February 2001 ~ by Kathryn Albrecht

~ Five-Star U.S. General Omar Bradley, leader of the Invasion of Normandy

Ninety-five percent of the Earth's nations bear no nuclear arms. 182 countries, through the Non-Proliferation Treaty, renounced ever acquiring atomic bombs. 107 nations -- over fifty percent of Earth's land mass -- have officially united in Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones. Only the United States has ever deployed nukes on foreign soil. At various times, American warheads have been placed at 27 locations in 18 countries and U.S. territories.

In 1996, The World Court ruled that possessing an atomic arsenal is impermissible under international law. The United States formally argued for its right to these arms. However, all nations were directed to accomplish nuclear abolition forthwith. America persists in ignoring the verdict -- its nuclear budget increasing four-fold. Stockpile Stewardship causes national spending for core nuclear research to exceed Cold War levels. Over two-thirds of Los Alamos National Lab's (LANL) annual funding is dedicated to nuclear weapons.


Nationally, $1.6 trillion in military spending is planned through 2005, giving new weapons research a 31% increase. Pentagon budgets will increase $30 billion annually for six years. An example of expenditures: four Trident submarines are undergoing $9 billion in upgrades, from class C4 nukes to D5. The number of warheads on each sub already violates the newly-ratified START II arms reduction treaty with Russia (The Nation, 5/29/00). This, despite both Congressional Budget Office and Pentagon analyses that $12 billion over ten years could reasonably be trimmed from the Defense budget through modest reductions in nuclear forces.

Complicating this scenario, America's aerospace industry tools-up for a "space race" once called Star Wars. Under the banner of ballistic missile defense (BMD), acronyms abound. NMD, national missile defense (or TMD, theater missile defense) was preferred by Clinton and Gore. SBL, space-based lasers (Ronald Reagan's dream) are again championed by George W. Bush. Clinton avoided the term "ballistic" because these systems all violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and thus are abjured by nearly all nations, including our allies. SBL would cost four times more than land-based NMD. If the Navy proceeds with a sea-based TMD, $10 billion will be added to "boost-phase intercept" development.

New Mexico figures prominently in space-age R&D. NASA and LANL are designing swift, plutonium-powered planetary mission craft. A $190 million test of the Tactical High Energy Laser (THEL) was successful last May at White Sands. The Air Force constructs an $11 billion Airborne Laser at Kirkland in Albuquerque, scheduled for readiness in 2003. George W. Bush has predicted Sandia National Labs and LANL will develop "weapons that will allow America to define how wars are fought."

So New Mexicans are rolling in the bucks now, right? Not exactly. Only 4.62% of all jobs in the state are military-related. Defense spending generates 40% fewer jobs than education, 47% fewer than the healthcare industry, and 31% less than construction industries. While the salary of a Los Alamos scientist may be $150,000, the median income in Northern New Mexico is $21,000. An average New Mexican household last year paid $1,000 in taxes directly supporting the nation's military. Half of each tax dollar supports "defense" while six cents goes to education and four cents to healthcare.


The chief corporations benefiting richly from America's nuclear addiction are Aerojet, Boeing, General Dynamics, G.E. (currently absorbing Honeywell at the cost of untold thousands of jobs), Hughes Space, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Newport News Shipbuilding, Raytheon, Teledyne, and TRW. These companies produce both our offensive and defensive systems -- the bombs' delivery vehicles and various defenses designed to stop such deliveries. Columnist William Pfaff observes: "A missile defense system is an aerospace industry program, not a national security program, ... [placing] American industry in profitable competition with itself" (syndicated, 1/18/01).

Lockheed Martin is the world's largest war contractor. In Lockheed's 1995 merger with Martin Marietta, 19,000 workers were fired; a taxpayer subsidy supplied $31 million in bonuses to the corporations' chief executives. It is the top defense industry donor to Washington politicians. Lynn Cheney, the new Vice-President's wife, serves on its Board of Directors. Attorney Stephen Hadley, Assistant Defense Secretary under Bush Sr., represents Lockheed Martin. He and Lockheed's V.P. of Corporate Strategy, Bruce Jackson, sit on the Committee to Expand NATO (which requires new member nations to make hefty purchases of American arms). Jackson claims, "I wrote the Republican Party's foreign policy platform" (Karl Grossman,Weapons in Space, 2000).

