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How the U.S. betrayed the Marshall Islands, kindling the next nuclear disaster (latimes.com)
181 points by DyslexicAtheist 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments



This is terrifying and so sad. Here they're talking about plans to resettle the displaced local population back to the location of a nuclear bomb test:

""" U.S. government documents from the time show that officials weighed the potential hazards of radiation exposure against “the current low morale of the natives” and a “risk of an onset of indolence.” Ultimately they decided to go forward with the resettlement so researchers could study the effects of lingering radiation on human beings.

“Data of this type has never been available,” Merrill Eisenbud, a U.S official with the Atomic Energy Commission, said at a January 1956 meeting of the agency’s Biology and Medicine Committee. “While it is true that these people do not live the way that Westerners do, civilized people, it is nonetheless also true that they are more like us than the mice. """


Back in the 40s-60s, the AEC was also cool with radiation exposure testing on US troops, poor Black people, prisoners, etc.

Edit: Plus Japanese, of course. And, arguably, the entire US population.


that makes it so much better... These scientists knew exactly what they were doing and what the fallout would be. They just chose to dump the large part on some foreign place and continue to this day to lie and deceive these peoples. not to say they were the only one. but it's sick, and that's it. nothing else to it. They should by now in 2019 know better and respond better.


Yes, they knowingly engaged in human experimentation. And they should do whatever it takes now to mitigate the damage.


Technically this waste became the problem of the Marshall Islands when they became independent in 1979. That was the time to negotiate with the US about the remaining waste. This is similar to how Chernobyl is a Ukrainian issue.

That said, the islanders still have a lot of options. As a free and independent nation, they own the waste with all it's problems BUT also with all it's advantages.

Call the Iranians, the North Koreans, the Indians, the Pakistanis and anyone else with cash and ambition (ISIS, the Saudis?). Tell them you have 30 olympic sized pools worth of plutonium-containing waste and you're holding an auction for it on April 1st next year. More than enough for 1000 dirty bombs or maybe even a few high yield A-bombs if they can be bothered to refine it.

Then watch the western world beat a path to your door to talk about how much they want to take the same material for "safe keeping" and how the "global community" is "excited to help".

What was it Churchill said: "You can rely on the US (the western world) to do the right thing; once they have exhausted every other option".


I agree if by 'beat a bath to your door' you meant - send a battle ship or two, close down all trade routes to and from the islands and declare it a terror state, in need of freedom and nukilear mat extraction. Sounds more plausible.


Threaten the US at your own peril.


Another idea to "force" US hand is to make it their problem in other ways. Dig it up, and threaten to leave it / break it on a place where currents flow towards continental United States.

Of course this should never be done, as it is some sort of eco-terrorism, but is one of the many ways the US can have their hands forced.

Edit: in case this is not clear, I am never advocating for something like this to happen. But it is always a stupid idea to leave potentially lethal and dangerous materials on the land of a place you've scarred and destroyed and which doesn't want it at all.


>Another idea to "force" US hand is to make it their problem in other ways. Dig it up, and threaten to leave it / break it on a place where currents flow towards continental United States.

It's not wise for small nations to give big nations the bird like that when there are other options. GP's suggestion is much more tactful because nobody worth taking seriously is going to argue with the idea of selling property to the highest bidder whereas dumping stuff in the ocean is generally frowned upon by everyone.


> Dig it up, and threaten to leave it / break it on a place where currents flow towards continental United States.

Declaring war on the United States with a threat of intentional nuclear warfare against its population would be a particularly bad idea. That'll get your sovereignty revoked very quickly via military occupation.

The response to what I said of course is: yeah but the US is doing a bad thing. That's correct and it changes absolutely nothing about the fact that declaring nuclear war on the US, declaring the intention to try to harm its people with nuclear material, is a bad idea. Fairness is never going to exist between a superpower and weaker nations, it never has, it never will. The superpower dictates the terms in nearly all cases.


Well that's fine too: the US will then need to deal with it's new colony's nuclear waste legacy! "Oh no, we lost and got everything we needed!" :)

Isn't there an old film where a small island declares independence from the US, declares war on the US and then surrenders after 5 minutes to get aid?

(Edited because I think it's actually colony's not colonies)


It’s a film called “The Mouse that Roared” with Peter Sellers; a very funny movie (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053084/).


I remember the buzzing of the Q bomb.


> Isn't there an old film where a small island declares independence from the US, declares war on the US and then surrenders after 5 minutes to get aid?

I feel like it was an episode/arc in The West Wing.


That also seems like a great way of some more bomb testing coming your way.


we had exactly the same idea ...


Lol, great minds!

It does amaze me when these things come up. It's like everyone wants to avoid paying the bill (I understand that). But if no one pays, the problem will be vastly more than the cost of the bill. So why don't people just sigh and say "we'll pay our share if the EU and China agree to contribute the same"!? Given the tininess of the sums compared to the budgets of the groups involved, its not rocket science.

I was amazed more countries were not willing to contribute to replacing the Chernobyl sarcophagus. If it starts leaking, everyone is will lost 100s of billions, but a few billion is too much to avoid that!?


Do you want to sit on the board of my startup I could use your advice?


:) Depends, what sort of shares are you offering and do you have at least 10 Olympic pools of plutonium-containing waste?


Why is it, when reading this article, all I can picture is that meme of the SS officer saying "Wait a minute... Are WE the baddies?".

