Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: The Threat of War (Nuclear) With China

Yves here. The Biden Administration has been engaging in such relentless and seemingly reflexive eye-poking with China that sure looks like the extremist cray-crays are in charge, or at least have too much influence. Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson discusses this sorry situation long form with Paul Jay.

The flip side is the bluster about nukes and Taiwan is an admission that given the distance, the US could not win a conventional war, so the hawks feel compelled to pretend that that simply means we’ll up the ante. To put it another way, the most charitable interpretation is that this talk of nukes is an updated version of Kissinger choosing to depict Nixon as an uncontrollable madman so that otherwise not credible threats might be taken seriously. But Wilkerson stresses that this is just too cheery a view, that there are plenty of know cases historically of nutters far too involved in nuclear decision-making.

By Paul Jay. Originally published at



In 1958 some U.S. military leaders advocated a nuclear first strike against China over control of Taiwan. There are some that are planning for it today. Larry Wilkerson on with Paul Jay.

 Paul Jay

Hi, I’m Paul Jay, welcome to Please don’t forget the donate button, the subscribe button and if you’re watching on YouTube, well, right now, you won’t even be seeing this because YouTube has banned us, for one week, from uploading any new videos. So, if you are watching, you’re probably watching on our website or one of the other video platforms, which we are going to increasingly make use of, as you may know, and I’ll be posting an editorial on Monday, hopefully, eventually, I’ll be able to get it up on YouTube explaining why YouTube has suppressed three stories of Claiming, that we spread false information about the 2020 elections. Claiming, that the elections were the result of fraud, which, of course, we said exactly the opposite, in all of those stories but look out for the editorial I’ll be doing about this soon. At any rate, today we’re going to talk about the potential coming war, some people think, with China, as outlandish or as terrifying as that prospect may seem. So, join me in a few seconds, with Colonel [Lawrence] Larry Wilkerson.

As reported in the New York Times, Daniel Ellsberg released a classified 1966 study that exposed, quote, “American military leaders, pushed for a first-use nuclear strike on China. Accepting the risk, that the Soviet Union would retaliate, in kind, on behalf of its ally and millions of people would die. Dozens of pages from a classified 1966 study, of the confrontation, showed this.” Now, let me just make this clear, this is a study of what took place in 1958, that there were real plans, that at least were being contemplated by the American military, to strike China with nuclear weapons over the issue of Taiwan. Now, the quote from the New York Times continues, “The government censored those pages when it declassified the study for public release.” End of the quote.

Ellsberg believes, that the lunacy found in the plan for nuclear war on China and the dispute over Taiwan, still exists. Ellsberg said recently, quote, “The issues that led to the 1958 crisis between the U.S. and China have never been resolved. Both countries are now ramping up confrontational rhetoric and most importantly, the strategic rationale that led the U.S. to consider nuclear war, then, remains exactly the same today. You shouldn’t be confident that the current calculations are any less crazy.” Tensions over Taiwan have sparked a nuclear response from China. The Washington Post reports that China has begun construction of more than 100 silos for ICBM’s [Intercontinental Ballistic Missle’s], quote, “That could signal a major expansion of Beijing’s nuclear capabilities.” End quote. In recent years, Chinese officials have complained, that their country’s nuclear deterrence is losing credibility because of nuclear modernization programs underway in Russia and the United States. A massive renewed atomic arms race is advancing at full speed.

Admiral [James] Stavridis, who was the 16th supreme allied commander at NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] and is an operating executive at the Carlyle Group, one of the biggest equity investment funds with lots of investments in the military sector, writes in Time Magazine that, quote, “China and the United States today, are on a collision course. No less an authority than Henry Kissinger said, just over a year ago, that the U.S. and China are in the foothills of a Cold War. Our assessment is that both nations are rapidly ascending the slope of that metaphorical mountain and will likely find themselves in a full-blown Cold War-like status in the near future.” End quote. Stavridis writes, that by the mid-2030s, this could lead the two nations to a hot war and even a nuclear exchange. That’s a major player in the industrial-military complex, contemplating the U.S. sleepwalking, into a nuclear war, that would end most life on Earth.

Now joining us to discuss how close the world came to nuclear war in 1958 and just how close we are to it today is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson. He’s the former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell at the State Department and the Joint Chiefs. Thanks very much for joining us again, Larry.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Thanks for having me, Paul.

Paul Jay

So, what do you make of what Ellsberg says, that the strategic logic of 1958, hasn’t changed? That the lunacy is still in the strategic thinking, and generally, how dangerous was it in ’58 and how dangerous do you think it is today?

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Let me say three things. One− and I’d never want to question Daniel Ellsberg, his credentials or his veracity, but, I could tell you some things about Pentagon planners, war planners, in particular, contingency planning, operational planning, so forth, what we generally call war planning, that would scare you just like that would and yet I wouldn’t contend, that was the mainstream thought, at the time the plans were being developed because the military’s, always, worst case is planning.

Second, I could tell you also, that probably was the mainstream thought and Daniel’s right in his construction of the ’57, ’58, and ’59 atmosphere, in the military, and I would hasten to add, thank God, that Dwight Eisenhower was, of that military and was president of the United States and was there to do what George H.W. Bush did, for example, with Paul Wolfowitz plan, when he passes over to the White House, ‘send us back to the crazies in the basement at the White House’, H.W. Bush, said. So, there was no way that was going to come to fruition with Dwight Eisenhower. Douglas MacArthur, −

Paul Jay

Talk about that whole period in ’58 because it certainly− and what was happening with Taiwan and China, why was it even being contemplated?

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

It was a scary time-period because we didn’t have, anything but an idea that China was a growing and incredible ally of the Soviet Union, which, of course, was our big bugbear and at that time, we had gone through the very painful and torturous ‘who lost China’ ordeal, which, as you know, ruined a lot of people’s lives and careers. It almost ruined George Marshall’s, of all people’s career, because he was blamed vociferously by the right-wing of the grand ole’ Republican Party and others, too, for having lost China, along with a number of other people. So, it was a terrible time, really and it was a time when too− and this gets to Ellsberg’s point, the military had generals, like Curtis LeMay and others, who had always thought, since the first explosion of the atomic bomb and the explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that it was just another weapon of war. A bigger, more powerful weapon, to be sure, but it was just another weapon of war. I mean, we had Davy Crockett’s and other things all over Europe. We had atomic demolition munitions. Mines, Paul, nuclear mines that were going to plant and blow a hole in the ground so a Soviet tank column couldn’t get through. I mean, think about that for a minute. How insane that is and yet that’s what we were doing.

