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Ultimate Violence: More about Madness
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“U.S. foreign policy is based on an inherent contradiction and fatal flaw. The aim of U.S. foreign policy is a U.S.-dominated world.... Unless U.S. foreign policy is changed to recognize the need for a multipolar world, it will lead to more wars, and possibly World War III.”
With this ominous introduction my esteemed colleague, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs opened his recent article titled, “The Need for a New U.S. Foreign Policy.”
A few days ago, I wrote in my “Ultimate Violence” series about the truly serious danger that weapons of mass destruction pose, for the first time since their initial use in 1945, just days after they were first created. It is imperative that we keep awareness about our self-generated threats to human survival, for one definition of insanity is not noticing that a big fish is eating us, because we are too busy catching small fry.
The weapons that were actually used in 1945 were by today’s standards “primitive” atomic weapons, far less powerful than those we consider “usable” today. We should also remember that most of the top scientists who created the weapons, and most of the senior generals in the military, opposed their use. It was the lay politicians, led by President Harry Truman, who took the awful decision to use such weapons immediately and to do so against Japanese cities.
Soon after this was done, many of the key scientists, led by Albert Einstein and J. R. Oppenheimer, called for the outlawing of these weapons and warned, based on their special knowledge of what was to come, that it was imperative at that time to move quickly toward “One World,” because the alternative would be “Or None.” Hence was their publication in 1946 of the only other multi-author New York Times bestseller of specialized knowledge that we know of, other than our own: One World or None.
What I wrote a few days ago I titled: Ultimate Violence: ‘Tactical’ Nuclear Madness – We are Closer to MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) than Ever
Beyond our warnings against individual dangerous leaders, now that “Trumpism” and “Putinism” have spread, the global culture on this subject is the most immediate issue we must urgently grapple with. And it is not just “tactical” battlefield nuclear weapons; though that is how Apocalypse may start and then spiral out of control: hundreds of massive “strategic” nuclear weapons, of orders of magnitude more destructive than those used in 1945, are now on hair-trigger alert in a number of countries.
What does it mean when a child of today has a greater likelihood of dying of a nuclear holocaust than of a car accident?
Yet today, even the “sane” politicians are not addressing the issue as critically and as urgently as they should. Instead, there is much nonchalant talking, writing, and actual planning of “nuclear war” and “World War III”—which in itself should cause us to rethink entirely how we have fallen into what I have come to call a “death spiral.” We must, indeed, treat ourselves as we would a suicidal patient in need of immediate attention as to what we need to do, and to do it urgently, in order to pull ourselves out of this dangerous spiral.
The situation today is far more dangerously apocalyptic than it was in 1945. That is why the Doomsday Clock, begun in 1946 by the atomic scientists who had originally created the atomic bomb, has now been moved far closer to midnight, to nuclear Armageddon, than ever before—no longer couched in minutes, but advanced to 90 seconds.
However, months ago I stated that the Doomsday Clock, ticking ever closer to Armageddon Midnight, should in actuality be moved from 90 to 60 seconds. Now, I believe it should be advanced further to 50 seconds.
Underlying Sachs’ analysis is the tragic reality that the major movements since the two World Wars in the last century, followed by the Cold War and the many devastating Proxy Wars that ensued—movements to bring the world under control, to create a respected and empowered United Nations, to outlaw nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and to move our world closer to life-affirming peace—have largely failed.
We humans are now facing “Ultimate Violence,” possibly even species extinction, which Christian zealots prophesize as “the End of Days.” We are at the threshold. And in our own country, the country most responsible for leading the world to this point, since we have been the self-proclaimed greatest and “exceptional” country, our political and economic systems, our leaders, and our self-appointed role as the world’s police are failing, all the more rapidly the more we insist.
Our times need voices that are brave, those who do not “go along to get along,” such as Sachs and others among our most learned and accomplished scholars, intellectuals, and—yes—doctors and psychiatrists. They need to be empowered as the voices of sanity in Washington, who as key advisers to our political leaders can bring our civilization’s best available knowledge to their ears without political conflicts or profit motives. Otherwise, our leaders will not only continue to fail us but lead us all toward the “Ultimate Violence” from which there will be no recovery this time.
Dr. Bandy X. Lee will be holding her third session of “Ask Dr. Lee about Societal Mental Health” tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST/10 a.m. PST on Zoom. Please subscribe to receive further announcements one hour before the session. Thank you!
Dr. Lee is a forensic psychiatrist, preventive psychiatrist, and expert on violence who has applied her mental health knowledge to advise criminal courts, civil courts, prisons, governments, and international bodies for 25 years. Since 2017, she has endeavored to educate the American public on applying mental health principles to our current societal crises, which are placing us at existential risk.