SCOTT RITTER: The Future of US Nuclear Strategy

The fallout from Washington’s policy of seeking Russia’s strategic defeat has seen Moscow radically alter its arms control position. That raises important questions about the winner of the next U.S. presidential election.

Russian President Vladimir Putin puts nuclear forces on high alert on Feb. 27. (Kremlin)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

The United States finds itself wandering in a wilderness of indecision when it comes to arms control policy.

The situation regarding the status of the last existing nuclear arms control treaty with Russia — the New START treaty — is dire. Implementation is currently frozen after Russia suspended its participation in protest to a stated U.S. policy objective of seeking the strategic defeat of Russia, something Russia finds incompatible with opening its strategic nuclear deterrent (which exists precisely to prevent Russia’s strategic defeat) to inspection by U.S. officials.

The U.S. is not talking with Russia about the future of arms control once New START expires in February 2026.

Moreover, fallout from the U.S. policy of seeking strategic defeat of Russia has seen Moscow radically alter its position regarding future arms control treaties. Any future agreement must, from the Russian perspective, include missile defense; the French and British nuclear arsenals, as well as the U.S.-supplied NATO nuclear deterrent.

Russia has further complicated any future negotiations by deploying tactical nuclear weapons to its Baltic enclave in Kaliningrad, as well as extending its Russian-controlled nuclear umbrella to Belarus where it has mirrored the NATO nuclear umbrella. 

The state of play today regarding strategic arms control between the U.S. and Russia can best be likened to a patient on life support whom no one is trying to revive.

Russia is in the process of finalizing a major modernization of its strategic nuclear forces, built around the new Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and the Avangard hypersonic reentry vehicle. The United States is on the cusp of initiating its own multi-billion dollar upgrade to the U.S. nuclear Triad consisting of the B-21 stealth bomber, the Columbia class missile submarine and the new Sentinel ICBM.

An artist rendering of the future U.S. Navy Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines. (U.S. Navy/ Wikimedia Commons)

If no treaty vehicle exists designed to verifiably limit the deployment of these new weapons, once New START expires, the U.S. and Russia will find themselves engaged in an unconstrained nuclear arms race that dramatically increases the probability of unintended nuclear conflict.

When viewed in this light, the future of global security hinges on the ability of Russia and the U.S. returning to the negotiating table and resuscitating arms control from its present moribund state.

Key to this will be the willingness of Washington to incorporate Russian concerns into U.S. nuclear posture. To achieve this, the U.S. nuclear establishment will have to be shaken out of the calcified policy assumptions that have guided U.S. arms control policy since the end of the Cold War.

First and foremost amongst these assumptions is the need to promote and sustain U.S. primacy in global nuclear weapons capability. Whether such an assumption is jettisoned will be tied to the person occupying the White House after the February 2026 expiration of New START.

This makes the 2024 U.S. presidential election one of the most critical in recent history. Simply put, the future of humanity may ride on whomever the American people vote for in November 2024.

The Establishment Standard

President Joe Biden has indicated that he will be seeking a second term in office. While some have opined that, given Biden’s age, this goal might be too optimistic, the reality is that if Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, or some other person designated by the Democratic Party is in office to continue the Biden administration’s agenda for another four years, decisions on the future of the U.S. nuclear posture and, by extension, arms control policy, will remain in the hands of the same establishment that has put us in the situation we are in today.

It’s proper to ask, therefore, whether or not the “establishment” is capable of implementing the changes necessary to get U.S.-Russian arms control back on track. History suggests not.

Biden ran in 2020 on a promise to change U.S. nuclear strategy away from the George W. Bush-era policy, when preemptive U.S. nuclear strikes were a possibility, to a doctrine holding that U.S. nuclear forces exist for the sole purpose of deterring a nuclear attack against the U.S., or retaliating if deterrence failed.

However, once elected Biden’s promise fell to the wayside as an “interagency process” run by unelected bureaucrats and military officers intervened to prevent campaign rhetoric from becoming official policy.

U.S. President Joe Biden in Israel, July 2022. (U.S. Embassy Jerusalem, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Biden, like every American president before him in the nuclear age, has been unable and/or unwilling to expend the political capital necessary to take on the American nuclear enterprise, and as a result the American people and the rest of humanity are held hostage by this deadly nexus between the U.S. military industrial complex and the U.S. Congress.

Congress allocates taxpayer money to underwrite a nuclear weapons-oriented, defense industry, which in turn feeds this money back into campaign contributions that empower a compromised Congress to keep funding the nuclear enterprise – creating a vicious cycle impervious to change of its own volition.

Biden or anyone Democratic candidate in 2024 is a byproduct of this very establishment, and a willing participant in the corrupt circle of money and power that is the nuclear, military industrial-congressional complex. In short, if Biden or his proxy is sitting in the White House in 2025, there will be no change in the U.S. nuclear posture on arms control policy.

This means any Democratic Party-controlled candidate voted into office in November 2024 may very well be the last president to hold office, given the probability of nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia, which an unchanged nuclear posture and arms control policy will foster.

The Trump Standard

U.S. President Donald Trump speaking after the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, May 30, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Donald Trump, who preceded Biden as the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, has thrown his hat into the 2024 presidential race.

Given the current state of the Republican Party, which has been cowed into submission to Trump’s “make America great again” brand of populist politics, it’s highly unlikely the GOP will put up a primary candidate capable of defeating Trump, his ongoing legal dramas notwithstanding.

Whether Trump could pull off a second successful presidential run is not the issue here. Instead, the question is whether Trump can promote an arms control stance different from Biden and the Democratic and Republican establishments that could break free of existing constraints — giving arms control a chance.

Trump’s track record is decidedly mixed in this regard. On the one hand, he has articulated some foundational beliefs which, if incorporated into official U.S. policy, could radically alter the way the U.S. relates with the rest of the world and, in doing so, create a new paradigm capable of sustaining a revised arms control policy.