This was a time, that was an extremely dangerous time and again, I come back− I’m glad Dwight Eisenhower was president because there was no way he was going along with any of that. Douglas MacArthur wanted to lace the Korean Peninsula with nuclear explosions so that when the 8th army was fleeing South after, three hundred thousand Chinese volunteers, contrary to his intelligence, entered the war and pushed the Americans all the way back to the original line of contact. He wanted to lace the peninsula with nuclear weapons so that no one could come through there. It would be so radioactive; they couldn’t come through there. So, these were nuts, in my view, they were nuts, certified nuts, and Daniel’s point is correct− but let me come to the third thing, I think this Taiwan-China scenario, is probably the most dangerous scenario, which you and Daniel suggested, because of the very fact that if we go to war, neither of us will win and so it will resolve itself in which side decides, or both sides deciding, to use nuclear weapons.

I’ve told you this before, every war game I’ve ever participated in when I was on active duty, and it was quite a few− it used to be the standard war game for the joint community when we were going joint, in the education environment, in the military− ended up with the civilians playing the leaders on both sides. The Chinese side and the American side and the Chinese leaders were very versed in China’s policies, thinking, and so forth, and ended up in nuclear weapons. Inevitably, the civilian leaders, in one case, as I recall, was Bill Perry, saying, ‘we’re not going there, no, stop the war game’ and we finished right there and did a hot wash-up in an after-action review. It always goes nuclear because we cannot do anything to one another.

My Marines characterize it this way, ‘The shark and the elephant’. The elephant was China. The shark was the United States. The shark ate China’s Air Force and its navy, and the elephant ate everything else about the United States that wasn’t peripheral to that struggle. So, you had your navies and air forces devastated and you’re sitting there looking at one another, the shark can’t come ashore, and the elephant can’t go to sea, as it were and so what do you do? Well, you say, as one game ended up, let’s use some cruise missiles with nuclear warheads, at that time, tomahawk d’s, let’s shoot some Chinese cities with nuclear weapons. Stop the game. So, what you wind up doing is coming to the only inevitable end to that game is an exchange of nuclear weapons. That’s what makes this so dangerous and let me go to your point earlier that you made in the introduction. I said this before, on your show, I think at one time, the Chinese made a decision under Mao Zedong, a smart decision, that they would make no more nuclear weapons that were necessary for a detour because Mao said, they were useless weapons. All he wanted was a few to keep people from attacking him with nuclear weapons and he made that famous statement about ‘you shoot yours at me, you’ll kill a hundred million people. I’ll shoot mine at you and kill all your people virtually, and I’ll still have 600 million left.’

They’ve changed their mind now and they changed their mind for one explicit reason, there are other reasons like the influence of their military-industrial complex and so forth, but really the fundamental reason is, the loss of arms control in the world. We and the Russians have been singularly responsible for that and so the Chinese made a decision and now you’re seeing the fruition of that decision. They have to have enough missiles to ride out the first strike and then respond and so that means a lot more nuclear weapons for China. This insanity is now picking up, accelerating, deepening the crisis that humanity faces with regard to nuclear weapons.

It’s our fault and the Russian’s fault because we let arms control pass away. ABM [Anti-Ballistic Missle] Treaty first, then the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty, and almost New START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty], until we renewed it. So, we’re in a real situation now, where we’re back to the 50s. Where we have military officers who think nuclear weapons are useful. We have, a situation where countries are facing each other, all of whom have nuclear weapons and we have this situation in Taiwan, which is ripe for problems and for catastrophe.

Paul Jay

Just to go back a bit, is Ellsberg’s take, and yours, that there were leading members of the military, not all and certainly not the majority of the civilian political leadership, starting with Eisenhower but, there were some that actually contemplated, that it’s acceptable to have hundreds of millions of casualties. I mean, they were probably wrong about whether the Soviet Union would have come to China’s defense, that’s probably what we know about the real relationship of those two, but they thought they would, and they still contemplated that it would be okay to take hundreds of millions. They also knew, by 1958− even though in truth and even American understanding, the Soviet Union didn’t have much ICBM capability to attack the United States− they could have wiped out Western Europe, and even then, these American military leaders say, okay, that’s acceptable. Is that, first of all, correct take on LeMay and others who were, in very serious positions− he ran Stratcom [Inc], then the Strategic Air Command and is that lunacy still in the military leadership, at least some of it?

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

I mean, fundamentally, this is why you have civilian control in the military and this is why every single president since we first got the atomic bomb, has decided and continued the decision, to keep nuclear weapons under civilian, not military control. There are, in a phrase, nuts in the military and some of them wear stars. Curtis LeMay was a perfect example and to answer your question directly, yes, they believe that a nuclear war could be fought and won, and they damn well knew that− we’re talking tens, if not hundreds of millions of casualties in such a war, and that was their responsibility, they thought. This is the way these people think. Their brain does not extend any further than this. That, an exchange of weapons, can be accomplished, that, at the end of the day, will leave the U.S. victorious.

Paul Jay

What’s that famous−

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Ask them to define that victory?

Paul Jay

Well, there’s that famous quote from LeMay’s second in command, [Colin] Powell, I think, he says, At the end of the nuclear war, if there’s two Americans alive and only one Russian, −

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

We won.

Paul Jay

We won. They’re really out of their goddamn minds but in ’58, they didn’t know about nuclear winter, but now we do and now even a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, was probably enough, according to some recent studies by some serious people like [Alan] Robock and others, that, that’s enough to create a nuclear winter that would essentially destroy human agriculture and thus most humans. Do they not believe this in the Pentagon or are they, nuclear winter deniers?