Boeing is another giant. Having devoured McDonnell Douglas in 1997 with a $14 billion public subsidy, Boeing is the fourth highest weaponeering contributor to politicians. Boeing garnered one-third of all recent ballistic missile contracts. TRW Corp. is tasked with developing Star Wars "Battle Management Command, Control and Communications" -- a total failure to date. A senior engineer and a finance executive became whistle blowers, charging that TRW falsified NMD test results; the Justice Department has sued. (Vice-President Dick Cheney served on TRW's Board.)

The fourth-largest BMD developer, Raytheon -- whose baby is the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle -- employs 19 full-time lobbyists on Capitol Hill. The top Senatorial recipients of arms contractors' hard- and soft-money sit on either the Armed Services Committee or Appropriations' Defense sub-committee. Senator Pete Domenici is the fifth highest recipient of such contributions. In the House, former Vice-Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman ranks sixth (Z Magazine, 9/2000).


Surely, not one of the powerful players discussed here desires the holocaust of millions of living beings, resulting in an uninhabitable planet. Yet vast economic profits drive a unilateral arms race. American nuclear policy thwarts the hope of all nations: the dream of a world at peace. Against what foe do we arm ourselves? China possesses about twenty 1950s-era missiles and is the only global power maintaining a "no-first-use" guarantee. Last summer, China's Central Committee reaffirmed its priority emphasis as economic development, not military expansion (Space Alert Newsletter #10, Fall 2000).

As for Russia? Mikhail Gorbachev once told American diplomats, "I am going to do the worst thing I can do to you -- I am going to take away your enemy." With the Soviet Union's disintegration and the spiraling impoverishment of Russia, our mythic "foe" dissolves in rust. Last fall, three missiles accidentally sputtered from their silos a few hundred yards onto a Russian field; fortunately, warheads did not detonate. U.S. military analyst Bruce Blair states, "Consider that [we have] 500 nuclear weapons aimed at a Russian army on the verge of a nervous breakdown ... and nuclear weapons aimed at 500 factories that produced almost zero armaments last year" (Defense Monitor, 6/2000).

If the fearsome giants who inspired our defenses no longer play the game, would we go hunting new adversaries? Did we? In 1996 the Gingrich Congress was unable to fund a pledge in its "Contract with America" -- the ballistic missile shield. Clinton had vetoed it under CIA advisement as unnecessary, unfeasible, illegal and of astronomic cost. So Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott asked a former Defense Secretary, seasonal Taoseño Donald Rumsfeld, to demonstrate unequivocal need for Star Wars. Voilà! The Rumsfeld Commission discerned that a "rogue state" (Iran or North Korea, whose combined arms budgets are 3% of ours) might nuke the U.S."within five years." The CIA disputed Rumsfeld's findings. But Clinton recanted and NMD became Congressional intent.

Not surprisingly, at Rumsfeld's confirmation hearing last month -- this time to become Bush's Secretary of Defense -- the nominee requested much "closer collaboration with the CIA." He also declared our surveillance and communication satellites highly vulnerable to enemy attack (Need those spacey lasers!) and suggested hiring an Under-secretary for Space and Intelligence Information. While admitting "sensitivity surrounding the notion of weapons in space," Rumsfeld declared, "The President should have the option" of deploying them (Albuquerque Journal, 1/11/01).

That resonates with Clinton's proclamation in September, when he admitted NMD did not yet work, but urged his successor to keep trying. Clinton blustered, "Now let me be clear: no nation can ever veto American security, ... even if we cannot secure the support of our allies [or Russia], ... even if the Chinese will respond to NMD by increasing their arsenal of nuclear weapons ... with an inevitable impact in India and Pakistan, the next President may decide that our interest ... dictates we go forward with deployment of NMD" (Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy, Fall 2000).


China immediately sounded a long-standing call for "negotiation and conclusion of an international legal instrument on the prevention of the weaponization and arms race in outer space." Russian President Putin called for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and suggested START III talks resume a.s.a.p. Seeing the U.S. hell-bent on deploying a BMD, the pragmatic Putin suggested a cooperative venture to jointly build a land-based system, to be shared with Europe. His offer is studiously ignored by Washington. As I write, Rumsfeld is in Europe, offering to sell allies an American-made BMD. On the flight over, he called the ABM Treaty "an anachronism."

Our series' conclusion will reveal fissile waste upwind of Taos and dauntless hope in the air. A half-century's activists have been joined by a surprising host of individuals, recently The Bomb's handlers at the highest level, now dedicating their full energies to its Abolition. Where there's the will, there is a way!

This series' previous installment is at