Trump’s willingness to break free of the ideological prison of rampant Russophobia by considering the possibility of friendly relations between the U.S. and Russia makes him unique among mainstream presidential candidates of either party.

Likewise, Trump’s questioning of NATO’s viability and purpose means that a future Trump administration could engage in the kinds of policy restructuring that ends the perpetual state of tension between NATO and Russia since NATO needs a Russian threat to justify its existence.

NATO’S diminishment as a policy driver would free both the U.S. and Europe to more rationally explore the potential for a new European security framework in a post-Ukraine conflict world. Such a posture would, in one fell swoop, help resolve many of the add-on issues Russia now insists must be part of any future U.S.-Russian arms control agreement, including missile defense, French and U.K. nuclear weapons and the U.S.-provided NATO nuclear deterrent.

More important, however, is Trump’s proven track record in breaking free of past policy precedent in pursuit of meaningful nuclear disarmament.

The case of North Korea stands out. Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jung-un on three separate occasions to try to bring about the denuclearization of North Korea. While ultimately this gambit failed, in large part because of the resistance to change on the part of establishment figures like Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, the fact that Trump even went down that path shows that, unlike his predecessors and successor, he was willing to go the extra mile in pursuit of ground-breaking change in U.S. arms control policy.

July 1, 2019: President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un just before Trump became first U.S. president to step on North Korean territory. (White House)

But there is another side to Trump which bodes poorly for any meaningful change in U.S.-Russian arms control. First and foremost is his abysmal record on arms control.

He withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, he withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty and he published as policy the most aggressive nuclear posture document in recent history, one which, according to Trump officials, was designed to “keep the Russians guessing” as to whether the U.S. would preemptively use nuclear weapons.

Trump refused to meaningful engage with the Russians on any aspect of arms control, and instead embraced the modernization of U.S. strategic nuclear forces. In short, there was no light between Trump’s arms control policy and that of the “establishment.” Indeed, one might make the case that Trump’s policies represented an escalation over the norm.

Then there is Trump’s tendency toward pugilistic bluster driven, apparently, by some inner insecurity that requires any U.S. negotiating position to be taken from a posture of overwhelming strength and dominance. He spoke of being “friends” with Russia, only to openly brag about being the “toughest president ever” when it came to sanctioning Russia.

He withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement, imposing new sanctions, all the while promoting the idea of a new negotiation that would resolve the Iran nuclear issue. And his North Korean initiative included some of the most war-like rhetoric uttered by an American president in the nuclear age, promising “fire and fury” if North Korea failed to toe the line.

The bottom line is that the “Trump Standard” for arms control is in many ways even more dangerous than that of the “establishment,” promoting as it does an aggressive posture founded in dominance.

In the end, Trump proved incapable of acting on his own belief, allowing himself to be subordinated to a radical America-first national security ideology which promoted the enhancement and expansion of the American nuclear enterprise — the exact opposite trajectory the U.S. needs to be taking come 2024.

There is no reasonable expectation that a second Trump term would deviate meaningfully from that track record. 

A New American Standard in Arms Control

The harsh reality today is that neither of the two potential sources of viable presidential candidates for the 2024 election — Democratic National Committee or MAGA Republicans — are positioned to effect meaningful, positive change regarding either U.S. nuclear posture or underlying arms control policy.

That leaves the American people, and the world as a whole, with the inevitability of a massive nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Russia, which will unfold unconstrained by meaningful arms control treaty-mandated limitations.

This is nothing short of a recipe for disaster, a witch’s brew of ignorance-based fear magnified by the lack of inspections designed to mollify concerns over the respective nuclear threats posed by two nations no longer willing to engage in meaningful dialogue and, as a result, perched on the precipice of an apocalyptic abyss.

In short, a vote for either Biden/the Democratic establishment or Trump/MAGA Republicans is a vote in favor of continuous nuclear-armed Russian roulette, where there exists only one certainty — eventually the pistol will go off. But in this case, it’s not a pistol, but a nuclear weapon that leads to general nuclear war and the termination of life on planet earth as we currently know and understand it.

The rally held in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19 provided a platform for some voices of sanity who have presidential potential, either as independent candidates, or rogue outliers within their respective party establishments. Tulsi Gabbard, Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul, and Jimmy Dore all addressed the threat posed by nuclear weapons and the need to control them through meaningful arms control.

Tulsi Gabbard at Feb. 19 anti-war rally in Washington. (News2Share screenshot)

But none who spoke have put anything in writing that would remotely constitute an arms control “standard” that could compete with either Biden or Trump — or their proxies — on the public stage. Moreover, other than Dore, a comedian, none of these individuals has announced an intention to run, making moot, for the moment at least, the notion of a third option on arms control and American nuclear posture.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, has announced his intention to challenge Biden for the Democratic nomination. While Kennedy, at this juncture, appears to be a long-shot, the likely mental and physical deterioration and possible incapacitation of Biden between now and November 2024, combined with the inadequacy of Vice President Kamala Harris as a presidential candidate, means the Democratic field could be thrown open. 

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in 2017. (Maxlovestoswim/ CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Kennedy’s announcement puts him in position to be either the candidate himself, or to challenge whatever establishment figure the Democratic Party selects for the job.

The question is whether Kennedy is willing or able to articulate a new American standard on arms control, one that embraces the best of the Trump Standard without the pugilistic arrogance Trump brings with it.

Kennedy has not published a detailed position on arms control and the U.S. nuclear posture. But in a recent conversation with me, he spoke about the legacy of his uncle, Jack Kennedy, and how he took guidance from that legacy.

Any man who draws upon the wisdom and patience displayed by President Kennedy to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis would be on the right track when it comes to arms control.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

58 comments for “SCOTT RITTER: The Future of US Nuclear Strategy

  1. Coleen Rowley
    April 10, 2023 at 04:26

    Jill Stein was excellent on antiwar stances but the more recent Green Party presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, was far less anti-war and even promoted some imperialistic pro-war positions more like the German Greens.