I am starting to interpret a lot of things I took for granted in my younger years with a different viewpoint, and I am increasingly horrified when I do, as the perceptions I've always had that most Western countries are the benevolent benefactors is tainted by stories such as this, which shows a brutal, callous disregard for other sovereign nations.


Well when you look down the history you'll find every nation did something horrible (if they have existed long enough). US itself is quite special case in its imperialism which happened much later than the others's (Spain, Netherlands etc).

But coming back to present day, it's the actions that we do now that in my opinion matter the most. And US keeps failing on those still, time after time. European countries are in some regards better, but well we are still far away from that utopian society where all things are in perfect balance.

It's sad though that US can't take responsibility for their own nuclear waste. They spend billions on their armed forces yet fixing the aftermath of their nuclear bomb tests can't be fit into that budget? Makes no sense.


I think the people in former Yugoslavia and also the Middle East would love to see the army pick up after itself. Especially the depleted uranium ammunition turns the areas it was used in into a wasteland. I remember a British researcher pulling one used round from a water-tank and brining it home. The airport in the UK went NUTS. One round... The army used 1000 tons of depleted uranium munitions in 3 weeks during the 2003 Iraq war. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depleted_uranium#Ammunition


Then again, airports are remarkably touchy about many things that aren’t all that bad.


> US itself is quite special case in its imperialism which happened much later than the others's (Spain, Netherlands etc).

This happened because the US emerged and differentiated itself from a colonial power. Also, the imperialism of the US was there from almost the very beginning. A call-to-action of sorts for the colonies was when their British metropolitan counterparts attempted to limit their western expansion. There's a weird belief where people think the US only turned to imperialism around the time of the Spanish-American war, but this was only due to running out of western expansion within their own lands.


The US military is an enormous polluter, even on native soil. Places like Hanford site — which is still undergoing cleanup after being decommissioned in the 1970s — are well known, but there are thousands of places the military has ravaged.

One good example is the naval training range the island of Vieques outside Puerto Rico [1], abandoned in the early 2000s and today a superfund site; they're still cleaning that up. Heavy metals such as mercury pollute the soil, cancer rates are way up, and the Eastern side of the island is littered with ammunition, unexploded ordnance and possibly depleted uranium.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Navy_in_Vieques,...


The EPA likes to get in on the action, too:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Gold_King_Mine_waste_wate...


Search for fernald nuclear plant the US government did same thing there in my home town. Took the worst nuclear waste known to man put it in a concrete silo that cracked and leaked into our water source. The whole town was drinking from a aquifer that had k-65 waste in direct contact with the water pool and you could see the cracked leaking silo from the road.


The US paid to develop and maintain those weapons to protect you from Russia for 50 years. Maybe you Europeans could pick up the tab for the clean-up?


You don’t win the war by being good. But if you win the war you get to write the history.


True that. Both my parents grew up near a POW camp in Malaysia during WWII. They said that yes, when the Japanese occupied Malaya, the treatment of the allied prisoners by the Japanese guards was brutal and cruel. But they also said when the tables turned later in the war, and the Japanese were prisoners in the same camps under British and US guards, the treatment dished out was every way just as bad.


Some quick googling shows allied POW death rates in Japanese custody were between 27-36%.

I can't find any hard consolidated numbers for Japanese POWs in allied custody after the war, but I can't find any event that even approaches the scale of the Bataan Death March or Unit 731 let alone other documented Japanese cruelties.

It's possible your parents witnessed some isolated cruelty, but there is zero evidence that on the whole the UK/US were equivalent to the Japanese in treatment of prisoners.


No doubt that a majority of casualties were on the death marches or working on railroads and bridges.

My dad and his friend used to actually drop food parcels to allied prisoners working on repairing bridges in his area. (He also dropped food to Japanese prisoners later in the war who worked on bridge repair. In fact, he said one of the scariest moments was when a Ghurka guard saw him drop food to a Japanese prisoner, and drew his Kukri in anger. My dad ran for miles to get away because he knew the Ghurka tradition was that once the Kukri was drawn, it could not go back into its scabbard without tasting blood).

The cruelty he witnessed seemed to be behind the wires, with executions and public torture by both sides being prevalent.

I do recall hearing stories from other people outside of my parents while growing up in South East Asia, but once again, the curation and editing of those stories rarely get past local areas. Nobody outside of the countries where it actually happened seems to want to hear, or repeat those events.

For instance, hardly anyone in the West seems to want to acknowledge how easily the Japanese walked into Malaysia, with almost no opposition. When they occupied Kuala Lumpur, they shot up the clock tower in the railway station near where my father lived, and that was it before the foot soldiers moved in. When the allies recaptured KL in later years, they carpet bombed the railway yards, killing hundreds of civilian labourers who lived in shanty towns within the yards. The tales of a triumphant US/English force recapturing their colony usually tends to omit details such as these.

evgen 29 days ago [flagged]

Then your parents are completely full of shit. We have documentation of the crimes committed by the Japanese when it comes to captured prisoners, both military and civilian. If the British or US did anything even 1/10 as bad it would have been widely reported by at least the 60s or 70s (by communist groups aiming to disrupt US influence in that region if not by anyone else.)


I assume by "documented the crimes" you include your documentation of things like the mai lai massacre as well?


