“If You Love This Planet You Will Change the Priorities of Your Life and Work Every Second of Every Day to Save It”: Physician and Anti-Nuclear Activist Helen Caldicott Speaks Out Against War

StoryJanuary 02, 2003
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For the first time since the Gulf War, the Pentagon plans to move a full combat division of U.S. forces to within striking distance of Iraq. Overall 50,000 troops are expected to be sent to the region this month to almost double the size of the U.S. presence in the region. The troops are prepared to go to war by mid-February. [includes rush transcript]

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said that there is no cause for war against Iraq because Baghdad is co-operating with the weapons inspectors.

As the Pentagon prepares for another war, we’re going to spend the hour with physician, activist and writer Helen Caldicott.

Dr. Caldicott has become world famous for her anti-nuclear activism. As she likes to say, in the late 1970s, she started talking about the dangers of nuclear war as a physician. She said most Americans responded, “it’s better to be dead, than red.” So she started talking about the actual medical effects of nuclear war. She helped revive the Physicians for Social Responsibility. She was later nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Caldicott’s views on the nuclear industry were featured in the 1982 film If You Love This Planet, which was produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Although it won an Academy Award, the U.S. Department of Justice declared the film political propaganda and monitored its distribution.

Her latest book is 'The New Nuclear Danger: George Bush's Military Industrial Complex’.

She spoke at Smith College on Nov 12, 2002. The speech was recorded by Robbie Leppzer of Turning Tide Productions.


  • Helen Caldicott, writer, activist and pediatrician. She is author of five books, including her latest: 'The New Nuclear Danger: George Bush s Military Industrial Complex' (The New Press in the US; Scribe Publishing in Australia).

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to spend the hour with another physician: activist and writer Dr. Helen Caldicott. She’s become world famous for her anti-nuclear activism. She likes to say in the late '70s she started talking about the dangers of nuclear war as a physician. She said, “Most Americans responded, ’It's better to be dead than red.'” So she started talking about the actual medical effects of nuclear war. She formed the Physicians for Social Responsibility, educators formed Educators For Social Responsibility, business people got together because they saw nuclear war would be bad for business, and there was a revolution in attitude towards nuclear war. Her latest book is _The New Nuclear Danger: George Bush's Military-Industrial Complex_. She spoke recently at Smith College.

HELEN CALDICOTT: Listen, if we don’t diagnose the cause of an illness, we can’t cure it. We never knew what caused polio and people were paralyzed all over the place, infantile paralysis. My mother wouldn’t let me eat apples or go to the local swimming pool, because we didn’t know what caused it, 'til Jonas Salk, who worked with me in the physicians' movement, worked out that the polio virus caused poliomyelitis, and thus we are able to immunize people and we don’t see it anymore. If you go to India, it’s rife.

Now, the cause of the nuclear arms race and the situation in the world today is the minds of these men running this country and in other countries too, but mostly the United States. And it’s important that we psychoanalyze these people for the public health of the planet. And if we find they’re mentally or psychologically inappropriate for our survival, they must be removed from office on an urgency basis. And in this book I do short CVs on all of them, and they’re quite revealing, and I’ll go into this a little later.

Now, what is the situation? So America’s got two and a half thousand hydrogen bombs on hair-trigger alert. Remember there are only 240 cities in the northern hemisphere, major cities, 240. So two and a half thousand hydrogen bombs, and so has Russia. America has got a policy to fight and win a nuclear war. Now Russia’s best friends. Putin goes to the Crawford Ranch and eats hot dogs, he drives around in George Bush’s little golf cart. You know, I don’t know what else they do at Crawford, but Bush said, “I looked into his soul, and I saw that I could work with him and trust him.” Okay, so they’re best friends, yet America’s policy still is to fight and win a nuclear war.

And how do you do that? Well, let me just tell you, you’ve got eighteen Trident submarines at sea at any one time. On each submarine, and they’re noiseless, silent submarines, are twenty four missiles, and in each missile are eight hydrogen bombs. Eight. You’ve got fifty MX missiles which Reagan nicknamed “the peacekeeper”; on each MX missile are ten hydrogen bombs. And then we go to this book, and we look at the Minutemen missiles scattered — you can look down when you fly across the country at the Midwest and see the missile silos scattered across your country. Let me see, there’s a map here of Missouri. It looks like it’s got measles. Can you see that, all the red dots? Okay, what’s the next state? Montana. That’s where all the film stars go and have their homes, because there are lots of moose and deer and things out there, and bears. Okay, what’s the next one? South Dakota. And I could go on and on.

