Don't Wait for "Them" to Stop Nuclear War

Don't Wait for "Them" to Stop Nuclear War

Diane is joined by former USMC Intelligence Officer and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter; retired director of the University of Missouri’s Clinical Laboratory Science Program and disarmament advocate  Steve Starr; Executive Intelligence Review's military expert Carl Osgood.

New York Symposium June 23, 2023.


DIANE SARE: Good evening everyone, and welcome to the New York Symposium with Diane Sare. I am Diane Sare, the LaRouche independent candidate for US Senate in 20204, running against Kirsten Gillibrand, but frankly really running to insure that Joe Biden and nothing like Joe Biden gets near the White House, and hopefully we have that long.

I am joined this evening by Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector, and Marines intelligence officer; Steve Starr, who is a writer for the Bulletin for Atomic Scientists and director of the Clinical Laboratory program at the University of Missouri; and Carl Osgood of {Executive Intelligence Review}. I think we're going to start things right off.

Part of the reason for running for the Senate is that these people are responsible for completely insane policies. The Senate and the House could rein in an administration which is out of control, running amok, putting us in danger. But instead, you have people like Senator Lindsey Graham, who was seen gloating about how Russians are dying, this is money very well spent. Now he and Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut have introduced a resolution demanding that if Russia either uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, or if there is a major incident at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant which would not be done by Russia, I might add, resulting in the spread of radiation, that NATO should view such incidents as an attack on NATO itself under Article V. They say they are introducing this resolution in response to the Russian deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus. Lindsey Graham says, "Senator Blumenthal and I want to put everyone on notice that the threat of the use of a nuclear device by Russia is real. The best way to deter this threat is to give Putin's Russia clarity as to what happens if they use nuclear weapons."

The Russian Ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said -- appropriately -- that this was insane. He said, this "exemplifies those who really pursue the course toward a direct, global conflict between Russia and NATO countries, led by the United States." He added that "By using such cheap rhetoric, the local elite demonstrates its absolute incompetence in strategic matters." Now, I will also say that Senator Rand Paul has reasserted Congressional authority as superior to NATO's Article V; that is, just because we're saying Article V is in play does not obligate the Congress to approve going to war.

Scott, the point is, when you spoke at my April 22nd event, you said we are extremely close to midnight on the nuclear clock. I think that's accurate, there are all kinds of things about the escalation, the kinds of equipment we're sending, and I would like you to elaborate on what the strategic danger is. Is it an exaggeration? How close are we to nuclear war?

SCOTT RITTER: First of all, thank you very much for inviting me to be with you today. I wish we had a more pleasant topic to address. I think the American people need to just wake up. One of the problems with having a senator like Lindsey Graham and people of his ilk, is that their irresponsible rhetoric becomes -- they conduct themselves in this manner so often, that it becomes commonplace. Instead of shocking people as it should, scaring people as it must, it just become background noise. This is a man who has just been saying horrifically evil things for so long that people just shrug their shoulders and say, "Okay that's just another example of Lindsey Graham being Lindsey Graham." But what he's doing is not just creating background noise that's dumbing people down, but he's making us accept extreme language and extreme positions.

Let me give you an example of an extreme position. The United States for many years in the past had a nuclear doctrine based upon what we called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The idea behind this of course was that we didn't want to use nuclear weapons because if you did, you would die. That was the deal; if you use nuclear weapons, you die. It becomes a suicidal act, and the idea is that the United States and the Soviet Union in this case, neither side wanted to commit suicide, so the idea is that we wouldn't go to nuclear war. We had these weapons, and the idea was to deter the other side from using nuclear weapons through the guarantee of death; the certainty of nuclear annihilation. One of the ways this was guaranteed is that we did away with the notion of a viable defense against nuclear weapons. The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was designed to make Mutually Assured Destruction mutually assured, because there would be no defense to it. We went forward with this in a constructive manner. You see, once we acknowledge that by using nuclear weapons we will die with certainty, it suddenly makes sense to enter into agreements that reduce the number of nuclear weapons. Because we don't need these weapons because if we use them, we die. And so that's what enabled us to do things such as the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty which was signed in 1987 and implemented in 1988, or in 1991, we moved into the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. We were moving in the right direction, the reduction, the elimination of nuclear weapons.

But then the Soviet Union collapsed and this imperative went away, because we no longer feared what remained -- Russia. We were controlling Russia economically, politically, militarily; dominating. This created the opportunity for American strategic thinkers to reexamine nuclear weapons. And we did so in a post-9/11 environment after we had been attacked by terrorists. People asked, "How could this come about? How could the most powerful nation in the world have been subjected to this? And what if they had used chemical weapons or biological weapons, or their own dirty bombs? What can we do to deter this from happening, both in terms of non-state players and state players? And during the administration of George W. Bush, America rethought its nuclear posture and came up with the following innovation: we can use nuclear weapons preemptively in a non-nuclear environment, because we no longer feared Mutually Assured Destruction. And so, nuclear preemption became the doctrine.
This was in the post-9/11 era; we allowed extreme things to happen because we were afraid, we weren't thinking properly. And one could imagine that yes, OK, we embraced the notion of nuclear preemption out of fear, but after a couple years, we would realize that it was an extreme policy, and a destabilizing policy. Because if we speak of nuclear preemption, eventually other nuclear powers will be compelled -- for the sake of their own defense -- to speak of preemption as well. Preempting America, perhaps, but we didn't fear people; we weren't concerned about that.