Why yes I do. There is a very long list of actual crimes committed by US troops during various conflicts and I would never seek to hide them, but having done some basic research I am also going to call out misinformation and unverified BS when I see it.


Please don't respond by breaking the site guidelines, regardless of how wrong a comment is or you feel it is.

Your post would be just fine without the first sentence.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Recall that as they say, "history is written by the victors." The victors tend to whitewash what they do.


That's inaccurate. It would be more fair to say that history is written by whoever left behind written records.

Example: Europeans who survived the black death were arguably losers of history.


If you want to be an optimist, the fact that you're worried about atrocities committed by the American empire means that you're not a cold-hearted brute that believes inflicting human suffering is something to be applauded or encouraged. Being concerned about such things means you believe they're not right and should be changed.

If you want to be a pessimist, the ability to be concerned about how America's actions hurt others is actually a luxury you can only afford because you grew up in a time after America has committed all the atrocities that brought it to where it is today. The US has an entire continent of land and resources, a low population density and plenty of room to grow, and no powerful neighbors that could threaten to invade it because it has two oceans as natural boundaries. Back when American settlers couldn't satisfy the lower rungs on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, food and security, they had no problems taking land from natives and eliminating hostile tribes as they expanded to the Pacific. But only after those needs were satisfied could Americans think about needs like esteem and self-actualization. Etc being a compassionate country that doesn't commit atrocities and being a global leader.

Unfortunately, this means that as America's standing in the world becomes less secure with the rise of powerful rivals and changes due to global warming, it's quite likely concerns about "being the baddies" will slide to the background.



If we weren't before, wee certainly are the baddies after the Eddie Gallagher pardon.


Stop thinking too much. Look at the crazy stuff North Korea is doing!


It took me a long time to realize this, but now I recognize that which I think most of my fellow Europeans already know: yes, you're the baddies (I knew that already), but you're the best baddies of the baddies available. Our other options are to associate with eg China or Russia, and between those the US, even with people like Trump at the wheel, is splendid.

Naturally, I think that the US should do a much bigger effort to be less evil. But at least in the US, people can wonder what you're wondering. There's a chance that one day the US will be less bad, while staying a superpower. There's freedom of speech and a generally functioning democracy.

Yes, you're the baddies, ish, and you can help make it better. That's super cool.

EDIT: obviously we (NL, EU, etc, are evil in many ways too. This bothers the shit out of me and I try to do my part to fix it)


As much hate as the British get, the British Empire is one of the great forces of advancement and progress in the history of the world. It's unfortunate on a global scale that the US nor anyone else was able to effect a decent handoff when the Brits renounced all their possessions. Untold misery has been the result of that failed transition.



"Our other options are to associate with eg China or Russia, and between those the US, even with people like Trump at the wheel, is splendid."

Russia has done nothing even remotely comparable to what the US has done in Middle East: after the second Iraq war the country still hasn't recovered, Libya is a mess, Syria is a mess, ISIS was a horror.

After all that calling the US splendid compared to Russia is bizarre.

Maybe you at least should try to do what benefits the EU, not the US, or Russia, or China.


The only reason Russia comes out okay in your comparison is because it simply lacks the capacity to project power the way the U.S. does - there's only one global superpower, for now. If you look at areas where Russia has had an effectively free hand - like Chechnya, for instance - adjusting for scale, the resulting atrocities are worse than anything the U.S. has done since Vietnam. And in terms of internal repression, there's just no comparison at all.

The EU is simply not a credible military force. For many EU states therefore "friendship" (which really means acquiescence) to the U.S. is the only effective antidote to the geographical malady of being next to Russia.


"The only reason Russia comes out okay in your comparison is because it simply lacks the capacity to project power the way the U.S. does"

Why do you presume this?

"like Chechnya, for instance"

There are no other instances. And in that particular case, we don't know what the alternatives are. Considering Chechen raids into neighbouring regions and Saudi Arabia's and Turkey's influence in Chechnya, we could've gotten another Islamic State.

As for the US, we don't know what would the US government do if there was an armed rebellion of Hispanic population in the southern states sponsored by Mexico.

"geographical malady of being next to Russia" This sounds Russophobic. When you want to write something like this, try replacing Russians and Russia with Jews and Israel, and see if it still sounds okey.


> Why do you presume this?

Because every single hegemonic imperial power in human history has a list of atrocities only limited by its reach and time in power. That Russia happens to be a repressive kleptocracy makes it an even safer bet, of course, but any state whose power is effectively unchecked will pursue its perceived interest at the expense of everyone else, often with horrifying results.

> There are no other instances. And in that particular case, we don't know what the alternatives are. Considering Chechen raids into neighbouring regions and Saudi Arabia's and Turkey's influence in Chechnya, we could've gotten another Islamic State.

The First Chechen War predates the first Chechen attacks outside of their own territory by over two years. That fact alone eliminates any potential rationale along the lines of "preventing terrorism". It was in fact the Russian military operation (opposed at the time by many of their own military commanders as an atrocity in the making) and its brutality that caused some of the guerilla groups to turn to terrorism, not vice versa. This fact doesn't excuse any of the many atrocities committed by the guerillas, by the way, merely invalidates your argument.

And if you want other instances, it suffices to mention Afghanistan. Obviously, there are others, but like I said - the reach of the Russian government is blissfully short.

