Saturday, August 29, 2015

Occupy Peace
Fight For Peace, Not For War

By Paul Craig Roberts

August 28, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - 

Commentators are bemoaning the death of the American peace movement. However, Gerald Celente is in the process of reviving it. 

You can participate on September 20 at High Noon in Kingston, New York, at the intersection of Crown and John Streets, the four most historic corners in the United States with pre-Revolutionary stone buildings on every corner. Many historic happenings occurred in Kingston.

This is not a mere rally or prayer meeting. Celente is giving a solution—an Action Plan. Go to and become acquainted with the program.

You don’t have to worry about being beaten by goon thugs or tasered, or tear gassed, or arrested, because the Mayor of Kingston, Shayne Gallo, is supporting Occupy Peace. The streets are legally blocked off by the Mayor of Kingston.

Check out this short VIDEO (1'35).

This is what you will miss if you are not there:

People are forever asking for solutions. Celente has solutions. Go and support them.

During the two days prior to Occupy Peace, the Trends Research Institute is holding a conference in Kingston that will examine the current trends unfolding in the world. I am speaking on Friday. The three days together provide a rare opportunity to both learn and to stand up for peace.

Listen to Steven Whitaker’s song: 

and show up at Gerald Celente’s Occupy Peace

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Anyone who still thinks that Russia or Putin was responsible for shooting down Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 
should read this assessment by Ray McGovern, a 30-year veteran of the C.I.A. and U.S. Army intelligence, and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), and 
think again. . .

  Propaganda, Intelligence and MH-17  

Exclusive: Propaganda is the life-blood of life-destroying wars, and the U.S. government has reached new heights (or depths) in this art of perception management. 

A case in point is the media manipulation around last year’s Malaysia Airlines shoot-down over Ukraine, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Tuyen Quang meeting marks 70th anniversary of Tan Trao Congress

A grand meeting held in the northern mountainous province of Tuyen Quang's Tan Trao Commune yesterday celebrated the 70th anniversary of the 1945 Tan Trao Congress of People's Representatives which was chaired by President Ho Chi Minh.

National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung greets ethnic minority people at the meeting. Vietnamese majority and minority people united to bring about the popular 1945 August Revolution and seize power throughout the entire country. This was a largely bloodless Revolution, which should have ended French colonialism and delivered Independence, but foreign powers (Britain, USA and France) interfered to bring war to Viet Nam instead.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

By Finian Cunningham 
 August 15, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - " SCF" - 

America’s war on Vietnam may have officially ended 40 years ago, but the Southeast Asian country is still battling with the horrific legacy that the US military bequeathed. Yet last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry, while in Hanoi, eulogised about how the two countries are «healing» and forging a new«partnership».

Kerry was speaking on the 20th anniversary of «normalising ties» between the US and Vietnam that began in August 1995, more than 20 years after the war’s end.

«It took us 20 more years to move from healing to building. Think of what we can accomplish in the 20 years to come», said Kerry.

The American diplomat’s blithe account of «healing to building» belies the ongoing horror for some three million Vietnamese who live with the poisonous legacy of US war on that country. That number is about the same as the total of Vietnamese who died during the war from American saturation bombing and ground war.

Between 1961 and 1972 – three years before the war ended – the US military dropped a total of 20 million gallons of highly toxic herbicides on what was then South Vietnam. The New York Times reported the affected area was «about the size of Massachusetts» or some 27,300 square kilometres. That equates to over 15 per cent of the total territory of what was then South Vietnam.

The most well known of these defoliating chemicals was Agent Orange, which the Americans sprayed on forests and croplands from aircrafts and river navy boats, with the alleged purpose of denying tree cover and food supplies to the South Vietnamese insurgents of the Vietcong.

According to the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA): «More than 3 million people in Vietnam still suffer from the after-effects of the defoliant. In 2012, a baby was reported to have suffered health problems related to the defoliant, meaning a fourth generation of victims had emerged.»

VAVA’s vice president Tran Xuan Thu says that as long as victims continue to suffer and new cases emerge then, «The war has still not ended».

The health impacts from the US chemical spraying across southern Vietnam include a litany of cancers, tumours, neoplasms, skin diseases and congenital birth defects.

