Nuclear weapons: How the U.S. provoked the arms race, escalated it, and trapped the world in nuclear terror

Ever since 1945, the vast majority of Americans believed what the government said about nuclear weapons.  Not only did the politicians tell us what to believe, but – as always – the mainstream news media reinforced the official government messages.  Here are some crucial steps in how the U.S. trapped the world in nuclear weapons:

#1. Since the 1940s, the U.S. government – and mainstream news media – have been telling us that our nuclear weapons are a “deterrent” that prevent nations from attacking us.  Actually, the U.S. military could repel any attempted invasion without using nuclear weapons.

#2. The government and mainstream news media have fooled most Americans into thinking that the U.S.’s nuclear weapons are for retaliation only.  But actually, the U.S. policy has ALWAYS been a willingness to START a nuclear war.  In 1945 the U.S. escalated a conventional war by dropping 2 atomic bombs on Japan.  Also, since the late 1960s, the U.S. has been designing, building, and deploying nuclear weapons that are designed specifically to be used first – against another nation’s missile silos.  The U.S. has NEVER had a “no-first-use” policy, even though the peace movement has been urging a “no-first-use” policy for decades.  The public does not realize that for decades the U.S. policies – and the weapons we have designed and built – are not so much intended to defensively react to an attack, but rather – are designed to launch a first nuclear strike against another nation – to actually aggressively begin a nuclear war.  The U.S.’s “first-strike” nuclear weapons were designed to fly thousands of miles and hit targets with such pinpoint accuracy that they could destroy another nation’s missiles while those are still in their silos.  We would not need that kind of accuracy – which is very expensive to engineer – if we merely wanted to retaliate defensively.

#3. While the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union had been escalating since the early 1950s, the U.S. has PROVOKED EACH ESCALATION with dangerous new weapons technology, so the Soviet Union – fearing for their own “national security” – felt the need to match the U.S.’s escalations.

#4. Although most Americans believe the U.S. “won” the Cold War because the Soviet Union fell apart, actually BOTH nations LOST it because BOTH nations’ mania for military spending took trillions of dollars away from their ability to provide health care, housing, education, environmental clean-up, and other domestic needs.  People in BOTH Russia and the U.S. have been suffering badly as a result, with horrible poverty, low life expectanciy, and other problems that could have been solved if we had invested in peace instead of war.

#5. When the Cold War ended more than 30 years ago, almost all Americans stopped paying attention to nuclear weapons.  Actually, after the Cold War, the U.S. has CONTINUED THE SAME POLICIES and has CONTINUED ESCALATING NUCLEAR WEAPONS in dangerous ways.  Although two treaties actually eliminated thousands of nuclear weapons, both the U.S. and Russia still have THOUSANDS – and they are still on “hair-trigger alert!

#6. And right now the U.S. is building and deploying some NEW nuclear weapons that are SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to make it EASIER TO BEGIN a nuclear war.  For decades the gigantically destructive nuclear weapons were so horrible that no nation has actually launched them against another nation.  The U.S. government reduced the threshold for starting a nuclear war by creating new so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapons (somewhat smaller than the Hiroshima bomb) that will cause the Pentagon and the President to think they’re only taking a modestly destructive action against another nation.  However, if the U.S. attacks Russia with one of these, do you think Russia would simply tolerate the damage, or – in order to protect their own “national security” – would they retaliate with their own nuclear weapons?  These so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapons would very likely escalate into a nuclear war that would kill hundreds of millions – or billions – of people and destroy the U.S., Russia, and most of the world.

#7. The American people generally don’t know these things, but the rest of the world does.  Our government doesn’t tell us the truth, and our news media don’t tell us the truth.  But the rest of the world knows – and they are sick and tired of being held hostage by the nine nations that have nuclear weapons.  This is why 122 nations passed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons through the United Nations General Assembly in July 2017 – and 68 nations have already ratified this bold new treaty.

#8. This extreme madness is possible because U.S. foreign policy – and U.S. policies about nuclear weapons – and Congress’s vigorous funding for more military violence – are all SOLIDLY BI-PARTISAN!  With only minor variations, it does not matter very much which political party has the presidency or which political party runs Congress.  Political campaigns are funded largely by giant business corporations, including those that make military weapons and nuclear weapons.

#9. The peace movement in the U.S. and worldwide must organize a bigger, more strategically savvy grassroots movement to stop the global suicide that the U.S. government has been provoking since the 1940s.







About GlenAnderson 1514 Articles
Since the late 1960s Glen Anderson has devoted his life to working as a volunteer for peace, nonviolence, social justice, and progressive political issues. He has worked through many existing organizations and started several. Over the years he has worked especially for such wide-ranging goals as making peace with Vietnam, eliminating nuclear weapons, converting from a military economy to a peacetime economy, abolishing the death penalty, promoting nonviolence at all levels throughout society, and helping people organize and strategize for grassroots movements to solve many kinds of problems. He writes, speaks, and conducts training workshops on a wide variety of topics. Since 1987 he has produced and hosted a one-hour cable TV interview program on many kinds of issues. Since 2017 he has blogged at He lives in Lacey near Olympia WA. You can reach him at (360) 491-9093