> "geographical malady of being next to Russia" This sounds Russophobic. When you want to write something like this, try replacing Russians and Russia with Jews and Israel, and see if it still sounds okey.

Is that some sort of an attempt to substitute virtue signaling for argument? I'm not familiar with this tactic. Regardless, my point is trivially simple - if you're a country that borders Russia, your chances of being subject to measures ranging from targeted state-sponsored cyberattack on vital infrastructure all the way to outright occupation go way up. Historically, that's always been the case with expansionistic empires, there just aren't many of those left.


"every single hegemonic imperial power" What does this have to do with Russia?

"will pursue its perceived interest at the expense of everyone else, often with horrifying results"

Sounds like the US.

"It was in fact"

Was it? The raids were happening after the peace was signed. And ethnic cleansing of non-Chechens was happening before the first war.

"And if you want other instances, it suffices to mention Afghanistan"

You probably haven't got the memo -- there is no USSR for almost 30 years. The country has changed dramatically, which couldn't be said about the US after Vietnam war.

"Is that some sort of an attempt to substitute virtue signaling for argument"

On your part there was no argument, only prejudice.

"if you're a country that borders Russia, your chances of being subject to measures"

Correction: "if you're are a country on Russian border inviting NATO and threatening by this Russia's own security". Being relatively neutral like Finland is just fine.


> Sounds like the US.

Absolutely. Like I said, the only real difference in terms of atrocities abroad is one of capabilities. The U.S. happens to be the overwhelmingly most powerful state since WW2 (arguably since WW1), so it conducts most of the atrocities.

> Was it? The raids were happening after the peace was signed. And ethnic cleansing of non-Chechens was happening before the first war.

Neither of which contradicts my point at all. Not sure what you're arguing here.

> You probably haven't got the memo -- there is no USSR for almost 30 years. The country has changed dramatically, which couldn't be said about the US after Vietnam war.

In terms of its perceived behavior abroad, the most significant difference is that it now has a number of neighbors that had been forcibly incorporated into the USSR and want to avoid a repetition of that miserable fate at all costs.

> Correction: "if you're are a country on Russian border inviting NATO and threatening by this Russia's own security". Being relatively neutral like Finland is just fine.

The reason most of those countries did everything they could to get into NATO as quickly as possible is because they perceive Russia as a threat. Unless you seriously think NATO is going to conduct a first strike attack on Russia, the only way in which that threatens Russia's security is if you think "security" means "ability to interfere in neighbors' affairs unchecked". In which case, yes, that's the point.

Ultimately, this back and forth misses the actual reason EU countries are overwhelmingly friendlier to the U.S. than to Russia. One is a highly flawed hegemonic empire with a history of ill advised military adventurism and, crucially, a high standard of living. The other is a crumbling kleptocracy with a low standard of living and a myriad of social problems. If you have to choose one, it's not a hard choice at all. Comparisons of atrocities conducted on the other side of the world don't really enter into it for most people.

EDIT: By the way, since you took issue with my "geographical malady" phrasing and seem to think I'm defending the U.S. in some way - I also think it's a geographical malady to be a small country on the doorstep of the U.S. Virtually the entire region of Central America serves as a poignant example of that. Being a tiny country on the doorstep of a powerful empire is just a tough place to be, and Eastern European countries are lucky that they can use U.S. influence as a counterweight to Russia and thereby eke out a measure of independence. Others don't have that luxury.


"Like I said, the only real difference in terms of atrocities abroad is one of capabilities"

And before that you said that the US is 'splendid' compared to Russia.

"because they perceive Russia as a threat." That is a paranoid mentality stuck in the past.

"Unless you seriously think NATO is going to conduct a first strike attack on Russia, the only way in which that threatens Russia's security"

An American NATO general gave an order to attack Russian paratroopers in Serbia during NATO's illegal compaing there. NATO countries have been closing air space to Russian military planes and refusing refuelling to Russian warships under the pressure from Washington. A NATO member shot down a Russian bomber. Most importantly, if you have a loaded gun pointed to someone's head, you don't need to fire it to get complaince.

"If you have to choose one, it's not a hard choice at all."

Did the EU actually had to choose? Was it in the EU's interest to antagonize Russia by trying to expand NATO into Georgia and Ukraine? By excluding Russia from its security arrangements? There was an immense amount of good will in Russia of 1990's towards the West and the US and American elite choose to throw that away and go ahead with NATO expansion.


> And before that you said that the US is 'splendid' compared to Russia.

I've said no such thing. Why are you making quotes up now?

> That is a paranoid mentality stuck in the past.

Many Ukrainians would disagree. Regardless, I'm not arguing that they should feel that way, only that they do as a matter of fact.

> An American NATO general gave an order to attack Russian paratroopers in Serbia during NATO's illegal compaing there. NATO countries have been closing air space to Russian military planes and refusing refuelling to Russian warships under the pressure from Washington. A NATO member shot down a Russian bomber. Most importantly, if you have a loaded gun pointed to someone's head, you don't need to fire it to get complaince.

And a British general countermanded that order, during events that took place far from Russian territory. There is no credible loaded gun pointed at Russia simply because it is apparent to all parties that a first strike on Russia would be utterly ruinous to the West.

> Did the EU actually had to choose?

The entire EU? No. The EU countries that border Russia? Yes, they did. And it is obvious by their actions that they want to get away from Russia's sphere of influence as quickly as possible. It's not hard to figure out why if you know a bit of history and look at the state of Russia today.