Tran Thi Le Huyen, who is now 29, was born more than 10 years after the war’s end in 1975. She lives near Da Nang in central Vietnam from where the US military ran its main Agent Orange flights, known as Operation Ranch Hand. Tran has been bedridden since birth crippled from her twisted, emaciated legs. Her mother said: «We have visited various hospitals, but there was no place that offered any treatment».

Danish citizen Bente Peterson, who directed VAVA detoxification projects for nearly 10 years up to 2013, recalled to this author innumerable cases of whole families destroyed by poisoning from Agent Orange. She remembered one tragic Vietnamese war veteran in particular who raised three sons only to watch all of them die from different cancers.

Proportionate to population, the number of Agent Orange victims in Vietnam today would be the equivalent of some 10 million Americans suffering from similar life-threatening diseases. 

While thousands of US military veterans who also succumbed to Agent Orange toxicity have received [some compensation from the] chemical companies (Monsanto, Dow) that manufactured the herbicide, the Vietnamese people have never obtained any reparation from Washington. 

Class-action suits brought by Vietnamese victims have repeatedly been rejected in US courts, the latest being in 2009 by the US Supreme Court, even though these same courts ruled in favour of American veterans receiving compensation as far back as 1984.

Washington maintains that its use of herbicides in Vietnam were not knowingly targeting civilian populations. Therefore, it claims, Agent Orange was not used as a chemical weapon. But that seems like cynical word play when millions of acres of crops and forests were indiscriminately sprayed, with the full knowledge that the wider population would be contaminated. 

Also, industrial analysis showed as far back as 1957 that the herbicides used by the American military in Vietnam contained traces of highly toxic and carcinogenic dioxin. 

Under public pressure over the health dangers voiced by US scientists and the citizens’ anti-war movement, the Agent Orange operation was officially cancelled in 1972.

In 2012, the US Congress finally earmarked some $40 million for cleaning up toxic areas in Vietnam. Whether the full money is actually delivered is another point. A more realistic financial cost for the clean-up across Vietnam would be in the billions – and that is not including the billions more that would be required for proper medical treatment of victims.

So far, the former US air base at Da Nang has undergone partial detoxification of its soil and nearby waterways. But there are dozens of other so-called dioxin «hot spots» scattered across southern Vietnam and adjacent to the borders with Cambodia and Laos.

Phung Tuu Boi of the Vietnam Forestry Science and Technology Association, which has been involved in replanting mangroves and upland areas destroyed by the American defoliation, says: «Centuries will be needed to restore the destroyed environment».

Forty years after devastating Vietnam, its people and environment, Washington’s «clean-up» assistance appears like a mere drop in the 55-gallon drums it used to drop Agent Orange on that country. It is woefully inadequate reparation for the millions of victims and generations of suffering children to come.

A closer reading of the Vietnamese press reports on John Kerry’s visit last week reveals the bigger US concern. Kerry might have talked about «healing» but he reportedly said very little about the plight of war victims or what Washington should provide in direct medical aid. 

Of more importance to the US secretary of state was apparently the desire to implement the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 other Southeast Asian nations. Vietnam is seen as key to the US cementing the TPP, which pointedly excludes China from the trade pact.

Kerry also told Vietnamese political leaders that Washington was moving towards lifting restrictions on arms exports to Vietnam, and he emphatically reiterated America’s support for the country in its territorial maritime disputes with China.

The belated American moves to help detoxify its legacy in Vietnam first began in 2011 when Hillary Clinton was the US Secretary of State. That move also coincided with the «Pivot to Asia» policy under President Obama when Washington signalled that it would henceforth be targeting China as a top geopolitical rival. Since then, tensions between Washington and Beijing have steadily escalated.

So, when Kerry talks about how Vietnam and the US need to quickly move from «healing to building partnership» we can safely deduce that America’s real objective is to enlist Vietnam in its geopolitical calculations against China.

Vietnam’s leadership may be flattered by preferential trade concessions and supply of US warships. But, just as the millions of Agent Orange victims testify, the purported partnership with Washington will prove to be a toxic relationship.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The film Hiroshima-Nagasaki 1945 was created in 1968 from Japanese footage that the U.S. Defense Department had kept hidden for over 20 years. The filmmaker Erik Barnouw offered his 16 minute film to all the U.S. main channels. None of them showed it. Why is obvious when looking at this three minute excerpt.

