Admiral Noel Gayler's Call for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
February 13, 2012
Akio Matsumura.com & Admiral Noel Gayler
Admiral Noel Gayler, a World War II Navy pilot who served as the sixth director of the National Security Agency, and as Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Command in the 1970s, died on July 14, 2011 at the age of 96. He was one of several retired, high-ranking US military officers who have called for the abolition of nuclear weapons from Planet Earth. Please read Admiral Gayler's classic essay: "A Proposal for Achieving Zero Nuclear Weapons."
Admiral Noel Gayler's Call for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
Bill Wickersham & C.B. Scott Jones
(August 10, 2011) -- Admiral Noel Gayler, a World War II Navy pilot who served as the sixth director of the National Security Agency, and as Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Command in the 1970s, died on July 14, 2011 at the age of 96. He was one of several retired, high-ranking US military officers who have called for the abolition of nuclear weapons from Planet Earth.
In December, 2000, Gayler published "A Proposal for Achieving Zero Nuclear Weapons." [See Admiral Gayler's essay below. ] In that article, he said: "The argument for a nuclear component is no longer valid. The time is now for a concrete proposal that meets the problem. Process, as opposed to negotiating numbers, is the basic principle of the proposal that I suggest. It is nothing less than drastic: the continuing reduction to zero of weapons in the hands of avowed nuclear powers, plus an end to the nuclear ambitions of others."
Recently, in response to Admiral Gayler's passing, Dr. David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara, California, outlined some of the common illusions surrounding the purported value of nuclear weapons which were included in Gayler's proposal. Those illusions include the following misconceptions:
* Physical defense against nuclear weapons is possible;
* Nuclear weapons can be used in a sensible manner;
* Nuclear disarmament imperils our security; and
* Nuclear deterrence is an effective defense.
Additionally, Krieger noted that "Admiral Gayler's proposal involves the delivery of all nuclear weapons to a central point where they would be irreversibly dismantled."
Thus, the overarching concept of the Admiral's proposal is that US and world security will be effectively improved by the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. He concluded the article saying: "... it becomes evident that nuclear disarmament works to the advantage of every power. Only in this way can the world be made safe from unprecedented murder and destruction. It remains to take the necessary actions. They are feasible and imperative."
As David Krieger has stated: " Admiral Gayler's passing offers an appropriate moment to revisit his vision and proposal to achieve a nuclear weapon-free world."
What weight should we give to the words of senior military officers such as Admiral Gayler? Relevant nuclear weapons experience and what they learned from it are important considerations. As an aircraft based fighter pilot in World War II, six days after Hiroshima was destroyed, Lieutenant Commander Gayler flew low over Hiroshima and wrote that he was stunned: he saw nothing moving. His wife later said that "It was imprinted on his mind, and he vowed to work to eliminate nuclear weapons."
Two years later, he participated in Operation Sandstone, conducted at Enewetak Atoll in the Pacific, and watched the detonation of three new nuclear weapon designs, two of which were more than twice as powerful as those used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Later, as an admiral he was Deputy Director of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff. That organization was responsible to select targets around the world that would be destroyed by our strategic missile and aircraft delivery systems.
To complete the cycle, he later was the Commander of all American military forces in the Pacific. These included a number of military units that would attack the targets he earlier had a responsibility to select.
In an Op-ed article to the New York Times in 1976, Admiral Gayler wrote: "A very few persons go about the grim, necessary business of nuclear planning. Fewer still have seen a bomb tested; the light of a thousands suns, searing heat, immense shock, a wicked flickering afterglow manifesting in intense residual radiation. That's a pity. We and the Soviet Union have tens of thousands of weapons. We had better control them."
The book of life has now closed on this warrior as it has on most of the survivors who were far enough from ground zero at Hiroshima and Nagasaki to become living witnesses of those events. The effort underway to honor these survivors as a group for the Nobel Peace Prize has real potential to start a new program.
This will be to alert and to recruit multiple generations that have an unfulfilled responsibility to take final closure action to end sixty-years plus of living at extreme risk with nuclear weapons still at the ready to end civilization.
Bill Wickersham is Adjunct Professor of Peace Studies, University of Missouri-Columbia. C.B. Scott Jones is President, Peace & Emergency Action Coalition for Earth (P.E.A.C.E., Inc.)
