Desmond Tutu’s recent passing reminds us of South Africa’s difficult transition away from apartheid as state policy, and into the complications and frustrations of mass democracy. It reminds us of the De Klerk government’s dismantling their entire inventory of six nuclear weapons (plus one under construction) under the auspices of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
How and why these weapons were developed is another story, or two. World opinion was happily supportive of South Africa’s 1989 denuclearization, after the fact. Global decision-makers, long aware of South Africa’s capability in this deadly arena, were actively interested in no nukes for the new South Africa.
De Klerk opposed nuclear weapons, and his opposition was not completely shared by South Africa’s military bureaucracy. In his own words, he “overrode that opposition” and never doubted that he was doing the right thing.
A country societally and politically divided, in a world similarly divided, is not a good place for nuclear weapons. What if, instead of a couple of hours of unarmed riot at the Capitol, American tensions and divisions erupted in a far more significant and more pervasive way? In practical terms, we understand that the US is an oligarchy, but rips and crevasses in the US fabric are far deeper than simply the people against the corporate and political elites. Red and blue have become not only visual labels, but communication blockades, with each side well informed by their own media sources, unable to understand the language and emotion of the other side, and contemptuous of it to boot. The side most aligned with a given government (oligarchy of economic elites, as political scientists explain) policy sees those opposed to that policy as domestic terrorists, and worse. And why shouldn’t they?
While the federal system and the literal vastness of the US allows for some conflictual steam to be released, via interstate mobility and self sufficiency, ultimately these two valves are little more than welcome death knells for the centralized power system in the US.
Add to this a political system that rewards fiscal insolvency, and demands a Ponzi scheme of such magnitude that the whole country rises and falls on mystical utterings of the Fed. The Federal Reserve is the very godhead of the economic oligarchy. It is a creation impossibly bound by its own sins, a lovely whore itself strapped to the mast as it hears the siren call of lie after treacherous lie told to the red and blue people. When faith in whatever holds the United States together fails, everything Americans take for granted spins out of control. Uncertainty, risk, unpredictability, and a massive cache of formerly centrally controlled nuclear weapons.
If world leaders perceived the United States as a conflicted country, tending to violence and anger, consolidating along political and cultural lines, poorly-led and increasingly ungovernable, might they be concerned? As in 1980s South Africa, might they consider that they ought to do something about those nuclear weapons?
What if world leaders saw the United States as a large, incompetent, nuclear-armed country – unable to pay its bills, suffering domestic unrest and facing imminent collapse of the social welfare state upon which 70% of the population depends upon for survival? What if the global consensus was that this troubled and weakened nation might be inclined to use those weapons to suppress secession movements, or as a false flag to consolidate political power or to start another “unifying” war? What if the United States is not trusted by the rest of the world? What if it is the only country to have used nuclear weapons against a population in the name of winning a war?
What if corruption and desperation led to the illicit trade or sale of these weapons on the world market? What known institution or American value exists to prevent that from happening? In failed states, this situation with conventional weapons, biological agents and fissionable material is both past and predictable fact. The origin story of South African nukes itself stands in testament to how this works.
When the United States devolves into separate republics, kingdoms or dictatorships, some warlike and others not, some potentially allied with Christian Russia and others with Communist China, others aggressively content to become little North Koreas or even Old European or southern hemisphere acolytes, do we trust these political entities to be able to safely resolve ownership and management of the US nuclear arsenal, and its control system?
This is possibly the most important question of our era, yet we have not been asking it. I suspect the rest of the world sees pretty clearly what may only be just dawning on the average American.
Civil war or civil dissolution here in the US is already happening, but what is more frightening is that this dissolution will happen and has to happen, in order to repudiate the long past payable US federal and private debt. A conscious write-down of government debt and entitlements is politically impossible, without revolution, devolution, and/or war. If the US were to wage war abroad, that war would need to go nuclear: first, because it cannot be won conventionally by the US military; second, it cannot be stopped without it; and thirdly, that extreme level of “reset” is require to truly restart the debt clock.
Such a reset might be achieved by biological agents, as we suspect with the recent exercise of COVID and its various government-mandated final solutions. However, as the Davos crowd and even big Pharma understand, it’s difficult to control the narrative over time without real fear, not just propaganda-driven hysteria. Like bacteria and viruses, the human psyche, individually and collectively, adapts and survives state- and stage-directed fear-mongering to create resilient variants, some of which may be markedly dangerous to the status quo in the future.
Physical control of people is resource intensive. It takes money – and the insidious theft by government and its cronies of trillions of dollars from voters and residents (and the rest of the world) is sustainable only when hidden from view. Government debt, at federal, state and local levels, as well as most personal and business debt, is today more often than not, pure junk. Issuance of new currency, centralized management of money via digital fiat, or MMT, after the coming US death of money, will not even rise to the level of can-kicking.
I modestly propose that in light of the end of the American empire, in preparation for the societal and political collapse of the institutions that control the vast nuclear weapons inventory of the US, and in the interests of global environmentalism, that the major powers begin now to take steps to help facilitate the transition of the US into a non-nuclear nation.
The quality of the US political leadership has been in serious decline, as seen in every election for the duration of our nuclear age. This imperial decline is not without precedent, but the ability of other world powers to impact global security today is notably different than it was at the end of WWII. Global treaties and organizations exist under which global security may be served. New political and economic power centers around the world have emerged to balance and surpass US hegemony. Ensuring the safe and pre-collapse denuclearization of the United States should be their number one priority.
If, we as Americans, observed a nuclear-armed country that was so divided, so badly governed, so unhealthy mentally and physically, so morally and financially broken, and so likely to collapse as a unitary power, would we not be concerned about what to do with those nukes? Would we not hope for and plan for a non-nuclear transition such that, as new countries emerge from the failed empire, they would not emerge as multiple and hostile nuclear states, persisting in a long-running civil wars that might, as civil wars tend to do, be exceptionally merciless and shortsighted?
The dedicated US concern with handful of North Korean nuclear weapons, or their public obsession with even the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon, demonstrates that Americans are not blind to the issues I’ve mentioned here. This concern should be turned inward, and diplomatically assisted by well-meaning global leaders.
The danger is real. But so is the model. Four countries have voluntarily denuclearized. South Africa, led by De Klerk, and three former Soviet states. Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus returned Soviet nuclear weapons to Russia, in some cases for safe dismantlement. In every case, treaties, international organizations, common sense and global political leadership played an important role.
The warning lights are blinking red that the failed US empire is going to need similar assistance soon. The roadmap for the nuclear disarmament of transitioning states is clear. We know it can be done. We recognize that it should be done before the velvet divorces, gentle secessions or violent civil wars. My modest proposal is offered not to save the world, or the environment, although it would help with both. It is offered because it occurs to me that we are a bit further along in our devolution as an empire than I previously thought. Liberty is at hand, there is much to do, and we may very well need outside assistance with this particular project.