  2. polarbear4
    April 10, 2023 at 02:05

    RFK JR. yes.

    I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to feel like this anymore.

  3. Rafael
    April 9, 2023 at 23:44

    Yes the situation is dire and time is short. But why write of “independent candidates” and then omit the Green Party? The US Greens are genuinely and consistently antiwar (unlike the German Greens) . Only a mass movement can save the earth, and as Jill Stein says, the Democratic Party is where movements go to die!

  4. Rafael
    April 9, 2023 at 22:48

    Yes the situation is dire and time is short. But why write of “independent candidates” and then omit the Green Party? The US Greens
    are genuinely and consistently antiwar (unlike the German Greens) . Only a mass movement can save the earth, and as Jill Stein says, the Democratic Party is where movements go to die!

  5. April 9, 2023 at 19:55

    US History and current politics lead me to expect that we will get the worst of all possible worlds: Domestic Fascism and Imperial global hegemony and war.

    Those that are anti-war, anti-imperialism, and pro-New Deal social programs will likely be drawn to a “US first” policy enunciated by Trump. With the weakness and corruption of the Dems, this leads to Trump and the worst of all worlds.

    Biden will repeat LBJ’s exit. Kennedy will then be faced with two scenarios: 1) Repeat of the Bernie sabotage; or 2) assassination. He’ll have no choice under scenario #2, but he could choose to go the independent/3rd party route after the DNC and compare dems sabotage him. Then things might get interesting. But this is very low possibility and he’d still have to beat Trump’s Fascist politics.

  6. shmutzoid
    April 9, 2023 at 17:32

    Overlooked (or studiously ignored) in the most Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is an official shift in policy. Before this NPR, the US stated purpose of using nukes was for defensive purposes only. ………. Now, in this NPR, the use of nukes is OKed for offensive use. ……Further more, ‘economic’ threats to US dominance are now written in as a viable reason for the offensive use of nukes.

  7. John
    April 9, 2023 at 15:43

    Cogent comment. However it should be remembered that it was not JFK who compromised and resolved the Cuban missile crisis it was the Soviet leadership. On all three occasions when the world was on the brink of nuclear war it was Soviet politicians or military officers who saved us. It appears we will not be able to rely upon Russians to repeat that. It is time to start building your bunker.

  8. mgr
    April 9, 2023 at 08:59

    Thank you. The establishment parties and their candidates bring malice and competence (competence at working the levers of government for malign ends). The Democrats in particular are all in on the bring-Russia-down project and both are aligned in stopping the spread of a multi-polar world. A fool’s errand. All seem to be intent on removing any arms control agreements that hinder their action. It is a desperate attempt to make themselves the kings of the world.

    At this point, the DP is desperate to re-elect Biden though I doubt he will remain if he is. Doesn’t matter though. As Mr. Ritter explains, it’s the cabal in State that is driving things. They are a cancer that must be excised. Thus, the Dems cannot get re-elected. Do Republicans have any more sense? Doubtful. Certainly not the establishment candidates.

    The US is like an addict in late state addiction. It has lost the ability to stop itself. If it had “friends,” they would provide an intervention. In fact, that is what Russian and China are attempting. In a sense, we are lucky to have two rational and capable world leaders with a solid and inclusive vision for the world in this effort. They may even succeed. Stupid Europe has been America’s worst friend of all. Every addict has an enabler.

    I agree with everything that Mr. Ritter has said. But given the current possibilities, which all seem to be dead ends, if it comes down to simply Trump or Biden. Well, at this point, I will do anything I can to keep the Dems out. This is because the DP status quo that Biden brings is literally suicide, not just for America but for everyone.

    • robert e williamson jr
      April 9, 2023 at 15:04

      With all due respect Mr. mgr, Reagan was dominated by the neocons and their plan for the new direction that led directly to the 1997, Project New American Century. Factually this cannot be denied. Those same neocon warriors worked to pull the October Surprise on Carter, after they deftly “Rolled Up” one Richard M. Nixon for being far too independent for their liking, (Nixon was at odds with the CIA for much the same reason as JFK) and the neocons knew full well they had trouble on their hands. The entire time GHW Bush and Richard Helms and others worked feverishly to continue CIA dominance of U.S. foreign policy, covert foreign policy. Bush 41 insured that Reagan had his own White House CIA, something that is no longer secret.

      So let us get this straight, Ford was manipulated by the neocons, especially Bush 41. William, “Slick Willy” Clinton? He was a neocon, closet or other wise his work spoke for itself, as he rolled over for them. Then Bush 43, obvious neocon. My opinion here with the 911? Whether out of reaction of shock or self preservation, after 911 the democrats came out of the closet and as a party rolled over for the neocons (see the Patriot Act), resulting in Barrack Obama getting “Rolled UP” in the process.

      Trump,much like Richard M. Nixon proved to be totally unacceptable to the neocon leadership, too irrational, arrogant , a “loose cannon” or rogue as it were. Believe me when I tell you he made the neocon nervous for many of the same reasons they removed Nixon. Still both Nixon and Trump fared much better than JFK who was removed for the same reasons.

      Next to last paragraph above. “The US is like an addict in late state addiction . . . .” , to the end of the paragraph. These are you opinions and you have a right to them. But you are a ways off from reality here yourself. A large preponderance of the reasons the U.S. is in the condition it is today is because the country has been led astray by the DeepState money that controls the intelligence agencies of many countries. Follow the money.

      Once again I will remind you that you certainly are entitled to your own opinions but not to your own facts.

      You continually point to the democrats as being the prime mover in the Russian fiasco, while totally ignoring the most recent of our government history, from the JFK administration forward.

      So let us get this straight here and now. Reagan and Bush 43 said the silent part out loud when they gazed skyward and opined about about new world orders and shining cities on hills. Remember that bullshit?

      I didn’t think so. Have you ever wondered what the world might be like if JFK had lived. I didn’t think so.