Barack Obama took over from George W. Bush, and he promised that he would change this. He said this is bad, we shouldn't be speaking of preemption. But in eight years, Barack Obama never managed to change this policy, and nuclear preemption continued to be the law of the land. Donald Trump came in after Barack Obama, and not only continued the policy of nuclear preemption, he expanded it. Indeed, under the Trump administration, there was a senior defense official, who, when talking about the preemption policy, said it was the goal of the United States that every morning when Russian and Chinese officials wake up, that they're not certain whether or not America will nuke them today. That's an actual statement of a policymaker. The goal of the United States is so that every morning, when Chinese and Russian officials wake up, they don't know if America is going to nuke them or not. That's the idea of preemption -- to keep everybody on their toes.

Now, a candidate named Joe Biden, running against Trump, said this is crazy and that he wanted to go back to the Sole Purpose Doctrine. That is, the sole purpose of American nuclear weapons would be nuclear deterrence. That is, we will never use nuclear weapons unless we are attacked by nuclear weapons, and therefore our nuclear deterrence will be such that anybody conceiving of attacking us would know with certainty they would be destroyed, going back to that concept of Mutually Assured Destruction. But when Biden took over office, instead of doing this and bringing this out in the nuclear posture review that his administration did, they continued the policy of preemption. Why? Well, I was told by a senior Biden administration official that the inter-agency wasn't ready. What does that mean, the inter-agency? Normally it's a process of policy coordination done under the auspices of the National Security Council, guided by the National Security Advisor. But there is no inter-agency, it's not meant to be a living, breathing entity. Nobody voted for it; it doesn't exist anywhere. But apparently it does exist; apparently it's a permanent bureaucracy, especially when it comes to America's nuclear enterprise, and the inter-agency wasn't ready for change. That means that preemption is now embedded in the DNA of the United States. It's a permanent policy and it's almost impossible to change.

Why is this important? Because, you see, right now we are at war with Russia. Now I know that no war has been declared, but we are at war with Russia. It's a proxy war, but even though we use the Ukrainians as a proxy, we are a party to this conflict; both in terms of the provision of lethal assistance and the guidance and the policy direction we go. The policy of the United States is to use Russia's conflict with Ukraine to achieve the strategic defeat of Russia. That's a stated policy objective of not just the US, but of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO]. The strategic defeat of Russia.
Now, let's talk about Russian nuclear doctrine for a moment. Under Vladimir Putin, Russian nuclear doctrine doesn't include the notion of preemption. What it does include is the ability to use nuclear weapons if and when Russia is faced with an existential threat to its survival. How do you define the strategic defeat of a nation? It means the nation has been defeated, destroyed. It's an existential threat and the way it's described by the US is that we want to empower Ukraine to regain control of territory that was Ukraine back in 1991. Unfortunately for the US and others who support this, much of that territory belongs to Russia legally from a Russian perspective. Kherson, Zaporozhye, Lugansk, Donetsk and Crimea; these five territories have been formally incorporated into Russia. They are part of Russia and therefore any effort to take them away from Russia is an existential threat to Russia's survival. So when we say we want a strategic defeat of Russia and we define it as taking significant territory away Russia, we are saying that we are willing to trigger Russia's nuclear response. That we are engaged in a policy that we know, if we succeed, will result in nuclear war.

The Russians aren't losing right now, they're winning. The Russians today don't feel an immediate threat, but the Russians understand that while they could be winning in the short term, in the long term it is possible for the West to wear them down, for the West to exhaust Russia. This is a conflict that could drag on for years or maybe decades, and at some point in the future, the facts may not be so kind to Russia and Russia could be strategically defeated. These territories could be lost and then Russia would have to ge to nuclear war. So Russia is looking at a situation where they're saying if this continues as it is, where the Americans and NATO have talked about their strategic defeat, inevitably we'll have to use nuclear weapons. Therefore, why should we wait until we are weak. Why should we give them the opportunity to weaken us. Why don't we preempt their strategic objective by using nuclear weapons first.

And this isn't just random thinking. Sergei Karaganov, a noted academic and strategic advisor who has the ear of the Russian leadership has published an article where he talks about just this; the inevitability of the need to use nuclear weapons. And that Russia should embrace nuclear preemption and confront the US with the following dilemma. Is the US willing to trade Boston for Poznan, a Polish city. The concept here is that Russia would nuke Poznan as a warning to the West that that is what will happen to all of you if continue this policy of seeking the strategic defeat of Russia. So Russia nukes Poznan and the US has to decide if they will respond, knowing that if we respond we're going to lose Boston or any other city or any number of cities. And inevitable this would lead to a general exchange of nuclear weapons where we all die.

So the Russian feeling is that they can confront the American leadership with this quandary, this dilemma in the belief that America would back down, that America wouldn't be willing to trade Boston for Poznan. One could say that Sergei Karaganov is just a quack; one guy who got an article placed in a major Russian journal. But I have spoken to others involved in the ongoing dialogue at the highest levels in Russia about the future of its nuclear doctrine and the idea of Russia formally endorsing a policy of nuclear preemption is alive and well and living.

And understand this, the Russians, unlike the United States, take their doctrine seriously. They don't bluff, they don't play games. So if they go down the path of saying, "Yes we will now make nuclear preemption our official nuclear posture," and the United States continues to articulate a policy that seeks the strategic defeat of Russia, we are automatically triggering nuclear preemption. There will be a nuclear war! And understand this: if Russia adopts the policy of nuclear preemption, it's because they believe the United States won't respond to a Russian preemptive nuclear strike against a NATO nation. Can anybody listening to me right now guarantee what the American response will be? Can you guarantee me that Joe Biden, or any other American President, would automatically use nuclear weapons in response to a Russian nuclear strike against Poznan? And the answer is, no you can't guarantee me, which means there exists doubt, which means the Russian notion of preemption has legitimacy.

