Between 2011 and 2013, the first blog I wrote—focused on the abolition of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons—attracted a lot of page views and I received a lot of encouragement from people all over the world. In those first few years the blog had 250,000 page views, which was far from being a major phenomenon, but it was enough to make me feel like the effort was worthwhile. At least I was participating in the discourse on nuclear issues and giving people an introduction to the topic. Much of this success might have been due to the fact that search engines and social media platforms had not yet become aggressive in filtering out marginal, dissenting voices. A lot of readers seemed to be stumbling upon the blog through searches, but there was a noticeable drop-off in new readers from 2014 onward. Another factor was simply that blogging was surpassed by vlogging. If you want to reach a large audience, it’s best now to sit in your parked car and speak your mind to your smartphone camera.
By the end of 2016, I felt I had exhausted my topic and I was increasingly interested in writing about how nuclear issues were inseparable from the prevailing economic ideology and the history of the American empire’s anti-communism and need for supremacy. The dismal 2016 US presidential campaign proved that there was no popular interest in solving the systemic problems of our era. The majority of people wanted no radical changes. They dwelled instead on the lesserevilism of the two-party system in the US and most other “liberal democracies”. Even many knowledgeable anti-nuclear activists became afflicted with Trump derangement syndrome and started speaking as if increasing tensions with China and Russia would be a good thing for the nuclear disarmament movement.
I started writing a new blog that wasn’t dedicated to only nuclear issues, but it never attracted the level of readership that I had with the anti-nuclear blog in 2012-2013. I suspect there are two reasons for this. One is that search engines give a blog like mine no chance to grow an audience, and the second is that many readers who liked my anti-nuclear work didn’t want to follow the connection to anti-imperialism and a broader analysis of world history. They were content to stay focused on a single issue. They seemed to think that nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons could be abolished without first finding radically new ways for the nations of the world to co-exist with each other and with the natural environment.
Readers who knew my anti-nuclear work might also wonder why I’ve been so concerned with the corona virus pandemic in recent months, and why I’ve taken such a skeptical view of the accepted narrative that tells us to stay home, stay safe and wear masks. This post answers this question by illustrating the connections between anti-nuclear work and opposition to the official narrative about the corona virus pandemic.
First of all, the corruption of science has been demonstrated over the last seven decades in the actions of nuclear states and UN organizations that oversee nuclear technologies. The matter is well known to all anti-nuclear activists, so it is surprising that some of them have suddenly become so trusting of the WHO and other official bodies regarding their pronouncements on the pandemic. It seems there is a certain fear of being called a “conspiracy theorist” over Covid-19, which is odd because everyone who campaigns against nuclear energy and nuclear weapons should be quite accustomed to being disparaged as a tinfoil hat-wearer.
When the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established in 1957, its mandate was “to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.” The IAEA was also supposed to “ensure, so far as it is able, that assistance provided by it or at its request or under its supervision or control is not used in such a way as to further any military purpose” .
The agency has had many failures in stopping proliferation and preventing power plant disasters, and did nothing to stop the use of depleted uranium in wars against Serbia and Iraq. In fact, its information page on the subject does not even suggest that its use in weapons should be restricted. It states quite blandly, “Uranium’s physical and chemical properties make it very suitable for military uses.” The page discusses studies of Gulf War and Balkans War veterans but has nothing to say about the effects on civilian populations. About the veterans it states:
[they] have been the subject of intense study and the results have been published. These veterans show elevated excretion levels of DU in urine but, so far, there have been no observable health effects due to DU in this group. There have also been epidemiological studies of the health of military personnel who saw action in conflicts where DU was used, comparing them with the health of personnel who were not in the war zones. The results of these studies have been published and the main conclusion is that the war veterans do show a small (i.e., not statistically significant) increase in mortality rates, but this excess is due to accidents rather than disease. This cannot be linked to any exposures to DU.
For information on the effects on cancer rates, stillbirths and congenital malformations, you will have to read articles like this one at Global Research, but be careful. It too has been labeled a “conspiracy site.”
The IAEA was given the contradictory purpose of promoting nuclear energy and regulating its safety. Because radiation and the threat of nuclear war were also matters of global health, the World Health Organization (WHO) had to be involved in nuclear issues. However, the purview of the WHO in these matters was restricted by an arrangement in which the WHO became subservient to the IAEA on all health questions related to nuclear technologies. The WHO could do its own independent studies, but its decisions could be vetoed by the IAEA.