In each silo are two men aged eighteen to twenty-one, each armed with a pistol, one to shoot the other if one shows signs of deviant behavior, conditioned like Pavlovian dogs, “Yes, sir, no, sir, press the button, sir” —- -— you see, they have to be —- -— men who have never really lived or experienced life, probably never delivered a baby or seen a child die or helped anyone to die. The key locks to turn the missiles are twelve feet apart so one man can’t get to turn both keys, but if you tie a string on one key you can actually turn both keys and launch a nuclear war.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Dr. Helen Caldicott giving a speech at Smith College on November 12th. Dr. Helen Caldicott was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and she is talking about the state of the world.

HELEN CALDICOTT: How do you win a nuclear war? It goes like this, and go along with this sort of fantastical logic: The Russians and the Americans have satellites circling consistently and in the satellites are infrared detectors, so if America launches a missile, Russia picks up the heat from the missile and radios back to its control center in Moscow. So if America wants to fight and win a nuclear war you have got to knock out their eyes and ears, so you’re working really hard on anti-satellite warfare at the moment, and Lockheed Martin is doing most of that, the biggest corporation in the country, military corporation in the world, which really runs the Bush administration.

Then you knock out the command and control center, which is Moscow, with a nuclear weapon, and then you launch your missiles in a huge swarm, and the hydrogen bombs land very accurately on each Russian missile silo, and you kill their missiles. That’s the military terminology: you “kill” them. Now, if you miss a few and some get launched, you’re building a national missile defense system so that it will wipe out the Russian missiles that gets launched. Star Wars is really about fighting and winning a nuclear war. Now, so then you’ve won the nuclear war; you’ve killed their missiles. The fact is that billions of people dying as a result, that’s called by the military “collateral damage.” We don’t get killed, the missiles get killed, and our deaths are irrelevant to the Pentagon.

Now, so serious is this that in 1995 the Russians picked up the fact that Norway — someone had launched an American missile, a Titan missile, and there was a Norwegian weather satellite on top. The Pentagon had notified the Kremlin but they lost the data of it —- -— the Russians are sort of hopeless; they lost it, and they picked up the telemetry from this missile and said, “Good God, America’s launched a first strike against us to win a nuclear war.” There’s Yeltsin, sitting there before the nuclear football opened for the first time in the history of the nuclear age, sozzled. He drank at least two bottles of vodka a day, almost certainly he had Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s syndrome, which you get from alcoholism and pickling your brain.

Now by the time the missile was launched and the satellite picked up the attack and radioed back to Moscow —- -— that loop took fifteen minutes, the missiles take thirty minutes to land —- -— so when the football’s opened with the directions to press the buttons, he had three minutes to decide whether or not to annihilate the planet and America and Australia, because we’re covered with US bases, which I plan to get rid of. So he’s sitting there, and the general’s over his shoulder saying, “Mr. President, press that button there.”

Ten seconds before the end of that three minute interval, the missile veered off course. That’s why you’re still sitting in those chairs and you’re not radioactive atoms floating around in the stratosphere. January 1995, what were you doing then? That was reported in The New York Times in a big story, but it was back page near the obituaries. The New York Times and the media are determining the fate of the earth. Why wasn’t it headlines? You know, “Ten Seconds from Annihilation” like “Nine Miners Saved in the Mines in Pennsylvania”? Why does the media decide to keep us all ignorant? Why The New York Times? I mean, I can understand NBC, which is owned by GE.

Now, no one else is to leave the room. I can see people getting up and walking out, because they think I’m boring. You’re not to go. This is very important, and I want the doors locked. If you have to go to the bathroom you can, but under no other circumstances are you to leave the room. A, it’s rude to leave a visiting lecturer, and B, what I’m saying tonight will determine your future and whether or not you live or die, okay? Students are not to leave the room, nor any adults, and those guys can guard the doors.

Alright, so we’re ten seconds from annihilation. Now let’s describe what would happen if there was a nuclear war. Let’s pretend for instance —- -— well, you know when you’re listening to NPR and you hear “oooo” and a very deep male voice says, “We are just testing the emergency broadcasting system”? This time there’d be an announcement, “We are under nuclear attack. Run to the nearest fallout shelter.” You’ll have about ten minutes to get there. You’ll never get there. And in comes this bomb, hydrogen bomb, at twenty times the speed of sound, and you won’t even hear it coming. It will land on this beautiful auditorium and explode with the heat inside the center of the sun, turning this building and millions of tons of rock and earth to radioactive fallout shot up in that swirling mushroom cloud.

Sorry, I’ve got one button undone 'cause I'm hot so if you see a little bit of stomach, it’s quite fashionable these days anyway. Okay, then five miles from all directions from here, everyone’s going to be vaporized. In Hiroshima a little tiny bomb was exploded which killed about 120,000 people in a flash of light, and a little boy was reaching up to catch a red dragon fly in his hand against the blue sky and there was a blinding flash, and he literally disappeared, and his shadow is in the museum at Hiroshima on the pavement. It’s all that was left. Twenty miles from here, and think of where you live, in all directions, everyone will be grotesquely burnt. The burned patient is the most difficult patient we ever treat. Hundreds of units of blood and plasma, and serum leaking out, terrible infections, skin transplants and often then we still lose the patients. There aren’t many burn beds in the whole of the United States. But don’t worry, the White House is stockpiling large quantities of morphine just in case there’s going to be a nuclear war.

