Calling Cheryl and Adam, Impending Nuclear Holocaust Edition

Somehow I missed this kinda important story this weekend:

Donald Trump has confirmed the US will leave an arms control treaty with Russia dating from the cold war that has kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for three decades.

“We’ll have to develop those weapons,” the president told reporters in Nevada after a rally. “We’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out.”

Trump was referring to the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF), which banned ground-launch nuclear missiles with ranges from 500km to 5,500km. Signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, it led to nearly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles being eliminated, and an end to a dangerous standoff between US Pershing and cruise missiles and Soviet SS-20 missiles in Europe.

No prizes for guessing whose fingerprints are all over this measured, well thought out decision:

The Guardian reported on Friday that Trump’s third national security adviser, John Bolton, a longstanding opponent of arms control treaties, was pushing for US withdrawal.

There are arguments! There always are.  In this case, it’s an allegation that Russia is violating the agreement w. a cruise missile development program, and that China is looming, outside the treaty.  I’m way out of the zone of what passes for my expertise here, so I’ll leave it to Cheryl and/or Adam to weigh in on these claims. Here I’ll just note both claims have the look of assertions that are drummed into service to fill in the gaps marked “pretextual verbiage needed here” on the form providing cover for what one wants to do anyway.

That view is strengthened, I think, by the fact that there isn’t a single arms control treaty these bloody incompetents have ever liked.

Bolton and the top arms control adviser in the National Security Council (NSC), Tim Morrison, are also opposed to the extension of another major pillar of arms control, the 2010 New Start agreement with Russia, which limited the number of deployed strategic warheads on either side to 1,550. That agreement, signed by Barack Obama and Dmitri Medvedev, then president of Russia, is due to expire in 2021.

The early reviews for this buried, weekend news dump are what you’d expect:

Jeffrey Lewis, the director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said: “This is a colossal mistake. Russia gets to violate the treaty and Trump takes the blame.

“I doubt very much that the US will deploy much that would have been prohibited by the treaty. Russia, though, will go gangbusters.”

Old friend Mikhail Gorbachev adds:

Gorbachev, 87, wondered aloud: “Is it really that hard to understand that rejecting these agreements is, as the people say, not the work of a great mind.”

Concur

Gorbachev called Trump’s decision “a mistake” and “very strange.”

“Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?” he asked.

Concur.

And doubly, trebly concur with this:

“All agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and limiting nuclear weapons must be preserved, for the sake of preserving life on earth,” he added, per the Times.

This is the true measure of the GOP betrayal of America.  They knew who Donald Trump was long before he became President. They knew — hell the candidates, Cruz and Graham and the rest said so out loud — that he was the last person you’d want near the nuclear button.  And yet when the choice came down to tax cuts and an anti-abortion SC vs the safety and security of the United States…

They all got in line.  We, and the world, are in ever deeper peril as a result.

Oh — and one more thing? How is this not a huge story? Republican maladministration wants Europe back on a hair trigger?  I’m looking at the New York Times home page and it isn’t there.  Our media iz not lerning.

Image: Simone del Tintore (attr.), Still Life with Mushrooms, Fruit, a Basket of Flowers and a Catbefore 1708.



Exhausting day

Zoe has the right idea here:

For survivors:

There is also a text chat feature and other info at http://www.rainn.org

Open thread








Trump’s Open Door Policy…

Let anyone who wants waltz right into US cyberspace:

The White House eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council on Tuesday, doing away with a post central to developing policy to defend against increasingly sophisticated digital attacks and the use of offensive cyber weapons.

A memorandum circulated by an aide to the new national security adviser, John R. Bolton, said the post was no longer considered necessary because lower-level officials had already made cybersecurity issues a “core function” of the president’s national security team.

If that seems suspiciously moronic to you too, well…y’all are not alone:

Cybersecurity experts and members of Congress said they were mystified by the move, though some suggested Mr. Bolton did not want any competitive power centers emerging inside the national security apparatus.

Bureaucratic politics and ongoing White House obedience to home office demands from the banks of the Moskva River trump US security once again. To continue:

President Trump began his administration with two respected veterans of cyber policy. He appointed Thomas P. Bossert, a lawyer in the administration of President George W. Bush, as the homeland security adviser.

The cybersecurity coordinator who reported to him, Rob Joyce, had run the Tailored Access Operations unit of the N.S.A. — the unit that, until it was reorganized and renamed, was responsible for breaking into foreign computer systems as part of United States covert operations.

Mr. Bossert was forced out on Mr. Bolton’s second day on the job, and Mr. Joyce returned to the N.S.A. on Friday. [links in the original]

This, from the same New York Times article quoted above, seems to me not MSM cluelessness but elegantly thrown shade:

It is unclear how those issues will now be managed in the White House. Mr. Bolton has virtually no cyber-related experience.

Though I am not a lawyer, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that inexperience — not to say stupidity — is no defense against charges of treason or other malfeasance.

This has been another update in the #WASF chronicles.

(Open thread, also too.)

Image: Potter Paulus, The young thief 1649.

 



King Knut Knew What He Was Doing. These Bozos Don’t

Today’s climate change updates in the LALALALALALALA I Can’t Hear You file…

Exhibit A:

National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans’ role in causing climate change in drafts of a long-awaited report on sea level rise and storm surge, contradicting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s vow to Congress that his department is not censoring science.

