A Call to Ease Tensions Between the Nuclear Superpowers

With Donald Trump about to meet Vladimir Putin in their first summit on July 16, prominent academics, journalists, politicians and activists call for a lessening of dangerous tensions between the two nuclear powers. 

An Open Letter:  Common Ground For Secure Elections and True National Security

Many Americans remain deeply concerned about reports of Russian interference with the 2016 election. Meanwhile, relations between the United States and Russia are at their lowest and most dangerous point in several decades. For the sake of democracy at home and true national security, we must reach common ground to safeguard common interests—taking steps to protect the nation’s elections and to prevent war between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.

Whatever the truth of varied charges that Russia interfered with the election, there should be no doubt that America’s digital-age infrastructure for the electoral process is in urgent need of protection. The overarching fact remains that the system is vulnerable to would-be hackers based anywhere. Solutions will require a much higher level of security for everything from voter-registration records to tabulation of ballots with verifiable paper trails. As a nation, we must fortify our election system against unlawful intrusions as well as official policies of voter suppression.

At the same time, the U.S. and Russian governments show numerous signs of being on a collision course. Diplomacy has given way to hostility and reciprocal consular expulsions, along with dozens of near-miss military encounters in Syria and in skies above Europe. Both sides are plunging ahead with major new weapons development programs. In contrast to prior eras, there is now an alarming lack of standard procedures to keep the armed forces of both countries in sufficient communication to prevent an escalation that could lead to conventional or even nuclear attack. These tensions are festering between two nations with large quantities of nuclear weapons on virtual hair-trigger alert; yet the current partisan fixations in Washington are ignoring the dangers to global stability and, ultimately, human survival.

The United States should implement a pronounced shift in approach toward Russia. No political advantage, real or imagined, could possibly compensate for the consequences if even a fraction of U.S. and Russian arsenals were to be utilized in a thermonuclear exchange. The tacit pretense that the worsening of U.S.-Russian relations does not worsen the odds of survival for the next generations is profoundly false. Concrete steps can and must be taken to ease tensions between the nuclear superpowers.

Andrew Bacevich, Professor Emeritus, Boston University

Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies

Noam Chomsky, Professor, Author, and Activist

Stephen F. Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics, NYU and Princeton University, and Board Member, American Committee for East-West Accord

John Dean, Former Nixon White House Counsel

Phil Donahue, Journalist and Talk-Show Pioneer

Thomas Drake, Former NSA Senior Executive and Whistle-blower

Daniel Ellsberg, Activist, “Pentagon Papers” Whistle-blower, and Author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

Jack Matlock, Former US Ambassador to the USSR and Board Member, American Committee for East-West Accord

Walter Mosley, Writer and Screenwriter

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–Winning Novelist

Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, CUNY Graduate School

Valerie Plame, Former Covert CIA Operations Officer and Author

Adolph Reed Jr., Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania

Bill Richardson, Former Governor of New Mexico

Patricia Schroeder, Former Congresswoman

Norman Solomon, National Coordinator, RootsAction.org

Gloria Steinem, Writer and Feminist Organizer

Adlai Stevenson III, Former US Senator and Chairman, Adlai Stevenson Center on Democracy

Katrina vanden Heuvel, Editor and Publisher, The Nation

Alice Walker, Writer, Poet, and Activist

Jody Williams, Professor and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

James Zogby, President, Arab American Institute

Signers have endorsed this Open Letter as individuals and not on behalf of any organization.  The Letter originally appeared in The Nation magazine.

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46 comments for “A Call to Ease Tensions Between the Nuclear Superpowers

  1. DH Fabian
    July 14, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Trump is president precisely because of the electoral college process. I urge people to check the 2016 election results. In spite of much Dem opposition to the Clinton wing, H. Clinton got the most votes (some 3 million more than Trump, as I recall). Trump, however, got the most electoral votes. While not common, this isn’t the first time the candidate with the most votes lost the election because of the antiquated electoral college process.

  2. Lois Gagnon
    July 13, 2018 at 7:23 pm

    Good response from Truth Dig’s Robert Scheer.