The atom bombs dropped by the US on those Japanese cities served no military purpose, as the Japanese were already suing for peace. President Truman, who ordered the bombs to be dropped, lied to the American people when he said that the atom bombs had saved lives and there were few civilian deaths. Up to 200,000 were killed.

Seeing the barbarous effect of these weapons, did our political and military leaders decide to rid the world of them? Far from it. Today's nuclear weapons make the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs look like water pistols in comparison, and there are enough of them to destroy not just cities but the whole world. 

And who has most of these weapons of mass destruction? The only country to ever use them -- the United States.

Here is the 16 minute version of the film:

President Barack Obama’s plans to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years could cost taxpayers nearly $1 trillion, according to a new study that suggests the project’s long-term price tag will far outpace available Pentagon estimates... 
Just imagine how much education, healthcare, environmental and social benefits that could buy!
Just imagine how much education, healthcare, unemployment benefits or pensions that could buy.

70-Year Nuclear Explosions Not Done Yet
By David Swanson
The dropping of those bombs and the explicit threat ever since to drop more is a crime that has given birth to a new species of imperialism. 

The War Was Won Before Hiroshima—And the Generals Who Dropped the Bomb Knew It

Seventy years after the bombing, will [we] face the brutal truth?

By Gar Alperovitz

Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum—America’s shrine to the technological leading edge of the military industrial complex—hear a familiar narrative from the tour guides in front of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped an atomic weapon on the civilians of Hiroshima 70 years ago today.

The bomb was dropped, they say, to save the lives of thousands of Americans who would otherwise have been killed in an invasion of the Home Islands. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were largely destroyed and the lives of between 135,000 and 300,000 mostly Japanese women, children, and old people were sacrificed—most young men were away at war—as the result of a terrible but morally just calculus aimed at bringing an intractable war to a close.

This story may assuage the conscience of the air museum visitor, but it is largely myth, fashioned to buttress our memories of the “good” war. By and large, the top generals and admirals who managed World War II knew better. 

Consider the small and little-noticed plaque hanging in the National Museum of the US Navy that accompanies the replica of “Little Boy,” the weapon used against the people of Hiroshima: In its one paragraph, it makes clear that Truman’s “political advisors” overruled the military in determining the way in which the end of the war in Japan would be approached.

Furthermore, contrary to the popular myths around the atomic bomb’s nearly magical power to end the war, the Navy Museum’s explication of the history clearly indicates that “the vast destruction wreaked by the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the loss of 135,000 people made little impact on the Japanese military.”

Indeed, it would have been surprising if they had: Despite the terrible concentrated power of atomic weapons, the firebombing of Tokyo earlier in 1945 and the destruction of numerous Japanese cities by conventional bombing had killed far more people.

The Navy Museum acknowledges what many historians have long known: It was only with the entry of the Soviet Union’s Red Army into the war two days after the bombing of Hiroshima that the Japanese moved to finally surrender. Japan was used to losing cities to American bombing; what their military leaders feared more was the destruction of the country’s military by an all-out Red Army assault.

“The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.” - Admiral William Leahy, Truman's Chief of Staff 

The top American military leaders who fought World War II, much to the surprise of many who are not aware of the record, were quite clear that the atomic bomb was unnecessary, that Japan was on the verge of surrender, and—for many—that the destruction of large numbers of civilians was immoral. Most were also conservatives, not liberals.

Adm. William Leahy, President Truman’s Chief of Staff, wrote in his 1950 memoir I Was There that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.… in being the first to use it, we…adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

The commanding general of the US Army Air Forces, Henry “Hap” Arnold, gave a strong indication of his views in a public statement only eleven days after Hiroshima was attacked. Asked on August 17 by a New York Times reporter whether the atomic bomb caused Japan to surrender, Arnold said that “the Japanese position was hopeless even before the first atomic bomb fell, because the Japanese had lost control of their own air.”