I hope people understand what I am saying. That if we continue down this path of empowering Ukraine to achieve the strategic defeat of Russia, we're all going to die. We are all going to die, and this could happen soon. This could happen this year. This could happen this summer. And there is nothing you can do to stop it because Joe Biden is President of the United States. He's there. Lindsey Graham is a Senator. He's there, and if we simply allow this machinery of death to coast as it is right now along the trajectory that it's going, we're going to die; every single one of us. And I hope I'm scaring the living dog poop out of you because you should be scared, you must be scared. This is real; this is as real as it gets. And don't blame Vladimir Putin; they didn't start this mess. This is a war between Ukraine and Russia, that the West, the United States started. We wanted this war. Remember in 2008 when William Burns, the US Ambassador to Russia, warning that seeking to expand NATO to incorporate Ukraine would inevitably lead to a military conflict between Russia and the West? He wrote that memorandum in early 2008, and yet in November 2008, we invited Ukraine to join NATO, knowing what the outcome would be. We want this war. We've been seeking this war. We desire the strategic defeat of Russia, because we don't believe Russia would respond with nuclear weapons. I'll tell you right now, that Russia will respond with nuclear weapons, and they're not going to wait for us to actually defeat them. They're going to endorse and embrace a policy of nuclear preemption; and then they're going to drop a nuke on Poznan. Or it could be a German city, or a British city, or a French city, or an Italian city, or all of those cities. And they're gambling that the America will do nothing about it. I have a feeling that America would respond; America would respond with nuclear weapons. And what Putin has said is that the moment you use a nuclear weapon against Russia, he launches everything. He doesn't believe in a limited nuclear war. He doesn't believe in this kind of limited escalation. He understands the consequences -- everybody dies; but the Russians go to heaven as martyrs.
Now imagine an American President getting on national TV and telling the American people, "I have endorsed a policy that's going to lead us inevitably to a nuclear conflict. You're all going to die; but that's okay because we're going to go to heaven as martyrs." Now there might be some evangelicals out there who will cheer this on, but hopefully most Americans would say, "You're crazy, you're insane." Well I'm telling you right now that that's the policy that Joe Biden and the United States are on right now, an inevitable trajectory towards nuclear conflict with Russia where we all die. And it doesn't matter whether we go to heaven or hell, we're just going to be dead.

SARE: Thank you; that is a very stark picture. I'd like to bring in Steven Starr now. Why don't you go ahead? For those who may doubt what Scott has said, or what the physics of this are, or how this would actually unfold. Why do we say that this is so horrifying?

STEVEN STARR: Scott paints a pretty accurate, but bleak, picture. Nuclear deterrence depends upon rationality; it requires all the players to remain rational. A rational fear of death, of nuclear suicide. And the idea that you can have nuclear preemption; that you can launch a nuclear weapon against a nuclear weapon state is not rational. That's suicidal. But I think the neo-cons in Washington seem to be laboring under the illusion that they can make Russia back down. Maybe they believe that our missile defense systems can prevent a Russian nuclear strike, or that we can launch a nuclear strike against Russia and wipe out their ability to retaliate. There was a nuclear primacy article that goes way back that asserts that. I see these people as ideologues who believe their own propaganda, and Scott would attest that they're hardly scholars on Russia, so this creates a very dangerous situation.

It's hard to follow Scott's eloquence, but I teach a class on nuclear weapons at the University of Missouri, and I have some slides to basically explain the effect of a nuclear weapon and nuclear war. So, I'll bring those up.

I think the first thing I want to start off with is just to explain what a nuclear weapon is and what it can do. A nuclear weapon is not like a weapon that we normally would think of, like a high explosive. It's like a piece of the Sun really that's brought close to the Earth. You want the Sun to stay 92 million miles away from you, not erupting a mile or two over the top of your city. So, when it does, it creates temperatures that are solar temperatures. The surface of a nuclear fireball is hotter than the surface of the Sun. Once this comes into existence in the matter of a second or so, it will just set fires over tens or hundreds of square miles, depending on the size of the weapon. Within tens of minutes, all these fires set simultaneously over this huge area will coalesce into a gigantic firestorm. This is not the same kind of fire you would normally experience, like a line fire. It has its own kind of weather. It will cause winds to rush in towards the center of the fire at hundreds of miles an hour. It's strong enough to uproot trees, pull people back in; it ignites everything in there. Asphalt will catch on fire. And the air temperatures in this fire zone within minutes will be above the boiling point of water. So, anyone in the fire zone is going to perish; and this includes people who are in deep shelters, because the fires will suck the oxygen out of there and cook them like they're in an oven. Nothing living will survive in the fire zone.

We've seen what's happened with two atomic bombs that the US dropped 78 years ago in Japan at the end of World War II. These bombs had an explosive power about 1000 times more powerful than the largest conventional explosive we have now. The Hiroshima bomb exploded with the force of 15,000 tons of TNT. This is what Hiroshima looked like before the bomb went off, and this is what it looked like afterwards. It set about four square miles on fire instantly and created a firestorm. It was so hot that if you were beneath where the fireball was, you actually were vaporized. This is a picture of a shadow that was left on the concrete by a person who was sitting there when the bomb detonated. These are third degree burns that people who were about two miles away received if you were directly exposed to the bomb.