    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/when-resistance-becomes-capitulation-a-response-to-the-nations-open-letter/

    I couldn’t agree more.

  3. July 13, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    It is unfortunate that these prestigious folks should bow to any suggestion of Russian meddling in our elections and the vulnerability of our election as the reason why we need to seek peace with Russia. Does our meddling in the world and elections count for nothing, not even an acknowledgement that any Russian interference, if it exists at all is dwarfed by our own.

    Pretty sad if they believe what they said and pretty sad if they don’t but feel that is the only way to get the attention of the American people and our leaders.

    • DH Fabian
      July 14, 2018 at 8:30 am

      The problem is the absence of evidence of any Russian hacking, influence, interference, etc., with the 2016 election. All we’ve had was a steady stream of convoluted allegations. Obviously, Russia did not hack voting machines for Trump’s benefit (Clinton got the most votes), nor have we seen any evidence of a Russian propaganda campaign. What the Dem’s anti-Russian campaign has done was distract the public from what this administration has been doing to spark a catastrophic war, US vs. Russia and China.

  4. anastasia
    July 13, 2018 at 4:05 pm

    Did anyone hear Rod Rosenstein’s announcement coming virtually hours before Trump’s summit meeting?
    Announcements about indictments of people you cannot prosecute!!! This one coming virtually hours from Trump’s summit with Putin. Is this a coincidence? Is this being done to bring Russians to “justice”, or is it being done to warn warn Trump that if he make nice with Putin, we back here in the deep state of the United States are going to impeach him via Mueller? They are also screaming that they do not want Trump to meet with Putin alone. They certainly don’t want Putin convincing Trump or handing Trump any evidence that Russian interference story is a fraud. The indictment is what is called an “effort in futility” as far as the “criminals” are concerned; but it ain’t no effort in futility as far as Trump is concerned. They have shut Wikileaks up, so no one will hear Assange deny Rod Rosenstein’s “announcement” and maybe even furnish proof. that it is a lie.
    Sounds like the deep state has Trump by the short hairs.

    • DH Fabian
      July 14, 2018 at 8:35 am

      Neither. The announcement of the indictments (i.e., formal accusations) relates directly to the upcoming Congressional elections.

  5. Jeff Harrison
    July 13, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    Let me say this about that. The Helsinki summit is unnecessary to “ease” tensions between “the East” (Russia/China) and “the West” (the old colonial powers of Europe). All that needs happen is for someone to kick the US in the balls and tell us to stop jacking the rest of the world up.

  6. exiled off mainstreet
    July 13, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    While I agree with the sentiments of the letter, and what they say is extremely important, it is too bad the academics and experts, largely heroes in my view, have to acknowledge any possibility of truth whatever or pay any obeisance at all to the “Russiagate” pile of propaganda excrement put forward by the permanent yankee power structure and parroted by the official media and by captive satellite governments of the yankee imperium. The fact that such a letter is extremely necessary is testimony to the danger of this pile of propaganda excrement.

  7. July 13, 2018 at 8:51 am

    we will definitely have an easing of tension between us when we join Russia in Trumpkin’s plan to rule the world alongside Putin. Putin’s plan is of course, a bit different.

  8. KiwiAntz
    July 12, 2018 at 8:27 pm

    There is no Russiagate only “Bulls*tgate which has now morphed into the real meddling with FBIgate & Democratic Party collusion to reverse the American people’s right to pick their preferred candidate, Donald Trump at the 2016 election!

  9. Dwight
    July 12, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    Why are these fine people supporting claims of Russian hacking of voting systems, which have not even been seriously made, let alone substantiated?

    Our elections systems have been vulnerable for decades, and past federal efforts such as HAVA only made this worse by funding electronic voting machines. Now we have the Department of Homeland Security declaring elections systems as critical infrastructure, which sounds good, but threatens to make voting systems even less transparent to the public and more vulnerable to manipulation.

    Signers to this letter should have been less concerned about “balance,” and more concerned about the unintended consequences of paying lip service to false dogmas.