“It was an unnecessary experiment... a mistake to ever drop it... [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it.” - Admiral William “Bull” Halsey

Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet, stated in a public address at the Washington Monument two months after the bombings that “the atomic bomb played no decisive part, from a purely military standpoint, in the defeat of Japan…” Adm. William “Bull” Halsey Jr., Commander of the US Third Fleet, stated publicly in 1946 that “the first atomic bomb was an unnecessary experiment…. It was a mistake to ever drop it…. [the scientists] had this toy and they wanted to try it out, so they dropped it…”

Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, for his part, stated in his memoirs that when notified by Secretary of War Henry Stimson of the decision to use atomic weapons, he “voiced to him my grave misgivings, first on the basis of my belief that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary, and secondly because I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives…” He later publicly declared “…it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” 

Even the famous “hawk” Maj. Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Twenty-First Bomber Command, went public the month after the bombing, telling the press that “the atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all.”

The record is quite clear: From the perspective of an overwhelming number of key contemporary leaders in the US military, the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not a matter of military necessity.

American intelligence had broken the Japanese codes, knew the Japanese government was trying to negotiate surrender through Moscow, and had long advised that the expected early August Russian declaration of war, along with assurances that Japan’s Emperor would be allowed to stay as a powerless figurehead, would bring surrender long before the first step in a November US invasion, three months later, could begin.

Historians still do not have a definitive answer to why the bomb was used. Given that US intelligence advised the war would likely end if Japan were given assurances regarding the Emperor—and given that the US military knew it would have to keep the Emperor to help control occupied Japan in any event—something else clearly seems to have been important.

We do know that some of President Truman’s closest advisers viewed the bomb as a diplomatic and not simply a military weapon. Secretary of State James Byrnes, for instance, believed that the use of atomic weapons would help the United States more strongly dominate the postwar era.

According to Manhattan Project scientist Leo Szilard, who met with him on May 28, 1945, “[Byrnes] was concerned about Russia’s postwar behavior…[and thought] that Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might, and that a demonstration of the bomb might impress Russia.”

History is rarely simple, and confronting it head-on, with critical honesty, is often quite painful. Myths, no matter how oversimplified or blatantly false, are too often far more likely to be embraced than inconvenient and unsettling truths.

Even now, for instance, we see how difficult it is for the average US citizen to come to terms with the brutal record of slavery and white supremacy that underlies so much of our national story. Remaking our popular understanding of the “good” war’s climactic act is likely to be just as hard. But if the Confederate battle flag can come down in South Carolina, we can perhaps one day begin to ask ourselves more challenging questions about the nature of America’s global power, and what is true and what is false about why we really dropped the atomic bomb on Japan.

August 1945: Let’s Talk About Terrorism
by Thomas Knapp, August 06, 2015

On August 6, 1945, the United States of America became the first – and, to this day, the only – nation to use atomic or nuclear weapons in actual hostilities (as opposed to testing). The unconditional surrender of Japan quickly followed, bringing an end to World War II.

For 70 years now, the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings have occasioned debate on whether or not those bombings were necessary, and whether or not they were justifiable.

Many World War II veterans – and others – stand on simple necessity to justify the bombings. A US invasion of Japan’s home islands, they argue, would have entailed a million or more US military casualties, and even more Japanese civilian casualties than are attributed to the atomic attacks.

The argument is facially persuasive. As of August 1945, my grandfather and my wife’s father were both serving in the US Navy in the Pacific. There certainly existed a nontrivial likelihood that either or both of them would have died in subsequent battles had the war not ended. For obvious reasons, we’re grateful they came home alive.

The persuasiveness of the argument fades when we consider the facts: Conditional surrender had been on offer since late 1944, the condition being that Emperor Hirohito remain on the throne. The US fought two of the war’s bloodiest battles – Iwo Jima and Okinawa, at a cost of tens of thousands of Americans killed – then unleashed Little Boy and Fat Man on Japan’s civilian population, rather than accept that condition. But once the war was over, Hirohito was allowed to remain Emperor.

That aside, words mean things, and neither our happiness at our ancestors’ survival nor any military argument for insisting on unconditional surrender and dropping atomic bombs to get it changes the character of what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Terrorism, per WordNet, is “the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature.” The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings meet that definition in spades.

US president Harry S. Truman ordered, consciously and with premeditation, the murder of somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 civilians in pursuit of his political goal of unconditional Japanese surrender.