The bombs today that the US and Russia have ready to go are 7 to 87 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb; they're called strategic nuclear weapons. They're ferocious; they're almost hard to imagine. You can visualize the size of the firestorm that would be created by their detonation. This is a map of a detonation over New York City. On the left, that little green circle is the firestorm created by a bomb the size of the Hiroshima bomb. On the right, is a nuclear firestorm on an average weather storm it would be that entire circle; about 150 square miles. It would be more than 35 times larger than the area encompassed by the Hiroshima bomb. That's how big a nuclear firestorm would be from one Russian 800-kiloton weapon would create. Russia has about 500 of these ready to launch on warning in the matter of a few minutes. Both the US and Russia keep 800-1000 strategic nuclear weapons ready to launch. They can be delivered by Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles that have about a 30-minute flight time from either Russia to the US or the US to Russia. There are also submarine-launched nuclear missiles. You can park a submarine of the United States or Russia and you can fire that missile on a low trajectory, and the warheads will hit their target in 7 minutes or less. That doesn't give you a whole of time to detect that with your early warning system. NORAD is allowed three minutes to process a warning and pass it on to the President. They have a threat conference that lasts maybe a minute of less. On something like this, they might have 30 seconds. And there's the decision to launch and it takes maybe a minute to convey that order to the silos. US silos keep their ICBMs powered up and ready to launch 24/7, and they have launch officers sitting at the console waiting for the order to launch. So, that's maybe 7 minutes.

Russia now has Zircon hypersonic missiles that go two miles per second. They have ships armed with those, and if they park one 100 miles off the coast of the United States, they could probably hit Washington, DC in three-four minutes. That's not enough time to have a warning and contact the President. So then you might to decide to move to an automated response; if you detect a launch, you just fire instantly. If your warning of attack is false, you've just started a nuclear war by accident. Russia also has hypersonic warheads. Putin just announced that about 50% of the Russian strategic missile forces have been armed with these Avangard warheads that travel 4 miles per second. The Sarmat missiles can carry a load of 10,000kg, and that's up to 16 warheads that are independently targetable, and they're maneuverable at 4 miles per second. So, the US has no defense against them; we can't defend against these. I just hope that maybe some of the neo-cons in Washington might have gotten this information, but I wonder about it.

It's hard to -- you can talk about what a nuclear weapon is, but this video might give you a little bit better idea. This is a test that the first US deployable nuclear weapon Castle Bravo that was detonated in the South Pacific. These images were taken 50 miles away from the detonation aerial view. This is an island that's within range of the firestorm that would be created, or the thermal effects. It's really amazing. If you happened to see this detonation from 50 miles away, you'd be blinded. The circle moving outward from there is actually the blast wave moving across the surface of the ocean. In a second, the film will show that blast wave striking the island. It blows the trees apart; when it hits the trees it just disintegrates them. That's one nuclear detonation. If the US and Russia have a nuclear war, you would have maybe up to a couple thousand strategic nuclear warheads detonated in the matter of an hour.

This image here, the second I clicked it, it started showing what the smoke would be like coming from the nuclear firestorm. Each one of those weapons would set say 100 square miles on fire. You would have more than 100,000 square miles of cities and industrial areas simultaneously burning in Europe, North America, and Russia. The scientists who did these studies estimated maybe about 150 million tons of smoke would rise above the cloud level into the stratosphere. There are high winds up in the stratosphere, so it takes 7-10 days for the smoke to circulate completely around the Earth. It forms a global stratospheric smoke layer. Each click is one day; that's how long it takes for the smoke to come out. You can see that the Northern Hemisphere is a little bit darker than the Southern Hemisphere; the winds change things. But they estimate that about 70% of the sunlight would be blocked in the Northern Hemisphere, and 35% in the Southern Hemisphere.

The next image was created for Scientific American a while back to show a farmer in a field. There's a farmer standing in a field, and it's a barren field. The sky is gray, and he's looking up at the sky. But the sky is gray not because it's cloudy, but because there's smoke there. They estimate that the smoke would block about 70% of the light in the Northern Hemisphere. The Sun at noon would look similar to what a full Moon would look like at midnight; that's how dark it would be. In just a matter of weeks, this would create temperatures that would be below freezing every day for three years in central North America and central Eurasia. It would too cold to grow food crops for up to 10 years. So, most large land animals and humans would starve to death. We have about 50-60 days of grain reserve right now globally to feed people. So, I'm not talking about radioactive fall-out and blast and fire; I'm talking simply about the long-term environmental consequences of nuclear war. These studies that predict this are peer-reviewed studies, they've been in the journals for over 10 years. When they're in a journal like that, it's subject to scientific review by all the scientists in the world, all the experts. And they haven't been able to find any flaws in these studies.

So, my conclusion is that nuclear war is the ultimate crime against humanity, and we need to prevent it. I'm not as eloquent as Scott in explaining why, and I know I ruined a lot of people's day with this presentation, but I think it's important that we know. We have to get the leaders of the United States to not let us get directly involved in a war with Russia; because as Scott has pointed out, if we go to that point, we're very likely to have a major nuclear war. I'll stop my share here.

SARE: I'm going to bring everybody in, because I think there are probably some questions, and I'd like Carl Osgood to join us, because he may have some things to ask. I guess it can only get more cheerful from here.

CARL OSGOOD: First of all, let me say thank you for both of your presentations. Any rational person should realize that the path that we're on is completely nuts, and suicidal not just for our country, but for the whole of humanity, which is why we've got to stop it.

Let me just note a couple of things with respect to what Steven just presented. You mentioned the Castle Bravo test. I remember the first time I read about it, what struck me about the Castle Bravo test was that the actual yield of the explosion was several megatons higher than what the scientists had calculated, so that made a real impression.

STARR: Triple.

OSGOOD: Secondly, I just saw the news today from the Russian Deputy Defense Minister Sergei Ryabkov basically indicating that the Russians are going to begin testing the Poseidon nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered torpedo or drone or whatever you want to call it. And they're not going to notify the US that they're doing this, when these tests actually take place. So, this is another option for delivery of a large nuclear weapon that the Russians are working on, we need to keep that in mind.

