Apocalypse Soon? A Catastrophist Polytheism
Polytheism is placing anything other than God as one’s ultimate concern in the world. Those who have a threat mentality worship threats. Those who have an opportunity mentality are free to pursue justice as the solution to problems that others consider to be irremediable or else solvable only by worship of military force.
Some global strategists are concluding that the United States faces a dilemma in maintaining its present nuclear stance, which calls for strengthening the current tight monopoly of nuclear weapons, because this is strengthening the arguments of outsiders who are calling for “equal opportunity” in access to nuclear weapons for their own self-defense.
This issue is addressed by Former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s article Apocalypse Soon in the May-June, 2005, issue of the world’s second leading foreign policy magazine, Foreign Policy. In this article, McNamara writes: “Last summer, at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry said, ‘I have never been more fearful of a nuclear detonation than now.… There is a greater than 50 percent probability of a nuclear strike on US targets within a decade.’ I share his fears.”
McNamara is addressing the issue of strategic nuclear warfare, now being touted as a threat from an exponentially growing China. Against such a putative threat, dirty bombs and terrorist acquisition of primitive devices pale in significance. He proposes the phased reduction of nuclear warheads to a nuclear-free world. A strong counter-argument is that this is unrealistic and that a better strategy would be to concentrate on reducing the danger of using nucs by securing a U.S. second-strike capability through improved defense. This would be a global extension of the domestic slogan that if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.
The same applies to theater weapons, such as Iranian missiles targeted on Israel as well as Israeli missiles targeting major Muslim cities. The chances of Israel and several major Muslim cities disappearing de facto from the face of the earth within a maximum of fifty years, unless current economic, political, and military policies of the United States change, may be close to 100%.
Secretary McNamara may be right in his military assessment, but he misses the whole point of grand strategy, which was always his weakest point, Military power should be necessary only when all the other aspects of one’s policies fail. McNamara as head of the World Bank from 1969 to 1981 never addressed the need to reform his own obsession with maintaining centralized control from the top in every aspect of life. This has long been the major cause of poverty in the world and today is a major cause of global terrorism. His hostility toward both political and economic pluralism and his obsession on concentrating global power were misdirected and caused the very global instability that he was seeking to avoid.
Mutual assured destruction (MAD) worked for half a century to deter attacks against each other by the two superpowers of the time. Such deterrence will not work, however, in an era of burgeoning nuclear proliferation pursued by those Third World catastrophists who fear what they view as concentrated and self-serving power imposed by radical globalists in Washington. Such proliferation can be avoided only if U.S. strategists put higher priority on promoting policies of justice in the world, beginning with the need to transform the global financial system in order to broaden access to the ownership of capital. This is the only way to reduce the growing wealth gap among and within nations that can ignite uncontrolled political conflagration. Turning down the flame in this way is the only way to keep the lid on the global pot.
Such pursuit of economic democracy is by far the best way to pursue political democracy so that the United States can recover its global moral leadership as envisioned by its Founders.
Comment by Norman Kurland
agree with your assessment of McNamara. He now and always had lacked a vision of justice. The same can be said about the neo-cons. They mean well for America, but have been educated to become elitists. They have a big hole in their thinking, and our effort is to expose that hole and fill it with a global strategy that only America can push . . . for itself and for the world. Rather than challenge China head-on militarily, we should level the wage-cost advantage they have by pushing for a new Bretton Woods conference, where we push a new fixed standard for foreign currency exchange rates based on adjustments to measure currency values based on the lowest labor incomes in each country. This will eliminate the wage arbitrage game played by global corporations, but still leave room for America to sell its superior technologies and systems improvements to all countries as our natural comparative advantage, without the brain drain and loss of industrial skills now hurting America’s economic strength. If we also pioneer expanded ownership financing in global markets we will be empowering ordinary people in non-democratic countries, increasing pressures for political democracy that will eventually eliminate communist and other dictatorships. At the same time I agree with you that we should install missile defense systems and sell that to all countries now threatened with nuclear attacks. In a nutshell, we should be leveraging our superpower strengths, with moral strength at the lead of new economic and military strategies.