  10. July 12, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    “Easing tensions” between the US/NATO and Russia when Trump and Putin meet is a good idea, but does not go nearly far enough. We need Trump and Putin to follow up by hosting a GLOBAL PEACE SUMMIT and include China, India, the European Union, and the Secretary-General of the UN. Pakistan and Israel may be added, as well as a representative from Latin America.

    A GLOBAL PEACE SUMMIT must go beyond the helpless United Nations. We must now aim for a “new UN,” a world federal union government which replaces the flawed UN. World federalists have known what will be required for world peace: Only a world federal government can end war and eliminate the danger of nuclear holocaust. The Constitution for the Federation of Earth (aka Earth Constitution) is designed specifically to replace the fatally flawed UN Charter, and is in the wings waiting to be discovered and embraced by the world’s citizenry and the politicians.

    • July 13, 2018 at 8:53 am

      why would Trump-Putin want to have a peace conference, and why would they invite China, their “rival” for world domination?

  11. hank
    July 12, 2018 at 10:44 am

    The frustration at the MSM and the lies it spews hopefully will reach a tipping point. The Russians have only invaded regionally and only for self protection: Afghanistan, Chechnya . Russia did not invade Crimea, Ukraine or Syria. The US & Israel are ILLEGALLY in Syria but the UN is useless. Russia’s economy is smaller than South Korea’s -it cannot afford an expensive war. The real threat is China & US relations. The Chinese are beefing up their military at a rapid pace. The regime change issue and meddling is so unbalanced in that the US has done so nearly 100 times since WW2.

  12. July 12, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Robert Scheer’s critique in Truthdig is fantastic! Thanks, Robyn. His excellent essay should be widely circulated. I think i’ll send a copy to Schumer and my ignorant family members. “When it comes to meddling in elections, we wrote the book”, he writes, among all the excellent points he makes.

  13. July 12, 2018 at 6:30 am

    I endorse the views expressed in this very important letter, as a patriotic citizen of a country closely allied to the US, and as author of “Return to Moscow”, a recent book exploring the nature of contemporary Russia and the profound changes there since the end of the Cold War in 1990.

  14. July 12, 2018 at 1:27 am

    I wish you’d asked Cindy Sheehan.

    • Lois Gagnon
      July 13, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      Me too.

  15. Taras 77
    July 12, 2018 at 1:00 am

    The astonishing aspect of this fraudulent Russiagate theory is that it still has legs to the effect that the presstitutes are demanding that trump challenge putin on this meddling charge. It is still part of the group think and no one from the Mainstream Media has the guts to stand up and challenge the “assessment.” It is beyond belief but there it is.

    I watched/read interview with Isikoff by Real News-it was almost as if isikoff was reading from a script:

    https://therealnews.com/stories/trump-putin-and-russian-roulette
    (fortunately there is also a transcript, excerpt below)

    ISIKOFF: There was, in fact, a massive Russian effort to interfere and influence our election. There was a hack of the DNC-.
    AARON MATE: Michael, Michael, you say that-.
    MICHAEL ISIKOFF: There was the hack [inaudible] the emails. There was a, there was this social media campaign by the internet research agency. All of these things actually took place. And that was something that was vast and unprecedented.
    AARON MATE: Michael, have you seen any proof from, from, from anyone, from the U.S. government, from any of your sources, that makes you believe that this was definitely a Russian government massive influence operation? You wrote the definitive book on the hoax that was the Iraq war, and I took from that that we should look at our intelligence community claims with skepticism. But in this case you seem to be taking the opposite conclusion. We still don’t even have evidence that the Russian government committed the hack, but yet it’s been sort of taken on faith.

  16. Abe
    July 11, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    “The fundamental question that Russia remains supremely interested in and Putin will most certainly raise in Helsinki will be Syria’s absolute territorial integrity and restoration of its sovereignty over the whole of Syria. This will necessarily involve the ‘jihadi zero’ in Syria, allowing Russia to prevent a blowback in Caucasus and Central Asia.