Scott, you were pretty thorough. It's hard to come up with too much that you missed. But one thing I wanted to ask you about that I thought about while you were speaking was something that Secretary of Defense Austin speaks about often, which is this idea of integrated deterrence. If I understand it correctly, integrated deterrence is -- it used to be that the purpose of nuclear weapons was to deter the use of nuclear weapons, as I think you explained. But with integrated deterrence, and I know Austin has spoken to this particularly with respect to China, that nuclear weapons become a tool in the arsenal of preventing or deterring certain types of actions, whether or not they involve nuclear weapons. So, I wonder if you could comment on that and really explain to what degree this actually increases the danger of a preemptive first strike by the US beyond what you already said.

RITTER: The concept of integrated deterrence is that the United States is seeking to impose its will on the world in totality. What we're doing is, we're saying that we won't permit anybody to undertake actions that we determine to be destabilizing on a global scale. For instance, a Russian invasion of Ukraine, or a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, or China's assertion of territorial dominance over the South China Sea. So, what we're saying is that if you are seeking to undertake activities like this, that you are going to be confronted with the totality of American military power, inclusive of the nuclear component, and that you have created the conditions where American nuclear doctrine could be employed preemptively. It's curious that the United States would be the one to do this, given the fact that we're the ones who invented modern day, large-scale illegal wars of aggression in Iraq. Imagine if Russia said, "Jeez, if you guys actually move into Iraq, we may have to intervene preemptively with a nuclear weapon." People would say, "That's just insane! Why is Russia sticking its nose in this?" We should be condemning America for what it's done, we should be seeking to find ways to isolate the damage done by this, but the invasion of Iraq, however bad it is, does not constitute an existential threat to the entire world. It's a bad day for Iraq, it's a bad for the region; but it doesn't mean that the entire world should come to an end. But now the United States is saying that we can't allow nations like Russia and China to similarly flex their muscles.

And I'm not trying to compare our illegal war of aggression in Iraq with Russia's intervention in Ukraine; that's not my purpose. I think I've made it clear that Russia had every legal right to do what it's doing. This is a preemptive war of self-defense under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter; at least Russia can make a cognizable argument in favor of that. People can disagree and that's fair. But under no circumstances can we be allowed to come up with a defense posture that prohibits nations from taking actions necessary to defend themselves from the actions of the United States. I come back to the fact that we provoked this war in Ukraine. We made this war happen. And now, under Lloyd Austin's concept of integrated deterrence, we therefore are putting nuclear weapons on the table, so to speak, indirectly to tell Russia, "You can't do anything about this."

Now what Russia has done is said, "We don't care. We're going to defend ourselves." And Russia has embarked on a course of action that now compels the United States to escalate, to double down, to put more chips on the table. Conventional chips, but again, the idea is if we can't deter Russia, what's the key aspect of deterrence? To ensure that people believe that by carrying out something, there will be inevitable defeat; that you will suffer more than you gain by your actions. So the United States under this doctrine must now make Russia suffer more, because of its decision to intervene in Ukraine, than it would have otherwise. And the failure of the United States to double down in Ukraine means that our entire doctrine is meaningless. We are compelled by doctrine to escalate in Ukraine. And this escalation inevitably leads to the real potential of nuclear engagement. Again, this is the insanity of American policy; the arrogance of the United States to say that we can dictate to others how they behave in a world that is driven by our actions. Newton's third law -- for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction -- applies not just to physics, but to geopolitics. And the United States is trying to say that no, it doesn't; that we can go out there and generate actions, and then prohibit reactions by threatening to preemptively use nuclear weapons. The absurdity is that Russia has shown the inadequacy of this, because we didn't deter Russia from going into Ukraine, because Russia doesn't fear Lloyd Austin's integrated deterrence. And the corollary to that is that China doesn't fear the integrated deterrence. If push comes to shove, if the United States crosses too many red lines with Taiwan, China will act militarily. Again that puts the United States in a position of therefore, how do you punish China to the degree which makes deterrence real? Because eventually, people are going to figure out that America is not serious about this policy, and then we've lost control of the world. Because again, there is a reaction to our actions.

We are running around the world right now trying to impose a rules-based international order that says we get to dictate outcome. This integrated deterrence is part of this. We act in a way and then we deny people the ability to react. But if Russia and China have shown that this integrated deterrence is nothing but hot air, then the United States has lost control of the world. Then people like Lindsey Graham will say that we have to use nuclear weapons to reassert our authority. It becomes sort of like Cartman in South Park, where we have to run around saying, "You will respect my authority!" But it's not a joke; it's not meant to make you chuckle. People will die; the world will die. Nuclear war is a real threat.

Joe Biden was recently speaking to some fundraisers. In an unscripted moment, he basically was telling them that he warned everybody that Vladimir Putin was going to threaten nuclear weapons. That the threat of nuclear war is real, it's real, it's real. And Joe Biden is panicking; and that's the last thing we need from a Commander-in-Chief is a panicked Commander-in-Chief, a man who is afraid. Because from fear comes irrational actions, and the desire to use nuclear weapons preemptively, as Steven Starr said earlier, is the ultimate irrational action. But we're governed by irrational people seeking to implement irrational policies, so we should understand that there will be irrational outcomes.

SARE: I want to bring up a couple things. One, I just want to say to everyone listening that you have to get active. Robert Kennedy, Jr., speaking in New Hampshire emphasizing the 60th anniversary of his uncle's American University speech, called for an American peace movement now; that we can't wait until January of 2025, presuming we are fortunate enough to have a President other than Biden or someone like Biden. We don't have that kind of time.