The document was supposed to report results of studies on the risks to National Park properties from sea level rise, which is one of the major proximate consequences of anthropogenic global warming.  Stuff like this:

The report, titled, “Sea Level Rise and Storm Surge Projections for the National Park Service,” reveals that national treasures will face severe flooding if global greenhouse gases keep increasing. Some of its projections, according to the drafts, include:

  • In North Carolina, the Wright Brothers National Memorial has the highest projected increase in sea level among parks nationwide – 2.69 feet by 2100 under a scenario of high growth of greenhouse gases. Along with Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras national seashores, the memorial could face significant permanent flooding. “Future storm surges will be exacerbated by future sea level rise nationwide; this could be especially dangerous for the Southeast Region where they already experience hurricane-strength storms,” the report says.
  • In Virginia, three parks – Colonial National Historical Park, home of Historic Jamestowne; Fort Monroe National Monument; and Petersburg National Battlefield – face the biggest potential sea level increases in the park service’s Northeast region – 2.66 feet by 2100.
  • Parks in the Washington, D.C., region could experience some of the greatest sea level increases – 2.62 feet by 2100. “Storm surge flooding on top of this sea level rise would have widespread impacts,” the report says.
  • If a Category 2 hurricane hit Florida’s Everglades National Park, the entire park could be flooded, with most of it under several feet of water.

This is the kind of information that would be useful — complete with an analysis of causes and mechanisms — to anyone trying to think how to protect America’s parks, and/or mitigate the damage that human action has set in train.  Interior Secretary Zinke and his staff — and the Trump administration as a whole, and the GOP in toto — seem to think that not saying certain words means that what those words name won’t happen.

Sadly, of course, carbon dioxide don’t care if Mr. Zinke doesn’t want to pay attention to its radiative properties. The atmosphere in bulk isn’t somehow going to get rid of the last 20 years of CO2 ppm increase just because Republicans shout at it.  The ocean isn’t going to turn around in its tracks because Deadbeat Donnie, the orange hemorrhoid-cream salesman now sadly infesting the White House wiggles his ample posterior over a putt (that he’ll miss) on some seaside golf course.

King Knut knew better, even if he had to make the live demonstration to prove it too his court.

And then there’s Exhibit B:

Dead Man Walking Trump/GOP Corruption Poster Child Scott Pruitt won’t be dynamited out of his office at the EPA without attempting to gut one more Obama-era accomplishment, the increase in fleet fuel efficiency requirements for American light trucks and cars:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt announced Monday that he would revoke Obama-era standards requiring cars and light trucks sold in the United States to average more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025, a move that could change the composition of the nation’s auto fleet for years.

This is no surprise from Pruitt, of course, who never met a fossil he didn’t want to burn (and whose long term livelihood and political ambitions turn entirely on making sure Big Carbon loves them some Scott).  It will be challenged in court, and California may yet save the day.

Before that gets settled, though, two thoughts:

First: this is a reminder that you cannot trust oligopoly capital under any circumstances. The new standards were negotiated over a quite a long time with the big automakers, and they signed on to the Obama deal. As soon as Trump was elected, they reneged:

Pruitt’s decision reflects the power of the auto industry, which asked him to revisit the Obama administration’s review of the model years 2022-2025 fuel-efficiency targets just days after he took office.

The Auto Alliance (these guys) will tell you that they’re all about clean transportation — just look at their home page!  But it took them less than a month (see p. 4) into the new guy’s term to write to the Trump administration and seek a do-over.  You could have had these guys put up Agamemnon’s pledge and they’d have backed out on this deal as soon as they got the chance.

So:  moral one. Don’t trust anyone with that much cash on the line until you have at least one of their kidney’s in pawn. And maybe not even then.

Moral two: this is how big US industries die.  I’m sure it will be nice for those who pay for their hookers and blow by selling SUVs that the gravy train will run a few years longer.  But the rest of the world isn’t completely ignorant of climate change and, more immediately, the insane and expensive toll that air pollution takes on their cities.

I’m old enough to remember the ’70s, when the Big Three US automakers discovered in a shocking short time just how destructive it could be to miss the next technological and design shift.  Fuel efficient and alternate fuel vehicles are not just coming; they’re here. If the US-based auto industry wants to let China or whoever get one, two, three generations ahead of domestic production, that’ll happen.  And those companies and vehicles will roll, and ours will straggle behind.

Again: our kleptocratic leaders can say what they want. Shortsighted corporations can grab for the next dollar, and miss next year’s millions. Don’t change a thing.

So, in sum: this is one dumb move on every level, and puts yet more pressure on an already breaking climate system. But I don’t think that a change in US fleet standards is nearly as big a deal as Pruitt et al. wish it were.  Much of the world doesn’t give a shit about our stupidity, and the creation of a more efficient transport system is already on rails (sorrynotsorry).  ISTM that this move is mostly a surrender of crucial industrial ambition and opportunity to other regions and will have only a minor effect on emissions going forward.

IOW: Trump, Pruitt, the Republicans and Big Auto just punched America in the nuts, for all the joy it brings them.

Also too: King Knut was a pretty smart guy.

Images: Joseph Mallord William Turner, Calais Pier1803.

Jan Steen, The Sacrifice of Iphigenia1671.



Tillerson out

Open thread