May That Which Sleeps Eternal Lie


My dad once told me (I was complaining about ageing) that it’s normal to experience a culture-shift as the people who lived through a time with you start to die off, and things that were facts of your life are now unusual and alien to them. For example, I grew up when there were still Horn and Hardart automats: places you could buy food from big slot machines, sort of a primordial form of fast food.

I was also conceived shortly after the Matsu/Quemoy incident, and born a month after the Cuban Missile Crisis was resolved. When I was a teenager I remember my dad once said “we didn’t know if you’d get to be born…”  What an amazing thing to realize: there were people carrying children wondering if the political assholes who run the world were going to end it all, first. We lived in Manhattan at the time so, if the crisis had gone differently, I would have died prematurely. Dad grew up through a different time, a time when that was all “necessary” because Nazis and Japanese and Soviet Union. We accept the shovel-loads of lies we’re told when we’re kids in school and that’s why we’re told them, then: we’re accepting. Imagine trying to explain Mutual Assured Destruction to someone who hadn’t been previously indoctrinated into its ‘necessity.’  “Wait, you want to spend money on this instead of healthcare?”

Sometimes I’ve said things about nuclear weapons to the younger generation, and been looked at quizzically – as if it’s sort of a weird thing to be worried about, like a Flock of Seagulls reunion or parachute pants becoming fashionable again. I’m happy that they don’t realize how close they came to never existing at all, the same way 8-month Marcus pregnancy didn’t realize what the fuss was about.

I think this is what it was about:

That kind of target-like thing is, I believe, what’s left of the launch platform for a medium-range ballistic missile, specifically a PGM-19 Jupiter [wikipedia]  The Jupiter was a fine product of Chrysler Corporation, and had been designed by Wehrner Von Braun for accuracy, ostensibly to demolish bridges and fortifications, but since it carried a 1.1 megaton warhead, that’s a transparent lie: it was designed for a decapitating strike on the Soviet leadership and missile-fields. Since it would take about 40 minutes for a missile to get from the midwest USA to Moscow, the Soviets knew they had time to respond – but when the US positioned the Jupiters down in Turkey, suddenly Moscow’s reaction time dropped to below 10 minutes, probably about 7 minutes. That was less time than would be needed to make the decision and get the Soviet ICBMs of the day off the pad – it wasn’t “a dagger aimed at the heart of the USSR” it was a “gun held against the head of the USSR.” In case that wasn’t bad enough, the US required the Jupiter to have a 15 minute order-to-launch cycle – claiming it was so that they could be launched in case of a pre-emptive Soviet strike, but really that was a lie.

By the time the Jupiters were fielded, the Corona program spy satellites[wikipedia] had begun returning successful overflight footage of Soviet missile-fields since 1960, and U2 overflights had been going on for some time; the US strategic war-planners had already figured out that the “bomber gap” was a lie and that the Soviets were very far behind in the arms race. How far behind? Well, Jupiter deployments in Turkey and Italy amounted to a decisive advantage that might allow the US to launch a successful first strike and only suffer relatively minor damage in return; perhaps New York or Los Angeles or San Francisco – but the Soviet Union would be wiped out.

The US, a country which pays a great deal of lip-service to non-proliferation, used NATO as a fig-leaf to justify that it had deployed 10 1.1 megaton warheads to Italy and 15 to Turkey. There were also longer-range missiles (Thor) stationed in Britain. Meanwhile, the Soviets, who had deeply penetrated the intelligence services of England and the US, kept watch for the signs of an impending strike. After the “bomber gap” came the “missile gap” – ultra-privileged amoral nihilist John Kennedy attacked Nixon in the 1960 election for allowing a “missile gap” to form between Soviet capabilities and US capabilities. There was a gap, all right, but it was that the US was positioning itself to decisively win WWIII.

Bettman archive

That’s the strategic context in which the Soviets stole a page from the American play-book and tried to proliferate missiles to Cuba. There aren’t any Soviet propaganda maps of how quickly a Jupiter could fly from to Moscow but it’s 2000 km or so, about the same distance from Cuba to New York City. The US already had fielded 25 Jupiter missiles and they were sitting there, ready to go, when the Soviets were attempting to field missiles in Cuba – missiles that the US leaders and strategists knew could do nothing to alter the strategic balance. The US had 203 missile-mounted warheads deployed against the Soviets’ 26. It would have been a slaughter. And because he was all about slaughter, Curtis LeMay, who was in the tense meeting-rooms while Kennedy tried to unscrew the situation he and his co-conspirators had devised, kept arguing for the US to strike first.