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Here’s what some of them would say to that remark, Paul, they would say, ‘That’s not my bailiwick. I don’t do that. All I do is war and I win the wars I do.’, which is poppycock because we hadn’t won one for 20 years but that’s the attitude and I’m not trying to denigrate or deride the military. That’s not the way most of them think but there are enough of them that think that way. Look, Doug MacArthur thought that way. Otherwise, American Caesar or William Manchester’s book− quite a good series. There are people who think that way and there are people whom that calculus comes to mean, the ultimate in control and power. The ultimate of military power. That’s the only way I can explain it.

Paul Jay

I mean, it’s not a tactical thing, that they want the Chinese and the Russians to think there are some batshit crazy people in the Pentagon?

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Well, there’s some of that, and civilian leadership, generally, will be the ones who will rail, cry and scream about this or that or call this military leader an idiot, but they’ll still be the ones who use that politically and you can go back and see how it was used. I mean, there was Harry Truman and there was Dwight Eisenhower and both of them used that fear, of nuclear conflict, as they negotiated the end of the Korean War, in the one case, and as they negotiated their way through the opening stages of the Cold War, in other cases. So, yeah, it’s exploited.

Paul Jay

Now, you were saying−

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

The idea that I’ve got a crazy guy in the house here and you don’t want him to attack you.

Paul Jay

But, certainly, LeMay wasn’t just tactically posing as crazy. He was the guy that dropped bombs on Japan and he was a crazy psychopath. Now you’re saying, that’s why civilians control nuclear weapons, but they kind of do and they kind of don’t. I know, in Ellsberg’s book, he talks about going to see Dr. Strangelove, the movie, where this local commander of a base goes nuts and tells his jets to go bomb Moscow. Ellsberg writes, that when they came out of the movie, he turned to his colleague who worked with him at Rand Corporation advising the Pentagon− they looked at each other and said, that’s a documentary because there’s been such devolution of the ability to fire. It’s not supposed to happen without a civilian order but in fact, there’s that nuclear suitcase, that’s carried around for the president. If I understand it correctly, to a large extent, that’s a bit of theater, because if they’re like, for example, if a bomb took out the president, the military does have the means to fire nuclear weapons without such a command. Is that not, right?

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Well, the person in a ballistic missile silo or the person on a ballistic missile submarine, a high-class submarine, has the ability to fire the weapons. You just have to believe in the system. You have to believe in Americans. You have to understand that these are pretty talented, intelligent people. If it was the skipper of a low-class submarine or the commander of a series of ballistic missile silos, an accident, like we’ve had a number of, in the past, some of which the American people don’t know anything about, scares me more than some miscreant person in some silo or on some submarine, but it could happen.

That’s one reason why we have so many fail-safe systems. I say fail-safe with tongue in cheek. Two keys, pals, permissive action locks on the weapons, and so forth, but it’s not completely impossible to imagine a rogue firing of something. To me, having been so close to this for so long, it’s a miracle. A small miracle, a large miracle, however, you want to look at it, in terms of, we haven’t had an accident or a miscreant, as you’ve suggested, and somewhere in this linkage, that started something.

Paul Jay

Right. The story YouTube recently deleted of ours, was an interview with Mikey Weinstein from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and it was about the growth of Christian nationalism, a real right-wing, variant of evangelicalism in the military and he was suggesting, it’s possible as much as a third of the force has now been recruited and that reaches into very high levels of leadership in the military. If that’s true, then how dangerous is that, in terms of this discussion, about the use of nuclear weapons? I mean, if you have people that actually, in theory, at least welcome, the apocalypse, what does that mean in terms of nuclear issues?

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

It’s, certainly a remote possibility, but I emphasize and underline remote. I’m more concerned about the linkages that go along with what you and Mikey have suggested, and others too. The linkages that truly disturbed me are those between the United States and Israel’s nuclear complex. That something might happen in that linkage that would cause an action, in the Middle East, that would precipitate a nuclear exchange. While I would like to hope it could be limited, were it to do so, that we could stop it before it got out of hand. That disturbed me more than anything else. It doesn’t disturb me from− this is going to be, almost a bizarre thing for me to say to most Americans, but I don’t think it’s bizarre at all, − the theocracy is not in Tehran. The theocracy is in Washington and the theocracies in Jerusalem and its growing, every hour, in Jerusalem. [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s gone, but the theocracy is still there. The ultraorthodox, the others who have really stripped Israel, of all of its democratic credentials and created an apartheid state, for all intents and purposes, is still there in Jerusalem and the theocracy is still in Washington. Whether it’s the National Prayer Breakfast or General [William] Boykin saying, ‘my God is better than your God’, or whatever. That scares me more than some miscreant or some misguided Christian dominionist in a silo somewhere because−

Paul Jay

I’m concerned about the Christian dominionist at senior levels of the military and I should add to that, when I interviewed Ambassador Joe Wilson, we talked quite a bit about the role of Opus Dei. It’s also the far-right of the Catholic Church. It’s not just evangelicals that are at very senior levels in Washington.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

The most interesting development at the Air Force Academy in the last, 96 hours or so, has been the Catholic choir director there, who’s written an article that says Catholics are put on the bottom of the totem pole at the Air Force Academy intentionally by the Air Force Academy leadership, which is Protestant dominionist proselytizing evangelical Christians. This article just blows them away out there. They’re torturing Catholics.

Paul Jay

All right, let’s go back to where we started with China. Given, how crazy and irrational, much of this military thinking is− and I don’t think it’s so crazy and irrational, in the civilian political establishment, although you have people in that political establishment who are calling for drawing a line on Taiwan saying, drop this sort of ambiguous commitment to Taiwan and make it a hard commitment, which would do what? If China then decided to save face or for some other reason, they actually do want to use military means in Taiwan. Although I have to say, it seems to me if the Americans would just shut the hell up about it, the Chinese can wait for all this to happen in a more organic kind of way.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

The Americans and certain of those in Taiwan, for example, Tsai Ing-Wen, the first female, I think, current president of Taiwan. A descendant, if you will, of Chen Shui-bian, a Hakka, the first such minority member, to be president and making noises and doing things that look like Chen Shui-bian, has come back to office, that is to say, in your face, Beijing. We’ve seen how you handle Hong Kong. That’s the local media precipitant of our action but our action is going to be, to defy you in every way we possibly can and we might even have a referendum vote on independence, et cetera. The same thing Chen Shui-bian brought to my administration with George W. Bush, SMART. In this case, George W. Bush essentially told Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney to shut their damn mouths and quit exciting Taiwan to this sort of position but right now, the problem to me, exacerbated by us, people like Richard Haass, my old boss at the State Department, saying that strategic ambiguity is gone. It should be clarity now. We should tell the Chinese that if they try to do anything, in a forceful way vis a vis Taiwan, we will defend Taiwan. That’s bull crap. We can’t defend Taiwan without exactly what I described to you happening, a war that devolves to nuclear weapons.