A group called Independent WHO led a ten-year long vigil outside IAEA headquarters in Geneva protesting the subservience of the WHO to the IAEA. Chris Busby, one of the leading scientists involved in Independent WHO, said:
The subordination of the WHO to IAEA is a key part of the systematic falsification of nuclear risk which has been under way ever since Hiroshima. The agreement creates an unacceptable conflict of interest in which the UN organization concerned with promoting our health has been made subservient to those whose main interest is the expansion of nuclear power. Dissolving the WHO-IAEA agreement is a necessary first step to restoring the WHO’s independence to research the true health impacts of ionizing radiation and publish its findings.
The process by which radiation health studies became corrupted was described well in Kate Brown’s recent study of Chernobyl, Manual for Survival. The coordinated information campaign against her and her book was evidence of the very corruption of science that her study elucidates. Through her years spent in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus speaking to Chernobyl fallout victims and reading Russian language archives there, she demonstrated that studies by the UN and government agencies of various states ended up being extreme denials of the reality of the catastrophe. She wrote in a recent paper about the attack on her work:
I documented how a few key officials in the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Scientific Committee for the Effects of Atomic Radiation worked to help Soviet leaders minimize the effects of the disaster. They hid troubling data, limited questions in research agendas, and discredited Soviet research methodologies, insisting instead on unrealistic and supposedly universal “western standardized research protocols.” They wrote letters of protest to editors who published Soviet researchers’ work, blocked research funding for a large-scale Chernobyl health study proposed in the UN General Assembly, sponsored rival studies, and rushed to convene forums to issue seemingly-credible summaries of their assertions that other than the death of thirty-five clean-up workers, Chernobyl had caused no detectable health damage (1991), or just a few cancers in children (1996), or more cancers in children and a possible few thousand cancer deaths in the future (2006). Scientists who hewed to the party line of minimal health effects were praised and rewarded with plum jobs and trips abroad. Those who did not had their funding pulled, were iced out of their positions and came under attack as politicized or bad scientists. Soviet scientists who struggled to speak English in poor-fitting suits and synthetic shoes were easy targets in the slick, well-paid world of international scientific expertise. It was easy to tar them with a broad brush as incompetent, poorly-educated, easily given to fear and panic, or willing to say anything to get a grant or handout.
With this history in mind, there are obvious questions to be asked about the official reaction to the corona virus pandemic. Why is there such an insistence on exaggerating the harms done by a virus that has a 99.5% survival rate? Frightening claims were made that the infection is causing heart damage, but then a few weeks later the research paper that made the finding was debunked and withdrawn. Other research has shown that the virus can travel through plumbing and thus spread through apartment buildings, as if (if this is true) no other virus ever did the same thing. And you thought you would be safe if you just stayed home! There is nowhere to hide! Kurt Hoffman described this bizarre situation well by coining the new term “unwishful thinking”:
What is unique about the hydroxychloroquine discussion is that it is a story of “unwishful thinking”—to coin a term for the perverse hope that some good outcome that most sane people would earnestly desire, will never come to pass. It’s about how, in the midst of a pandemic, thousands started earnestly hoping—before the science was really in—that a drug, one that might save lives at a comparatively low cost, would not actually do so.
So it is a great mystery that there has there been this determined campaign to terrify the population and discredit drug treatments that many doctors have found effective (ivermectin, hydroxychloroquine). Why is there so much promotion of the notion that a vaccine will be ready within a year when it is well known that there has never been a vaccine for a corona virus, never been a safe vaccine developed so quickly, and never been a need for a vaccine for a temporary pandemic that is likely to fade away naturally? Why is there so much talk of making the vaccine mandatory, or required for travel or eligibility for social benefits and employment? Dissenting scientists are being sidelined just as they were in radiation studies.
