire stockpile. Not to withdraw it from Europe or to mothball it, but to irrevocably destroy it.
Were it not for nuclear mythology the assertion that one use of any nuclear warhead anywhere is tantamount to blowing up the world Cohen believes that tactical nuclear weapons would have enabled us to defend our allies and our own interests with consummate ease. Such weapons are not only far cheaper than conventional weapons, but far more discriminating. They would enable a country to defend itself against aggression without destroying itself in the process.
``We may rue the day when Bush
made the decision to destroy those weapons,'' Cohen stated.
The Best Defense Is Defense
Although Cohen is a stalwart proponent of strategic defense, he stated that he would vote against deploying the system as presently constructed. ``It is grossly immoral for the government to fail to protect American lives in the most effective possible way.''
``Easily the most effective way to do any military task including SDI is to use nuclear warheads. That what we did when we began to build our first SDI system known as Safeguard.'' The Soviets have relied exclusively on nuclear warheads for their anti-ballistic missile system. Cohen finds compelling reasons to believe that the Soviet ABM system currently offers nationwide protection.
Cohen's strongest recommendation concerned civil defense. ``It's a system that speaks for itself. It's just so obvious how effective civil defense can be in potentially saving millions of American lives. Unlike SDI, it doesn't have to be operated. A hole in the ground is a hole in the ground. It's not all full of microelectronics. All you have to do to run it is to run into it, and the chances of surviving go up enormously.
``But since we all agree that a nuclear war will never start, and since nuclear weapons don't even exist except in people's minds, we can relax,'' Cohen said.
Has the United States won a final victory against every conceivable future threat (as well as every past threat)?