    “Of course, the bone of real contention at the summit will also be Hezbollah, which is reported to be present in Darra and assisting the Syrian army in co-ordination its operations. While Israel and the US do certainly want to see them removed, Russia and Syria, and even Iran, do not want to keep Hezbollah there once the ‘jihadi zero’ is achieved. This has been repeatedly re-affirmed by Hezbollah itself that they have no intention of staying in Syria any longer than Syrian government wants.

    “While it is no secret that Hawks in the US and elsewhere continue to prefer to divide Syria and keep the region permanently unstable, Syria’s ground realities indicate that this can no longer be achieved. Therefore, at the summit, the US would be more like doing the reality check against the fast Syrian losing territory to the Syrians than offering a deal to the Russians.

    “The US, as the events of Syria war have shown, is no longer the ‘peace-maker’ in Syria; therefore, there is no way that the US can offer any deal to the Russians; it is the Russians who can offer a deal, involving a ‘jihadi zero’ and an exit from Syria. It will be up to the US and Israel to decide if they want to embrace it or face the inevitable: absolute elimination of all “rebel” forces and restoration of pre-war Syria against all odds.”

    Trump-Putin Summit: No Deal, but a Reality Check for Trump & Co.
    By Salman Rafi Sheikh
    https://journal-neo.org/2018/07/11/trump-putin-summit-no-deal-but-a-reality-check-for-trump-co/

    • John A
      July 12, 2018 at 1:57 am

      Syria’s territorial integrity also includes the Golan Heights that Israel has illegally occupied for decades.

  17. Robyn
    July 11, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    I highly recommend Robert Sheer’s astute critique of the ‘letter’.

    https://www.truthdig.com/articles/when-resistance-becomes-capitulation-a-response-to-the-nations-open-letter/

    • July 12, 2018 at 12:36 am

      Thank you for the link Robyn. I concur wholeheartedly with Sheer.

      I am cheering for the Russians,

    • Bob Van Noy
      July 12, 2018 at 8:24 am

      A very good and appropriate addition, many thanks Robyn.

    • Skip Scott
      July 12, 2018 at 10:18 am

      Thanks for the link Robyn. Well worth the read.

  18. Joe Tedesky
    July 11, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    At first after reading this important message of the signers I thought of how vulnerable this letter made our electronic voter system sound, and rightly so. The theme of this warning was about saving the integrity (ad-hm) of the American voting system…. like it ever was okay from earlier on of Lincoln to making an offer to Sam Giancana and beyond wasn’t apart of our American voting heritage, well it is. It was probably appropriate that the DNC & Hillary/Wasserman Shultz wasn’t dare mentioned, as this letters MSM acceptance is on shaky ground anyway. In short the Russians would have a hard time messing up something which is historically already quite a mess.

    Talk about collusion with foreign governments, please be sure to recall the 29 standing ovations from our U.S. Congress for Bibi Netanyahu’s outrageous whining over the JPCOA, for the recent unfolding events in regard to Iran this should give pause to what nation owns the USA. The U.S. should heed the words of its first President as Washington said to ‘avoid all foreign entanglements’, but instead when it comes to Israel the U.S. spirals into a deadly web of obedience to its Israeli masters, as the U.S. goes off it’s rails in confusion to ignore its own National Security interest.

    I wish the message of this letter well. The signers are an interesting batch of notable people, it’s good to see where their sympathies lie.

  19. July 11, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    A good message, but who is reading ‘The Nation’ magazine nowadays? If the letter gets published in NYT or WaPo (unlikely), it might have impact. Maybe LA Times, but i read they’ve been sold to a billionaire. And Rachel MADdow is ranting away at the prospect of peace breaking out! Free-dumb..

