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The Ploughshares Fund Exposed: It Is A Treasonous Organization


As the Congressional debate on the accord between Iran and the world’s major powers heats up, the anti-nuclear Ploughshares Fund has stepped in to defend that shameful “deal.” It also funds many other groups which likewise support the deal with the Iranian mullahs.

Readers may ask themselves: why is Ploughshares, an organization that claims to wish to eradicate all nuclear weapons globally, support a deal that opens the path to nuclear arms widely to Iran?

The answer is: because Ploughshares, far from its claims, is simply another treasonous, anti-nuclear, anti-American organization which advocates America’s unilateral nuclear disarmament rather than a global elimination of nuclear weapons (not that the latter goal is achievable – it is not).

Ploughshares is simply lobbying the Congress and the Executive Branch to defund and dismantle America’s nuclear deterrent unilaterally, the consequences be damned.

Where do we know that from? Ploughshares’ activities and its own reports on these activities.

The organization’s latest annual report, from 2014, speaks of only two subjects (its donors and grant-takers aside): its advocacy of an accord with Iran and its campaign to disarm the US unilaterally, the latter subject occupying by far the most space in its report.

Nowhere in that report is the Russian, Chinese, or North Korean nuclear threat even mentioned. In fact, nowhere in that report is the nuclear arsenal of any country except the US mentioned. Russia itself is only mentioned once – when one of Ploughshares’ supporters calls for global nuke disarmament to begin with deeper cuts in the US and Russian arsenals.

Trying to Defund America’s Nuclear Deterrent

In the report, the group speaks exclusively of the deal with Iran and of America’s nuclear modernization program. Specifically, Ploughshares is now using America’s fiscal woes -and the emergence of the Tea Party – as an opportunity to completely defund and gut America’s nuclear deterrent.

The group says:

“Although devastating to the larger economy, the financial crisis opened up a new opportunity to address the nation’s lingering nuclear weapons complex. Driven by the newly formed Tea Party and the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, Washington became fixated on cutting budgets.”

The group then claims it commissioned “a report from three of the nation’s foremost experts on the nuclear complex. They identified several vulnerable programs…”

The programs Ploughshares calls “vulnerable” are the nuclear weapons core and fuel production facilities (which date back to the 1940s and need to be renovated), the B61 nuclear bomb for American tactical strike jets deterring the Russians in Europe, and the replacement for America’s aging, 1980s-vintage ballistic missile submarines – which are the most survivable leg of America’s nuclear triad.

Why does Ploughshares call them “vulnerable”? Because the need for them is not well understood by the public or by Congress. Ploughshares and other pro-unilateral-disarmament groups see a golden opportunity here to defund and gut America’s nuclear deterrent by spreading lies about these programs.

And just who are these “experts” Ploughshares commissioned?

Jay Coghlan, an anti-nuclear activist from “Nuclear Watch New Mexico”; Gordon Adams, the Clinton Administration official who oversaw the gutting of America’s defenses in the 1990s; and Hans M. Kristensen, a Danish pacifist who has been campaigning for the West’s (not just America’s) unilateral disarmament since he was 21 and who now lives in the US still carrying on his campaign.

Kristensen (like Ploughshares itself) was advocating the West’s unilateral disarmament in the early 1980s – while the Soviet Union was busy building up its nuclear arsenal and threatening the West -and he’s doing the same now.

The group’s report also cites a ridiculous comment by POGO’s Executive Director Danielle Brian:

“For the cost of just one nuclear submarine, we could provide body armor and bomb-resistant Humvees to all our troops overseas and treat every homeless US veteran, and still have $2.2 bn left to pay down the debt. Our troops and security should come before pork-barrel nuclear programs.”

Such comments only reveal Danielle Brian’s (and Ploughshares members’) utter ignorance of national security and economic issues alike.

First and foremost, the submarine replacement program is not a “pork-barrel program” – and neither is any of the other US nuclear arsenal modernization projects. Replacing the ballistic missile submarine (boomer) fleet is an absolute priority – as the DOD itself acknowledges. More on that a bit later.

Secondly, it is a blatant lie that nuclear programs have, at any point, siphoned money away from body armor and bomb-resistant vehicles for American troops overseas. The DOD’s and Congress’ own figures utterly belie that claim. Throughout the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, dozens of billions of dollars were spent every year on body armor and bomb-resistant vehicles for the troops, while nuclear modernization programs barely received any funding.

Thirdly, even so-called “bomb-resistant Humvees” are not much bomb-resistant at all. With a flat floor, they are very prone to mines and other explosives. That is why, from the mid-2000s until last year, the DOD was procuring dozens of thousands of mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles every year – vehicles whose floors deflect the force of the blast of explosive devices.

Fourthly, with a $600 bn annual budget, the DOD can comfortably afford to fund both mine-resistant vehicles and the nuclear modernization effort, because the latter consumes only 5% of the total Pentagon budget.