So, why would we be doing this? Why would we be destroying strategic ambiguity? Why would we be bearding the lion in his den? Why would we be helping her to make it look more and more like Taiwan is going to become a defiant creature in the Chinese house? This is not the way to win friends and influence enemies, not at all.

Paul Jay

So, what’s the answer to that? Why is Haass talking this way? Haass represents, − I mean, he’s a serious player in the development of foreign policy in DC. What the hell is motivating him to talk− and it’s not just him.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

He’s a serious taker of the public coin that comes from the military-industrial complex.

Paul Jay

Well, that’s where I’m heading. Yeah.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

These people, boggle my mind, that they play with these very dangerous elements of U.S. national security policy, and they play with them. VAO’s [Virtual Acquisition Office] saving their credentials in how to do it, and what they’re really after is more fame and fortune, with emphasis on the last ladder. When it comes to Taiwan, the fortune is there because you get paid about four or five times what you’re worth, by the Taiwanese structure, as you advocate for them, on either side of the coin. Whether you’re looking at the Kuomintang and you’re looking at the peaceful relationship, more or less, between China and Taiwan, or you’re looking at the defiant relationship that the party that’s currently in power represents. You can get paid well on either side of that and some of them, Paul, work both sides and get paid by both sides.

Paul Jay

Well, is that really the primary motivating factor with all this posturing, that it justifies a massive military budget and I think it’s important, your point too. There’s a Chinese military-industrial complex. It’s in their interest to have tensions, at these kinds of levels. I mean, is that really what’s driving all this because, in real strategic terms, it’s so nuts that I don’t even know how you explain it other than, it’s about money-making, which is crazy too.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Money-making is at the foot and root of so much of what happens in Washington these days and for that matter, what happens in Taipei and Beijing too, but it is about prestige and power, too, and those are the elements that are truly dangerous. You can do something about the− you can root out corruption. You can go after this or that corrupt official. You can identify people the way we’re doing right now but you can’t deal with prestige, power, and the kind of things that Xi Jinping thinks about, when he thinks about his legacy and the Chinese mandate, in order to fulfill it, you have to have Taiwan back.

It’s an extremely dangerous situation and let me add too that, you have to look at Japan in this. What would be the most, effective action the United States could take, in a strictly pragmatic sense, with regard to the current situation in Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, and particularly the South China Sea, where China has become the hegemon. We are not the hegemon anymore, in that region of the world. At best, we can test China’s giving, and we would lose, where we contest it on a strictly regional basis. We would lose.

So, what do you do? Well, if you’re going to be pragmatic and you’re in the Pentagon and you’re thinking about it, you’re going to unleash Japan. You’re going to say to Japan, we no longer guarantee you a nuclear security umbrella. In fact, we no longer feel like the security relationship with you is the way it should be. In other words, we think you should grow up. Think about what China would think about that, how that would change the power calculus in the region. Now, we’ve got an entirely different situation.

Now, China confronts a country that is capable of building a nuclear complex that could outstrip them in a matter of months and it’s no longer hemmed in, controlled, cajoled, kept right, by the United States of America. I’m going back to my conversations with Wang Yi and Cui Tiankai, and with Richard Haass, in 2001, when we did policy planning talks. Restraining Japan is looked at by Beijing, as a plus. Unleash Japan and see how the situation changes in Northeast Asia. This−

Paul Jay

But it makes it more dangerous.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Maybe, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it makes a dangerous balance of power, or it creates a balance of power that isn’t there now. The balance is being destroyed by China. China is becoming more powerful than the United States in that regional context.

Paul Jay

Well, that’s going to happen but, well, you said something earlier, which I thought was really important and to me, this is where the focus has to be. Doesn’t there need to be a serious renegotiation of nuclear arms treaties? −

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson


Paul Jay

Without that, this goes to war. I mean, I don’t know how we avoid− like right now the United States is spending at least a trillion dollars, so are the Russians, to modernize their nuclear forces. It’s probably going to be, well more than a trillion.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Wasted money.

Paul Jay

That’s what’s spurring the Chinese to build up and it’s not even being− am I missing something? I don’t even hear the conversation, in Washington, about beginning a proper new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, China, and the United States to begin with.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

It’s happening, to a certain extent. It’s happening sort of offline right now. There are people talking about it, the usual people, the arms control people, and so forth but they’ve been so marginalized. They’ve been so put down by all this ABM Treaty gone INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] treaty gone. Hey, we might as well just let New START expire too− Donald Trump. They’ve been so marginalized that I’m not sure their voice is being heard anymore, but it needs to be heard.

The other day I was having a conversation with someone even from that community who said, how could you multilateralists, this? It would never work. You better multilateralize it because there are lots of nuclear powers out there now and you need India, Pakistan, and Israel, in this environment, you need them talking about things. You don’t just need to pass, laws and treaties, for instance, the new nuclear treaty, that are just figments of someone’s imagination. Non-proliferation Treaty always was that, with regard to the major nuclear powers. Our promise to reduce our weapons to zero eventually was just so much smoke and mirrors. We need some real arms control. Forget the smoke and mirrors. We’re never going to eliminate nuclear weapons, but we need to manage them and manage them smartly and we need to get down to the very minimum. I go back to that study we did when Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the United States now has around 4000, we could go down to 300. It would be a much safer world, much less opportunity for accidents, and so forth− you wouldn’t eliminate it completely, but you minimize it, and others do the same thing and have a regime that checks on that all the time, as you said, who’s working on that right now? Who’s working on that? It’s one of the number one challenges in the world if we want to survive and who’s working on it?

Paul Jay

Yeah, in serious terms, nobody.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

You got it.

Paul Jay

All right, thanks for joining me, Larry.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson

Thanks for having me, Paul.

