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 FRI 13/SAT14 APRIL 2018





The danger of US intervention in Syria leading to uncontrolled and possibly catastrophic escalation is real. While nothing in this world is certain, the risk of an accidental or not-so-accidental apocalypse arising from miscalculation, malice, or malfunction is just too great. The US should not take actions that put such a risk on the table. Middle-powers such as the UK or Australia would be wise to make it perfectly clear that they think the risks are not worth it, and should do their utmost to persuade their ally not to take those risks.

That WW-III might possibly originate in a middle-east clash between NATO and Russia was canvassed seriously a few years ago in the BBC video, now available on youtube:


A rising chorus of nuclear and strategic experts and elder statesmen including Mikhail Gorbachev, former President Carter, and Pope Francis, have now warned that the risk of US-Russian confrontation in Syria escalating to nuclear war is a risk that should never be taken. They are absolutely correct.

Bombing your way to peace in Syria is a moral and logical impossibility. Even if a global apocalypse is not the result of Donald Trumps ill-conceived actions, it will do nothing to stem the tide of destruction that has washed over Syria in the last ten years.

While it is anything but certain what might take place if, for example, Russia were to shoot down US missiles, or if it were to target or even to destroy a US ship – quite possible, and even a logical outcome in the light of recent statements by the Russian government and tweets by Donald Trump – the worst possible outcome of a US-Russian confrontation in Syria is really and truly global thermonuclear war. We stress that this is the worst possible outcome, but should it take place, the stakes are literally infinite. Global thermonuclear war would destroy what we call civilization and would put at least a question mark over human survival itself.

Nothing, no political or strategic objective whatsoever, can justify actions that might risk the destruction of civilization, and imperil the future of humans. No conceivable objective is worth risking literally everything for, yet if enough things go wrong that is exactly what we do risk.

On previous occasions when the world has risked nuclear war, we have been outrageously lucky, and escaped by the skin of our teeth – because a Soviet officer in 1983 had 'a feeling in my gut that there was a mistake somewhere', or because a launch control officer physically prevented a launch, or because an unknown advisor to President Yeltsin in 1995 uttered the worlds 'excuse me mr President, lets wait another minute'. Let us pray to be this lucky this time round, and let us pray that a week from now this press release looks foolish because nothing has happened. Nothing will please me more than to look foolish this way!

And let us take commonsense steps to reduce nuclear risks and to get rid of nuclear weapons so that the world no longer has to play this kind of American and Russian roulette. Let us start with adopting postures of 'No First Use', taking nuclear weapons off high alert status, and signing the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (the 'Ban' Treaty.)

The author of this press-release, John Hallam, will on Friday week (assuming the world is still here) depart for the NPT Prep-com meeting in Geneva, and then the High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in NY, where he will deliver a paper to diplomats and NGOs on the danger of (accidental or otherwise) nuclear war.

John Hallam

UN Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner

People for Nuclear Disarmament

Human Survival Project

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