As regards homeless veterans, the claim that nuclear weapons siphon money away from care programs for these veterans is also a blatant and shameful lie. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ budget request for FY2016 stands at $168.8 bn – five times the ca. $35 bn cost of maintaining and modernizing the US nuclear deterrent.

Danielle Brian’s blatant lies show that, far from being a “government watchdog group”, her organization, the Orwellian-named “Project On Government Oversight”, is just another pro-unilateral-disarmament group which seeks to completely gut America’s defenses – starting with the US nuclear deterrent.

She makes no secret of her, POGO’s, and Ploughshares’ desire to kill all nuclear modernization programs (which both groups have long advocated), to wit:

“Unless there are active efforts to kill any government program, it will never die.”

Ploughshares then says:

“Then, Ploughshares Fund brought together a diverse coalition of arms control experts, government oversight groups, and budget hawks. We funded grassroots organizing, messaging research, congressional lobbying campaigns and export reports all focused at targeting these vulnerable programs.

Using our prominent media profile, Ploughshares Fund released a report estimating the cost of nuclear weapons and related programs at $640 bn over the next 10 years. Nuclear hawks and stakeholders trying to defend their budgets harshly criticized our estimate.”

Their estimate was harshly critized indeed – because it was total garbage. It was grossly exaggerated. Other organizations have published much, much more cautious estimates – $352-392 bn per decade per the Stimson Center and $570 bn (including many non-nuclear items) according to the penny-pinchers at the Congressional Budget Office.

Ploughshares further falsely claims that:

“The idea that we should fund the future rather than the past is taking hold, spreading the message that nuclear weapons are no longer necessary and no longer budget priorities.”

Ploughshares’ new “Policy Director”, Tom Z. Collina, further lies blatantly that:

“We do not need to remake the arsenal in its Cold War image. Nor can we afford it. The threats of the Cold War are long gone. (…) In this budget environment, the Pentagon cannot have it all. Ploughshares Fund is calling on the Pentagon to set its top priorities, and to recognize that nuclear weapons do not make the list.”

Likewise, the Ploughshares report quotes Rachel Maddow’s repugnant lies that

“At a time of cuts and reorganization, when hard decisions must be made about what to save and what to let go, continuing to throw billions of dollars down these siloes is a failure of accountability and a failure to be realistic about what kinds of wars we might conceivably fight in the future.”

These claims – like all other claims of Ploughshares’, of Rachel Maddow’s, and of Tom Collina’s – are blatant lies. Why?

The Undisputable Need for the US Nuclear Deterrent

Because, far from being Cold War relics like Ploughshares claims, nuclear weapons are absolutely necessary to counter the biggest threats to America’s (and its allies’) national security today: the threat posed by the nuclear arsenals of Russia, China, and North Korea and by Iran’s nuclear weapons programme.

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Contrary to Tom Collina’s blatant lie that “the threats of the Cold War are long gone”, the Russian and Chinese nuclear threat is not gone anywhere – they have grown in sophistication and have been joined by North Korea’s burgeoning atomic arsenal.

While smaller than the Soviet Union’s, Moscow’s nuclear arsenal is still huge, at 7,500 warheads according to the Federation of Atomic Scientists. Of these, FAS says, 1,780 are operationally deployed (i.e. ready for use) strategic warheads deployed on missiles and bombers that can reach the Continental US.

Russia’s ICBM fleet alone can deliver at least 1,166 warheads to the Continental US; Russia’s Tu-95, Tu-160, and Tu-22M strategic bombers can deliver over a thousand as well with their AS-15 and AS-16 cruise missiles. The Russian Navy, for its part, has 15 ballistic missile submarines, including 11 operationally available. Each of these can launch 16-20 missiles carrying 4 warheads each, and they’re being rearmed with Bulava and Liner missiles capable of carrying 10 warheads each. By the end of this decade, each of them will, by itself, be capable of launching 160-200 warheads against the Continental US. Each of these submarines alone!

But that’s not all. Russia’s 19 attack and cruise missile nuclear-powered submarines can also launch nuclear-tipped missiles against the US (and any other country in the world) – and there’s no treaty limitation on them (or on Russia’s 151 Tu-22M strategic bombers).

And that’s not all. Russia also has thousands of “tactical” nuclear weapons which it can deliver against its neighbors or battlefield opponents with a wide range of delivery systems – from tactical aircraft like the Su-27 and Su-34, to short- and medium-range Iskander and R-500 missiles, to surface warships and submarines, to artillery pieces (some of these “tactical” nukes are nuclear artillery shells with a devastating potential). With its “tactical” nuclear weapons, and especially its intermediate-range missiles, Russia can hold all of Europe and much of Asia at risk.