      Remember this, U.S. CIA driven “nation building” has resulted in the U.S. being friendless and brought the U.S. to this conflict in Russia. Neocons mgr, neocons. Trumps super weak presidency, void of vision or policy didn’t help not one goddamned thing.

      Once again I will remind you that you are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts?

      I’ll give you two stars(**) out of ten. Enjoy!

      Thanks CN

    • robert e williamson jr
      April 9, 2023 at 16:15

      I just left a reply to mgr. Whether or not is sees the light of day again, I have no idea but one very obvious fact is apparent judging from the content of too many comments here.

      The misstatement of facts relating to the current reality serve no one and is in large part to why the US finds itself in the “fix” it currently occupies.

      I restated today the same story I have produce before, this time after recently doing additional some serious reading. If we are only willing to read what we want to, as opposed to searching through written information not otherwise available to us we do ourselves a great injustice.

      Our intelligence community desires we do not know the truth about what goes down in the shadows. This an undisputed fact. We have to ask ourselves why, it is our duty to learn the truth using the best sources and methods we have available to us, which are limited. Written gibberish benetfits no one. The work product of great investigative journalists does the opposite and we best take what is written by them very seriously.

      Thanks Again

      • mgr
        April 10, 2023 at 15:08

        Hi Robert, Thanks for the reply. I’m sorry but I honestly don’t see your point. The Dems are now running the show in regards to Ukraine and provoking China. It was Clinton who promoted NATO expansion to court the local Polish vote. Obama with Nuland, Sulllivan and Blinken promoted the Maiden coup and the build up the Azov neon-fascist militia which became the shock troops of the Ukrainian military along with extreme right wing control of the Ukrainian parliament. HRC, I think it is clear, intended, if elected, to do exactly what Biden is doing now. Trump’s election forestalled that. But then Biden arrived.

        All of this leads me to say that the Dems are fully invested in the project to bring down Russia, and now, provoke China in the same way. I believe that Nuland and company are rabid necons. They are also ignorant, careless and full of themselves. They had no actual idea of Russia’s state of affairs nor its abilities and were caught flat-footed when Russia turned out to be prepared for the Ukrainian aggression in Dombas and turned the tables. Now Nuland & Co., including Biden, are scrambling, for example, Nord Stream. They are so panicked that the mask is slipping. Finally, I might add. Russia and China have created the conditions for the US to self-destruct through its own actions. After all, no one is forcing American foreign policy which is becoming more stupid by the minute and unless stopped, will kill us all. Or so I believe.

        Their grand plans are turning to mud and they are desperate for another term in office (2024) in order to complete their project, and above all, prove they are right, no matter what. But they are no better prepared and will simply continue to escalate because, as often noted, they have no reverse gear. Peace deals are never on the table for them and they are not likely to walk away with their tail between their legs. I believe the psychosis of egoism that drives them will lead them to continue to escalate until there is no other outcome but full out war.

        Russian and China on the other hand are leading the way to different sort of world order that treats all countries as peers that base their interactions on international law centered on the UN. A lot of the world agrees with this and is hopeful. Why wouldn’t they? Can Russian and China achieve that? I don’t know but it already seems to be happening. But whether they ultimately can or not, one thing for sure is that the American led Western coalition cannot. After all, they’ve had 30+ years to show what they could do in a uni-polar world and it’s not pretty. The evidence of that is lying at our feet. By coincidence, here is a selection by Ted Snider at of the many peace deals that America has eschewed since its founding until today. They make the sad point that America is peace-adverse. [hXXps://]

        No one else is as invested as Nuland and Co. are. Even if they wanted to change course, they are trapped by their own hubris. I would love to see a viable Green or alternative candidate but if that is not possible I will go for anyone who is not a Dem, someone who is not as personally invested as the current cabal in State. They have to be removed if there is any chance to survive this. All, as you said, in my opinion.

        I thought I had been consistent with this. Is this not what you are hearing from me? If it is, is this what you object to? Do feel the solution to our current escalating crisis is to re-elect the people who are driving it? Of course, you are welcome to your opinion but I honestly don’t quite know what it is.

  9. Tony
    April 9, 2023 at 07:15

    A grim reminder that we are heading towards nuclear war.

    However, the situation is not without hope. We can all do something to reverse this appalling prospect.

    If nuclear weapons are based in your country, then campaign to get them removed.

    If your local university is involved in nuclear weapons work, then campaign to expose it and stop it.

    If your country has not signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, then campaign for it to do so.

    All of these actions can make a real difference and I urge people to get involved. At some point, nuclear war will become inevitable if we do not act.

    Thank you.

  10. Jim Glover
    April 9, 2023 at 02:00

    China must be included to have a chance and RFK Jr. gives me hope.

  11. Robert Richard
    April 8, 2023 at 20:57

    My sources report if U.S. launches nukes first F of R Sarmat II would reach U.S. targets first, and they can have up to 6 Sarmats in each silo that rapidly launch one after another. If Russian ideology is soo bad, and you believe this unprovoked Ukraine War happy horse feces of the U.S. then you’re all ready on the MICIMATT gravey train of Washington DC. Sad fact is the world can trust Putin not the U.S. to not launch first, even though Putin currently holds the key to Pandora’s Box of first strike madness. I’d sooner leave the way Russia has the so called advantage now since the U.S. has proven it can’t be trusted. The Ronnie Reagan cowboy posse to Moscow to lynch Mr. Putin ain’t gonna happen. It’s shameful Mr. Biden is using these Allen Dulles project Bandera NAZI’s to perpetuate this Project for a New American Century of Governor W Bush and his George NWO Bush daddy.

  12. Robert Emmett
    April 8, 2023 at 16:59

    The illusion of control is laid bare in books such as “The Limits of Safety” and the history of near catastrophes such as found in Eric Schlosser’s “Command and Control”. Also found in Daniel Ellsberg’s “Doomsday Machine”. If this information were more widely taught then maybe more people today would be more alert & willing to pressure for elimination of such weapons.