The plan to produce a vaccine quickly has some similarities to the Manhattan Project of the early 1940s. Once the billion-dollar project was underway, the leaders of it understood the bomb had to be perceived as the key to winning the war. If the war ended before it could be used, there would be a whole lot of explaining to do about why so much money was spent on a weapon that wasn’t ready on time or was deemed too horrible to use. The public needed to be made to believe that it was useful in defeating the Japanese and deterring the post-war Soviet Union. General Groves, the man in charge of the program, expressed genuine fears that certain elements in the Truman administration would prevail in getting the president to accept a negotiated, conditional surrender which would end the war before the bomb was ready to be tested in July 1945. He and others in the administration succeeded in making Truman pursue an unconditional surrender. In The Untold History of the United States, Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone write:
In late May , Szilard, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Harold Urey, and astronomer Walter Bartky attempted to see Truman to caution against using the bomb. They were rerouted to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to speak with [Secretary of State] Byrnes, whose response appalled Szilard: “Mr. Byrnes did not argue that it was necessary to use the bomb against the cities of Japan in order to win the war. He knew at that time, as the rest of the government knew, that Japan was essentially defeated. … At that time Mr. Byrnes was much concerned about the spreading of Russian influence in Europe; [insisting] that our possessing and demonstrating the bomb would make Russia more manageable in Europe.” Groves also admitted that in his mind the Soviet Union had always been the enemy: “There was never from about two weeks from the time I took charge of this Project any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and the Project was conducted on that basis.” Groves shocked Joseph Rotblat when he said over dinner in March 1944, “You realize of course that the main purpose of this project is to subdue the Russians.” Byrnes’s and Groves’ statements shed crucial light on Byrnes’ April 13 remark to Truman that the atomic bomb “might well put us in a position to dictate our own terms at the end of the war.”
The situation at the end of WWII is comparable to the present rush to produce a vaccine for SARS-Cov-2. Several large pharmaceutical companies are invested in it, and their stocks are rising, so it is natural that they would spend a few million dollars on a public relations campaign to influence the media in order to maintain a heightened fear of the virus and discredited any medical therapy shown to be effective against the virus. The important thing may not be that the vaccine is ever produced but rather that the speculative stock bubble be kept going as long as possible. When it finally becomes obvious that the vaccine was a dumb idea, it won’t matter. The smart money will have already got out of the game by then. In all of this there seems to be a General Groves who is worried that his gadget (the vaccine) won’t be ready before the war is over—before everyone figures out that the pandemic has passed and a vaccine was never a proportionate response to the threat.
Another interesting similarity is in the fact that the pharmaceutical companies have demanded that governments, not the producers, be liable for any harms that the rushed vaccines might cause. This is very similar to the nuclear industry’s success in getting exemption from liability for nuclear disasters. In the United States, the famous Price-Anderson Act of 1957 was the legislation that took care of this matter.
If there are these similarities between the reaction to the corona virus pandemic and the use of nuclear technologies, we need to analyze the nature of this new war. Who is the enemy and why is the war being fought?
One of the researchers who has done the best work on the evolution of warfare and the security state is anthropologist Joe Masco. In an interview he gave in 2018, he explained the significant change in military thinking after WWII:
There was a massive reorganization of US institutions in 1947, and one of the crucial aspects of that was the Department of War became the Department of Defense, and in the shift from war to defense, we had a real effort to redefine what the role of the military was. And actually from that moment on, the US hasn’t actually really declared war formally. You have to go back to World War II to get a formal declaration of war. What you have from 1947 on is a constant deployment of American resources around the world, both covert and overt, with the idea that the future becomes something that can be managed through militarism. Essentially, since that era, mid-20th century, the US has been involved in military activities in some capacity somewhere on the planet, pretty much constantly.
One of the strange aspects of American militarism is that it only enters into public discourse in certain moments and under certain conditions, and there’s an effort to make things that are actually very long-term commitments seem episodic. One way that gets managed is through a very conscious effort, which began in a serious way in the early cold war, to use affect and emotions as a way to mobilize citizens as subjects in relationship to warfare. The big switch after 9/11 in 2001 was the reconfiguration of the entire US security apparatus around an image of a terrorist that can’t be deterred, that’s not rational, that is also not state-based but is a more loose assembly of people, and could be anywhere on the planet at any given time. It was a massive increase in the affective intensities of danger that are used to anchor citizen-state conversations around militarism, but also that craft a new orientation, crucially, to the future. My take is that the large trajectory of American militarism over the last 75 years captures a bigger part of the budget, a bigger part of the imaginary, and relies on a certain kind of an affective mobilization that has really profound consequences, not only in terms of what it does around the world — the war on terror has been a very violent affair indeed — but also what it forecloses in terms of other kinds of security projects that don’t get funded, other kinds of domestic priorities that seem a lesser form of violence in comparison to the spectacularly imaginative world of counter-terror, and that also makes the future an increasingly negative affair that one approaches not with some creativity and enthusiasm for what might get built, but more in a mode of constant endangerment and escalating concerns for the wide range of things that just might happen.