  20. mrtmbrnmn
    July 11, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    It looks like a ton of mega-brains signed this open letter of common sense. Kudos to all. But alas, if past is prologue, I doubt the Wall Street/War Street/ Washington DC Axis of Evil will give any serious consideration to it. Slowly at first, around the time of the US/(not-so-neo) Nazi coup in Ukraine, then full speed ahead with Hillary’s Shock and Awe loss, combined with the realization that the last big bucks have been squeezed out of “ISIS is coming!” and the “War On Terror”, the entire Establishment contraption has reverted to the century old default position: “The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!” This time, however, the Mighty Wurlitzer manufacturing propaganda & lies is mightier and more shameless than ever before and the great Globalization con has seriously undermined the health, stability, critical thinking and sanity of the entire world. Same old Dogma. Same old tricks. Dressed up in 21st Century technology. With more nukes. It will not end well. Or am I being too cynical???

    • July 11, 2018 at 11:12 pm

      Well said, I agree. You are not being cynical. That is how it looks to me.

      “This time, however, the Mighty Wurlitzer manufacturing propaganda & lies is mightier and more shameless than ever before and the great Globalization con has seriously undermined the health, stability, critical thinking and sanity of the entire world.”

      You have really hit the nail.

  21. F. G. Sanford
    July 11, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    It’s like Jesse Ventura said, “The Russians couldn’t have interfered with the election. The Electoral College elects our President, and their process doesn’t use voting machines.” Of course, there is adequate evidence that foreign governments interfered in our election. Christopher Steele and MI6 put Great Britain at the top of the list. Then, there are Haim Sabin, Sheldon Adelson and the Israel Lobby – they almost make British Intelligence look like pikers! The supposed Russian IRA outfit subpoenaed by Mueller was a click-bait operation to get paid for links to monetized ads. Even silly old Michael Moore went to a rally they advertised for Clinton – hardly a case for blaming Russia. As time passes and the Hillary camp corruption becomes more and more obvious, I’m beginning to doubt that she really won the popular vote. If the primary was rigged, why not the general as well?

    Jesse Ventura 2020…I kinda like the sound of that. Maybe it has possibilities.

    • Abe
      July 11, 2018 at 11:11 pm

      “I ain’t got time to bleed.”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NrDG4sPul8w

    • Realist
      July 12, 2018 at 3:22 am

      The folks who have done the most to try to steal the election are those who have attempted to do so in broad daylight after the ballots were counted and the results became apparent. They have been the coup plotters who started by challenging the results and demanding recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan until it became apparent that there were far too many Democratic overvotes (not undervotes), suggesting any fraud occurred in favor of Hillary and so that effort was terminated. Then they tried to influence voting by the Electoral College in sundry ways, ultimately succeeding to divert only a few votes from Hillary to Collin Powell (as their compromise candidate). A few Dems like Maxine Waters challenged, or talked of challenging, the vote count by the EC, but that failed. Instead, they conjured up Mueller’s ongoing witch hunt for which no evidence has ever been forthcoming even after a year and a half. This faction of American politics has had the full support and cooperation of the entire American media since the start of this blatant meddling in our democratic process. The full extent of anything that any Russian citizens may have done to influence public opinion on American political figures has long ago been exposed to public view. It was miniscule, ineffective and conducted by private Russian citizens, not the Russian government. This small group of individuals have, in fact, picked up the gauntlet thrown down by Herr Mueller when he indicted them and now insist on having their day in an American court of law, a spectacle that the special prosecutor now wishes to avoid because of the pitiful facts of his “case.” I can see a lot of American citizens that should probably be indicted and prosecuted for election fraud, starting with prolific author and speechifier Hillary Clinton herself, but not really any Russians.

      • backwardsevolution
        July 14, 2018 at 5:22 am

        Thanks, Realist. That was so well written.

  22. Andrew Nichols
    July 11, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    This wont get any coverage in any of our mainstream media…anywhere. Thats the hideous reality.

  23. Drew Hunkins
    July 11, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    “Many Americans remain deeply concerned about reports of Russian interference with the 2016 election.”

    They shouldn’t be. Not a shred of credible evidence supports the absurd accusation. All this Russophobia and Putin vilification is the biggest propaganda operation of my lifetime, even surpassing the relentless 2002/03 “Saddam has WMD!” canard.