Winds of five hundred miles an hour will suck people out of the buildings and turn them into missiles traveling at a hundred miles an hour through the air. Then if you look at the flash fifty miles out you’ll get retinal burns and be instantly blinded, and the whole area would become engulfed in a firestorm of three thousand square miles, so if you’re in a fallout shelter you’ll asphyxiate from the heat of the fires using up the oxygen.

Now, I only dropped one bomb. There are two and a half thousand that can drop on America. Every single town and city with a population of 10,000 or more is targeted with at least one of those, every university, every college, every corporation, every factory, even railway yards. Twenty probably targeted on Washington alone. That is Bill Clinton’s legacy.

AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Democracy Now! Helen Caldicott is speaking about the state of the world.

HELEN CALDICOTT: Do not interrupt me. You can ask questions afterwards, 'cause I have to build up, you know? Anyway, so we live under the threat of annihilation every second of every day. The Russian early warning system is falling apart, the satellites only work one-third of the day, read it in this: people steal copper wiring from the early warning systems and the radars and the like because they're so poor in Russia, and the Pentagon is building up more and more nuclear weapons. Now, what is the Pentagon actually up to apart from fighting and winning a nuclear war, which is insanity? They, the Pentagon and the nuclear weapons labs are building new nuclear weapons. They’ve got the second Manhattan Project going.

Hands up, those who know what the first Manhattan Project was. Okay, for those who do not, it was when they built the first three nuclear weapons. The first one was called Trinity, named after the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and when they blew it up in the desert, if it didn’t work, the telegram to the President was to read, “It’s a girl.” It did work, and the telegram, of course, read, “It’s a boy.” And right from the beginning of the nuclear age there’s been a sexual underpinning, archetypal Jungian underpinning to the whole thing. Second one was called Little Boy, dropped on Hiroshima, killed 120,000 people, and thus began the age of nuclear genocide. And the third was dropped on [Nagasaki] three days later, on a Christian city which no one would thought would America bomb.

It took a huge amount of money and manpower and brilliance to build those three nuclear weapons, and afterwards the scientists said to themselves, “For the first time, physicists have known sin.” Then, they developed the nuclear power program, thinking they could harness atoms for peace and assuage their guilt. As Robert Oppenheimer, who developed the first three weapons, watched Trinity blow up, he muttered under his breath. He said, “I have become death, the destroyer of worlds,” from the Bhagavad Gita, because he knew that nuclear weapons had the power to destroy the whole creation, the only life in the universe, and God damn, those people have kept building nuclear weapons ever since.

Do you know how many nuclear weapons America built in the nuclear age? 77,000. When one thousand bombs dropping on a hundred cities would create nuclear winter and cover the earth with a cloud of thick, black, oily, radioactive smoke, blocking out the sun for a year, causing a short ice age and maybe only the cockroaches would survive. So they built seventy-seven times the number for annihilation of life on the earth. It’s called an addiction. It’s like an alcoholic reaching for their next drink, their next drink, and every other country that supports the United States, including my own, are enablers to America’s nuclear addiction.

Then, of course, Russia got them. So why would Russia want them? Because she wants to be the big guy on the block, too. Then France got them, because she lost her empire and wants to be like Napoleon again. Britain got them because she lost her empire. China got them but she’s only got eighteen missiles that can hit you, only eighteen, so she’s really a very small nuclear power. India and Pakistan got them because they copy you. Everyone wants to copy America, don’t they, 'cause they — you know, the propaganda that goes out would say that this is the greatest country on earth, so we all want to be like you. And we end up being like you, and then we're not happy, really. Anyway, that’s a different issue.

AMY GOODMAN: You are listening to Dr. Helen Caldicott, speaking at Smith College on the state of the world today. We’ll be back in a minute.


AMY GOODMAN: We continue with Dr. Helen Caldicott, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, talking about who’s got nuclear weapons in the world.

HELEN CALDICOTT: Who else has got them? Israel. Israel’s the third largest nuclear nation in the world with three hundred hydrogen bombs, so why don’t we go in and have inspections in Israel? Or why don’t we have civilian inspections in America, which is the largest rogue nation in the world? Maybe we could all dress up in white coats and stethoscopes and hard hats and stuff and say, “We’re gonna go and inspect the nuclear weapons in America.” The New York Times had a lead editorial which said “America, The Rogue State.” The New York Times is pretty conservative, so that was an interesting thing.