The propaganda being disseminated now about the pandemic must also make us ask if there has been “a massive increase in the affective intensities of danger that are used to anchor citizen-state conversations” around the very ordinary occurrence of viral pandemic that turned out to be only slightly more dangerous than many others that have come before. Is the pandemic reaction a continuation of the trend that started in 1947? Is it being used to “craft a new orientation, crucially, to the future”? Through the decades we been made to fear communists (1947-1991), nations in need of a humanitarian intervention (1991-2001), terrorists (2001-2014), and great power rivals (2014-present). During all this time, full-scale war like what was last seen in WWII was never possible because of the danger of nuclear war. Instead, only pervasive, constant, “low-intensity” war (not so low, actually, for the people affected) was possible. Each era of fear eventually collapsed because it couldn’t be credibly sustained. World citizenry called the bluff.
Recently, the attempt to instill fear of great power rivals seems to have failed as well. Libya, Syria and Ukraine cannot be held up as shining examples liberal democracies creating thriving replicas of themselves. These regime-change operations produced devastating damage, and they were half-baked and aborted. In 2019, the Chinese government refused to be provoked into taking harsh actions in Hong Kong. Maduro is still in power in Venezuela. The investigation into Russian interference in the US election never amounted to anything. The peddlers of that story had to sweep it under the carpet and hope no one would remember it. The old tricks don’t work anymore, and the empire was getting exhausted on the home front by having to fight its own citizens in the streets. The Gilet Jaunes protests in France were the writing on the wall that a period of massive unrest was approaching. Then, surprise, surprise, there was a convenient viral epidemic that could be exploited to keep people off the streets, off-balance and fighting each other.
This psy-op experiment is once again targeting the affective responses of the population. It tests how far fear can be used to exploit the naturally honorable impulse in people to do their part to stop the spread of a deadly infection. Would people agree to sacrifice and stay in their rooms like naughty children? Surprisingly, the answer was yes. People have even shown great tolerance for the loss of their privacy and freedom of movement. On the other hand, millions are fighting back as in the demonstrations in Berlin and London on the last weekend of August 2020. However, if it is true that the empire’s dirty tricks have come home to roost, then this heated conflict over masks and social distancing is exactly what is needed for a strategy of tension.
The lessons learned from this new experiment will be used to make more wealth trickle up to the largest corporations and to distract people from systemic problems and overt and covert aggressions abroad. Perhaps the blowback will come ten to fifteen years later, just as it did when the children of the 1950s grew up and looked at the collective insanity of “duck and cover” drills in the event of nuclear attack. When they were old enough to reflect on what was going on, they concluded that their parents’ generation was out of their minds. It was one of many reasons for the eruption of the 1960s counter-culture. This year, in order to protect children from a virus that poses no danger to them, elementary school pupils are being forced to wear surgical masks and sit apart from each other behind plastic barricades. As they grow older, what will they conclude about the adults who were supposed to be looking out for their best interests?
 Souad N. Al-Azzawi, “Depleted Uranium and Radioactive Contamination in Iraq: An Overview,” Global Research, 2017.
 Kate Brown, Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019).
 Kate Brown, “The Shadow of the Soviet Legacy on the World’s Nuclear Future,” Slavic Review 79, no. 2 (Summer 2020), 275-279.
 Peter Andrews, “Weird science: Covid-19 does NOT cause heart damage, as blockbuster study had basic calculation errors,” Russia Today, August 28, 2020.
 Marcus Parekh, “Covid may be able to travel up drain pipes, new study suggests,” The Telegraph, August 27, 2020.
 Kurt Hoffman, “The Story of How Hydroxychloroquine Exposed Big Pharma’s Corruption,” Principia Scientific International, August 28, 2020.
 Peter Kuznick and Oliver Stone, The Untold History of the United States, Ebury Publishing, 2012, 160. This passage cites four sources for the quotations given:
Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb and the Architecture of an American Myth (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), 147.
Martin J. Sherwin, A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and the Origins of the Arms Race (New York: Vintage, 1987), 62.
Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (New York: Vintage Books, 2005), 284.
Harry S. Truman, Memoirs: Years of Trial and Hope (New York: Doubleday, 1956), 104.
 Wikispooks: “The strategy of tension is a method of social control involving a series of covert attacks upon a population, intended to promote stress and fear amongst them. The purpose is, by inducing a mistrust of one another and of the world at large, to increase child-like dependence upon perceived authority figures (such as national governments). The English phrase originates from the Italian (strategia della tensione), which was first applied to Operation Gladio in Italy during the ‘years of lead’.”