Jupiters in Italy [wikipedia]

But, back to the tombstone for a missile that I found on Google maps: I’m pretty sure I found the right place. The military-style bermed revetments to the upper right are clearly ammunition storage. The funny revetment in the middle looks like a launch control center. Most telling, all the berms are lined up as if the missile might get hit by incoming fire, or might simply blow up on the pad – as they did, distressingly often. There are other stories about Jupiter missiles in Italy getting hit by lightning and failing into an armed state, and there was all that twitchy liquid fuel. They were an extinction event waiting to happen.

It’s a little tasteless and obvious to say this, but I’m going to: the US didn’t hesitate to stage nuclear weapons in other countries, without their civilians having any idea what was going on, putting them in the line of fire for a nuclear strike that the US and its leadership were protected from. Nice leaders we’ve got, huh? And for any of you who believe in “democracy” ask yourself to what degree these decisions reflected the consent of the governed.

The Jupiter monsters are gone. But they’ve been replaced with much ‘better’ killers. The US, again without the consent of the governed, has begun fielding a new model of warhead – they’re calling it an “upgrade” but one doesn’t “upgrade” the physics package of an H-bomb: you build a new bomb and call the new bomb the old bomb and then you still have the same number of bombs on paper – only the new bomb is both more precise and deadly. [bulletin] It’s only going to cost $1 trillion over the next 15 years. Ask yourself to what degree these decisions reflect the consent of the governed.

Worse, the US’ relentless propaganda campaign against its own people continues to paint the Russians as the evil aggressors.

Newsweek: propaganda mouthpiece [nw]

“The US-Russia Nuclear Arms Race is Over – Russia Won” hardly. The Russian people have lost. So have the American people. Who won? The leaders. The military. The monsters that build and polish monsters that lurk, ready to serve them – to serve us all – in 10 minutes.

Back in the 60s they used to say, “don’t trust anyone over 30.” They were right. When I see young people who have any faith in the political system at all I just fear they are hopelessly naive. Anyone who can clearly see the flaming hell our leaders have built to hang over us, would be erecting guillotines and preparing tumbrils. Young people: do not love your leaders. Fear them. Disempower them if you get the chance.

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One of the common complaints against anarchism is that it doesn’t offer a viable form of government. Anyone who makes that complaint needs to acknowledge that they are implicitly accepting the status quo: that they’d rather follow these slugs in wolves’ clothing, that would plan such a bright million-degree fahrenheit future for us.

Occasionally I encounter people who are concerned with John Kennedy and the manner of his death – was it a CIA conspiracy, or the mob, or whatever. Who cares? He was a fucking monster. If you want to truly understand the horrible power of propaganda and marketing, look at how they made that guy into some kind of shining white knight crusader when he was a horrible asshole who got a hell of a lot of people killed. I was just a kid when he was shot but I remember the upset and the hand-wringing. If those people knew what he really was, they’d have been dancing in the streets. Of course his replacement was just another great big sloppy helping of the same filth, we just can’t win.

By the way.. It’s a little hard to know for sure because a lot of the details are still classified (for reasons that shall become obvious) but the US war plan, known as the SIOP (Single Integrated Operations Plan) was originally not very flexible. It was a target list drawn up by Curtis LeMay and his ilk, coordinating the launches and overkill so that if the US launched its entire arsenal, all the targets would be destroyed. At a certain unknown date this was determined to be too inflexible – after all, there was no option for a limited war – so a new SIOP was developed, that (apparently) consisted of layered strike packages. That’s all still classified. One thing we do know is that the first SIOP and maybe the second both called for strikes on USSR and China. The heartless monsters in Washington apparently reasoned that if the US and USSR soaked off against eachother, they didn’t want the Chinese to survive because then they’d be the rules of whatever ashes were left. Can you imagine the kind of mentality that cooks up an idea like that? Of course you can, it’s every president since (and including) Eisenhower.

The way LeMay’s SAC drew up the first target list was the same way they drew up the target list for North Korea: every concentration of population got an estimated necessary kilotonnage, then an overkill factor was added. As LeMay said after WWII, “I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal…” – instead they promoted him and put him in charge of bomber command during the Korean War and then the Strategic Air Command. If he hadn’t had the good taste to die, he probably would have been encouraging the US to lay waste to Vietnam. But his successors did that anyway. I wish there was a hell because I’d imagine LeMay was in it, except he’d probably be dropping bombs on people even in hell.