But now, in order to get the scientists in the nuclear weapons labs to allow the Non-Proliferation Treaty to get through the Senate, Clinton bribed them, and he said, “Look, I’ll give you five billion dollars a year for the next fifteen years,” and they said, “It’s for stockpiles, stewardship and maintenance”— SS&M, which also has sexual connotations — “to make sure that the bombs are reliable.” When they blow up, they blow up with twenty megatons and not eighteen megatons.

I mean, what we need is for bombs to go rusty and not work. But, actually, what the labs are doing is designing, testing, and developing new nuclear weapons, as I speak. But America doesn’t have any enemies. Well, I mean, you’ve got some terrorists who don’t like you, but you’ve got a few zealots in this country, too, including those right wing Christians who believe that Armageddon is going to come because it says it in Revelations, and when Armageddon comes it’s going to be nuclear war, and one-third of the human race, which is them, are going to be raptured up — it’s to be raptured, it’s a verb — up to the sky to meet Jesus in their nightgowns and their dressing gowns, and all of us are going to be burnt in the fires of hell because we deserve it, because we’re not Christians. And all the Jews, just before it happens, are all going to be instantly converted to Christianity, too, and they’re going to be raptured up to meet heaven, too — meet, to heaven.

And in fact, John Ashcroft believes this. I think probably George Bush does. Reagan certainly did. His defense minister or secretary, Weinberger, believed in it, and the rightwing Christians control the Republican Party, and that’s, I think, partly how they got back into power with such large majorities. 70,000,000 of them are foot soldiers to work for the Republican Party, because they really want Armageddon to happen. And so it’s all good that we’ve got a first strike winnable nuclear war policy and the weapons are on hair trigger alert.

Now, the scientists themselves are very interesting. They are like Merlin or, who was, in Lord of the Rings, who is the wizard? Who? Yeah, Gandalf. And they, because they’ve captured the energy inside the stars, the politicians, who are mostly scientifically illiterate —- -— about three percent of politicians are scientifically literate —- -— they literally bow down in front of these people when they walk into Congress, like Edward Teller, who designed the super bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and others.

Now, the nuclear weapons scientists work in a cult, and the rite of passage into the cult is to design your own bomb and blow it up. Now, the night before the bomb is exploded in the desert in Nevada deep underground, the man who designed the bomb sleeps with the mechanisms to blow up the bomb by himself in a little hut in the desert. He sleeps with annihilation. He talks about giving birth to the bomb. He talks about having labor pains and the need to push. He talks about having post natal depression after the bomb explodes.

If you want to check this out, this work was done by an anthropologist called Hugh Gusterson who went up and drank beer with them at the pubs, and they talked to him. But they — it’s also very interesting that the language they use for the bombs, if I can find it, is very interesting. Where can I find it? Oh dear, I should have looked it up before I started talking. But wait, will you just give me a second to see if I can find it? Wait. Darn, I can’t find it. Yeah, here it is:

“The scientists felt that their technical mastery of the bomb implied that they would then be able to control the impending annihilation that their work signified. But in psychological terms the mastery they had acquired actually implied that they intense fear of the bomb and of death. The first bomb ever blown up in the desert, called Trinity, was called ’Oppenheimer’s Baby,’ in honor of Oppenheimer. When the bomb explodes it gets married to the diagnostic canister, and as it explodes, it couples with the ground, making daughter fission products that pass through generations.”

And I said one of the scientists compared, described the test as like having a baby. But they also use language for the weapons which is analogous to human language. It says:

“On the other hand, unlike the nurturing instincts of a new mother, much of their language reflects a profound dehumanization of people. To them, people are human resources and components within a system. They describe human communication as interfacing, and miscommunications as disconnects. The pain of human injuries is referred to as damage, and when a human being is killed, she is disassembled. The Pentagon echoes this language, calling targeting of cities, counter-valuing targeting. People are dubbed soft targets; missile silos are hard targets.”

Gusterson said, “Techno-strategic discourse is characterized by its lack of emotion, its game-theoretical models of human motivation, its fondness for abstraction and for passive sentence constructions, its focus on hardware rather than people. At its fundamental unquestionable assumption that weapons development must continue, as they remove pain and fear from their vocabulary —”

See, this is the pathology that I talked about initially, that we’ve got to be courageous enough to psychoanalyze and remove these people from office.

“Presumably these scientists are protecting their psyches from the human consequences of the work. At the same time they wax lyrical about their weapons, describing nuclear equipment as beautiful, and their relationships to technology as zen. Weapons are arms, bombs are warheads, and nuclear attack is a decapitating strike. The strategic nuclear forces have three legs. Early warning satellites are eyes and ears. Missiles are covered with skins. And aging weapons grow whiskers that can interfere with their health.”

Isn’t that fascinating? I mean, this is the fundamental basis that we have to start examining. You can talk about numbers of weapons 'til the cows come home and about the medical effects of nuclear war ’til the cows come home, but unless we psychoanalyze the psyche of these people and decide they're inappropriate to what they’re doing 'cause they're about to blow up our earth, then we’re nowhere.