    When will people realize, it’s all a ruse by the Washington militarists and their kept corporate media whores? These are monumental and monstrous conglomerates with tentacles of influence everywhere. Nothing, absolutely nothing, primes the pump for gargantuan defense contracts than the fearmongering that Moscow’s going to invade Texas, Arizona, Florida, New York, Montana yesterday!

    • backwardsevolution
      July 11, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      Drew Hunkins – bang on! Invent the big lie and reap the big bucks. A completely manufactured threat. Astounding!

    • mike k
      July 11, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Right Drew. The mealymouthed reference to the phony “Russia messed with our precious (totally fake) elections ” was not a good beginning to their plea. You are not going to arrive at peace by placating the warmongers.

    • Bob Van Noy
      July 11, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      Thank you Drew Hunkins. I’m afraid that nothing short of an address by the no longer living Marion Robert Morrison could stir the American People into a state nearing reality, but it’s fun to imagine it…

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/huc/view.html?ie=UTF8&newItems=Ca4ef919e-19e9-4c05-8e36-745f93ee64f3%2C1

    • Realist
      July 12, 2018 at 2:53 am

      With the American corporate media pumping out the propaganda non-stop, people will not come to that realisation any time soon. Just yesterday, my otherwise rational but Hillary boosting sister from California related the nightmares she is having about Trump destroying the American economy to the point of national penury and then “bowing before Putin’s throne,” begging for table scraps or some such. The media is purposely feeding the American public with fabricated hysteria about the evil actions and intentions of this imaginary Putin, especially his exploitation of Trump as a tool to get his way around the entire world. People believe this rubbish that Russia is on the verge of world conquest and even reinforce it in their subconscious during sleep. It is essentially mass hypnosis. The media ought to be sued for malpractice and sedition when the country finally wakes up from this nightmare. If it never wakes up but chooses nuclear war instead, there will be a special place in hell for the likes of Rachel Maddow who have fomented the conflict with unending fervor. There are untold mental clones of her created amongst the public by what is a very dangerous media.

  24. rosemerry
    July 11, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    The whole “Russiagate” tale, taking up space while the real damage done by the “Trump Administration”has been minimised, has allowed the situation to get out of control, and it is NOT the fault of the Russians, who have tried for at least 14 years to get talks started with the USA to avoid conflict. For the USA, of all nations, to claim interference with elections is rich, and the US system, where only about half those eligible bother to vote, cannot be considered even vaguely representative.
    The USA also followed the UK “highly likely” unfounded accusations against Russia in the highly suspect “novichok poison” episodes and expelled more diplomats (Obama had spitefully done such expulsions as he was leaving office) who are the vital links in any positive relations between nations, helping to avoid misunderstandings. “Western” actions have been counterproductive.
    Let us hope the letter has an effect.

  25. Mark Clarke
    July 11, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Bill Richardson?

    • July 12, 2018 at 12:05 am

      Mark,

      While not one to watch CSpan a great deal, their morning call-ins are on rare occasions informative and sometimes good for laughs. Bill Richardson – former member of Congress, U.S. Secretary of Energy, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, governor of New Mexico, on advisory board of Genie Energy (with Rothschild, Cheney, Woolsey, Summers, Murdoch, Landrieu, et al), the company given permits by Israel to extract massive fossil fuels discovery in occupied Golan Heights, and so on, – appeared on CSpan a few weeks ago.

      Mr. Richardson’s response to one caller’s question was 50% informative and 50% humorous. Now … you want to know the caller’s question, well here it is: … “What is your opinion of geoengineering?” … Mr. Richardson’s reply (seriously!), in so many (few) words: “I’ve never heard of that.” We expected something along the lines of “That’s just another internet conspiracy theory …” or such, but never expected an extraordinarily experienced, worldly man would duck the question entirely. The program quickly moved on to the next caller/topic …

      We look forward with anticipation to hearing Consortium News readers’ thoughts on that bizarre CSpan occurrence, and opinions on what the heck Richardson’s pleading “no knowledge of geoengineering” actually implies …

      ***

      We are 100% in favor of easing – make that “ending” – tensions between Russia and the United States. We fully align with ending tensions on Earth altogether, for that matter.

      Peace.

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