NO Nukes,” a series of concerts held in 1979 at the Madison Square Garden brought together some of the most important musicians of the day including James Taylor, Carly Simon, Jackson Browne, Crosby Stills & Nash and the Doobie Brothers. It was the first ever live appearance for Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band in a film. The organizers called themselves the Musicians United for Safe Energy collective aimed towards public awareness on the dangers of nuclear power.
Nine years earlier, in 1970, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NTP) was adopted to prevent nuclear weapons from becoming acceptable in war and that it be limited to the five nuclear weapons states, namely the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. Today, 191 states are committed to the treaty, the most notable exceptions being North Korea, India, Israel and Pakistan.
The possibility of a full-scale nuclear war became real during the Cuba Missile Crisis in 1962 when the US confronted Russia for the latter’s deployment of missiles in Cuba. Negotiations and diplomacy resolved the conflict resulting in the establishment of the Moscow-Washington hotline.
In the nearly 50 years under NPT, the world seemed preoccupied with problems other than nuclear war. Enter US President Donald Trump and the world seems to be back to square one. There is the on-going word war with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. But more compelling are three documents that spell the policies of Trump’s White House that impact on global security: the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
The first two documents point to Russia and China as threats to the US thereby requiring upgrades in US war hardware. But the NPR is more threatening, seeking modernization of US nuclear force and suggesting the use of nuclear weapons in reply to a non-nuclear attack on its infrastructure or military command and control systems.
China and Russia swiftly criticized NPR. China’s National Defense Ministry urged the US to discard its “cold-war mentality” and “conform to the irreversible world trend of peace and development rather than run in the opposite direction.” The Russian Foreign Ministry said: “Certainly, we will be compelled to take into consideration the approaches introduced now by Washington and to take necessary steps in order to ensure own security.”
Instead of investing towards resolving hunger, preventing environmental degradation and stopping terrorism, the US, Russia and China will be realigning their resources towards the threat of war. Not even another star-studded ‘No Nukes” concert may be able to stop this insanity.