But, I think this question of John F. Kennedy and that speech is really important. Also, there used to be a distinction between the United States, our foreign policy as envisioned by someone like John Quincy Adams, and the British. And I think the British are playing a horrific role. You have the game of pitting Russia against Germany, which led us to World Wars I and II. I think that's part of what's going on here. I also partly think is there an element of trying to make sure that relations between the US and Russia are absolutely irreparable; not that we're not doing enough ourselves. But if you think about Liz Truss texting Blinken in the minutes after the Nord Stream pipelines are blown up, "It is done." The role -- I'm not sure, I heard Colonel MacGregor saying that the SAS I believe was involved in the Kerch Bridge explosion. It is very typical, this geopolitical outlook definitely is one of empire, and really needs to be rejected by the American people. But at this point, the only way we can reject it I think is by being active, being visible, and being in the streets. What thoughts do you have on that, Scott and then Steven?

RITTER: Well Diane, you know that I have been calling for a mobilization of the American population, a necessary mobilization to voice their support for disarmament, to voice their support for nuclear arms control, to voice their support for improved relations between the United States and Russia. When I started this movement, so to speak, the idea was to get people mobilized by June of 2024 to replicate the million-person rally in Central Park that took place in June of 1982 that created the conditions politically for Ronald Reagan to sign the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.

But I think what we're looking at right now is that we don't have the time. We can't wait until June of 2024. The moment is now. RFK, Jr. is 100% correct; the time is now. Ladies and gentlemen, there may not be an America by June 2024. There may not be a world by June 2024. We can't sit here and say we have a year to mobilize. We don't. We literally don't have a day to mobilize, but unfortunately we got to play with what we got to play with. The time is now; the moment is now. We have to send a signal to Joe Biden, to Lindsey Graham, to everybody that it is politically unacceptable; that there will be a cost, a political cost which will be terminal for their political trajectory of anybody who endorses this thinking.

I just came back from 26 days in Russia, where I had the wonderful opportunity to interact with the Russian people and get a feel for what the Russian opinion is about the United States. And I will tell you right now that Russia would be receptive to legitimate moves by the United States to de-escalate; that Russia is not suicidal. They don't want this nuclear conflict. But Russia is also determined never again to allow their nation to be bullied by the United States, to be intimidated by NATO. They will respond accordingly, which means that if the United States and NATO continue to bully, continue to pressure, continue to seek to intimidate, that the Russians will be compelled to move in the direction that leads us to the inevitability of nuclear conflict. This threat is real; the time is now. RFK, Jr.'s speech should be listened to by all Americans, and they should take guidance from that.

Let me ask everybody listening in America right now. It's one thing for me to say, "Hey, could you make some time a year from now in June 2024 to come to Central Park and hold hands and sing 'Kumbaya' and we'll play nice and have this wonderful demonstration where we assert the will of the people." "Maybe, I don't know, my cousin Jenny has a wedding soon after, can I make time?" What if I told you right now that you had one choice: "Go to the street right now to surround the White House, to surround the Pentagon, to shut Washington, DC down right now, or you'll die, guaranteed. If you don't get up right now, to rush to the White House, surround the Pentagon and let it be known that this is unacceptable, you will die; guaranteed." I bet you would find the motivation to get up and do something, because you're going to die. The problem is, how do you convince people "You're going to die"? People say, "You're just exaggerating; you're crying wolf. People have been saying we're on the verge of imminent demise for a long time." And, you know, I can't guarantee that we're all going to die, but I'm telling you right now that if you're a rational thinker and you have listened to what we've said, go out and test it yourselves. Find out if what we're saying is factually accurate. If you're a rational thinker, you should wake up in a cold sweat in the morning saying, "Holy cow! If we don't change it now, we're all going to die. We can't wait until June of next year. We have to act now. The time is now."

Where are the organizations? Diane, you and I were with the Rage against the War Machine people. You had the opportunity to speak. There are other anti-war coalitions. Where are they right now? What are they doing right now? Nothing! Not a damn thing! Nothing! Nobody is doing anything. You are, Diane, you're trying to do something. RFK, Jr. is giving speeches, but where's the sense of urgency by the American people? That's my concern; that there isn't a sense of urgency. Steven, you and I are of the age -- you're probably a little bit older than me, but not much -- where we remember. And I think Diane, you're up there with me as well. Carl, you got some gray in you. We remember being young and being afraid. There was a time when the reality of nuclear war was real. Where we woke up every morning saying, "Oh, my God! We could die." We practiced nuclear drills, and we took it seriously. I lived next door to a nuclear weapons depot that, if there was going to be a war between the Soviet Union, that would have been the first place struck, and I would die. I lived right next door to it. There was no "maybe I'll die if there's a war." And while I lived there, my father, who was active duty Air Force at the time, on several occasions went down in the bunker. You know, the bunker that you go down to when there's going to be a nuclear war. And they had a code. He would call my Mom before this happened and say, "Last Babylon." That's from a book where they had a similar code. But a "Last Babylon" meant, "Hey, honey. This is real. Get the kids together; gather them in, and have a nice pleasant moment, because you're all going to die." On several occasions he made that phone call, because it looked like we were headed towards conflict with the Soviet Union that could result in that. And I have to tell you, as a 16-, 17-year old kid, that sunk in. That's the kind of reality where you go, "Holy cow!" We can't live like this, we can't do this.