    During the Cuban missile crisis, wasn’t the real hero a Russian sub commander who refused to unlock the nuclear codes without further confirmation?

    Know it or not, the world has been dancing a crazed dance on the brink of nuclear bluff, bully & brinkmanship ever since with more and more powerful weapons, faster means of delivery, concepts of limited use and now the near absence of mutual, verifiable so-called controls.

    Even the language to describe this world threatening escalation is obtuse & mind numbing: “unintended nuclear conflict”, “future of global security”, “nuclear posture”, “post-Ukraine conflict world”. All we are saying is … “giving arms control a chance” … doesn’t quite have the same ring to rally people to it.

    “The state of play today regarding strategic arms control between the U.S. and Russia can best be likened to a patient on life support whom no one is trying to revive.”

    Or as a giant game of Jenga, wherein the players take turns pulling planks from a tower (of doom) that they’ve built to see who in the end will take the blame to make it tumble.

    • HelenB
      April 9, 2023 at 02:06

      Thank you, Robert Emmet. Excellent remarks.

      My addition: I really wish that depleted uranium were added to nuclear arms control guidelines. It almost seems that it is used freely without constraint.

      • Robert Emmett
        April 10, 2023 at 08:22

        Thank you, Helen. Your name reminded me that I forgot to mention a powerhouse of anti-nuclear activism, author & president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Australian born Dr. Helen Caldicott who edited “Sleepwalking to Armageddon” and whom I once had the honor to meet in person. Can’t keep everything I learn in my aging brain at the same time, it would seem.

    • Valerie
      April 9, 2023 at 03:24

      And let us not forget “system malfunctions”:

      “On the morning of Sept. 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov saved the world from a potential nuclear holocaust.

      A few hours into the overnight shift at Serpukhov-15, a secret command center about 75 miles south of Moscow where the Soviet Union’s military monitored its nuclear early-warning systems, the 44-year-old lieutenant colonel made a momentous decision.

      “The siren howled, but I just sat there for a few seconds, staring at the big, back-lit, red screen with the word ‘launch’ on it,” Petrov told BBC in 2013. “A minute later the siren went off again. The second missile was launched. Then the third, and the fourth, and the fifth. Computers changed their alerts from ‘launch’ to ‘missile strike.’”

      • Rafael
        April 10, 2023 at 00:30

        Also the two H-bombs that fell from an out of control bomber in North Carolina.

        • Valerie
          April 10, 2023 at 14:10

          And another one:

          “Spain asks U.S. to begin cleanup of nuclear accident site”

          “Spain says it has asked the United States to start removing soil contaminated with radioactivity after a mid-air collision in 1966 dumped four U.S. hydrogen bombs near the southern Spanish village of Palomares”

          ByCIARÁN GILES Associated Press

          March 6, 2023, 4:24 PM

  13. Mushroom Pizza
    April 8, 2023 at 16:09

    In America, the one thing that both major political movements agree on is that a job is never given to the person who can best do the job. The two movements differ on who should get the job … one focuses on loyalty to the great leader and to the great cause in general, the other says that identity determines the proper ownership of each job.

    But the one thing that both movements agree on is that a job should never be given to the best person to do the job. A look across the leadership of America’s governments, corporations, military and institutions shows the widespread adoption of this maxim. Searching for a job held by the best person to do that job is like Diogenes and his lamp searching for honesty.

  14. Mushroom Pizza
    April 8, 2023 at 15:58

    In the declaration of independence, Mister Jefferson’s committee referred to the notion that government only occurs with the consent of the people. I believe that this was a statement of reality, and not some utopian ideal. History has shown over and over again that government only occurs with the consent of the people, and if that consent is withdrawn, then the power to govern is also lost.

    When everyone sits down in the street and follows Ronnie and Nancy’s motto of “Just Say No”, there is not a dang thing that a President nor a General nor an entire deep state can do about it. They might beat some of the sitters, they might kill some of the sitters, but that can not force everyone to go back to work if the sitters have the will power to continue to withhold their consent. A government draws its powers from the consent of the governed.

    The problem is that there is no peace movement in America. None. But there is almost 100% consent for a highly militaristic America and for war, war, and more war. A representative ran for President last time on an anti-war platform, and struggled to get 1% support within her party. So far America has seen only two anti-war protests in over a year of World War III, and both of those were sparsely attended. There is no peace movement within America. Which is too bad, because America dearly needs one. The whole dang world needs one. I wish someone would build one, again, since we had one back in my day, but there are lots of things that I wish and in America none of them ever happen.

  15. Humwawa
    April 8, 2023 at 15:45

    I don’t know about Trump. He seems to be a bit of a wild card. The very thing one doesn’t want to have in a nuclear standoff.

    However, let’s not forget that it was Reagan who came in as a hawk, joking about nuking the Soviets when he came into office, who made up with Gorbachev.

    Does Trump have to potential to pull of something like that? Trump had Suleimani assassinated; however, when the Iranians hit a US base in retaliation, his administration played down the damage to avoid open conflict with the Iranians.

    Trump’s idea of leadership seems to be to do a lot of chest thumping to intimidate any adversary, but when push comes to shove, he’s likely to draw back with his tail between the legs.

    The great question for humanity is, how can the world manage the collapse of the US empire without the US destroying the world?

    • Tony
      April 9, 2023 at 07:57

      Reagan’s words at the 1976 Republican Convention never cease to move me:

      “And then again there is that challenge of which he spoke, that we live in world in which the great powers have poised and aimed at each other horrible missiles of destruction, nuclear weapons that can in a matter of minutes arrive in each other’s country and destroy virtually the civilized world we live in…

      And suddenly it dawned on me, those who would read this letter a hundred years from now will know whether those missiles were fired. They will know whether we met our challenge.”

      And I would add that we must ensure that we meet our challenge of eliminating nuclear weapons.

  16. Mushroom Pizza
    April 8, 2023 at 15:39

    A picture is worth at least 1,000 words.