A Proposal for Achieving Zero Nuclear Weapons
Admiral Noel Gayler / US Navy (Ret.)>
(December 2000) -- It is conceded by all hands that we stand at some continuing risk of nuclear war. The risk is possibly not imminent, but it is basically important above all else -- for survival. The Defense and Energy Departments together have made promising starts to reduce possession of nuclear weapons, but far more and much faster action is needed.
Credible report has it that weapons are adrift, potentially available to irresponsible regimes and to terrorists. Independent development by them is not needed to establish threat. The peculiar characteristic of nuclear weaponry is that relative numbers between adversaries mean little.
When a target country can be destroyed by a dozen weapons, its own possession of thousands of weapons gains no security. Defense against ballistic missiles is infeasible. What is more, it is irrelevant. Half a dozen non-technical means of delivery are available, in addition to cruise missiles and aircraft.
The recognized and awful dangers of other weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological, do not compare to nuclear, despite their vileness. On the tremendous and incredible scale of killing, the others are retail as compared to the nuclear’s wholesale; but there need not be competition since all can be -- must be -- addressed concurrently.
Drafting a successor to the nuclear arms treaty is purportedly underway. If START III repeats the mistakes of the past, it may well bog down into haggling over relative numbers. More productive can be a process continuing toward total nuclear disarmament, the only way in which both we and the world may be truly secure from nuclear destruction.
An irony is that in developing and using nuclear weapons, we, the United States, have done the only thing capable of threatening our own national security. We have comparatively weak and friendly neighbors to the north and south, control of the seas, and a powerful air and combat-tested armed forces.
We are proof that this in no way diminishes the need, as the world’s single greatest power, for Army, Navy, Air, and Marines capable not only of our own defense, but of intervention abroad in the interest of peace and human rights. These forces do not come into being overnight, but need to be continually developed and supported. The argument for a nuclear component is no longer valid.
The time is now for a concrete proposal that meets the problem. Process, as opposed to negotiating numbers, is the basic principle of the proposal that I suggest. It is nothing less than drastic: the continuing reduction to zero of weapons in the hands of avowed nuclear powers, plus an end to the nuclear ambitions of others.
The proposal: Let weapons be delivered to a single point, there to be dismantled, the nuclear material returned to the donors for use or disposal, and the weapons destroyed. This process, once underway, will be nearly impossible to stop, since its obvious merits, political and substantive, will compel support. The "single point" may well be a floating platform, at sea, in international waters.
A handy platform can be an aircraft carrier that has been removed from "mothballs" and disarmed, yet capable of steaming to the desired location and operating support aircraft and ships to handle heavier loads. Living quarters for personnel, ships company, and disarmament processors, would be integral, as would be major protected spaces.
The US, of course, is the obvious source of a carrier, but there could be international manning, following the precedent of NATO. This would make the American ship politically palatable to the participants and Russia would be handled sensitively.
Obvious and major advantages of security, inspection, availability, timing, and cost would ensue. Those regimes and groups not initially participating can be put under enormous pressure to join. Any remaining recalcitrant can be disarmed militarily, this time with a concert of powers.
The need for persuasion and understanding of the participating powers is, of course, fundamental, and probably the most difficult requirement to meet. To meet this need of public understanding and consequent action, domestic and foreign, will require that we dispel some common illusions, such as:
* Is physical defense against nuclear weapons possible? No. What’s more, it’s irrelevant. A half dozen non-technical means of delivery avail.
* Can nuclear weapons be used in any sensible manner? No. This includes "tactical."
* Does nuclear disarmament imperil our security? No. It enhances it.
* Is deterrence of nuclear or other attack by threat of retaliation still possible? No. The many potential aggressors are scattered -- even location unknown. No targets!
With these illusions dispelled, it becomes evident that nuclear disarmament works to the advantage of every power. Only in this way can the world be made safe from unprecedented murder and destruction. It remains to take the necessary actions. They are feasible and imperative.
Admiral Noel Gayler (US Navy, Ret.) is a four-star admiral and served as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC). He was responsible for nuclear attack tactical development and demonstration of nuclear attack tactics to the Chairman and Joint Chiefs.
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