The Nuclear Clock is at Two Minutes to Midnight


In his eulogy to Mohammed Ali at the Louisville memorial service, Rabbi Michael Lerner reminded us all of the distinguishing feature of “The Greatest,” that from the start of his career he spoke Truth to Power and paid the price when he was stripped of his heavyweight title for five years.
In that spirit, and in the presence of eminent national leaders, Rabbi Lerner listed major issues that concern Liberal Progressives, adding one issue that is often overlooked. He said that attempts to subjugate peoples and rule the world have been made over the last 10,000 years and they have never worked. In what follows, I will try to expand on that very important observation and how it bears on our own and broader humanity’s prospects for survival now.
One of the very sad consequences of the monopoly control of mainstream print and electronic media, as well as of the two houses of Congress by the ideologists of Neoconservatism and Liberal Interventionism is that the broad American public, including instinctively skeptical Progressives, is clueless about the level of risk of all out nuclear war we are incurring by our current and projected policies of global domination. America’s seemingly irresistible force is coming up against indomitable resistance from Russia and China and the result is an escalating confrontation that we have not seen since the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
I had a personal awakening to the reality of the false sense of security that pervades American society some 18 months ago when I participated in a Peace Day event organized at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where the keynote speaker was Noam Chomsky and a number of other leading personalities in the nationwide antiwar movement also held forth. The auditorium which accommodated our opening, plenary session was filled by perhaps 350 activists, many of them gray headed veterans from the 1960s Vietnam War resistance, but also a representative sampling of students from the Greater Boston area. When we broke up for workshops, perhaps 250 chose the then very fashionable issue of the Islamic State, whose exploits had filled our newspapers with beheadings and bloody terror taking place in distant lands. My own workshop on the red hot civil war then raging in Donbass, in southeastern Ukraine, which was becoming a proxy war between Russia and the USA, drew in a total of 5 auditors.
And the workshop on nuclear dangers, which I looked in on when my session closed, had perhaps 10 auditors. The organizers were busy presenting slides showing what could happen in a European city like Rotterdam if “bad guys” managed to detonate a dirty radioactive bomb in the city center. A better scenario for substituting phony threats for real ones could not have been written by Pentagon strategists. The thought that we might find ourselves in a nuclear exchange with Russia did not cross the minds of organizers or auditors alike. And yet to my understanding, the level of risk of war coming out of the Great Power stand-off in Ukraine, and of its accidentally or otherwise spilling out of control and going nuclear was vastly greater than anything that could ever befall us from the still unchecked advance (now thwarted) of radical Islamists in the Middle East.
My point is not to ridicule the very earnest and well-intentioned anti-war campaigners whose ranks I joined that day. It is to demonstrate how and why the highly tendentious reporting of what we are doing in the world and what others are doing to us, combined with selective news blackouts altogether by major media has left even activists unaware of real threats to the peace and to our very survival that American foreign policy has created over the past 20 years and is projected to create into the indefinite future if the public does not awaken from its slumber and demand to be informed by experts from countervailing views. We are living through a situation unparalleled in our history as a nation where the issues of war and peace are not being debated in public.
Moreover, the risk of accidental war has moved quickly beyond where it was just 18 months ago. Now we are entering upon implementation of very provocative US-directed military expansion of NATO activities at the borders of Russia. The ongoing war games code-named Anaconda-16 in Poland numbering 31,000 troops, 17,000 of them Americans, are rehearsing a NATO seizure and occupation of Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave, just a few miles away. President Putin’s remark at the start of the exercises was that any move into Russian territory would elicit a nuclear response that would not be limited to the European theater but would be directed at the mainland USA. These were clear words, but I greatly doubt any of my readers has heard about them.
The NATO Summit planned forJuly 6-8in Warsaw will confirm plans to greatly expand the presence of NATO troops and heavy equipment in bases being built in Poland as well as in the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In response to this unanticipated threat to its national security, Russia is now moving a large part of its armed forces from the center of the country to the Leningrad Oblast, bordering on Estonia. The distances separating Russian and NATO forces will be miniscule.
In this sense, we are now two minutes to midnight on the nuclear catastrophe clock.
What can we do about this dire situation? First, we can write to the editors of our major national daily newspapers and complain about the wholly one-sided view of international affairs that they are feeding us day by day. We should politely demand that they open their op-ed pages to responsible experts and non-experts who challenge our present foreign and defense policies as being aggressive and provocative. The same letters should be sent to the producers of news programming and panel discussions at CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other leading electronic media who have systematically black-balled all those who do not agree with the Washington Narrative ever since the start of the Information Wars with Russia in 2007.
Secondly, we should write to our Congressmen and women demanding that Congressional hearings on foreign relations and relations with Russia and China in particular must cease to be phony exercises at which only those who support our present policies or call for still more drastic poking the Russians in the eye get invited to testify. Hearings which bring in as well those who believe as I do that we are presently on course for Armageddon should get C-SPAN coverage and give the American public a chance to judge for itself from authoritative and credible sources and not only from “alternative media” that can easily be dismissed by the establishment.
These recommended actions will not by themselves turn back the minute hand on the Clock, but they may stop its progression and give us a very much needed time out to fix policies that are wrongheaded and extremely dangerous.