Whether or not an act constitutes terrorism doesn’t depend on whether or not its goals are laudable. Every terrorist and supporter of terrorism in history, save a handful of thorough nihilists, has justified his or her atrocities on the basis of the desired outcomes, claiming that a few innocent lives sacrificed now means more innocent lives saved later.

But innocent lives are not ours to sacrifice. Murder is murder and terrorism is terrorism, no matter what nationalist or patriotic colors we wrap them up in and no matter what ribbon of “necessity” we stick atop them.

Even if we accept the “necessity” argument for the murders at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they remain something to regret and to mourn, not something to justify or to celebrate.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida.  This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

Seventy years ago today [August 9, 1945] a president of the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a city full of innocent Japanese. It was the second time in three days that Harry Truman had done such a thing: He had bombed Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The fatalities in the two cities totalled 150,000–246,000. The victims – mostly children, women, and old men – suffered horrible deaths in the blasts and firestorms. Only shadows remained of those who were vaporized. Many more were injured; others later died from radiation sickness...

The bombings – and other atrocities committed by the U.S. government during World War II, including the “conventional” firebombing of Tokyo that killed 100,000 noncombatants; the destruction of Dresden, a German city of no strategic value; and the continued bombing of Tokyo after the A-bombings and an agreement to surrender – should have been enough to destroy forever any perception of moral authority in the U.S. government – particularly on the subjects like terrorism. 

But, oddly, things have not worked out that way. America proclaims itself the “indispensable nation.” The rules that apply to everyone else don’t apply to American “leaders.” Because of alleged “American exceptionalism,” presidents of the United States gets to write their own rules, even redefining torture if they wish. If much of the rest of the world objects, it’s too bad; no one is in a position to do anything about it. (This immunity from common rules of decency extends to America’s “closest ally,” Israel.)

Until Americans come to see the mass murder in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the war crimes they are, it’s hard to be optimistic that they will ever see U.S. imperial foreign policy for the aggression it is.

A version of this originally appeared as a TGIF at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Sheldon Richman keeps the blog "Free Association" and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society.


The Firebombing of Tokyo
By Rory Fanning
Seventy years ago, the United States needlessly killed almost 100,000 people in a single air raid. Continue

By Joachim Mohr

Mikhail Gorbachev discusses morals and politics in the nuclear age, the crisis in Russian-American relations and his fear that an atomic weapon will some day be used.

"...The discussion about disarmament had already been going on for too long -- far too long. I wanted to finally see words followed by action because the arms race was not only continuing, it was growing ever more dangerous  in terms of the number of weapons and their destructive capacity. There were tens of thousands of nuclear warheads on different delivery systems like aircraft, missiles and submarines... 
The situation was that nuclear missiles were being stationed closer and closer to our borders. They were getting increasingly precise and they were also being aimed at decision-making centers. There were very concrete plans for the use of these weapons. Nuclear war had become conceivable. And even a technical error could have caused it to happen...

SPIEGEL: Did you not also push disarmament forward because of the financial and economic troubles facing the Soviet Union in the 1980s?
Gorbachev: Of course we perceived just how great a burden the arms race was on our economy. That did indeed play a role. It was clear to us that atomic confrontation threatened not only our people but also all of humanity. We knew only too well the weapons being discussed, their destructive force and the consequences. The nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl provided us with a rather precise idea of what the consequences of a nuclear war would be. Decisive for us were thus political and ethical considerations, not economic ones.

SPIEGEL: What was your experience with US President Ronald Reagan, who many saw as a driving force in the Cold War?
Gorbachev: Reagan acted out of honest conviction and genuinely rejected nuclear weapons. Already during my first meeting with him in November of 1985, we were able to make the most important determination: "Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." This sentence combined morals and politics -- two things many consider to be irreconcilable. Unfortunately, the US has since forgotten the second important point in our joint statement -- according to which neither America nor we will seek to achieve military superiority.

SPIEGEL: Are you disappointed in the Americans?
Gorbachev: So many decades pass, but unfortunately some things do not change. Already back in the 1950s, President Dwight D. Eisenhower stated the problem by its name. The power of the military-industrial complex... 