> Was it in the EU's interest to antagonize Russia by trying to expand NATO into Georgia and Ukraine?

In retrospect, probably not. This is now fairly widely regarded as a geopolitical mistake among EU policymakers and analysts.

> There was an immense amount of good will in Russia of 1990's towards the West and the US and American elite choose to throw that away and go ahead with NATO expansion.

That's a very simplified view of a complicated decade of international relations. You're not wrong, but you're also omitting a long list of things done by Russia that also squandered Western (particularly European) good will. Mistakes were made by both sides.


"Why are you making quotes up now?"

This quote is present in the first comment you've replied to. There is no need to attribute malice to me.

"Many Ukrainians would disagree"

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Russia wasn't a threat, NATO expanded nonetheless, Russia reacted to this threat, you claim that this reaction is the proof that Russia was a threat. Ridiculous, isn't it?

"events that took place far from Russian territory"

These events happened even farther from American territory. And Serbia is a Russian ally, sort of.

"that a first strike on Russia would be utterly ruinous to the West"

Firstly, I'd recommend you to read "To win the nuclear war" by Kaku and Axelrod about Pentagon plans for first strike. It is a horrifying reading for a Russian, hopefully, it will be such for you too.

Secondly, the US is working hard on increasing effectiveness of the first strike -- high-precision warheads[2] (no need for them in MAD concept - you cannot miss a city), ABM, etc.

Thirdly, please google "salami tactics" and "escalation dominance" -- there is no need to use nuclear weapons even in conflict with nuclear-armed country.

"The entire EU? No. The EU countries that border Russia? Yes, they did."

But NATO is ruled by consensus and it was the choice of the Western European members.

"In retrospect, probably not"

Not in retrospect. Many people warned about that [1], including former American presidents and George Kennan [0] -- the man behind the "containment policy". This NY Times article from 1992 [3] might explain you why the expansion was the American goal.

"you're also omitting a long list of things done by Russia that also squandered Western (particularly European) good will"

That was remarkably unspecific.

EDIT: added links

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/02/opinion/foreign-affairs-n...

[1] https://www.cato.org/blog/nato-expansion-unwise-saying-so-is...

[2] https://thebulletin.org/2017/03/how-us-nuclear-force-moderni...

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/08/world/excerpts-from-penta...


> This quote is present in the first comment you've replied to. There is no need to attribute malice to me.

You attributed a quote to me that isn't even remotely reminiscent of anything I've said in this discussion. There is no need to grossly distort my position.

> This self-fulfilling prophecy. Russia wasn't a threat, NATO expanded nonetheless, Russia reacted to this threat, you claim that this reaction is the proof that Russia was a threat. Ridiculous, isn't it?

Not really, since virtually all countries in the region consider the Russian response to be wildly disproportionate and in flagrant violation of international law.

> Firstly, I'd recommend you to read "To win the nuclear war" by Kaku and Axelrod about Pentagon plans for first strike. It is a horrifying reading for a Russian, hopefully, it will be such for you too.

You're referring to plans that predate the existence of the Soviet (and now Russian) nuclear arsenal and were specifically made obsolete by it.

> Secondly, the US is working hard on increasing effectiveness of the first strike -- high-precision warheads[2] (no need for them in MAD concept - you cannot miss a city), ABM, etc.

ABM is a joke. Its effectiveness is dubious even for its purported usecase (a limited attack by NK or Iran) and if the U.S. ever tried to seriously scale it, it would always be orders of magnitude more expensive than the effort required for Russia to defeat it. High-precision warheads are unnecessary in MAD, but do nothing to threaten or disrupt it. They exist because U.S. military doctrine is primarily concerned with adversaries other than Russia.

> Thirdly, please google "salami tactics" and "escalation dominance" -- there is no need to use nuclear weapons even in conflict with nuclear-armed country.

I don't have to google them. Russia is in a much better position to use escalation dominance against its EU neighbors than the U.S. is against Russia. In purely military terms, NATO's defensive posture across Eastern Europe and particularly in the Baltic States is still very weak, precisely out of fear of provoking hostilities.

> But NATO is ruled by consensus and it was the choice of the all European countries.

Whatever the formal rules are, NATO is ruled predominantly by the U.S. For the actual countries in question it was a simple trade - safety from Russia in exchange for U.S. influence, market penetration, etc. This arrangement was popular then and remains popular now.

> Not in retrospect. Many people warned about that [1], including former American presidents and George Kennan [0] -- the man behind the "containment policy".

They were in a minority then, now the consensus has shifted for the most part.

> That was remarkably unspecific.

An exhaustive list would be far too long, but it includes both Chechen wars (the first of which caused a significant disillusionment among Western populations), the tragicomically mismanaged economic reforms in the early 90s and the subsequent political instability in Russia, various trade and investor disputes (especially after the '98 crisis), Russian actions in the ex-Soviet republics and many others.


"There is no need to grossly distort my position."

Oh, come on. It's obvious I thought you two are the same person.

"the Russian response to be wildly disproportionate"

What would be a proportionate response then?

"You're referring to plans that predate the existence of the Soviet (and now Russian) nuclear arsenal"

You are wrong. Read the book.

"ABM is a joke."

Not if it has to deal with a few rockets surviving first strike. It will be much more potent in a couple decades.