G. Doctorow is the European Coordinator and Board Member of The American Committee for East West Accord Ltd. His most recent book,Does Russia Have a Future?was published in August 2015.

14 thoughts on “The Nuclear Clock is at Two Minutes to Midnight

  1. This is a critically important perspective; thanks for presenting it here. The two steps suggested are an excellent start. For anyone interested in more detail about the threatening situation in and around Ukraine, I outlined it in some depth some months ago at my blog, The situation has only worsened since then, with NATO holding the biggest war “games” since the end of the First Cold War just recently, and Russia increasing military placements at its western border. Defusing the situation in Syria, and stopping the endless demonization of Russian president Putin in the media and on the lips of most Western politicians are also important. An excellent website that posts relevant news and related analysis ongoingly is “The New Cold War: Ukraine and Beyond,” at

    • Putin is so misunderstood. It’s so good that he suppresses the press so nothing bad can be said against him. It’s fine tat he broke a treaty and invaded Crimea. If only Putin were Netanyahu and Crimea was the West bank, Roth would be singing a different song. Trump outright admires him

      • Apparently, you do not understand that Putin moved the number of troops allotted by Russia’s port treaty into Crimea to protect vital assets following the NATO-backed coup of a democratically elected leader in Kiev. Given that protestors in eastern Ukraine were violently suppressed & even massacred in Odessa by ultra-nationalists following the coup, we might reasonably conclude that the non-violent move of Russian forces into Crimea, in compliance with the port treaty, functioned to thwart such tragedy in Crimea. It should also be mentioned that a referendum was held in Crimea, and the people living there continue to poll over 90% in favor of rejoining the Russian Federation.

        • That’s real cute. Russia violated the terms of its internationally treaty with the Ukraine. And might I remind you that such a referendum usually has international and no partial observers. But I guess you are another one who holds a double standard. Your support for Putin suggest tat you are a Trump supporter as well. The 2 adore each other. Never mind that being gay in Russia gets you jailed,

  2. For the life of me, don’t see how making Russia an adversary helps America. Industrially, technologically and culturally, we both strongly benefit from a multi- integrated relationship. So whose interest is our State Dept. looking out for anyways?

    • I cannot for the life of me understand how you can tolerate Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea. Are Putin and Russia the new cool?

      • There is no occupation of Crimea as the vote to rejoin Russia was decisive. If you believe otherwise, show your proof of coercion.
        I cannot for the life of me understand how you, Fred, can tolerate US imperialism, which ranges from the 50+ CIA coups against democratically elected governments since 1947 (which are collectively responsible for the deaths of millions). Its brazen use of NATO to extend its hegemony over European affairs, the Illegal drone assassination program which has been ongoing for more than 10 years, the practice of rendition and secret CIA prisons, the refusal of the US to comply with international law/criminal courts and of course the coup which it funded and helped orchestrate in Kiev. These are just a few examples.

        • It as not a legal referendum. No one observed it’s legality. There was a treaty in place where the Ukraine surrendered its nuclear weapons in exchange for Russia to RECOGNIZE AND RESPECT CURRENT BORDERS. I guess you find it acceptable for Russia to invade and force a referendum, but the same standard cannot be paled elsewhere. I guess it is OK t say that the West Bank and the Golan are legally part of Israel. I guess we took care of that.Rasing the bar can be done on many occupations. Am I right
          BTW, drones kill bad people in Syria in Iraq. I support that killing bad people since the burn and behead local populations.

    • I think it is Russia and it’s historic paranoia than anything else. They also want to reclaim the glory days of imperial Russia.

  3. I find it amazing to read the comments gravely critiquing the actions of Russia concerning Crimea after 15 years of invading without any support from the International community nation after nation and leaving in the path or the Empires power a vast region of destruction, slaughter and broken lives of millions of people. How does anyone find the logic to rationalize this argument?

    • So 2 wrongs make a right? is that what you’re saying? The Ukraine and Russia had an internationally recognized treaty with mutual border recognition. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your narrative.
      As far as I know the US invaded only one county, right or wrong, with the support of several countries,. Entry into Afghanistan was for good cause after 911.I’m not sure why the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979
      I guess you also prefer approaching international issues with a double standard.

      • I gather this excludes Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria as countries that have not been invaded or destabilized without International UN authority. As for Afghanistan it now appears inevitable that the US will be a permanent fixture of this country for years to come. I fail to see a double standard where in Crimea there was not the single life lost or an ounce of blood shed in what you consider a Russian act of aggression and invasion. Further the latest independent polls show 82.8% approval by Crimeans to be a part of the Russian Federation. I am not sure of the reference to the Soviet invasion in 1979, but i can assure you the leaders of that era would long to take back this costly invasion.

        • With the exception of Iraq, the US never invaded those countries, As far as I know, Russia is supporting the regina of a war criminal responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of their own citizens. Although the invasion of Iraq was wrong, I do not regret reading about Saddam dying at the end of a noose
          BTW, there are few independent polls or voting results to be found in Russian controlled Crimea. Russia is hardly known for there transparency.

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