Paul Jay

Thanks for joining us on Please don’t forget to donate, sign up to our email list. If you are watching this on YouTube, which after one week they’re going to let us post, but who knows how long till they might close the channel down, which is all the more reason to subscribe to our email list and you’ll know how to connect with our website. That’s at because we’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and if YouTube closes us down, well, we’re probably going to have a petition campaign. If we can figure out a way to sue Google, we will but in the meantime, keep checking out

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    1. Michaelmas

      So there’s a serious typo/mis-identification in the above piece where Jay says “that famous quote from LeMay’s second in command, [Colin] Powell, I think, he says, At the end of the nuclear war, if there’s two Americans alive and only one Russian −”

      [Colin] Powell is incorrect.

      LeMay’s second-in-command at SAC was Thomas Power, even more of a monster than LeMay (who at least had the excuse of being a patriotic dinosaur who emerged from the swamp during the biggest industrial bloodbath in history, WW2.) Thomas Power was this guy —

      God knows I’m not a fan of the Powell doctrine, but in the period referred to Colin Powell was still doing ROTC at CCNY, preparatory to receiving a commission as an Army second lieutenant upon graduation in June 1958.

    1. MK

      I found it fascinating how Paul Jay just dropped it after that remark having earlier prodded about how scared he (Jay) was of super religious people in the military -opus dei. Ooopps lol – didn’t get the response Jay wanted and just moved on without any further ado.

      1. anon y'mouse

        Jay’s time ended on the Real News after he gave a series of interviews with a Catholic scholar-activist about some sensitive issues. actually, it ended while he was taking the interviews out in the field and the series seemed to be in danger of not being completed (and maybe it wasn’t).

        coincidence? perhaps

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The particular religionists in charge at the Air Force Academy are the evangelical Rapturanian Armageddonites. They are the kind of people who would rather drop H-bombs on New York and San Francisco than Beijing anyway. And they are in charge of the Air Force Academy.

  1. HH

    The US military-industrial complex has decided that promoting a fantasy war with China is the way to guarantee continued power and profits. They have no intention of actually fighting (and losing) a war with China. The goal is to keep the pot constantly bubbling without it spilling over. What could go wrong?

    1. Gc54

      I think that this issue is in the forefront of Elon Musk’s urgency to get his Starship rocket operational. We are clearly running out of time before idiots crash it all.

      Space can expand consciousness in unexpected ways, giving some a positive view of the future. Otherwise we are hostage to mediocre political hacks propelled by sociopathic oligarchs, with results obvious to all.

    2. fresno dan

      August 13, 2021 at 10:56 am

      I think at one time, the Chinese made a decision under Mao Zedong, a smart decision, that they would make no more nuclear weapons that were necessary for a detour because Mao said, they were useless weapons. All he wanted was a few to keep people from attacking him with nuclear weapons and he made that famous statement about ‘you shoot yours at me, you’ll kill a hundred million people. I’ll shoot mine at you and kill all your people virtually, and I’ll still have 600 million left.’

      They’ve changed their mind now and they changed their mind for one explicit reason, there are other reasons like the influence of their military-industrial complex and so forth,
      Charlie Munger: show me the incentives and I’ll show you the outcome.
      We’re doomed

      1. Temporarily Sane

        there are other reasons like the influence of their military-industrial complex and so forth,

        Like the constant saber rattling and threats coming from the United States of America?

        1. Michael

          You mean the constant sabre-rattling from countries towards each other (I decline to weigh in on who was initiating what, and who was responding to whom, at any particular time for the sake of conciseness) over the last twenty years?

  2. Andrew Watts

    I don’t understand the fetish for strategic ambiguity in 2021. It isn’t a worthwhile strategy or posture to adopt as the Chinese will assume by default that the US military will involve itself in any conflict over Taiwan. If anything it sets up the US military for a potential USS Panay incident at a bare minimum. The PLA/N just might attack any American military asset that they feel will threaten their resolution of the Taiwan situation. The US really should repeatedly make it unambiguously clear that they won’t support the independence of Taiwan if they want to avoid any misunderstandings that turn into a military crisis.

    Another problem I have with the interview is that I don’t fall for the fearmongering over nuclear war in any Sino-American war. Nuclear weapons are maximalist weapons and a failed war in the Pacific isn’t a justification for their use. Any more then the American defeat in Afghanistan justifies nuking the Taliban. Nobody wants to be responsible for the deaths of millions of people over the lost cause of any war. Although I gotta admit my perspective on this subject is heavily influenced by the fact I was born at the end of the Cold War.

    It also needs to be pointed out that a former ROC general recently called for a military coup against the government and cooperate with unification forces in the advent of a potential conflict.

    1. Raymond Sim

      How is strategic ambiguity useful to a party which isn’t in a position to exert any control over the cycle of escalation? Aside from ass-covering I mean.

      1. Andrew Watts

        The Taiwan Relations Act that established strategic ambiguity was a reaction to the moment when Nixon went to China. Nowadays I think it’s just a wayward relic of our gerontocracy.

    2. Gc54

      Now imagine what the US response will be if one carrier is sunk “as a warning”. The bully has got to hit back or is shown to be a paper tiger. Who is going to provide rationality then?

      1. Andrew Watts

        I imagine that Beijing would apologize and Washington would fold. Declining empires usually prove themselves to be paper tigers one way or another.

        An armed conflict between China and the US is still possible if not probable.

    3. redleg

      As a former US army officer, I can assure you that your perspective about using nuclear weapons might be rational, but it is not correct. For that matter, it is also incorrect about non-nuclear weapons.
      It’s morally wrong, but I can guarantee that the majority of flag-grade officers are not students of St. Augustine even though they are religious.

      Wilkerson’s metaphor of the elephant and the shark is the most concise and accurate way of thinking about a US-China conflict and its outcome.

      1. Kouros

        Wouldn’t rather a metaphor of two elephants pawawing furiously at the edge of their respective seas would be more appropriate, since navies would be out of commission and air force is de-platformed?

      2. fieldartillerytoo

        The main critique of this and any analysis wrt the CCP ruled China is that it should always take a hybrid warfare approach across technology, economics/trade, culture, and the military.