That's why I'm such an opponent of this. That's why I was such a fervent implementer of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty; that's why I believe in nuclear disarmament. Because I know what it means to wake up in the morning and go, "I'm going to school. I don't know if I'm coming home." That was real. Today, nobody thinks like that. Nobody thinks like that, and yet, the threat of nuclear conflict today is as great or greater than it was back then. How do we get the American people to become afraid? How do we get them to fear nuclear weapons? Especially when our government says, "Don't worry about it. Preemptive nuclear war is good. Limited nuclear war is real; we can escalate or de-escalate."

What do you think the W76-2 low-yield nuclear warhead is, ladies and gentlemen? It's something that was created by the United States to go on a Trident missile on an Ohio-class nuclear submarine. Not to destroy a city, but to be used preemptively; a low-yield tactical nuclear weapon deployed on a submarine that was designed to be used against the Russians preemptively. The idea would be to use that to send a signal to Russia that we're serious, and therefore Russia should back down. Vladimir Putin has said that if a single nuclear warhead is used against Russian soil or Russian troops that he will launch everything in retaliation. He has just deployed the advanced Sarmat missile; they're working on a Sarmat II missile. This is a heavy ICBM with upwards of 15 nuclear weapons per missile. These are missiles that will be launched not over the standard North Pole route, but over the South Pole route, for which we have no detection capability. They will arrive in America without warning, and they will destroy the United States that quick. That's the reality, ladies and gentlemen. We're all going to die. I want you to be afraid. I want you to wake up in the morning and fear imminent death. Or worse, I want you to fear survival. Because death is quick; there's nothing to be afraid of. As Steven said, "Boom, flash, you're done." Not too bad. How about being the people outside of the blast zone? People who get the radiation burns? The people who have to live in a world where you're going to starve to death, or you're going to die of radiation poisoning, radiation sickness? That's the inevitability; to watch your loved ones suffer before they die. All you pet lovers out there, like me, to watch your dogs dies, watch your cats die, watch your daughters die, watch your wife die before you die. That's the reality of nuclear conflict, ladies and gentlemen. It's not going to be quick and easy for everybody. There's going to be a lot of lingering death and suffering. And there's nothing you can do to stop it once it happens. Radiation is forever.

So, we need to act now. Diane, you're 100% correct. I'm not a politician. I don't know anything about mobilizing the people. But I do know that that is what's needed. If we the people can't make our voice heard, then the government will continue to do what the government does, because there is no consequence for them. We have to let our elected officials know that there will be a consequence; it will be dire. Because what's the biggest threat you can give to a politician? Tell them, "You ain't going to be in office no more." Suddenly, they become very afraid. It's like nuclear war for them, you see, because their political life is over. Then they have a long lingering death of irrelevancy.
What we need to is make every politician in America understand that they will become immediately irrelevant if they don't seek to change the trajectory that our nation is currently on.

SARE: Carl, I think you had some other thoughts, and we're running up on time, so I wanted to go to you, and then we'll come back to Steve.

OSGOOD: I did have other thoughts. After what Scott just went through, I have a hard time finding them now.

RITTER: I apologize.

OSGOOD: Actually, there was a point I wanted to make earlier, which is that the war against Russia I think really began at the end of the Cold War. With not only the failure to disband NATO when the Warsaw Pact disbanded, but with the whole idea of the US being the sole superpower, that ideology which was sometimes called the Wolfowitz Doctrine. There was the 1992 draft Defense Planning Guidance, which was drafted under Dick Cheney as Secretary of Defense, which basically said the US was the sole superpower and would not tolerate any challenge to that status. That has been the governing principle of US strategic policymaking ever since, regardless of Democratic or Republican administrations. I think that's where it begins and it has continued ever since.

RITTER: You're 100% correct. It's been the policy of the United States to keep Russia down. I keep talking about the decade of the 1990s and what it meant for Russia. For the United States, we can look back on that time. We had the Gulf War early on where we shook off the shame of Vietnam by winning one for a change. And then we had the bubble where Wall Street went crazy. Everybody was making money; the economy is good, we paid off the debt. America is wonderful. Then we had sort of down on that, and we had Iraq and the stagnation of bad Iraq policy and all that stuff. But for most Americans, the decade of the 1990s, if you weren't a black male who was put in jail because of Joe Biden's policies, or an immigrant who continued to be treated poorly, for most Americans the 1990s were a period of relative prosperity. Look at New York City; Rudy Giuliani came in and cleaned it up. Times Square was a place you could now take the family. America was beautiful, it was wonderful.
If you were a Russian, that wasn't the case. The decade of the 1990s was the worst time in your life. Russia saw the life expectancy of the average male drop to below 50 years -- 49 years, 48 years. Why? Because of alcoholism, because of suicide. People don't talk about the suicides that took place. When I was in Russia, they told me millions of people committed suicide; millions of people, because they lost all hope. They talked about a nuclear power plant that was supposed to be constructed in Crimea and how they began the construction and they brought in these nuclear scientists -- well-educated people with their families -- and they settled them there. And then the Soviet Union collapsed and they didn't complete the facility, and these families were abandoned. They had no pay, nothing. These are highly educated people abandoned by the system. Remember, it wasn't the Russian system, the Ukrainian system abandoned them and then many of them were Russians, and the Ukrainian government said, "We don't care about Russians." So, these men started jumping out of buildings. These men started killing their families and then killing themselves. That's the reality of the 1990s. Nobody talks about it. For the average Russian, it was the worst time in the world. They suffered egregiously. So, when we have people who look back on the '90s and say, "That's OK, we don't mind the '90s." Well, the Russians do.