    Therefore, for the “Future of US Nuclear Strategy”, insert 1 picture of a mushroom cloud, for best accuracy one from one of the above ground fusion bomb tests from the pre-Kennedy era.

    The US obviously wants world war iii, and wants it sooner rather than later. There is no place in the world where the US is not at a policy of maximum escalation and provocation. Thus, the ‘future of US nuclear strategy’ can be very well summed up with the above image. There is no hint of an idea that the US will stop at anything less, and there is no political movement for peace within the US. The only opposition to nuking Russia comes from people who scream that we must instead nuke China.

  17. Martin
    April 8, 2023 at 15:33

    there is a very strong ‘tactical nuke’-lobby in the us that will do everything (no holds barred) to goad mr. putin into using one and set a precedent so these ‘small nukes’ become indeed an instrument for the racketeering us military.

  18. bardamu
    April 8, 2023 at 14:23

    Assuming that the DNC regards RFK JR as a genuine threat, it will surely undermine and effectively disallow his candidacy.

    If this happens, I wonder whether he will be willing to do what Sanders failed to do in ’16, to bring his name to a third party ticket.

    We won’t at any one time have the power structures in place and their policies reversed. So what’ll it be?

  19. April 8, 2023 at 13:33

    I have the highest regard for Ritter’s analysis but the the flaw is that presidents don’t make these decisions. They are captive to the deep state and ideologues who run the show. In other words the profound dilemma we are all in is systemic. We have seen time and time again how presidents are captive to the rotten status quo they preside over.

    It all comes down to the fact that democracy in the USA and the West in general has been totally subverted. The writings of Sheldon Wolin, Eric Zuesse et al have never been more relevant to our times.

      April 8, 2023 at 13:58

      It is more complicated than such a blanket statement that presidents don’t make these decisions. Certainly they are under enormous pressure from the military, intelligence and the unelected foreign policy establishment (what Obama called “The Blob”) and often presidents cave to those pressures. But sometimes they don’t, like JFK in the Bay of Pigs. If presidents didn’t make decisions why would so much effort be exerted to manipulate, undermine and pressure them? Of course the CIA has often been out of control of the president as was certainly the case during JFK’s administration. But the decision to use a nuclear weapon is a Pentagon matter and even Curtis LeMay could not convince Eisenhower to drop hundreds of atomic and hydrogen bombs on the Soviet Union. It was Ike’s decision. So presidents matter and sometimes make these decisions. Dan Ellsberg did sketch out scenarios in his book Doomsday Machine that in certain circumstances lower level commanders could decide to launch a nuclear strike and that yes, a president’s command, is not always needed.

    • April 8, 2023 at 17:05

      President Obama said the White House is the most luxurious prison on Earth,

  20. Chris G
    April 8, 2023 at 13:18

    Just finished Daniel Ellsberg’s book “The Doomsday Machine; Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.” I highly recommend this book as Ellsberg had exceptionally deep and broad knowledge of all of our deepest and darkest nuclear secrets from the early 1960’s onward. Reading his historical accounts it quickly become clear that US nuclear weapons policies have been run by maniacs for decades. He also destroys the myth that only the president can initiate nuclear war. Reading his revelations about actual nuclear weapons policies I realized that Stanley Kubrick’s movie classic “Dr. Stangelove” was far closer to reality than all the soothing reassurances we’ve been given by our sociopathic rulers. Nuclear war and the end of human life on Earth is not only a real possibility, it appears all too likely, thanks largely to the sociopaths who run US foreign/military policy.

    I trust Putin more than I trust Biden and his death cult of neocons.

    • ThisOldMan
      April 8, 2023 at 19:59

      “Trust” is not the word I would use. I would say that Putin is not a suicide bomber, and that is more than I can say say with any confidence of the neocons. As for Biden: After the demolition of Nordstream II, I wouldn’t “trust” him any further than I would Trump. But I’m afraid we’re going to find out …

    • Chris G
      April 9, 2023 at 11:28

      Sorry, just to clarify my above comment, Ellsberg does not distinguish between actual or threatened use of nuclear weapons. He uses the analogy of a gun by a stick-up bandit. One doesn’t have to pull the trigger to get what one wants.

  21. April 8, 2023 at 13:17

    Great article, apart from the JFK reference. JFK’s foreign policy was extremely belligerent. He authorised a US invasion of Cuba and the murder of Fidel Castro and sent US troops to Vietnam. Not once but twice – over Berlin and Cuba – the ‘holiest little president’ dragged the world to the brink of nuclear war.

  22. Morgan Escherly
    April 8, 2023 at 13:15

    Unions could save us
    from this hell
    but will they?

    Unions are in the unique position of being the last, largest and most organized force to challenge the status quo. Has union leadership been compromised to keep them from becoming a political force? Some research indicates that leadership is controlled or corrupt.

    Unions have members in every state, 14.7M of them. If every union member recruited just 5 more people that agreed to vote as a block, they’d have 90M people, an unstoppable force.

    As Ralph Nader observed, all it takes is 4000 dedicated people to take over every state legislature, governorship, US House, Senate and Presidency. And here is exactly how they could do it if they wanted to: agree to vote as a block! Start by doing a survey of members. Last election, 57% of union members voted for Biden! Guess what the others did?

    So here is the plan: Dear union members! If you had a choice between a Republican, a Democrat, or a dedicated union member, which would you choose? Let’s start nominating union members and let’s start voting on them within our group. Go state by state, House district level. And get non-union members to agree to vote as a block!

    Unions have the power. What we need is leadership, not to tell us what to do, but how to get to where we collectively want to go.

    The key to organizing is wide-spread participation in the public understanding of what is at stake.
    What is needed is a user-funded social media platform specifically for sharing ideas, discussing, and voting to find common ground. Unions could start nominating their own candidates and agree to vote as a block. Unions could be running the country and passing laws to benefit the working class. Unions could set an agenda to make not only the country work, but be a true leader in the world, not by being bullies, but by creating an environment of respect and trust.