        There are many actions short of nuclear war that the US could take to cripple the Chinese economy and military machine.

        The CCP has been waging war against the USA for decades with the full cooperation of our elites.

        One might argue that the US is currently being attacked with a Marxist revolution driven by its own elites who want a dictatorship w/ CCP characteristics.

  3. HH

    The Taiwan ambiguity give the US flexibility to dial the conflict heat up and down as necessary to keep the weapons money flowing and the military establishment bloated. The tensions in Ukraine serve the same purpose. It’s a racket, and the gullible and bellicose public tolerates it.

  4. vlade

    David had a good comment on Ellesberg, that he was putting a bit too much of wishful thinking into the plans. I.e. someone was asked to come up for a plan for a war with China over Taiwan, and that plan in 1950s pretty much meant “you have to go nuclear to have any chance to win”. That doesn’t mean they wanted to go to war with China or anything else.

    That of course doesn’t mean that there aren’t nutcases who would happily implement the plan then or now – and especially now, when China has nukes too.

    TBH, from many perspectives letting Japan go its own way would be an interesting way to make Asia less hegemonic. Of course, it’s one of those things you have no idea how they will pan out – except it’s a very very unlikely scenario that Japan would join forces with China.

  5. Harry

    There is a Jake Sullivan Curt Campbell piece in Foreign Affairs (sept 2019) which outlines the current thinking on China. Its pretty clear that US thinking is that we are in a new era of “competition” with China, and that needs to be managed. Part of managing that relationship is trying to prevent China from taking back Taiwan, which would give it too much global power over semiconductors.

    But what you see is the manifestation of the US approach to “competition”. They are in the process of walking around carrying a big stick. Talking softly is more a Chinese thing these days.

  6. Ames Gilbert

    Wilkerson is wrong to infer that Russia and the U.S. are equally to blame for the ending of arms treaties. No, it is the U.S. that has unilaterally walked away from them, despite very strong Russian protestations.

    Now the U.S. is laying down ‘pre–conditions’ for any new treaties, like pressuring the Russians to make China part of any new treaties—as if China was not a sovereign nation and was susceptible to pressure by any outsiders in this regard. Of course, demands for such pre–conditions will be met with a polite middle finger.

    Finally, the U.S. has made it abundantly clear that it is not “agreement–capable”. How can any party, anywhere in the world, whether a competitor or even an “ally”, trust the U.S.? How does one enforce any treaty with such an irresponsible entity? Anyone who looks seriously at the history of the U.S. will see that this country has broken pretty much every treaty it has ever entered, internal or external. Will see that it is a nation whose heart and soul and economy is based on unending violence and war. And that the only hope for other nations is to get together and co–operate, to calm down the “indispensable nation” before it runs amok.

    1. Michaelmas

      Wilkerson is wrong to infer that Russia and the U.S. are equally to blame for the ending of arms treaties. No, it is the U.S. that has unilaterally walked away from them, despite very strong Russian protestations.

      Absolutely correct.

  7. Ian Perkins

    Something Wilkerson doesn’t make too clear or explicit is that were the US to ‘defend’ Taiwan from China with nuclear weapons, Taiwan could easily end up the biggest loser by far.

    He also takes it for granted that something must be done about China’s having become the regional hegemon. Why wasn’t it at least as necessary to deal with the USA as global hegemon? The question may be ridiculous to a US military insider, but it’s far from ridiculous to me, and many, many others.

  8. Temporarily Sane

    Imagine the world 5, 10 or 20 years into the future. Climate chaos is wreaking havoc in many regions around the globe as western economic and social decline continues apace. Influential groups of Christians and Muslims in the US and elsewhere believe God is punishing humanity for its sins. Riots and sporadic deadly violence have broken out across the continental United States and in parts of Europe as anti-government protesters take to the streets and supporters of opposing political factions turn on each other.

    In Washington, President Pompeo and his National Security Advisor Tom Cotton vow that China will pay a price for covertly instigating anti-government riots and supplying the protesters with weapons. China denies the accusations, says Pompeo is deranged and withdraws its ambassador and closes its embassy.

    If you think things are weird now just wait until the family blog really hits the fan. Any number of apocalyptic, dystopian scenarios that seem kooky or unlikely today could become reality.

    As the world burns a dying empire launches a “limited” and “winnable” nuclear war in a desperate bid to stave off the inevitable reckoning and “unite” the disparate factions tearing it apart…

  9. The Rev Kev

    ‘The shark and the elephant’

    Actually the three decades long Peloponnesian Wars was like that. The Athenians were a naval power and the Spartans were a land power so both sides found it hard to deliver a knock-out blow to each other. The Spartans could not defeat the Athenian navy and the Athenians could not defeat the Spartan Army. It was only when the Spartans took backing from the Persians that they were they finally able to defeat Athens.

  10. ObjectiveFunction

    Invading Taiwan as a purely military operation in an age of guided missiles is *in no way* the slam dunk people seem to think it is, even without immediate direct US intervention. It hasn’t been for the 70 years such things have been being studied.

    Were the PLA able to establish a secure beachhead then sure, one could expect local resistance to crumble swiftly, with reunification a fait accompli and nobody wanting to die in a lost cause. But getting the necessary division or two ashore to make that conclusion foregone remains an intractable military challenge and a gigantic gamble.

    Sailing a fleet around to invade (and resupply) the rugged east coast is a nonstarter. The PLA must cross the Taiwan Strait. Most of the ROC army is based around well fortified Taipei in the north, and there are limited landing sites unless you sail right into the harbor.

    The nice wide level beaches above Kaohsiung in the southwest are shielded by the volcanic island fortress of Penghu, halfway into the Strait. Seizing that would be a massive and costly operation all by itself.

    Taiwan’s tech heavy army has very large stocks of missile launchers, most of them mobile, plus man portable Javelins and ManPADS. These aren’t things you readily suppress with air power or commandos, even assuming you can gain air supremacy (not impossible but chancy). The Taiwanese also have all kinds of funky ‘smart’ naval mines and torpedoes they can let loose in the Straits.

    Any of these is capable of sinking a landing vessel or warship and taking hundreds or thousands of young PLA marines and sailors at a time to the bottom of the treacherous Taiwan Strait (the ‘Black Ditch’, the Portuguese called it).