Vladimir Putin is the President who led them out of the '90s. He was of course picked by Boris Yeltsin in December of 1999 to assume power. And for the next 24 years, he has taken Russia from this collapsed nation to the nation it is today. He didn't seek to dominate America, but he did seek to make Russia viable as Russia. What Russia should be and could be; what many Russians wanted it to be. A global power, a regional power, a nation of prominence, a nation with resources, a nation that people should listen to. And the United States has resented that, because again, you've touched on it. Because we said we can't tolerate competition. Think of your average elite athlete. If I were an elite athlete, I would wake up every morning going, "Who's butt am I going to kick today? Bring on the competition, because I'm the best there is. You want to challenge me? Let's go, guys." And I'm not talking about going to war, I'm just saying I don't shirk away from competition. I'm not afraid to say, "We have the best industry in the world. We have the best infrastructure in the world. We're the best nation in the world," because we really are the best. That's not what America has done. What we're saying is, "Ignore the fact that we have crumbling infrastructure. Ignore the fact that we have homeless. Ignore the fact that we have health care that's in disarray. We won't allow you to challenge us. We'll intimidate you with military domination." But the world doesn't operate that way. The world actually operates on the premise that the best solution isn't chaos and anarchy, but stability and prosperity. And that the economy becomes an important aspect of this. What Russia has done is promote a global, multi-lateral system where people can cooperate economically without fear of being held back by the United States through sanctions, etc.

The United States has a policy, not just today that we stated about the strategic defeat of Russia in Ukraine, as you've pointed out Carl, we've had a policy seeking the strategic suppression of Russia from the very beginning, from the moment of the collapse. And one of the reasons why Vladimir Putin is so hated in America today, is because we resent the fact that he won't play the game by our rules. And we resent China as well. Xi Jinping won't play the game by our rules. And what we're finding out is, most of the world is refusing to play the game by our rules. And we're becoming increasingly isolated; which under normal circumstances I'd say, "OK, we got what's coming to us." But when we have, now we come back to what you brought up about Lloyd Austin and the notion of integrated deterrence. What are we deterring? We're not deterring nuclear behavior, we're deterring a challenge to our dominance. What we're saying is, "You are not allowed to challenge us. And if you dare challenge us, we will destroy you." And that's the problem. When we look at all the things that are problematic in the world today, the greatest threat to international peace and security is the United States of America.

SARE: Just before we wrap up, I want to say a couple of things, and then Steve, if you have closing words as well. I was on a conference call this morning convened by Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute, and I can say that we are working to pull together various leaders around the world; groups like to No to NATO in the UK, people in Berlin where they had 30,000 or so people in the streets, to get coordinated action. We're looking at -- hopefully we'll still be here, and I think there should be many actions between now and then -- August 6th, the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, to have a worldwide day of action against nuclear war. And to change the entire -- we have to change the way we think. There has been a bizarre, I don't think it originated with the grading on the curve, but somehow this idea that you can only excel if you're standing on someone's head and pushing someone down, as opposed to perhaps a more Confucian approach, or what I think the United States originally intended. And by the way, Ben Franklin studied Confucius quiet a bit. China calls it win-win cooperation. We benefit when other people benefit. You can look at what we're attempting to do right now by oppressing and crushing everyone else, the United States really looks like what Scott described as the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Massive suicides, massive drug addictions, massive shootings, people killing their own families. In other words, our policy of domination and showing how superior we are, has not resulted in our being superior, but actually resulted in the mass misery of the American people.

The other thing I want to say, for people who doubt or who say no one would be that evil, think about what we are doing to the people of Ukraine. We've just decided that they're going to be put through a meat grinder. It reminds me of the thing my mother had to make cranberry sauce where you put the oranges and the cranberries in and you grind it up and it comes out the other side. That's what we're doing to the young population, the future of Ukraine. Does anyone in the Biden administration give a damn about this, or Lindsey Graham? No! They didn't give a damn. They didn't care about a million people in Iraq, and they don't really care about the people of the United States. So, what's lacking is any moral barrier which would prevent them from going over the cliff. And that's why it is so urgent that people must act. We have to be that voice.

That's the last thing I want to say. Steve, if you have something, go ahead.

STARR: In 1963, John F. Kennedy warned in a speech that the nuclear sort of Damocles sword hung over the head of every man, woman, and child on the planet. But regardless of that, the nuclear weapons states continued to build up their nuclear arsenals, and they relied on the theory of nuclear deterrence, which has a fatal flaw in that a single failure of nuclear deterrence, the use of a nuclear weapon by the US or Russia or China, can trigger a nuclear war that will wipe out not only those nations, but most of the people on the planet. There have been scientific studies, that's what I've spent years trying to, I've talked about it at the United Nations, peer-reviewed studies that describe nuclear winter. That you put that smoke up in the stratosphere, and you won't be able to grow crops for a decade. I think the leaders of the nuclear weapons states, if they could publicly acknowledge and discuss this, they could scare the hell out of all the people. And maybe Putin can do it; I don't see any possibility that Biden would, and England is a lost cause. But even if one leader, particularly -- they'll dismiss it here in the US, but they can't shut Putin up, and 80% of the world is listening to him. That could make a difference; that would be my suggestion. Either that, or impeach Biden; but he might freak out and start a war in the process. If you want to scare people, tell them the truth.

SARE: Thank you. Any last words, Scott?

RITTER: No, again, I think we've said it all. It's time to find a way to turn words into action. That's why it's important to have people like you, Diane, because I'm not a politician. I don't make a living out of doing political movements, but I'm more than happy to be available as a tool to assist you and others in generating the necessary concern on the part of the people so that we can turn that concern into political action that results in meaningful change.

SARE: Thank you very much. Thank you to everyone who participated today, and everyone who is listening. For information on the international peace mobilization, visit If you're in the United States, please sign up at and support my campaign. We're not exaggerating; we don't have time. Thanks very much.