And we have to do it with our politicians, too. And I coined a new phrase the other day: “Politicians for Social Irresponsibility.” Your Congress is full of them. They are bought and sold by the corporations time and time again, and even when those corporate scandals came out, the Democrats and Republicans were flying around in corporate jets, going to weekends paid by the corporations. They’re corporate prostitutes. They do not represent you in any way, shape or form; not at all.

The drug companies paid $16,000,000 for this election. The drug companies are making huge amounts of money. I speak now as a physician. They should make virtually no profit at all. Doctors shouldn’t get rich. Teachers should be paid more than doctors, ’cause they have a greater responsibility toward society than do we.

The White House is run by corporations. Lockheed Martin and Boeing and TRW, which are militarizing space and building Star Wars and the like, thirty-two members from those corporations are in the administration. Lynne Cheney, Cheney’s wife, you know, Dick, who lives mostly underground in a fallout shelter in Washington? He’s really the President, and he’s protecting his life by living underground in case there’s a nuclear war. His wife, Lynne, she sat on the board of Lockheed Martin for twenty years. Donald Rumsfeld is extremely closely associated with Lockheed Martin, as are others in the Pentagon. Colin Powell isn’t, but he’s been marginalized. And I’m going to talk about Iraq in a minute.

So, the rest of the people in the administration come from the Heritage Foundation. Hands up, those who know what the Heritage Foundation is. Okay, hands up, those who watch Jim Lehrer and Ted Koppel. Oh. What do you watch on television; Fox? You don’t watch —- -— you don’t watch television. Hello, Francis. No, what do you watch? Or don’t you watch television? ABC?


HELEN CALDICOTT: Yeah, well, they’ve been bought and sold, too, haven’t they? They have all lost their souls like Faust. The Heritage Foundation is what they call a rightwing think tank funded by Lockheed Martin. It’s really an advertising agency for Lockheed Martin, and every time you turn on the television there’s one right winger debating another right winger. They’re never saying, “Well, actually, should we go into Iraq? And maybe that’s immoral.” They’re saying, “We’re going into Iraq, this, this, and this.”

Someone once said the media have become stenographers. All they do is write down what Rumsfeld said. Rummyspeak: you know, he speaks a sort of funny language that no one can really understand, but he’s very charming. I never — I heard a man on NPR today talking about Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and who really runs this presidency and how George Bush doesn’t really understand much at all, but there was no moralizing. They were reporting facts, but they weren’t talking about whether or not what is happening would be immoral or illegal, and I’m reminded of Germany. The only way evil flourishes is for good people to do nothing. Is that not us?

It’s a very, very dark time. Those Republicans, run by the rightwing Christians, they’re gonna fill the courts up with Christians. They’re not Christians. Jesus wouldn’t have a bar of them. You know, Christianity isn’t about going to church on Sunday or going up to meet Jesus when you die. It’s about living what the man preached, the greatest psychiatrist almost who ever lived. And what did he preach? He preached “Love thine enemies,” a very hard thing to do.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Dr. Helen Caldicott. She was speaking at Smith College. We go back now to Dr. Helen Caldicott in Massachusetts, speaking in November. Dr. Helen Caldicott who was formerly the Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

HELEN CALDICOTT: So the Heritage Foundation have peopled the White House, and if you see them on television —- -— I’ve debated with a couple recently. They’re very smooth, they’re like snake oil salesmen. I was on with Larry King. I know Larry; I’ve been on with him for thirty years when he had a radio program. I was on for seven-and-a-half minutes with Frank Gaffney for the Center for Security Policy. He’s a rightwing Star Wars aficionado. Got a mustache, looks okay. And he said I had no right to be talking about this and Star Wars and the like, because I’m an Australian. Then he said I used to rant during the '80s about nuclear war, and I should've been quick enough witted to have said, “Well, that ranting produces a Nobel Peace Prize.”

So I was on for seven-and-a-half minutes with this man, so I only got about three minutes, and then on comes Pamela Anderson. If you’ve ever seen her —- -— I’ve never seen her before —- -— she’s got huge mammary glands, and she’s terribly thin. She’s a medical monstrosity. I mean, the poor girl, when she gets old, she’s going to look awful. And then I thought, “Well, maybe I should have some implants, too, and maybe Larry would have me on for an hour, and I could talk about what I need to talk about.” But isn’t that typical of the media? Isn’t it typical?

And then, during a break, he turned to me, he said, “These people are really dangerous, aren’t they?” I said, “Yes, Larry.” He said — I said, “They’re sinister.” We came back on air, and he said, “Look, I’ll have you on for half an hour.” He said, “We need more time on this. I’ll do you from Australia.” I rang them the other day; the producer said, “Well, we actually have no time to slot you in in the next three weeks while you’re here.” And I said, “You’re lying to me, aren’t you? Just tell me the truth. Did your top people say that I’m not to come on again? I’m being blocked from the media.” So I am very annoyed about this, and it’s Jefferson who said, “An informed democracy will behave in a responsible fashion,” and this democracy is almost totally uninformed, hence the voting patterns.