"High-precision warheads are unnecessary in MAD, but do nothing to threaten or disrupt it."

Again, read the link.

"still very weak"

Nothing prevents this from changing very quickly.

"NATO is ruled predominantly by the U.S."

To a certain extent, but not entirely. Read "A Little War That Shook the World" by Asmus for an example -- Georgia wasn't granted NATO membership action plan thanks to Germany finally seeing the light.

"it includes"

So you are saying that NATO expanded because of "tragicomically mismanaged economic reforms" in Russia? Or maybe you shouldn't be including such ridiculous reasons in your list?

"Russian actions in the ex-Soviet republics"

Please be specific.


> What would be a proportionate response then?

First of all, if you think military intervention is a proportionate response, the onus is on you to justify such an extraordinary measure. That being said, there's a wide array of reasonable measures, ranging from changes in Russian military deployments all the way to targeted sanctions (a particularly effective tool in the case of Ukraine, as I'm sure you know).

> You are wrong. Read the book.

Okay.

> Not if it has to deal with a few rockets surviving first strike. It will be much more potent in a couple decades.

That's what ABM proponents have been saying for decades. Never seems to amount to much. Like I said, Russia has ample countermeasures that are much cheaper than an ABM system. Your own policymakers have always recognized this clearly, that's why Russia left START II (which would have banned MIRVs) literally the next day after the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM treaty. Putin's hypersonic weapon pronouncements, however PR-distorted, are ultimately directed at the same goal, just like the RS-28 (and the associated active protection system for launch sites) and other systems.

> Again, read the link.

I did, and I'm aware of the W76 deployments. They're much better tailored to limit the value of the Chinese nuclear deterrent than yours. On a more general MAD point - I wish your military invested in better early warning capabilities rather than silly doomsday weapons. Your existing arsenal easily suffices for credible deterrence many times over, it's the information asymmetry that's the dangerous part.

> To a certain extent, but not entirely. Read "A Little War That Shook the World" by Asmus for an example -- Georgia wasn't granted NATO membership action plan thanks to Germany finally seeing the light.

I have read it, actually. You're right about Georgia, but that's not really comparable to the earlier rounds of NATO expansion. Germany and France were happy to see Eastern European states join the EU, which left them in a much less credible position to oppose the same countries joining NATO as well. You may also recall that Asmus describes the 2008 war as essentially a Russian provocation, by the way (a position I don't entirely share).

> So you are saying that NATO expanded because of "tragicomically mismanaged economic reforms" in Russia? Or maybe you shouldn't be including such ridiculous reasons in your list?

They're not ridiculous if you consider them in context. If you're dealing with an unstable country with political, economic and social issues of such a magnitude that it cannot be regarded as a reliable partner, yet one with most of the world's nukes, at some point you're going to start viewing it as a potential threat.

> Please be specific.

Sure, why not. Russia has created and continuously maintained a number of "frozen conflict" zones (Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, parts of Eastern Ukraine will probably join the list in a few years), directly interfered into the political systems of virtually every ex-Soviet state (with measures ranging from illegal financing all the way to targeted cyberattacks and active measures) and weaponized its gas exports for political aims.

And yes, I know you can justify every point on that list by pointing to similarly hostile actions conducted by Western states against Russia. That's my point. There was tremendous good will after the collapse of the Soviet Union and both sides squandered it, preferring to engage in an escalating series of tit-for-tat responses, each of which individually makes sense to those who commit it, but which collectively add up to lead us to where we are today.


"the onus is on you"

I don't see why.

"there's a wide array of reasonable measures"

I don't see how they address the problem.

"They're much better tailored to limit the value of the Chinese nuclear deterrent than yours"

I don't see why.

"I wish your military invested in better early warning capabilities"

Your wish is granted [0]

"Your existing arsenal easily suffices for credible deterrence"

Only if it survives the first strike.

"joining NATO as well"

Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland joined NATO much earlier than EU.

"essentially a Russian provocation, by the way (a position I don't entirely share)"

And the report of the official EU investigation doesn't agree either.

"If you're dealing with an unstable country with political, economic and social issues of such a magnitude that it cannot be regarded as a reliable partner, yet one with most of the world's nukes, at some point you're going to start viewing it as a potential threat."

I don't see why Russia couldn't be regarded as a reliable partner despite of its internal problems. Take gas and oil, for example. And I don't see how Russia was a threat to the EU countries.

"Russia has created and continuously maintained a number of "frozen conflict" zones"

Why do you think that Russia created them? The newly independent ex-USSR country are run by nationalists, their treatment of minorities within their countries is uncivilized, to put it mildly. Or is the problem that they are frozen? That's because Russia doesn't do things the NATO way - bombing a problematic country into stone age and achieving a regime change.

"directly interfered into the political systems of virtually every ex-Soviet state"

As did the US and the EU, including meddling in Russia's own elections[1].

"weaponized its gas exports for political aims"

Or the transit countries weaponized their monopoly on the transit routes?

"both sides squandered it"

I don't see anything in Russia's actions even remotely comparable to NATO expansion. You've listed numerous internal problems in Russia, but how you jumped to the conclusion that they made Russia a threat to the EU is beyond by understanding.

[0] http://www.russianspaceweb.com/eks-tundra-kosmos2541.html

[1] http://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19960715,00.html


> There are no other instances.