    These aren’t capabilities that were available to the defenders in Normandy or Saipan (the kamikaze at Okinawa was a prelude). The Falklands was the first inkling of the new realities of amphibious warfare and that was 40 years ago tech.

    A botched seaborne/airborne invasion, even if called off early, could easily entail 20,000 or more dead Chinese kids (mostly drowned). All by ROC forces alone, without direct US intervention.

    ….This would be followed by the swift reinforcement of Taiwan by a US-led multinational force including Japanese, Australians and Canadians, and likely Vietnamese and Filipinos. (The Koreans would likely sit on the fence). That would mean the next clash would indeed be World War 3.

    And at this point, Taiwan’s independence would be assured.

    Oh, did I mention the immediate embargo of all foreign commerce? Instantly sending China’s export driven economy into a flat spin.

    Following such a humiliating series of routs, I would expect Premier Xi to fall from power very quickly (and fatally). The legitimacy of the CPC would also come gravely into doubt.

    1. Ian Perkins

      The CPC presumably know this too, and they’re as likely to cut off their nose to spite their face by blockading China’s trade routes in the South China Sea, another threat supposedly posed by the dastardly Xi, as attempt an invasion.

    2. HH

      The Taiwanese semiconductor fabrication plants are big, fragile, indefensible targets. China could easily destroy all of them in a single missile barrage in 10 minutes. This is probably the main reason the USA would never actually fight to defend Taiwan. The disruption to the world semiconductor supply would bring howls of protest from the billionaire elite.

      Regarding the feasibility of a Taiwanese defense against a determined PRC invasion, I doubt that the pragmatic Taiwanese would undertake a scorched-earth defense that would leave their island in ruins. Mainland China can absorb devastating strikes and carry on. Not so, Taiwan. The US air and naval forces defending Taiwan would quickly exhaust their supplies after their forward bases are wiped out by Chinese missile strikes. Note that the VLS missile launchers on US surface combatants cannot be reloaded at sea. Once those missiles are fired, the frigates are just targets. Only the US submarine force could block Chinese naval forces without sustaining losses, but there aren’t enough torpedoes in those subs to stop a massive Chinese invasion.

      If you look at the magnitude of Chinese losses in the Korean war, you will get an inkling of the scale of casualties the Chinese are willing to accept when a vital national interest is at stake. The US military knows all this, but the politicians and the weapons makers carry on talking up the fantasy war with China, because that’s what keeps the money flowing.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Red herrings, one and all. None of ‘vital national interest’, nostalgia for the 8th Route Army, terror bombing of chip fabs, swarms of ships, etc. addresses the daunting military challenge of transporting 2 and then more PLA divisions across the Strait, undrowned, to actually occupy Taiwan.

        This isn’t 1950, or 1958, or 1971. The Taiwanese don’t require overt US intervention to repel a seaborne invasion in the Straits. Their army will absolutely man and fire their weapons and no, they won’t run out of missiles before the PLN runs out of ships.

        Air bombardment alone will not force capitulation. That has never once worked in history. Quite the reverse.

        Taiwan is not some flimsy American puppet. Its government enjoys wide popular support today. The people identify proudly as Chinese, but also have no wish to be lorded over by Beijing’s CPC under current conditions. They will not roll over until PLA tanks are in their streets. And **those can’t get there.**

      2. ptb

        @HH – Expanding on that, nuclear war in Asia eliminates the bulk of earth’s industrial capacity. But this too is an appeal to reason. Falls on deaf ears, if Col. Wilkerson is right.

        Fortunately, I think all the talk of a literal on-the-beach invasion is fluff. And the naval buildup, while a competition to see who can intimidate whom (neither, the other guy got too many nukes)- is also in practice peripheral to the Taiwan issue (same reason). Relatively simpler land based weapons are all that is needed to threaten the island, but once again, that threat is simply ignored (because, again, nukes).

        IMO the resolution is that China eventually replicates and exceeds Taipei’s semiconductor capability. If chip prices fall, it ends the lavish flow of funds for weapons and DC lobbying that is driving this story, and the focus moves elsewhere.

  11. Sound of the Suburbs

    Thirty years ago.
    The West was triumphant, and western liberalism had won the day, it was the end of history.

    The Berlin Wall had fallen and a uni-polar world was born.
    The US reigned supreme.
    China was insignificant and Russia was moving towards the West with Gorbachev.

    How could we possibly mess this up?
    Everything was going our way.

    The Americans came up with the Washington Consensus.
    Thirty years later we discover China was the main beneficiary; it went from almost nothing to become a global superpower.

    Maximising profit is all about reducing costs.
    China had coal fired power stations to provide cheap energy.
    China had lax regulations reducing environmental and health and safety costs.
    China had low taxes and a minimal welfare state.
    China had a low cost of living so employers could pay low wages.
    China had all the advantages in an open globalised world.
    Western companies couldn’t wait to off-shore to low cost China, where they could make higher profits.

    Western businesses tried cutting costs here, but could never get down to Chinese levels and they needed to off-shore to maximise profit.
    They gave away decades of Western design and development knowledge in technology transfer agreements.

    China was a new, fast growing economy compared to the mature, slow growing economies of the West.
    Investors would be able to achieve better returns in the new, fast growing Chinese economy and this is where the money headed.
    US investors love China and know it’s the best place to make real money.
    George Soros, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos …..

    Everything was stacked in China’s favour.

    How embarrassing.
    There only seems to be one way out.

