Thirty Seconds To Midnight

by Perry Diaz

Since 1947, when the Science and Security Board (SSB) of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists met for the first time to perform its annual ritual of setting the time on the “Doomsday Clock,” the scientists initially agreed to set the clock to 11:53 PM or seven minutes to midnight.

The SSB is a select group of globally recognized leaders with a specific focus on nuclear risk, climate change, and disruptive technologies.  They hang the clock on a wall in the Bulletin’s office at the University of Chicago to remind everybody how close we were to the threat of global nuclear war.

Since then, the clock has been set as close or as far as midnight. In 1972, the clock was set to 11:48 PM or 12 minutes to midnight when the US and the Soviet Union signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

In 1984, the clock was set once again to 11:57 PM when tensions escalated between the U.S. and the Soviet Union when the arms race intensified. The US deployed Pershing II medium-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles in Western Europe.

In 1991, the clock was set to 11:43 PM or 17 minutes to midnight, the earliest setting since its inception, when the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty and the collapse of the Soviet Union thereafter.

In January 2015, the clock was set to 11:57 PM or three minutes to midnight, the closest we were to doomsday since 1984. It was due to the modernization of nuclear weapons in the US and Russia, the specter of a new Cold War, the problem of nuclear waste, and the danger of global climate change.

In January 2020, the minute hand was moved 30 seconds forward from two and a half minutes to two minutes before midnight. But the worst has yet to come.

“Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers — nuclear war and climate change — that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond,” the SSB said.

Ukraine invasion
On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “illegal and dangerous” invasion of Ukraine and placing Russia’s nuclear armaments on high alert, which the SSB considers to be the gravest danger to humanity, has set the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it ever been to apocalypse.

By threatening to use nuclear weapons or launching a “First Strike” nuclear attack against the US and her NATO allies if war breaks out between Russia and the NATO alliance, it has brought a nightmare scenario to life, which sets the Doomsday Clock to 30 seconds to midnight.

Biden’s mental paralysis
But the problem is that President Joe Biden has encouraged Putin – by vowing not to get involved in the Ukraine war – to flaunt using his nuclear weapons if the US and her NATO allies would send troops to Ukraine.

By playing the threat of “World War III,” Putin has disarmed Biden and tied his hands behind his back. Biden, the other day even said, “Don’t kid yourself, but once we enter the war, it will be World War III,” which makes one wonder:

If Russia attacks the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – which would be next after Ukraine – would America and the NATO countries send their troops to fight the Russians? How about the two non-NATO countries of Moldova and Georgia?

The other day, the Moldovan Prime Minister requested joining NATO because they know they’re next on Putin’s crosshairs.

Taken aback, Secretary of State Antony Blinken didn’t respond. He could at least reassure the Moldovan Prime Minister that he’d relay the request.

It would seem that the entire Biden administration – Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, four-star General Mark Milley – had succumbed to a debilitating mental paralysis, unable to act when threatened with nuclear annihilation.

But the truth is: America’s leadership’s amnesia has its provenance since Biden hastily withdrew American troops from Afghanistan last year.

It gave Putin the go-signal that he could do anything he wanted to and Biden would just play possum, unmindful of whatever the consequence will be. But doesn’t Biden realize that he had just pulled the MAD auto-mechanism?

Now, all Putin has to do is threaten “First Strike” and Biden would just stare blankly at the nuclear football held by his aide-de-camp… and do nothing.

And suddenly, his semi-senile mind goes into a paralytic state, unable to respond to the nuclear crisis, which he inadvertently and unconsciously abetted by vowing that he would never send the army of the most powerful nuclear power and richest country in history to fight the bankruptcy-bound invading Russians in Ukraine.

What a shame!

American history
Biden needs to study American history from the time the US entered World War I to the victorious conclusion of World War II.

Never in those two world wars did America ever flinch in the face of defeat, only to emerge the victor who would rule in peace and prosperity until… today.

Today, the great American nation is facing extinction only because she allowed a mad genius to roll his tanks into Ukraine and laid waste to a beautiful and proud country.

Ukraine is bound to lose her sovereignty because America allowed Russian war planes to ravage their land and refused to send NATO warplanes to defend the besieged Ukrainian people who are fleeing –  helplessly and hopelessly – amid the attacking Russian tanks and aerial bombardment.

But even if Russia launches a “First Strike” attack against the US’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) based in the continental US, it would take 30 minutes to reach their targets.

It would give the US a “Second Strike” counterattack using her fleet of 14 ballistic missile submarines – known as “boomers” – that are positioned anywhere in the open seas as close as the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean Sea, which would reach their targets in Russia within five minutes.

Each submarine carries 24 Trident missiles and each missile can carry up to 14 warheads. That’s a total of 4,704 nuclear warheads, more than enough to counter any attack with devastating nuclear power, which would erase Russia from the Earth’s map.

Together, the 14 Ohio-class submarines carry approximately 50% of the total U.S. active inventory of strategic thermonuclear warheads.

Putin is crazy
Needless to say, Putin knows that he cannot win a nuclear war against the US. He might be crazy but he’s not stupid to realize that once he presses the “doomsday button,” it will lead to MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction.

That means it will destroy the entire mankind, his country first, and possibly blow the planet Earth into zillions of radioactive meteorites.  Only a stupid madman will do that.

But as long as the leaders of America and Russia are aware of the consequences of MAD, they’ll never dare bring MAD to fruition. And such, no one would ever start World War III. It’s unthinkable.

But it would take a sane and calculating world leader to stop this stupid madman from even thinking of pressing the “doomsday button” that would turn his beloved “Mother Russia” into a radioactive nuclear wasteland for the next 1,000 years.

Putin’s descendants would long remember him as the madman whose stupidity would be etched in every Russian’s mind that he once ruled the biggest empire on Earth only to lose it because he became too ambitious.

At the end of the day, Putin may only have 30 seconds to midnight to blow the world into radioactive smithereens.

PERRY DIAZ is a writer, columnist and journalist who has been published in more than a dozen Filipino newspapers in five countries.

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