Our so-called self-government rarely agrees with what we tell pollsters, and yet it does what it does with our acceptance. We may have fallen for the pretense that we’re powerless. Our ignorance and xenophobia should never be underestimated as explanations for what we do. But consider the following public policy and then tell me the clearest explanation isn’t that we all want to rush our arrival at death’s door.
Not only do we spend over half of public discretionary funds on war preparation without a particular war in mind, but we spend a huge chunk of that on weapons we can never use without destroying life on the planet, including in our own country, including if we use those weapons and nobody else retaliates. The earth has one atmosphere, and if we wreck it with nuclear weapons, it won’t matter that we’ve done so on another continent.
We put these evil, useless, apocalyptic weapons on ships and sail them as close as possible to the most dangerous spots on earth. Then we threaten war with the countries they’re floating next to. We stick them on planes and fly them around the skies. Despite hundreds of near-disasters due to human and mechanical mistakes over the years, we spread these weapons (and the energy technology that is closely related to them) to more and more countries. We ignore our treaty obligation to disarm and falsely accuse a nation that has no nuclear weapons yet of violating the treaty, building hostility and the likelihood of war.
The nuclear weapons on planes and ships make nuclear missiles on land obsolete. The United States has 450 land-based Minuteman III nuclear missiles. They are easily targeted. And should they all be destroyed, and should we want to seize the opportunity to all hurry up and die together, the bombs on planes and ships could do the job many times over.
Yet the land-based missiles in the United States are not only still sitting there ready to serve no purpose whatsoever, but they’re on high alert. These nuclear-armed missiles could be sent by a U.S. president in 13 minutes or less. Thirteen minutes, with the very real possibility that false information, an electronic glitch or bad signal, or an error in human judgment, would bring the world as we know it to an end.