So, I’m setting up a new institute called the Nuclear Policy Research Institute. Rosie O’Donnell gave me a hundred thousand the other day. Richard Gere has given me only ten, but I need eight hundred and fifty thousand. I’m gonna have an office in Washington with the very best media person who can ring the bureau chiefs and say, 'Okay, tonight you're gonna do Star Wars and you’re gonna have Jackie Cabasso on from California. Top notch, really good person.’ Or, ’We’re gonna do Bruce Gagnon, who is a Republican in the Air Force, charismatic speaker, knows all about the five layers of Star Wars and the militarization of space.’ And we are going to be proactive so the administration has to respond to us.

And who owns the airwaves? Yeah, you own the airwaves. They have been co-opted and stolen from you, and that must not happen. So now you’ve got to take back your airwaves.

What I’m calling for is revolution. But it’s got to be a Ghandian-type revolution. How did Ghandi take on the British? He didn’t go back in a uniform with a gun. He practiced asymmetry. He went back almost stark naked in a loincloth and conducted a salt march with tremendous sagacity and dignity, and he won. And don’t just join organizations and do the same old thing, write letters that —- -— the Democrats, I mean, hopeless. I mean, as Gore Vidal says, you’ve got one political party with two right wings. I mean, it’s hopeless. Hopeless! We’ve got to have a revolution from the grassroots up, so if I can get on Larry King or Phil Donahue or the like and speak to 20,000,000 people and talk about the risk of nuclear war, then we’ve got 20,000,000 people in the grassroots movement, okay? And then you take over your country, because, in fact, the politicians are your followers, and you are their leaders.

What’s more, what’s more, you’ve got to take a leaf out of our book in Australia: voting must become compulsory, one. Two, our campaigns are three weeks long. Three, the government pays for them. Why can’t you have that? The post office has all your names and addresses; everyone can automatically be registered to vote, and you can fix your country, because if everyone voted, you would probably have a free health care system like we do at home. Totally free, paid for by our tax dollars.

I’ve just worked at the Sydney Children’s Hospital as a pediatric intern. Best medical care in the world. Money is never mentioned. I go to the doctor, pay my bill, walk next door, and into my hands given cold, hard cash by my government to pay for my doctor’s visit. Oh, but isn’t that socialism? Ooh, naughty word. What was Jesus? He was a socialist. Yes, he was. “It’s more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” What did the good Samaritan do? He stopped and cared for the man. What did Jesus talk about all the time, but love? What did the other prophets talk about? “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Free medical care system.

Every person in this country requires an education like the people here at Smith get. Yeah, every single person. But where’s the money coming from? Well, where does your money go? Yeah, well how much? Nearly half a trillion. If you spent a thousand dollars a minute since Jesus was born, you would have just about spent a trillion dollars. Almost half that amount is spent on death every year. Why do I say death? It’s not the Department of Defense. It’s the Department of Death. I know an admiral, really nice fellow. He said, “Helen,” he said, “Our mission at the Pentagon is to destroy property and kill people.”

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Helen Caldicott. You are listening to Democracy Now!


AMY GOODMAN: You’re listening to Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, as we return to Dr. Helen Caldicott.

HELEN CALDICOTT: What did the Bible say, or any other religion? “Thou shalt not kill.” And in the nuclear age, any war could lead to a nuclear war and annihilation of the planet. Einstein got it right when he said, “The splitting of the atom changed everything, all reality, save man’s mode of thinking,” and I’m talking about these reptilian midbrains on the other end of the bell-shaped curve, fed by testosterone. Thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe. We have to stop fighting.

Now, there’s one magic solution, and that is the fact that 53% of the earth’s population do not secrete testosterone from their gonads. They secrete estrogen and progesterone, which, if you’ve ever had a baby, are the most nurturing hormones. I felt when I was breastfeeding, I could feed the whole world. I was so nurturing.

And it’s interesting, because there’s a scientist who was in a lab recently who studies hormone levels, and she noticed when something difficult came up in the lab, and there was animosity — and don’t any men take this personally — but the men would tend to go off and shut their doors and sort of fume and work out vengeance, when the women, they got upset, they cleaned the lab, they made coffee, and they sat around and talked. So she thought, “That’s very interesting.” So she did the hormone levels. The hormone levels of the women under stress, oxytocin, which is actually responsible for uterine contraction, but clearly is a very nurturing hormone, went right up, and the testosterone levels in the men went right up. Isn’t that interesting?