And That Isn’t All… Russia Is Still Building Up

And yet, despite already having such a huge arsenal, the Kremlin is still growing and modernizing it. Moscow is currently:

  • Replacing all of its old single-warhead missiles with new ones carrying multiple warheads;
  • Developing a new 10-warhead missile, the Sarmat;
  • Procuring 50 new Tu-160 strategic bombers, capable of carrying 10 nuclear warheads each;
  • Modernizing its older bombers and submarines;
  • Developing, and nearing the deployment of, the R-500 ground-launched cruise missile that violates the INF Treaty;
  • Building up its warhead stockpile;
  • Replacing its older ballistic missile submarines with new ones;
  • Developing a new intercontinental bomber;
  • Developing, and nearing the deployment of, the Kh-102 nuclear-armed cruise missile for its aircraft and submarines; and
  • Developing, and nearing the deployment of, hypersonic nuclear weapons that can defeat any missile defense systems the US might deploy.

Beijing’s Nuclear Arsenal: Also Growing

China does not yet have a nuclear arsenal as large as America’s or Russia’s, but its steadily growing it. It already possesses at least 64 multiple-warhead ICBMs capable of reaching the US, as well as four ballistic missile submarines (12 missiles with up to 4 warheads each) and is nearing the deployment of a road-mobile heavy ICBM, the DF-41, capable of carrying 10 warheads. Additionally, it has 20 DF-4 intermediate-range missiles and 120 bombers capable of targetting Hawaii.

China, like Russia, is currently building new ballistic missile submarines, deploying additional multiple-warhead ICBMs, developing an intercontinental strategic bomber, arming its older bombers with cruise missiles, deploying nuclear-capable cruise missiles on submarines, and developing hypersonic weapons against which American missile defense systems would be totally useless.

Also, China already possesses over 1,000 short-range and over 100 medium-range ballistic missiles -as well as untold numbers of ground-launched cruise missiles – which can deliver nuclear weapons against any of its neighbors – most of whom are worried US allies and partners who need the US nuclear umbrella.

Then there is North Korea, which currently has about 15-20 nuclear weapons, but may very well have 100 by 2020, is developing a ballistic missile submarine capability, and has built a huge underground missile complex to protect its missile launchers – thus increasing its capability to threaten the US and its allies. Its TD-2 and KN-08 ICBMs can already hit the US with nuclear warheads.

These countries’ nuclear arsenals undisputably pose by far the greatest threat to US national security – and that of its allies. Nothing else comes even close. Nothing else could wreak even comparable destruction upon the US or its allies.

No other countries have the capability to hit the US – or its allies – with nuclear arms, and no other weapons on the planet have the same destructive and menacing power as nukes.

It Isn’t A Mere Theoretical Threat

Nor has any other country been as belligerent towards the US and its allies as Russia, China, and North Korea. Just last year, Russia invaded Ukraine (which had surrendered its atomic arsenal to Moscow in 1994 in exchange for paper promises of respecting its territorial integrity) and has already seized part of its territory. It now threatens to deploy nuclear weapons there. It has openly threatened Poland, Sweden, and Denmark with nuclear weapons. Its nuclear-armed bombers have, on dozens of occasions, flown very close to American, European, and Japanese airspace and have practiced nuclear strikes against the US (including California) and its allies.

On one such occassion in 2012, when asked by the world media what they were doing so close to US airspace, the Russians said they were “practicing attacking the enemy.”

The Chinese, for their part, are behaving increasingly belligerently against the US and its allies in the Western Pacific, menacing planes and ships and grabbing islands. North Korea routinely menaces the US and South Korea with nuclear attack.

Thus, deterring these three states – Russia, China, and North Korea – ought to be the highest priority by far for for the Pentagon, contrary to Tom Collina’s blatant lies. There can be no greater priority than protecting one’s own country and its allies against a massive, catastrophic nuclear attack by a hostile power.

And for incoming top leaders of the US military – including the incoming Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the incoming Army Chief of Staff – it indeed is the top priority. To their credit, these veteran military leaders see Russia, China, and North Korea for what they really are – adversaries threatening America’s and its allies’ security.

Not so Ploughshares Fund propagandists and their liberal media sycophants. They deny that America needs nuclear weapons at all, or that any nuclear threats to US national security exist. Their Policy Director blatantly lies that “the threats of the Cold War are long gone.”

But no matter how hard they deny the facts, the truth remains that the nuclear threats to America’s security – and thus America’s nuclear deterrence needs – are greater than ever since the Cold War’s end. The nuclear threats posed by Russia and China are not gone – and they are not going anywhere. Denying their existence and scope makes America less secure, not more.

Ploughshares Fund: Traitors, Not Nonproliferation Advocates

If the Ploughshares Fund was really concerned about stopping nuclear proliferation and ridding the world of all nuclear weapons, it would’ve worked to support meaningful sanctions against Iran (which it always opposed) and to advocate deep cuts in Russia’s and China’s nuclear arsenals as well as the unconditional disarmament of North Korea.

But it hasn’t. It doesn’t give a damn about these arsenals; in fact, it denies their existence. Ploughshares works exclusively to dismantle America’s nuclear arsenal.

And that is because it’s a treasonous group whose only real purpose is to disarm the US unilaterally.

And for that, its members, and especially its leaders, ought to be prosecuted and punished severely.

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About Zbigniew Mazurak