Reviewed by Maya del Mar
The New Nuclear Danger: George Bushs Military-Industrial Complex by Dr. Helen Caldicott. New Press, New York, 2002. $16.95 paper.
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the sake of my country.... Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed."
Abraham Lincoln, November 21, 1864
Dr. Helen Caldicott is an Australian pediatrician, and mother, who has worked tirelessly for thirty years to alert the world to nuclear dangers. She is uniquely qualified to talk about this issue. She has the scientific background to understand it, the compassion of a mother and healer, and the medical experience of seeing the results of radiation exposure in people all over the world, and over time.
Dr. Caldicott is not only savvy. She is also exceptionally articulate, and has access to nuclear information and circles over a period of many years. Shes down-to-earth, clear-sighted, and she tells it like it is. She is easy to listen to and to read.
She has now come to the U.S. to workin the "belly of the beast"because she wants to educate people in the U.S. about the horrors of the nuclear program and its consequences. Our wanton use of nuclear energy is destroying life slowlyand has the potential to destroy life quickly in a moment of madness, impulse, terrorism, error, or computer malfunction.
Nuclear danger is truly the critical threat to the world, beyond which all else pales. RADIOACTIVITY DOESNT GO AWAY, and every day we release more genies from the bottle.
This short book gives us the scoop on the "Dr. Strangelove nuclear weapons world" which has been developing, unseen by most of us, since 1954, when the U.S. began testing uranium weapons at a secret site near Los Alamos.
Its at the stage now where the U.S. is littering the world, including the U.S., with radioactivity from its weapons program fallout. The land, the water table, the sea, and even space are being contaminatedforever.
Lets just look at the most obvious recent contaminationwar fallout. Uranium 238 is now used extensively by the U.S. on the battlefieldfor guns, shells, tanks, armor, and bombs. Its hard and penetrating. (Other countries consider it immoral, and will not use it.)
In the Gulf War, the U.S. left perhaps 500 tons of very radioactive Uranium 238, with a half-life of 4.5 billion years, laying across Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Huge swaths of land will never again be livable, and the population is at risk for cancers and birth defects forever.
There is said to be 13,000 tons of Uranium scattered across Afghanistan. Much of it is in the form of debris, which is unknowingly picked up by the people, especially the children. Much of it is also in dust form, breathed into the lungs. One atom of plutonium (which is mixed with the uranium) is enough to create cancer.
The U.S. also used uranium weapons in Bosnia and in Kosovo. Israel has almost certainly been using uranium armor-plated tanks and Uranium weapons against the Palestinians.
It is not only "the enemy" to whom the Pentagon is giving radiation poisoning. It is our own workers and soldiersand the soldiers of our allies. The "Gulf War Syndrome" suffered by many veterans is in fact no mystery, as pretended by the Pentagon. It is low-level radiation sickness, which is also being suffered by European veterans of Bosnia and Kosovo. The Europeans are aware of this fallout, and are extremely upset about the U.S. use of uranium in war. Thousands of babies are, and will be, born deformed, due to the irradiation of their fathers sperm.
Radioactivity is invisible, as is radioactive dust. This makes awareness difficult. Its like a secret saboteur, which goes through all materials, and moves everywhere. It mutates and destroys cells, unseen. The damage grows throughout the body, and over time, as damaged, distorted cells reproduce. Eventually cancer spreads throughout the body, and organs are destroyed. This process also occurs in the ecosystem.
Radioactive dust does not stay put. It migrates throughout the body, through the soil, into the water table, into the oceans, through the food chain, and throughout the air. Once radioactivity is releasedthrough mining, through use, through transportation, through manufacturing, through warit is released to the whole world.
Dr. Caldicott discusses all phases of nuclear weapons. A current huge threat to the peace and safety of the world is NMD, or national missile defense. This is the center of the nuclear weapons program, and Dr. Caldicott clearly describes its development and its current status. She describes each of the weapons systems (21) which are part of it, the projected cost of each system (several billion in each case), an official evaluation, and the "benefactor," i.e., the manufacturer.
Dr. Caldicott also discusses the U.S. space weapons vision, and program, which the rest of the world is strongly against, as they are against the NMD. Both, however, are developing quickly under GW Bush, with no public discussion, and in secrecy.
She points out how, because of the difficulty of integrating a complicated system, battlefield management is becoming completely computerized. We now have nuclear missile deployment depending on the perfect working of millions of computers. The major nerve center is in Florida. (Now I know why Gen. Tommy Franks said mistakes happened in Afghanistan because he was in Florida instead of in the field.)
And they do not work perfectly. Contrary to Pentagon reassurance, one vital computer system went down during the Y2K changeover, and it took 8 months to restore it. Both human errors and computer malfunction have aborted many of the space probes. Russias system is old and dilapidated, with crucial parts of it out of commission. And yet both the U.S. and Russia have thousands of powerful nuclear missiles on hair trigger alert. Talk about lack of security in the world! We are two minutes away from nuclear winter.
Lockheed Martin is the biggest benefactor of these systems. Her last chapter is called "The Lockheed Martin Presidency and Star Wars Administration." Indeed, most of the personnel in the current Administration have strong links with Lockheed Martin.
(I notice that Lockheed Martin came together through mergers in 1993. This was the year of the historic Uranus-Neptune conjunction, beginning a new 170-year business cycle. No wonder that Uranus and Neptune transits now relate so heavily to war and weapons systems!)
Dr. Caldicott faults the U.S. for its short-sighted push to maintain a global empire at any cost. She also says that fierce competition between the branches of the armed services is behind the huge, almost helter-skelter, development of nuclear weapons, with each service duplicating the others as they try to outdo them. The power of the Pentagon to make policy has grown enormously, particularly under President Clinton.
She talks about the tragic consequences of the U.S. catalyzing a world nuclear weapons race, which it is now doing. The U.S. is also engendering rising world anger, in every nation except Israel. U.S. security has plummeted since GW took the presidency, and except for a short blip after September 11, continues to plummet at a rapid rate, due to our hostile stance in the world, which includes our careless attachment to nuclear weapons.
The U.S. nuclear program is making the whole world increasingly insecure with very good reason. Dr. Caldicott feels that if the U.S. people realize its character and its dangers, they will work to halt the madnessas they did with nuclear power plants thirty years ago. (Those plants remain as ideal targets for terrorists.)
This is one of those gems of a bookclear, comprehensive, and concise. In an afternoons reading one can go behind the weapons veil of secrecy and understand what is happening. And it is happening quickly.
This is information we all need to know, so that we can organize to halt this mad rush to race suicide.
Dr. Caldicott also includes informative appendixesMajor U.S. Nuclear Weapons Makers, U.S. Nuclear Weapons Control Centers, Locations of the Majority of Usable U.S. Nuclear Weapons, and Antinuclear Organizations in the United States, Great Britain, and Russia.
Dr. Caldicott is now speaking all over the U.S., and is developing her own educational institute:
Institute for Common Sense in the Nuclear Age, Los Angeles
Web site www.nuclearcommonsense.org
Some of her common sense could be our lifeline.