So now, why? Socio-biologically, why? If you go back to when we were troglodytes 3,000,000 years ago — we’re a very primitive species — we sat in the caves breastfeeding our babies, and the men went out and killed the saber-toothed tigers and the marauding tribes, and they had to, for us to survive. That was necessary because the world was a very scary place then. But there has been little evolution in this primitive evolutionary instinct for men to kill for territorial imperative. Whereas 53% of us are women, and we are not a minority; we are a majority. We do two-thirds of the world’s work, for which we earn ten percent of the income, we own one percent of the property and we have all the babies, and that’s not without question — that is without question.

So it’s time that there was a mandated law, mandating that 53% of the Congress and every single organization in the world is composed of women, and the magic number is 30%. Below 30% the women tend to vote for missiles, but above 30% they reinforced each other and said, “No, you’re not getting your missiles; no, we’re voting for milk for children.” And that’s good women, bad women, rightwing, left, all sorts of women. Because there’s a certain empathy we have and a need to nurture and preserve life. Now, in France, they’ve just passed a parity law saying that 50% of all people running for office have to be women. It’s interesting that France should be ahead of the United States, isn’t it? I’m just giving you lots of ideas for the revolution.

Now, the next thing I want to describe is Star Wars. There are five layers of Star Wars; I won’t go into it all. It’s very complex. It will never work, but they’re going to spend the billions and billions and billions of dollars. In fact, this administration is spending four times as much money on Star Wars as on the State Department. Boy, do you need your diplomats. Your sagacious, wise people who speak all sorts of languages and are well trained, they’re being totally sidelined. The people conducting your foreign policy are Rumsfeld, et al. Yeah, the Pentagon. That’s totally inappropriate.

The most important thing I want to say is that America is about to militarize space, which, according to the United Nations, belongs to the globe, all the people of the world. Don’t forget America is only 4.5 percent of the world’s population. And why do they want to do that? 'Cause NASA, that's really military, has been mapping the planets and the moon and the asteroids for rare minerals, then they’re going to launch nuclear reactors and put them on the planets — it’s all in the book — mine the rare minerals and bring them back, and then the corporations get the profits and you pay for the whole thing.

So, if America expends so much capital in space, it’s got to control it. I mean, why not? Dominate it. It’s called full-spectrum dominance. They’re putting out anti-satellite weapons, orbiting nuclear reactors to power laser beam weapons that can take out cities with a flash of light and effect very many kills, they say, particle beam weapons, and possibly hydrogen bombs up there. One hydrogen bomb exploded high in space shoots out such a voltage, called electromagnetic pulse, it would take out the whole of the United States of America’s wiring systems and totally paralyze the U.S. That’s something else the Pentagon won’t talk about, 'cause they know it's true, but they don’t know what to do about it. These are the plans, they’re ongoing, and this stuff is being built, as I speak, mostly by Lockheed Martin.

Now, Iraq. The first invasion of Iraq by the United States was a nuclear invasion. America used shells made of uranium. Uranium is 1.7 times more dense than lead, so if you have an anti-tank shell, it develops tremendous momentum — momentum equals mass by velocity — and it slices through the steel armor of a tank like a hot knife through butter. But it’s pyrophoric, so when it hits the tank, it burns, producing tiny little particles that can be inhaled into the lung. They used up to eight hundred tons of it in Iraq, especially on those retreating soldiers on the death highway. Uranium-238 has a half life of 4.5 billion years. So they left a radioactive battlefield, radioactive for the rest of time.

Children are ten to twenty times more radiosensitive than adults. The incidence of leukemia and cancer in the children in Basra, where these weapons were used, has gone up six to twelve times. Little girls age ten are getting breast cancer. Women are terrified to give birth, because they’re giving birth to monsters. The incidence of congenital deformities has tripled. Babies with single eyes. Babies born with no brain, no vault to the skull, just a nub and a midbrain so they cough, cry, suck, and then die. Babies with spina bifida, with no limbs.

Americans don’t know that, because the media is conducting a conspiracy of silence. The Europeans know it, because the soldiers who went to Kosovo, peacekeeping operations, are getting leukemia and brain cancers. There’s been a huge debate in the European Parliament. Your veterans are excreting uranium in their semen. What’s in the semen? The most precious cells in the human body, apart from the ovum, the sperm. There are three thousand genetic diseases. My specialty, cystic fibrosis, is the most common. Can you imagine what that means?

They also, these shells were polluted with plutonium, the most deadly substance known to human race, such that one pound, hypothetically, if adequately distributed, could give every person on earth lung cancer; strontium-90, which causes bone cancer and leukemia; cesium-137, which is very carcinogenic, because this uranium was reclaimed from old nuclear reactors and submarines and mixed with some of these products from the nuclear reactors. They used, I’ve just discovered, up to a thousand tons of it in Afghanistan, and when they go in again, they’re going to use them again. That’s called evil. The armor of one-third of the tanks, of the American tanks, was made of uranium, too, so the men sat in a radioactive environment with their testicles being irradiated, the most important organ in the male body if you’re talking about evolution.