Conveniently forgetting Ukraine for a current example. Or the havoc Russia did in the 20th century in all of Eastern Europe.

> "geographical malady of being next to Russia" This sounds Russophobic. When you want to write something like this, try replacing Russians and Russia with Jews and Israel, and see if it still sounds okey.

Last time I checked Israel didn't subjugate half a continent for 50 years.


The conflict in Ukraine is overblown in your free media. It's nothing compared to what is happening in the Middle East.

"subjugate half a continent for 50 years"

After losing 26 million people to the invasion that had come from that continent, that was a prudent measure.


I like how you conveniently don’t mention Afghanistan, which was the Soviet Unions Vietnam, except with more war crimes somehow.


I haven't mentioned Vietnam either.

And if I were you, I wouldn't bring up Afghanistan, because the US was on the side of Islamic extremists. The main recipient of American weapons was the guy who had been throwing acid into faces of female students.


Russia backed Assad in Syria, who attacked his own citizens with chemical weapons. Their main strategy was to target the moderate anti government factions, so the longer the war went on, the less attractive options were available for backing anti government groups.

And let's not forget about Russian meddling in Ukraine, and annexing Crimea.

Probably not the only stuff they've done, but it's what comes to mind.


>>>Russia backed Assad in Syria, who attacked his own citizens with chemical weapons

That position is suspect given the growing number of whistleblowers coming out from the OPCW stating that evidence pointing to the rebels behind the worst attacks was suppressed while compiling their reports.[1][2]

>>>Their main strategy was to target the moderate anti government factions

The main strategy was to secure the major population centers of Damascus, Homs, and Aleppo, and secure the highway that links them and runs North-South through the whole country. These areas were largely held by a mix of moderates as well as al-Qaeda-adjacent jihadists (Jabat Al-Nusra, HTS, etc.). The least-moderate factions were largely near the Turkish border in Idlib (no surprise, this is how foreign hardline fighters were flooding into the country), or deep in the eastern desert (ISIS spilled over from Iraq). The Syrian Army was in no position to bypass its biggest cities, extend its supply routes (given the Army's non-existent logistical capability), and expose its flanks to attack the "REALLY bad guys" first instead of the "just kinda-bad guys".

[1]https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/opcw-losing-credibility-a...

[2]https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/new-opcw-leak-further...


Also the Russian use of chemical and radiological weapons against individuals within the UK.


And how does it compare with million dead Iraqis?


"Alleged", you missed that word.


And the US allies created ISIS. Pretty clear which side to support, don't you think?

Russian meddling in Ukraine has cost hundred times less lives than American adventures in Iraq. And Crimea has been Russian for over two hundred years before it was reassigned to the Ukrainian SSR in Soviet times.


Most Finns, Poles, and Ukrainians would probably disagree with you regarding Russian benevolence. Considering how they were invaded and all.


Finns and Poles are history.

And I'd bet Iraqis would choose Russian-style 'invasion' over American one which cost them about million lives in total.


I hear Grozny is lovely this time of year.


For those of you who are younger during the second Chechen war in 1999-2000 the Russian army surrounded the city and proceeded to level the whole city with artillery. Primarily to avoid the high losses they took during the first war.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Grozny_(1999%E2%80%9...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Grozny_(1994%E2%80%9...


As a matter of fact, yes, it is [0].

Billions of roubles have been poured into rebuilding Grozny and development of Chechnya in general.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grozny#/media/File:Montage-of-...


Russian treatment of Chechnya is comparable.


Not really, see my over comments here.


> most Western countries are the benevolent benefactors

Did you miss out on the world events of the past 500 years? It has been 500 years of war, genocide, rape and theft by the west on the rest of the world. I don't recall anyone using benevolence to describe what happened in the past 500 years.

There isn't an ounce of benevolence in the west or east or south or north or wherever. Human beings are brutes. This isn't really a western trait, it's a human trait. When one group gets the upper hand, you get brutish behavior. For one reason or a another, the west got the upper hand for 500 years. And it's been a relentless and horrific series of genocides, slavery, conquest, mass rapes, nukes, etc - not benevolence.


Not sure why you're getting downvoted. North America started with the deliberate genocide of its indigenous population -- who by recent estimates numbered in the millions -- continued to brutal enslavement of Africans and then proceeded to project imperial control over the rest of the hemisphere in the 19th century, then the world in the 20th century.


>Western countries are the benevolent benefactors is tainted by stories such as this, which shows a brutal, callous disregard for other sovereign nations.

The US took control of the Marshall Islands in 1944. From Japan. After Pearl Harbor. There was no sovereign nation.


There's a small hardcover book I found while rummaging through books taken out of circulation at a public library called "Bombs over Bikini" which documents the nuclear tests done over these islands and how the US deceived the Marshallese people.

Its size and format is targeted at children, and contains many photos from the era. It's a very surreal book to page through, leaving me speechless and curious why it would be taken out of circulation. I ended up buying it with a $1 "donation".

https://www.amazon.com/Bombs-over-Bikini-Disaster-Nonfiction...

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18354016-bombs-over-biki...


As someone who lives in the South Pacific - in a nuclear free country what's more - the whole affair makes me upset and sad.

The sad irony in the below article is hard to miss.

https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-11-14/marshal...

It probably gives you some perspective on why people outside of the States are often perplexed on why the US can lead discussions on nuclear nonproliferation when they continue to be a bad actor.