SPIEGEL: Many accused you of using your demand as a tactic to present the Soviet Union as a peace-loving country.
Gorbachev: No, there was no propaganda at play and it was not tactical. It was important to get away from the nuclear abyss our countries were marching toward when they stationed hundreds of intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe...

SPIEGEL: You were unable to convince Reagan to abandon his SDI project, which aimed to create a defensive shield against nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. Did that upset you?
Gorbachev: Reagan wanted it no matter what. That's why in Reykjavik we weren't able to turn our agreements on intercontinental missiles and intermediate-range missiles into treaties. In order to break the impasse, we offered the Americans concessions and uncoupled the negotiating package. We agreed on a separate treaty addressing the intermediate-range missiles. Reagan and I signed it in Washington in December 1987...

SPIEGEL: Can the goal of a nuclear free world still be achieved today?
Gorbachev: It is the correct goal in any case. Nuclear weapons are unacceptable. The fact that they can wipe out the entirety of civilization makes them particularly inhumane. Weapons like this have never existed before in history and they cannot be allowed to exist. If we do not get rid of them, sooner or later they will be used.

SPIEGEL: In recent years, a number of new nuclear powers have emerged.
Gorbachev: That's why we should not forget that the elimination of nuclear weapons is the obligation of every country that signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Though America and Russia have by far the largest arsenals at their disposal.

SPIEGEL: What do you think of the oft-cited theory that mutually assured destruction prevents nuclear wars?
Gorbachev: There's a dangerous logic in that. Here's another question: If five or 10 countries are allowed to have nuclear weapons, then why can't 20 or 30? Today, a few dozen countries have the technical prerequisites to build nuclear weapons. The alternative is clear: Either we move toward a nuclear-free world or we have to accept that nuclear weapons will continue to spread, step by step, across the globe. And can we really imagine a world without nuclear weapons if a single country amasses so many conventional weapons that its military budget nearly tops that of all other countries combined? This country would enjoy total military supremacy if nuclear weapons were abolished.

SPIEGEL: You're talking about the US?
Gorbachev: You said it. It is an insurmountable obstacle on the road to a nuclear-free world. That's why we have to put demilitarization back on the agenda of international politics. This includes a reduction of military budgets, a moratorium on the development of new types of weapons and a prohibition on militarizing space. Otherwise, talks toward a nuclear-free world will be little more than empty words. The world would then become less safe, more unstable and unpredictable. Everyone will lose, including those now seeking to dominate the world.

SPIEGEL: Is there a risk of war between Russia and the West over the crisis in Ukraine?
Gorbachev: We have reached a crossroads in relations between America and Russia. Many are already talking about a new Cold War. Talks between both powers over important global problems have practically been put on ice. That includes the question of nuclear disarmament. Trust, the very capital we worked so hard to build, has been destroyed.

SPIEGEL: Do you believe there is a danger of nuclear war?
Gorbachev: I'm very worried. The current state of things is scary. The nuclear powers still have thousands of nuclear warheads. Nuclear weapons are still stationed in Europe. The pace of reducing stockpiles has slowed considerably. We are witnessing the beginning of a new arms race. The militarization of space is a real danger. The danger of nuclear proliferation is greater than ever before. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has not entered into force, primarily because the Americans did not ratify it. This would have been extremely important...

SPIEGEL: Isn't a world without nuclear weapons just a nice dream?
Gorbachev: No matter how difficult the situation is, we must not fall into resignation or panic. In the mid-1980s, there was no shortage of people who thought the train to atomic hell was unstoppable. But then we achieved a lot in very short space of time. Thousands of nuclear warheads were destroyed and several types of nuclear weapons, such as intermediate-range missiles, were disposed of. We can be proud of that. We accomplished all that together. It should be a lesson for today's leaders: for Obama, Putin and Merkel...

Mikhail Gorbachev was born in 1931 in the rural locality of Privolnoye in the northern Caucasus. He became a member of the Soviet Communist Party at the age of 21 and began a career as a functionary. From 1985 to 1991, he served as the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the most powerful man in the country. With his policies of glasnost ("openness") and perestroika ("restructuring"), he initiated the end of the Soviet Union and the Cold War. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his historic work.