Comments

  1. Jessie Harban says

    The Jupiter monsters are gone. But they’ve been replaced with much ‘better’ killers. The US, again without the consent of the governed, has begun fielding a new model of warhead – they’re calling it an “upgrade” but one doesn’t “upgrade” the physics package of an H-bomb: you build a new bomb and call the new bomb the old bomb and then you still have the same number of bombs on paper – only the new bomb is both more precise and deadly. [bulletin] It’s only going to cost $1 trillion over the next 15 years. Ask yourself to what degree these decisions reflect the consent of the governed.

    Trump supports it. Clinton supports it. Stein opposed it. Johnson (hopefully) opposed it.

    Approximately 95% of Americans voted for Trump or Clinton despite having an alternative, so I fear we may be in the minority on this; horrible though it may be, they do have the consent of the governed. Willfully uninformed consent, but deliberately refusing to inform yourself before making a decision isn’t a form of coercion.

    One of the common complaints against anarchism is that it doesn’t offer a viable form of government. Anyone who makes that complaint needs to acknowledge that they are implicitly accepting the status quo

    Bullshit. You’re creating a false dichotomy by pretending that your utopian pipe dream is the only possible alternative to the unacceptable status quo.

    Anarchism doesn’t offer a viable form of government. It can’t work until anarchists propose one. That doesn’t mean the only alternative is our current government.

    Here’s an idea:

    1. Elect the President by national popular vote, using a ranked preference system.

    2. Each state gets a number of Senators proportional to population. Senators are elected by a ranked preference system in a single election.

    3. The country is divided into 87 compact contiguous Congressional districts of equal population without regard to state lines. Each district elects 5 representatives based on a ranked preference system in a single election.

    4. Establish an “equal inheritance” law that says when your last legal parent dies, you receive $250,000 minus any money they spent on you while you were alive, barring reasonable allotments for childrearing. Amend the Constitution to ban wealth inheritance retroactively and arrest anyone who ever possessed inherited wealth.

    5. Greatly curtail the ability of the government to classify information. For example, give any federal elected official unrestricted clearance to access all material and immunity for leaking, and forbid the government from classifying any material related to a court case.

    6. Establish a universal basic income and universal health care.

    There. I have rejected the status quo and proposed an alternative which, unlike anarchism, can actually work.

  2. springa73 says

    I always thought of the Cold War leaders not so much as amoral nihilists but as the opposite – moralistic true believers who were so committed to a vision of good fighting evil that they were willing to risk human civilization. I tend to think that their fault was being fanatically moral rather than amoral.

    More specific point – was it really a secret that the US had nuclear-equipped missiles in Turkey and Italy in the early 60s? I remember reading that part of the secret deal that defused the Cuban Missile Crisis was that the US would withdraw the missiles within 6 months or a year (I can’t remember which), but would not publicly admit that the withdrawal had anything to do with the Soviets taking the missiles out of Cuba. As far as I know, the presence of the Jupiter missiles in Turkey was public knowledge.

  3. springa73 says

    Re: Jessie Harban #1 – Arrest anyone who ever inherited money? Isn’t that most of the middle class? Don’t we have enough of a problem with too many people in prison already, to say nothing of the economic damage that losing that many people would cause?

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    “[bulletin]” link = foo.

    The US… has begun fielding a new model of warhead…

    I useta half-heartedly defend Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize on the grounds they gave it to him not for general-purpose peacefulness but specifically to encourage counter-Bushian nuclear non-proliferation. Then, in his last year in office, he went all Buck Turgidson on everybody, and I have to agree he should give the Prize (both money and medal) back.

    Anyone who makes that complaint needs to acknowledge that they are implicitly accepting the status quo…

    Jake Harban @ # 1 has a point: pls look up false dichotomy.

    If he hadn’t had the good taste to die, he probably would have been encouraging the US to lay waste to Vietnam.

    LeMay didn’t exercise his final-exit option until 1990, which allowed him multiple opportunities to speak out for “bombing them back into the Stone Age” for (shield yr i-meters!) acting overly aggressive.

  5. John Morales says

    Pierce @4,5:

    Jessie Harban @ # 1 has a point: pls look up false dichotomy.

    Arguably. It presumes the status quo is viable, which depends on how one defines viability.

    (Falling off a cliff is viable until impact occurs. Then, not-so-much)

  6. Brian E says

    Arguably. It presumes the status quo is viable, which depends on how one defines viability.

    Aren’t there manifold options ignoring the status quo? Hence, false dichotomy.
    Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.

  7. Brian E says

    Aren’t there manifold options ignoring the status quo?

    For the love of a comma!
    Aren’t there manifold options, ignoring the status quo?, not all those options are not cognisant of the status quo…
    No existen muchas opciones, salvo el status quo? Sino, no existen muchas opciones que ignoran el status quo?…..