    Unions have the power. Now, will they use it? True, union leadership would likely not encourage this but there is nothing stopping union members from self organizing leaderless group to make this happen.

    • April 9, 2023 at 01:54

      I like your understanding, and I do agree with you and Nader’s politics that organized communities, and a unionized, coalition of working class unions/groups could make a PROFOUND difference once set up and acting in unison. The Corporate Ruling classes have little to fear because they are so powerful because despite their competition and “me first” mindset, they always act in their CLASS INTERESTS! The ONE thing they fear is a united working class conscious of our CLASS INTERESTS and always acting to uphold them! I always marveled and was touched by new articles of disasters hitting a community, however even before govt. assistance arrives, the members in that community reach out and hold up and assist each other because they are suddenly and vicerally aware of their common interests!

  23. IJ Scambling
    April 8, 2023 at 12:33

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is already under attack as “a rabid anti-vaxxer” by the shout and smear establishment. This is absolutely inaccurate BS, as his study “The Real Anthony Fauci” shows and his numerous interviews available on the internet.

    That work is a long, diligent study with Robert in the reporter’s role consulting a vast array of experts in the scientific and medical field. His conclusion: Fauci is seriously conflicted with special interests on the pharmaceutical side.

    Unfortunately, Robert’s limitations are added to by spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological disorder that affects the voice and his ability to speak clearly. This makes him difficult to listen to, although the effort is well worth it. He is the type of leader we need today.

  24. JonnyJames
    April 8, 2023 at 12:11

    Yes, Drumpf imposed ILLEGAL “sanctions” (act of War) on Russia, bombed Russia’s ally Syria, kow-towed to Apartheid Israel and supported genocide of Palestine, imposed “sanctions” on Russia’s ally Iran, supported Israeli attacks on Iran, murdered Iranian general Suleimani (act of War), threatened China and DPRK, fabricated a raft of lies about China, supported the head-chopping Saudis, imposed ILLEGAL sanctions (act of War) on Venezuela, Cuba etc. etc.

    But gullible, ignorant folks think he is a man of peace and he is man of his word. (“there’s a sucker born every minute”)

    RFK Jr. could be a welcome change, however do we really believe he would have a snowball’s chance with a lack of free and fair elections? The Mass Media Cartel and DNC will lie, cheat and steal to promote their crooked candidates. (Same for RNC, recall what happened to Ron Paul).
    Remember, our “elections” are largely bought and paid for public relations stunts. (see Citizens United)

    The first step is to break out of the denial phase: the US has no functioning democracy, it is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery. The sooner folks accept this ugly truth, the faster we can move on…

    Instead of “voting” again and again, while watching conditions worsen, we need to boycott the sham elections and have a mass demonstrations (kinda like what’s happening in France) . That seems to be wishful thinking on my part, however. Most people are in denial, or completely propagandized with superficial nonsense the Media Cartel bombard them with every day.

    • Juan Luchador
      April 9, 2023 at 11:52

      I could not agree more with your comment JJ, especially your last two paragraphs. Unfortunately, the citizens of this country don’t have the knowledge or sense to do what the French do – understand the issues and take to the streets by the millions to demand change – never going to happen in this adolescent and arrogant country.

  25. April 8, 2023 at 11:40

    In March of 2022, Biden signed a new United States Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). The critical paragraph in that document gives the United States permission use nuclear weapons prior to having had nuclear weapons used against it:

    “The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. For all other states, there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring attacks that have strategic effect against the Unites States or its Allies and partners.”

    “… deterring attacks …” includes “deterring” non-nuclear attacks. In other words, if Russia and Poland got into a military skirmish that had not gone nuclear and was not expected to go nuclear, the U.S. could use nukes against Russia in response to an anticipated “strategic effect against” Poland.

    The new NPR is a craftily written document. Did Biden really understand what he signed off on?

    • Chris G
      April 9, 2023 at 11:12

      Just want to point out that Iran is a non-nuclear state and also a signatory to the NPT. Yet, the US consistently threatens Iran with nuclear weapons by using the euphemistic phrasing “all options are on the table.”

      This threat against Iran is nothing unique, as Ellsberg (see my comment above) points out in his book “The Doomsday Machine” the US has a long documented history of using nuclear weapons (either tactical or strategic) against any number of countries. For example, Nixon/Kissinger apparently threatened North Vietnam with their use on thirteen different occasions.

      I would be shocked to learn if we haven’t already threatened Russia with the use of tactical nukes if they push too far in Ukraine. Perhaps that is one reason Putin has decided on a slow grinding strategy.

      • Thot
        April 10, 2023 at 02:11

        Aujourd’hui, pour la première fois de son histoire, l’Amérique n’est pas compétitive militairement , pour la première fois, tous les mensonges sur sa “prévalence”, s’écroulent: avec quelques Sarmat même pas armés avec du nucléaire, plus de cette saloperie de washington ! boum et le monde entier applaudirait ! en bref; ce pays ultra violent à trouvé son maître. Pour l’instant, il pisse partout, avec fureur mais le fait est qu’il ne peu qu’une seule chose, s’écraser, enfin, pour le bien de l’humanité entière !
        J’attend ça depuis 50 ans et depuis 2018, je bois l champagne tous les jours ! fini ce pays monstrueux incapable de gérer quoique ce soit, incapable d’autonomie et qui a passé sa pauvre petite vie d’ado mal fini à massacrer, tuer, piller !!! vade retro satanas ! vade retro américa !

  26. AG
    April 8, 2023 at 11:25

    Europe won´t “happen”.
    Just now 2 members of US Treasury are on EU “visiting” tour to make warnings clear – either with or against US.

    “America has a message for countries and companies still doing businesses with Russia: You’re with us or against us”
    By Fatima Hussein and The Associated Press


    Of course eventually this is about curbing China. To make clear to them to keep out of Europe.
    What EU industries will reckon as their core interest remains to be seen. After all in terms of trade and commerce, RU is not China.