    1. lance ringquist

      you are correct. when bill clinton first proposed free trade with china, the uproar from don’t do it became so loud, that bill ordered censorship against any government official who spoke out against doing it.

      government researchers laid it out plainly what the chinese would do, and its exactly what happened

      bill clinton handed the chinese communist party over two hundred years of american wealth on a silver platter.

      the chinese must have been stunned no one could be that stupid. but then again lenin predicted it, and the stupidity was really greed and hatred.

      so bill clinton thought the chinese were entering a trap where the elites and wall street would be the masters, and the chinese the servants.

      then wall street would no longer have to pay good wages to the deplorable in america and the money would pour into the nafta democrats coffers.

      well it did not go that way, it went the way the people who warned what would happen way.

      so today its dawning on the dim wits they really own nothing, have no real ownership of the factories, machinery, the know how, a communist dictatorship owns it all.

      most of these companies that slap their name on chinese made stuff are zombie companies, that have lost it all, plus they are deep in debt.

      they could not figure out how to make a aspirin, because no one in the company knows how, nor has the machinery to do it.

      so now they figured out that they are not the trappers, but the trapee’s.

      the chinese leadership must get up every morning and look at a picture of bill clinton and pinch themselves and ROTFLOL!

      only one way out from this, end free trade now, and what a mess we have on our hands.

      the nafta elites want war, they think they can bluster china, but china holds all of the cards.

      just think what shape china was in prior to bill clinton, now think how fast they became the worlds powerhouse since bill clinton sold out his country, it was lightning fast.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I still have a theory as to part of why Bill diddit. It came to me based on something I once read about Bill and Hillary in Summer of 1972.

        What I read was this: that Bill and Hillary were hard-working campaign volunteers for McGovern, and Bill was especially hard-working and committedly believing. When Nixon won so heavily, Bill was ” just heartbroken”. That’s what I read.

        And a lot of Nixon’s voters were unionized factory and other industrial workers in America’s intact industries.

        And it occurred to me, if Bill decided that those were the people who broke his heart, why wouldn’t Bill have sworn to get revenge on them some day? I think he would, and I think he did.

        When he became President, his revenge against the type of unionised workers whom he blamed and hated for defeating his beloved McGovern would be to engineer and use Free Trade to destroy their lives by destroying their industries in order to destroy their jobs and unions. Free Trade was Bill’s revenge against a country and against classes of people which dared to defeat his beloved McGovern.

        Of course he was in it for the money. But I don’t think it was just the money. I think it was for revenge as well. He was in it for hate AND money.

        I think Bill knew exactly what the Chinese would do and how it would play out. I think that is WHY Clinton sought Free Trade with China. To deliberately on purpose get the outcome he got. And he had to preTEND to “not understand” and “not believe it”. But he secretly did believe it. Secretly he was counting on it. Because secretly it was exactly what he wanted for China against America all along.

        Think there could be anything to that?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I don’t remember it from a book. I just remember it from some tossed off article from somewhere. I don’t know if today’s search obstruction engines would even permit it to be found, even if it exists outside my memory.

        1. cnchal

          > Think there could be anything to that?

          No. Bill was doing it to please Walmart, headquartered in his home state. In the 90’s and onwards Walmart was telling it’s suppliers – make it in China or else no shelf space for you.

          Bill is a narcissist, just like the rest of them, so the consequences of these decisiosn that destroyed the country do not matter. He got his and that’s all that matters.

  12. rob

    how is this not the same as it always was?

    The people who make money…. at war… the arms merchants, the global bankers who wants debts piled up and owed to them… or just paid by a victor with the spoils of a former in-debtee..

    In the thirties two great books were :
    by gen. smedley butler…. “war is a racket”@ 1935… describing the century so far at that time…he was the muscle for wall street all over the globe…
    or in 1934…. “merchants of death”… a popular book in the us, about the two big arms companies… vickers in britian, and schneider in france…. both using third parties in chechoslavakia and elsewhere so they could get around varsailles treaty rules and armed germany anyway…. they knew they were building for another war.. but hey the profits…
    Then there was “tradgedy and hope” by carroll quigley in 1961@… detailing the military industrial complex. the revolving door, people and companies/industries… with dollar amounts….
    Then after WWII files were declassified in the eighties, a great book ” the nazi-american money plot 1933-1949? by george hingham…. about WWII us companies and bank of international settlements being all in on profiteering before,during and after WWII… ideals,people, be was just business as usual. and it still is.
    And a hundred other books about how this is NORMAL post WWII in every way… 24/7/365…
    The propaganda we are exposed to… the fairytales we believe… and pay for… while the idiots thank them for their service…. the waste. the idiocy… WTF?

    1. Keith Newman

      re Rob@ 9:19am
      Totally agree. It’s rather discouraging that the obvious has been restated over and over again and still needs to be.
      As per my comment above re Nina Turner it’s also discouraging that people apparently genuinely organising for real change today don’t benefit from the experience of people who have done the exact same thing in the past. None of it is a secret.
      It’s good that NC does highlight these timeless realities for today’s world.

  13. Charles 2

    Before saying that the US cannot win a conventional war, one should first define what winning means.

    If it means that at the end of the war, Taiwan is an independent country and the hardliners in Beijing are defeated and replaced by Yeltsin-like Western friendly leaders and we all sing Kumbaya in « Designed in California Made in China » world, indeed it is not going to happen.
    But if it means that at the end of the war and – even more importantly during the war – , China has been completely excised from the ocean trade based economy with all its ocean facing Asian neighbours (I.e. Quad + South China Sea facing ASEAN + optionally South Korea) firmly united against it, then it is not only possible, but is the scenario that make the Western military-industrial complex salivate (long war, building countless ships, planes and missiles to counter attrition, nothing better for business !).
    In that scenario, even a « humiliating » defeat but the USA where Taiwan is destroyed and lost, actually morphs into a geostrategic victory if it triggers a strong defense reaction from China neighbours.
    China knows this and the only way out for China is to go « full imperial » like Japan in 1941 and vie for domination of all East Asia and Oceania, so that Japan and India can be isolated and supplies lines from the Middle East can be secured. That is what winning really look like for the Chinese, and it is a tall order. It doesn’t mean that is impossible either.

  14. John

    Nuclear war? There’s only one reason to have nuclear weapons. To deter other countries who have them.

    I’ve put this on my blog, but I haven’t publicly stated it anywhere else, unfortunately — lack of courage. This as deterrence:

    The punishment for a first nuclear attack on a population in any conflict should be to force the perpetrators to watch and listen while their loved ones — spouse, children, parents, siblings, nephews and nieces, close friends — I’m not sure how wide a net, really — are axed to pieces, put through a grinder, or otherwise tortured to death.

    The nuclear explosions in Japan were pittance compared with what’s possible today. I want those with the nukes deterred.

    1. saywhat?

      “Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin alone. Deuteronomy 24:16

      “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. Ezekiel 18:20

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