  8. Brian E says

    That’s probably wrong too! I think I put the negative where I should have put the positive. I’ll retire for a period until my verbosity gets the better of me. See you in a week or two. 🙂

  9. Holms says

    And for any of you who believe in “democracy” ask yourself to what degree these decisions reflected the consent of the governed.

    I believe in democracy, in that it is decidedly better than other forms of government; I just don’t believe USA is a particularly good example of one.

    One of the common complaints against anarchism is that it doesn’t offer a viable form of government.

    Well… yeah. It isn’t a viable form of government; hell, it can scarcely be considered a form of government at all.

  10. Jessie Harban says

    @3, springa73:

    Re: Jessie Harban #1 – Arrest anyone who ever inherited money? Isn’t that most of the middle class? Don’t we have enough of a problem with too many people in prison already, to say nothing of the economic damage that losing that many people would cause?

    Vital clarification: By arrest anyone who possessed inherited wealth, I meant anyone who inherited money on the order of millions or billions of dollars; ie, the sort of money traditionally referred to as “wealth.”

    Sorry. I’m dealing with several simultaneous crises so my thoughts sometimes skip a step.

  11. naturalcynic says

    If he hadn’t had the good taste to die, he probably would have been encouraging the US to lay waste to Vietnam

    LeMay didn’t die until 1990. He had some grotesque ideas about escalating the Vietnam War [he didn’t say that “We should bomb them back to the Stone Age” but he did say “We could bomb them back to the Stone Age”]. He was the Vice- presidential candidate on the ticket with George Wallace in ’68.

  12. says

    “Imagine trying to explain Mutual Assured Destruction to someone who hadn’t been previously indoctrinated into its ‘necessity.’” and “Worse, the US’ relentless propaganda campaign against its own people continues to paint the Russians as the evil aggressors.”

    Yep, and the worst part is that childhood indoctrination is ridiculously effective. Like all children I got my “fair” share of it at school. Ever since getting out of school (for me that was six years ago), I have tried to reevaluate everything. By now I have become what my former teachers would call a traitor of my own nation. But the remnants of the indoctrination still remain. For example, I was taught to hate and fear Russia. Even now, every time I hear some facts about Putin doing something ugly, I wonder whether my gut reaction, namely, disapproving of Putin’s regime, is objective and reasonable or whether I’m only cherry picking these facts to support my foregone conclusion that I don’t like what’s going on is Russia.

    By the way, this indoctrination is even worse in Russian side. At least this is the feeling I get. Russian is not my native language, but it is one of the six languages I happen to know. I occasionally take a look at Putin’s media, the originals in Russian, and it is plain scary. All the claims about patriotism, the necessity for Russia to make more weapons, justifications that they are right to send their troops wherever they are sent, outright denial of inconvenient facts.

    And the worst part is that some of people buy all that. Back when Russia sent their troops to Ukraine, I had an online conversation with two DeviantArt artists, one of whom was an exceptionally good artist, who repeated me the exact same words I could hear from Putin’s media.

    It’s scary when not only politicians and weapon manufacturers, but also common people start supporting such craziness and decide, that weapons and wars are a cool thing to have.

    Have you read “If Sharks were Men” by Bertold Brecht? http://www.pamolson.org/ArtSharksMen.htm I love how well this describes the current situation, just like it described the situation decades ago, when Brecht wrote it.

  13. says

    RE: Jessie Harban

    “Trump supports it. Clinton supports it. Stein opposed it. Johnson (hopefully) opposed it.
    Approximately 95% of Americans voted for Trump or Clinton despite having an alternative, so I fear we may be in the minority on this; horrible though it may be, they do have the consent of the governed. Willfully uninformed consent, but deliberately refusing to inform yourself before making a decision isn’t a form of coercion.”

    Are you blaming people for not voting for a third candidate? I’d say that’s wrong. Let’s say there are candidates A, B, C, and D. You know that you would prefer C to get elected. But C has no chances whatsoever; the polls suggest that C’s support is minuscule. Only A and B have a chance of getting elected. And the race is very close. You don’t like both A and B, but B is slightly more disgusting than A. Among A and B you would prefer A to get elected. In such a situation, voting for A is the reasonable thing to do.
    Of course, this is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. Everybody believes that C has no chance of getting elected, therefore nobody votes for C and she never gets elected. A ranked preference system could fix this, but we don’t have it at the moment.

