Ward Wilson- Fighting Lies and Misconceptions Supporting Nuclear Weapons
This is the second part of a two part transcript of my interview with Ward Wilson
Here's a link to the audio podcast interview
RK - My guest tonight is Ward Wilson. He's the author of Five Myths about Nuclear Weapons and he's a senior fellow at the British American Security Information Council. I know Ward from way back and it's great to have him on the show again. We're going to talk about his work and we'll get into it in just a moment.
the transcript of the interview picks up with the last question I asked:
RK - I'm assuming that part of that is military expenses but a lot of it is private contractors probably General Electric and - who? What are the big companies that benefit that are going to be spending money on lobbying members of Congress?
WW - Well, you can find out by going to a website called dontbankonthebomb.com. It's an international effort to get people to divest from large corporations that make their money off nuclear weapons. Most nuclear weapons are made by organizations that are government funded. But some corporations like - I can't think of one right off the top of my head. Large corporations make their money by making things specifically for use with nuclear weapons. You can find out what those things are and what those corporations are and if you feel strongly about it you can insist that your University not invest its endowment in those corporations. Or your town retirement fund - employee retirement fund not invest in those corporations. Or you personally don't invest in those corporations. If you're lucky enough to have investments. I think it's a very clear way to send a message that says, "I don't think nuclear weapons are a good kind of weapon."
RK - Alright so I got to the website and I can read a quick list of some of them. Alliance Techsystems, Babcock and Wilcox, Bechtel, Boeing, GenCorp, General Dynamics, Honeywell International, Jacobson Engineering, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman.
WW - That's pretty much the usual suspects.
RK - That's the military industrial complex.
WW - Yep, and they make big bucks off of nuclear weapons and they lobby Congress hard about those nuclear weapons. Sending them a message is probably worth doing.
RK - What's also interesting is that it lists the companies that offer mutual funds and investments that are invested in nuclear weapons. That includes AIG, Morgan Stanley, New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, Oppenheimer Fund, PNC Bancorp, and State Farm, and State Street. You know -
WW - The question you want to ask yourself is: if you're investing money with people who are investing in nuclear weapons corporations, don't you effectively own a nuclear weapon? You own a part of a nuclear weapon. The question you have to ask yourself is, "Do I want to own a nuclear weapon? Do I want to be financially responsible for part of this complex of weapons? Is this a way that I want to be involved the United States?"
RK - Humanity - The world. Yeah that's a good point. So I want to go back the military issue. You said that a lot of military people after they leave the military, they're actually able to say what they really think. Which is really screwed up too that they really can't say what they think. But when they get out of the military they don't like nuclear weapons. Why do you think that is?
WW - So the best example is Lee Butler. Lee Butler was the commander of Strategic Air Command--the Air Force's nuclear weapons arm and he became the first commander of the STRATCOM which is all the nuclear forces of the Navy, Air Force combined. He told me - I was sitting in his kitchen - and he's very intense and quite likeable. He said, "Every month in the middle of the night or during a meeting or whatever, someone would show up and say, 'Sir, you have to come down to the big room now.' They would go down to the command center and they whisk you down there really fast and you look at the big board and there is an attack scenario up on the big board. There's four thousand missiles headed towards the United States or whatever the scenario is for the exercise that day. They give you a book because everything you do is scripted because they're sure it's going to be so emotional that you've got to be reading from a script or else you won't get it right. They put you on the phone with the president of the United States or whoever is playing the president for this exercise and the president says, "General, what is the situation?" And you say, "My President, this is happening and this is happening." And then you say, "Mr. President, what are your orders?" And he says, "General, what do you recommend?" And Butler said that in the 32 months that he was Commander, it was always the same. The attack was designed in such a way that you always had to respond with MAO4. This is the early 1990s. There were four major attack options (MAO). MAO1 was leadership, MAO2 was leadership plus military, MAO3 - Major Attack Option 3 was leadership, military, and economy. And MAO4 - which was the one they always fixed it so you had to recommend that - was leadership, military, economy, and civilian population. So for 32 months, once a month, Lee Butler had to live through the imaginary experience of recommending to the president that 120 million Russians and various other nationalities be killed in 30 minutes. And he said invariably the president, or whoever was playing the president for that exercise, after you recommended whatever you recommended, would say, "Alright. That's what we'll do." So that in affect Butler was making the decision. He was choosing to kill all those millions of people. And for some people maybe that's not a problem but for Lee Butler when he came out of the military, he worked as hard as he could to do something about nuclear weapons. And I think there are a group of military people who have that experience. They get close to nuclear weapons, they think about the reality of it, and it's so obviously wrong that they feel they have to do something. I've completely forgotten what your question was because that Butler story gets me every time. He's so--