The above linked article is reasonable evidence U.S government is more concerned about their image than doing the right thing.


The Marshall Islanders never had any reason to trust the US. These poor people will be crushed by imperial interest and there is very little they can do about it.

While all this is happening, the Marshall Islands continues to lend a UN GA vote to those exact US interests. For example, they are a staunch friend of Israel against near-unanimous international condemnations, and other such ridiculous votes.

This is sad and tragic, and I hope it gives the US citizens among you some pause regarding what is being done in your name.

PS - Don't expect this to change after the elections.


Just send an email inviting Iran to come and get the plutonium. Before the email even left your server, US money and people from three letters agencies will start raining ....


Your premise is the worst possible choice, next to the other person that suggested starting a nuclear war against the US with the material. Emailing the Iranians to come get it will get you blockaded, sanctioned and occupied by the US military if all else fails. The Iranians aren't close to being stupid enough to act on it.


For some reason some of these ideas on this comment section remind me of those Coke employees who stole the “secret formula” and tried to sell it to Pepsi.

Pepsi, unsurprisingly, immediately called the cops and had them arrested.


As long as you don't do anything out of the box , US won't take responsibility for their mess. Why should they ? Not their best interest to spend money at a small remote island. Calling Iran is just about making it their problem again. I think you are the type of people that don't ask for a raise because you are afraid not being seen a "team player". How nice of you !!


I asked myself almost the same question. It should be pretty easy to get radioactive material there for a couple of dirty bombs.


The John Pilger documentary "The Coming War with China" has a big section on the Marshall Islands, I was ignorant of the situation there and found it interesting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDl9ecICIYg


I also recommend his doco "The War on Democracy"

http://johnpilger.com/videos/the-war-on-democracy


The language and title of the article seem a bit loaded, though there isn't any reason to question the basic facts of the article.

While it is true that entire islands were blown away and lagoons contaminated with waste from test detonations there was probably only one blast that probably directly and permanently impacted people in the area: Castle Bravo.

Castle Bravo was a test failure that made the Bikini Atoll famous, because the explosion was stupendously larger than the planned detonation. That test was supposed to be a secret experiment, but because it was so large it became an instantly known international incident. Wikipedia says the planned detonation was 6 megatons, though video documentary puts the planned detonation at closer to 4.5 megatons. Even still it would have been the largest man-made explosion to that point.

The actual explosion was somewhere between 14.5-15.5 megatons. The failure was a misunderstanding of basic chemistry under nuclear conditions. Scientists knew at the time that explosive force could be multiplied by an order of magnitude by wrapping a nuclear bomb device in fissile material thereby creating a multi-stage detonation. The first stage is the nuclear bomb itself and the second stage is the reaction of the fissile material to the intense heat and pressure thereby becoming fuel for an additional layer of explosion not used by the initial nuclear detonation.

The reason for a multi-stage devise is that a nuclear core has a specific job and the fuel of the second stage would not help achieve that job. The second stage only becomes valid once the first stage is complete. But that second stage fuel isn't stable. It is a rapidly decaying material, which in this case was radio isotope lithium 6. To increase stability the second stage material was wrapped in a blanket of lithium 7. lithium 7 is a heavier radio isotope, but it does not decay in a way that makes it a fissile material. Specifically, Lithium 6 decays into tritium when bombarded with neutrons and tritium is a very unstable radio isotope of hydrogen with 3 neutrons that is the core of the infamous H-bomb.

What scientists didn't know at the time is that under the heat and pressure of a nuclear detonation lithium 7 sheds a neutron and rapidly becomes lithium 6. That effectively means Castle Bravo was the first 3 stage nuclear bomb where all material supplied decayed in a specific order to become fuel in separate stages and each stage magnifying the explosive capability.

Local islanders were impacted by that detonation, but so were many American observers and scientists 30 miles away. The local islanders, and a Japanese fishing vessel, were further away than the Americans in that area, but were in the path of high altitude wind flow. The largest environmental failure from this was the inability to contain the resulting toxins. Trace amounts of fallout would eventually reason Japan, India, and the US. The entire local region was contaminated in a way that would only be understood or measurable over decades due to the increased presence of heavy metals in the ground and water resulting in toxic food supplies and heavy metal poisoning.

* Castle Bravo - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Bravo

* Radio Isotopes of Lithium - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isotopes_of_lithium

* Bikini Atoll - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikini_Atoll

* A good video documentary - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM4ZYQmFGlw


Nitpicking:

> The failure was a misunderstanding of basic chemistry under nuclear conditions.

> What scientists didn't know at the time is that under the heat and pressure of a nuclear detonation lithium 7 sheds a neutron and rapidly becomes lithium 6.

I thought that it's very strange that chemistry is involved here and that the heat and pressure cause that, so I looked in Wikipedia:

> When lithium-7 is bombarded with energetic neutrons, rather than simply absorbing a neutron, it captures the neutron and decays almost instantly into an alpha particle, a tritium nucleus, and another neutron.

So the cause is an unexpected nuclear reaction, not an unexpected chemical reaction.


FTA - “While it is true that these people do not live the way that Westerners do, civilized people, it is nonetheless also true that they are more like us than the mice.”

I find this statement callous and shocking. I get what she is trying to say but to me it seems a very poor choice of words.


Is there a list of similar or bigger issues than this nuclear disaster?




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