    “Consent of the governed” is tricky as well. I have a list of things I would like my country’s elected politicians to do. It’s a very long list with over 50 items. In my whole life I have never seen a politician or a party whose positions would match mine even for half of the items on my list. I can find a politician or a party, which supports a few of the items in my list, but that’s all. BTW, I am not American, I live in Europe, and here we have countless parties, each one with a different set of ideas they support. Over the last 15 years we have had literally dozens of different parties getting elected (making coalition governments of course). Result: I must pick the most important item on my list and make compromises. I happen to belong to the LGBTQ crowd (the Q letter). My priority is preventing my own discrimination by the law. If we had candidate A (supports LGBTQ people and supports more nuclear weapons) and candidate B (hates LGBTQ people and wants less nuclear weapons), I would vote for A. My reasoning: being discriminated against hurts me in my everyday life, but the fact that there are nuclear weapons does not guarantee that they will be used. I might get lucky and the world will avoid nuclear Armageddon anyway. My point is – you cannot blame people for not choosing “less nuclear weapons” as their number one priority. Other problems exist as well in this world.
    Besides, at least in theory, elected representatives, once they get elected, should not start doing whatever the hell they want. They should listen to what the majority of their voters want.
    So, no, you cannot say “almost all voters consented to more nuclear weapons”.

    “Amend the Constitution to ban wealth inheritance retroactively and arrest anyone who ever possessed inherited wealth.”

    This is even sillier than incarcerating people for possessing weed. How can somebody who inherits her mother’s house or life savings know that 20 years from now she will be incarcerated for simply accepting the inheritance? How can somebody behave correctly and do the right thing, when they don’t even know what the law is? Besides, are all people with rich parents really so bad? A college dropout who decides to give up on work, live on inherited money and enjoy some luxury cars, sex and rock-and-roll might not be a good example of work ethics, but she probably isn’t evil enough to deserve being sent to jail.

    Your first three points would be an improvement, but they wouldn’t solve the main problem. If a person has some ideas how to change the current laws for better and she wants to get elected, she needs an advertisement campaign. That costs money. She needs donations. Only the wealthy donate money to political parties and candidates. And they don’t just give their money away. They demand that in exchange they get the laws they want. Result: all the laws still are determined exclusively by rich oligarchs. Even if you get rid of inherited wealth, some people are going to earn a lot on their own during their lifespan.

  14. Raucous Indignation says

    And let us not underestimate the complete grotesquery of that time: there was a successful engine test in 1964 for Project Pluto. After dropping their warheads, the nuclear powered cruise missiles would fly back and forth over the target countries until they exhausted their nuclear fuel. Scorched earth wasn’t enough. The earth of the enemy had to be scorched AND poisoned with radioactivity.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supersonic_Low_Altitude_Missile

  15. says

    Raucous Indignation@#15:
    Congratulations – you just introduced me to a new horror that managed to shock me. I thought that the SIOP was as bad as it could get. But… Ugh – that’s vile!

    Now I have to research that.

  16. says

    Ieva Skrebele@#14:
    Of course, this is a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. Everybody believes that C has no chance of getting elected, therefore nobody votes for C and she never gets elected.

    I had to hash my way through that on the last US election. We had Hillary Clinton, who was demonstrably a murderous war criminal, versus Donald Trump, who was obviously a corrupt buffoon. On the other hand, Trump didn’t have a proven history of being a warmonger who supports the bombing of civilians and assassination of other political leaders. But he said he would. So how do I calculate the lesser of two evils? One had proven they were murderous and the other was merely hypothetically murderous.
    I voted for the proven murderous because that was my “choice” (not that the popular vote mattered anyway)

    PS – Avestra it is nice to see you here! It’s been a long time. Welcome!

  17. says

    So how do I calculate the lesser of two evils?

    In such situations I look what opinions each politician holds about a wide range of subjects. For example, if both are warmongers, but one of them is in addition also a racist and a misogynist, I would choose the one who is only a warmonger. But, yes, in this case I’m glad that I’m not American and I never needed to choose between these two candidates. That would have been a hard choice to make.

    Incidentally, we have elections in my country in a week. There are several parties to choose from. One consists of corrupt thieves, who have used political positions to steal money from the state. Second is led by a corrupt oligarch, who has been using political positions to steal money from the state and create bad laws. Third party includes some thieves, but they are also racists, nationalists, misogynists, homophobes and Christianity enforcing jerks. Fourth party has some corrupt thieves, but I get the impression that they have stolen a bit less than first two parties. My decision: I’ll vote for the forth party. Yes, life is great and I sure love democracy! :sarcasm:

    I missed you a lot. Our discussions were always very interesting for me and I enjoyed them. Yesterday I accidentally found this place. That’s what I get for not using any social media, whenever somebody disappears from an online site I have used, I am the last one to find out that they now use another site. Anyway, now that I have added this to my RSS feeds, I’m likely to come by every now and then. In some free moment I’ll also take a look at the archives.

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