The US mass media and the country’s political officials have shown a remarkable lack of interest in what the Pentagon acknowledged earlier this week was the unprecedented simultaneous firing of two senior commanders at two separate Air Force Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) bases and the administrative disciplining of a third.
Major news outlets, to the extent that they carried the story at all, relied solely on the item prepared by the Associated Press, and for the most part buried even that. The AP got the story by calling the Air Force public information office. No follow-up was done by the New York Times, the Washington Post or any other major newspaper or television network to probe the significance of these disciplinary actions in terms of the extreme state of crisis that has pervaded Washington’s nuclear strike force for well over a year….
The crisis in the US nuclear war command has now been unfolding for over one year, involving the sudden sackings of top commanders and senior officers, as well as the snaring of fully 20 percent of the ICBM missile launch crew members in a cheating scandal and the implication of several others in the use of illegal drugs.
The cases involving the most senior officers are the most startling. Vice Adm. Tim Gardinia, the second-in-command at the US Strategic Command, responsible for formulating nuclear war plans and relaying launch orders, was sacked after he was charged with trying to gamble with $1,500 in fake chips at an Idaho casino. …
Together, these officers are responsible for hundreds of Minuteman 3 ICBMs, each of which carries a nuclear warhead with 27 times the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, capable of wiping out millions of human beings in a matter of minutes.
That senior missile commanders were simultaneously sacked at two separate bases comprising two-thirds of the US ICBM force was described by a Pentagon spokesman as merely a coincidence.
The series of firings, scandals and incidents, however, suggest two possibilities, which are not mutually exclusive. First, that the US nuclear command is under the control of certified maniacs, the real-life counterparts of the “Dr. Strangelove” character, Gen. Jack D. Ripper, who unilaterally launches a nuclear bomber strike on the Soviet Union on the theory that “war is too important to be left to politicians.”
It is worth recalling that among the recent scandals plaguing the Air Force has been the overwhelming influence of the Christian right at the US Air Force Academy, where a religious ideology embracing the Armageddon has been promoted even as cadets are trained in practical measures for bringing it about.
The other possibility is that the US nuclear war command is being subjected to a deliberate and wholesale restructuring of its personnel for unspecified reasons.
The shakeup has unfolded within a definite and disturbing wider context. In the first instance, President Barack Obama, who came into office vowing to pursue a policy of nuclear disarmament—one of the main things cited in the decision to award him a Nobel Peace Prize after barely 10 months in office—is now presiding over a major buildup of US imperialism’s nuclear arsenal. This includes plans to spend a staggering $355 billion over the next decade and at least $1 trillion over the next 30 years, with the deployment of 12 new nuclear submarines, some 100 nuclear bombers and 400 new land-based ICBMs.
Moreover, this buildup takes place under conditions in which Washington is engaged in steadily escalating provocations against Russia and China, both nuclear-armed powers, even as it embarks on a major new war in the Middle East. The threat of a nuclear Third World War is now greater than it has been for decades….
Is the shakeup in response to this leak?