Now, they’re going to go in. It doesn’t matter what the United Nations says. George Bush doesn’t understand it, but he’s very belligerent now and very cocksure. They’ve got 250 troops over there at the moment, thousands of planes and the like, aircraft carriers. Every month since 1991, five thousand children have died of water-borne diseases — cholera, typhoid, dysentery — because America on purpose bombed the water supplies and the sewage systems, so they’ve been drinking dirty water, and because of the sanctions, they can’t be treated.

My colleagues stand at the foot of these children’s beds dying of leukemia, weeping, because they have no drugs, because of the sanctions applied by the United States. And they’re going to do it again. And nobody knows, and I know if the whole of America knew this, they’d stop the war. It’s not a war; it’s annihila — I mean, it’s massacre. It’s a radioactive war.

There’s a fifty-fifty chance they’ll use a nuclear weapon there, a nuclear bunker buster, a real nuclear weapon, which the Russian satellite could pick up the flash, misinterpret it for thinking America’s launched missiles, and launch their missiles like they nearly did in '95. We were on hair-trigger alert, incidentally, on September 11th, on the highest state of alert, with planes in the air, B-52s armed with nuclear weapons. The guys wear one patch over one eye so when they fly to Russia and drop the bombs, when they're blinded in one eye, they can take the patch off, and they can fly home, but there’ll be no home, 'cause everything's destroyed and incinerated. So we can have an — that could trigger nuclear winter.

Or, Israel said if Hussein launches scuds towards her, she’ll use, could use nuclear weapons back, and we’re still at a point where we could have nuclear war between Russia and America, be triggered by that. The probability is not zero, and I can’t give a number of having a global nuclear war because of this, but I could say maybe ten percent, five to ten percent. Are you prepared to go along with that risk of wiping out the only life in the universe?

Hussein has no nuclear weapons. Dick Cheney says he doesn’t. And if he’s got biological and chemical, they were given to him by America, because he’s a C.I.A. man, and he was armed and financed by the United States to fight Iran when Iran thumbed its nose at America and took some American hostages. That war between Iran and Iraq killed over a million people, many of them little boys under the age of fourteen. Child soldiers. Then, the rightwing say, “Well, when we’ve done Iraq, we’re going to then do Iran.” And then they say, “We might do China and Syria.” It’s all in here. They write about it. They’re setting China up as the new Cold War enemy, too.

You know, life began in Iraq. That was where the Garden of Eden was. It’s absolutely tragic. About ten percent of the world’s oil is there, and Hussein nationalized it. So America’s got to have it, so everyone can drive their SUVs and cause global warming and the destruction of two-thirds of the world’s species and the rising of the seas and the drowning of one-third of the human population and spreading malaria epidemics around the world as the mosquitoes proliferate in the heat. That’s what this war’s about: SUVs.

I don’t know what else to say, except that I’m really scared, and I wake up in the middle of the night, and I can just see these Iraqi women, you know, with their babies —- -— and I’m having a baby tonight —- -— washing them and bathing them. You know, one of the loveliest things you do when you’re a new mother is to bath the baby and put Johnson’s baby powder on it, put them in their diapers and wrap them in their shawls and put them in bed at night, breastfeed them, and in a few weeks, there’ll be hot shards of metal slicing through their bodies.

And if you see these men talk on Oprah, and I was on Oprah the other day, they used me to justify the war. They have no idea. It’s all male left brain thinking. They’re not talking about killing people at all. And the people who get killed are innocent people: men, women, and children. War isn’t about soldiers fighting soldiers these days; it’s men dropping bombs from 40,000 feet in the air and never smelling the blood or seeing the people with their intestines falling out of huge gashes in their abdomen or babies with their heads blown off. They don’t fight. They just murder from cyberspace, 'cause Americans mustn't get killed, must they, after Vietnam.

So we are right at the brink of the precipice. Never before has the world been in such a dangerous situation.

This is a dahlia, one of my most favorite flowers. They bloom in the fall, as do chrysanthemums. I’ve got a book of Peter Pan and Wendy and the paintings are by Arthur Rackam, who drew the most beautiful little fairies in the park, Windsor Park in London, and they’ve got chrysanthemums like little old ladies hobbling along and the fairies playing. This represents that to me.

We’re so lucky to be here. We’re so lucky to have been born and conceived. Life is such a privilege. It’s so beautiful. Walk outside and smell the leaves falling from the trees on this lovely day. Look at their colors. It’s an absolute miracle. Scuba dive under the sea and see the fish. And we’re about to destroy it all. So, as I said in a speech years ago, if you love this planet, you will change the priorities of your life and work every second of every day to save it, and you’ll never feel depressed again. You’ll feel a sense of great joy and fulfillment. Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Helen Caldicott, speaking recently at Smith College in Massachusetts.

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