What Everyone Seemed to Ignore in Helsinki

What Everyone Seemed to Ignore in Helsinki, by Jon Utley.

There was no focus on the real, growing threat of nuclear war, intentional or accidental. No one, including journalists at the joint press conference, spoke about the collapsing missile treaties (the only one who reportedly seemed keen to discuss it was ejected beforehand). …

The U.S. is now funding new cruise missiles with nukes which allow for a surprise attack on Russia with only a few minutes of warning, unlike the ICBMs which launch gives a half an hour or more. This was the reason Russia opposed the anti-missile system in Eastern Europe, because they could have little warning if cruise missiles were fired from the new bases. Americans may think that we don’t start wars, but the Russians don’t. The old shill argument that democracies don’t start wars is belied by American attacks on Serbia, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. …

The casualness with which much of Washington regards conflict and starting wars is only comparable to the thoughtlessness of Europeans when they started World War I. Like now, that war followed nearly a century of relative peace and prosperity. Both sides thought a war would be “easy” and over quickly and were engulfed in it because of minor incidents instigated by their small nation allies. It was started with a single assassination in Serbia. The situation is similar now. America is hostage to the actions of a host of tiny countries possibly starting a war. Think of our NATO obligations and promises to Taiwan and Israel. …

America has become inured to the risks of escalation and Congress has ceded its war powers to the president. The authority of war power was one of the most important tenets of our Constitution, designed to prevent our rulers from irresponsibly launching conflicts like the European kings. Witness now how casually Trump talks about starting a war with Iran, with no thought of possible consequences, including blowing up oil facilities in the Persian Gulf, oil and gas vital for the world economy.

For most Americans, war means sitting in front of their TVs watching the bombs fall on small nations unable to resist or respond to our power. “We” kill thousands of “them” in easy battles and then worry if a single American soldier is harmed. We don’t viscerally understand the full threat of modern weapons because they’ve never been used against us. This is not unlike World War I, for which the countries engaged were wholly unprepared for a protracted siege war against the lethality of new modern artillery and chemical weapons. All had assumed the war would be over in weeks.

hat-tip Stephen Neil