    Germans e.g. went along with leaving RU. China as we have seen since is a different matter obviously.
    Can US supplement for possible losses through leaving China too?
    Rather doubtful.

    • Martin
      April 8, 2023 at 15:24

      people in charge in the us do not care for supplementing possible losses in europe caused by cutting ties with china. germany, europe just took the destruction of northstream lying down. ‘independent eu industries’ working on their own interests is a fantasy. they bowed before, they’ll bow again. the chinese know that the eu will obey the us when the time has come to chose a side in taiwan (hence macron and ursula’s request regarding ukraine, will probably only get a well deserved smirk).

    • Thot
      April 10, 2023 at 02:23

      L’Amérique a un message pour les pays et les entreprises qui font encore des affaires avec la Russie : vous êtes avec nous ou contre nous”
      Par Fatima Hussein et Associated Press

      Oui, sauf que ce pays qui menace tout le monde ne fait plus peur à personne !! fini le terrorisme planétaire et je me demande comment ce pays qui ne vit que sur ça et sur le dos de tous les autres, va l’accepter. On sait que les yankee n’ont pas la profondeur ni l’âge et donc, la sagesse, des vieilles culture millénaires, il agira sans doute comme ce qu’il est, un petit tyran qui préfère entraîner les autres avec lui dans son annihilation nécessaire : tout le monde n’est pas comme les Russes qui eux, on vu leur pays s’écrouler, sans un coup de feu. Vu l’amour des américians pour le meurtre, les paris sont ouverts

      et oui, le reste du monde refuse d’être indien ou palestinien pour vous faire plaisir, désolée )))))))

  27. Ronald Johnson
    April 8, 2023 at 10:56

    If Robert Kennedy were nominated, would he be assassinated? But more likely be character assassinated in the print and broadcast media. Who do you suppose is propping up Donald Trump with slow-motion judicial pantomime?

  28. Rudy Haugeneder
    April 8, 2023 at 10:55

    As with implementing global climate change controls, it is too late. One can hope not, but hope usually fails.

  29. April 8, 2023 at 08:29

    A related analysis by Eva Ottenburg gets to the nitty-gritty and why political candidates with integrity — which do not incluce Robert f. Kennedy Jr — will not rise to power in the cancerous state the U.S. has become


    • Mick
      April 9, 2023 at 08:12

      Thanks for the reference – I’ve just read that article – only a weakened USA will be good for the world – I agree.

  30. April 8, 2023 at 08:21

    2002: President George W. Bush did away with the Sole Purpose doctrine. He adopted; Nuclear weapons are but another tool in military’s toolbox, to be used as and when needed, including occasions when the destruction of battlefield targets for the simple purposes of gaining an operational advantage is the objective.

  31. George
    April 8, 2023 at 07:57

    Thanks for the article. I have been following Mr. Ritter on various outlets and have seldom found reason to disagree with the ideas he has offered.

    I have no real confidence in any form of US leadership in future military or economic matters. I have read speeches of Putin, Xi and Biden and have noticed with Putin and Xi there is a emphasis on cooperation and mutual gain. With Biden (and Co) it is all about dominance and following (American defined) Rules.

    I am of the opinion, Europe and the “friends of USA hold the key. They must on the one hand become more sovereign in their political stance and at the same time advise ( push ) the USA into a better direction. Without Europe the policies of the USA are nothing but hot air. You can only lead if you have followers. And a bully can only rule the playground if the other kids let him.

    If Europe does not wake up then the USA is doomed.

  32. TP Graf
    April 8, 2023 at 07:56

    I think RFK, Jr. has too much baggage to get anywhere, but who knows. How anyone can cheer on Biden/Harris is beyond me, yet they do. For Trump to get my vote, he’d need to spell things out clearly AND provide a list of who would be in his administration. We don’t need SwampCreatures2.0 in a second Trump administration.

    It seems to me given the war mongering stupidity of both parties, the best would be the year of the independent, but they need to move swiftly and they HAVE to get on the ballot in every state, which by design is one hell of an ask. I say Kucinich/Hoh 2024. A few appointee suggestions in that administration: Scott Ritter, chief arms negotiator; Jeffrey Sachs, Treasury Secretary; Chas Freeman, Secretary of State; Larry Wilkerson, Defense Secretary.

    Kudos to Kucinich for offering his draft subpoena for members of Congress to investigate the Nord Stream destruction.

    • Robert Sinuhe
      April 8, 2023 at 12:25

      I’m with you TP. Dennis Kucinich, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs and Scott Ritter would certainly be my pick for the new administration. The problem is the political machine that runs this country would destroy their chances as they have done others in the past. Nevertheless, if I vote in 2024, I will certainly write in these men.

  33. Paul Citro
    April 8, 2023 at 07:34

    God bless Robert Kennedy. However, if he even gets close to stopping the military/industrial complex juggernaut he will surely get the JFK treatment.

  34. Valerie
    April 8, 2023 at 03:47

    Already the knives are out on Mr. Kennedy’s vaccine stance. If he can overcome that particular stumbling block, then, in my mind, he would be the best candidate for the job.

    • Juan Luchador
      April 9, 2023 at 11:44

      Considering that RFK Jr. is, according to reliable sources, responsible for 75% or more of the vaccine disinformation out there that greatly harmed this nation — caused untold death and suffering, that subsequentially caused the detrimental situation healthcare workers faced who had to care for those patients – I would not even consider voting for him. Whomever might actually be a desirable choice would not even be considered or allowed in our very broken system. The only candidate that ever mattered to me was Ralph Nader and we didn’t have enough sense to elect the guy and still blame him for the D’s losing that year.

  35. Jeff Harrison
    April 8, 2023 at 00:45

    I’ll bet you’re right and I’ll bet we’re screwed. We have two wings of one war party.

  36. Paul Spencer
    April 7, 2023 at 22:38

    Please join Scott Ritter’s arms control movement project. We’ll rally for ironclad promise(s) from any and all candidates in 2024.

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