November 1991 (vol. 8, #1)
1601 N. Tucson Blvd. Suite 9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 1991 J Orient
To disarm America, it is not necessary to have an arms control treaty, concluded with the advice and consent of the US Senate. The Commander in Chief can do it all by himself.
To the applause of the Union of Concerned Scientists and others both inside and outside the US Congress, George Herbert Walker Bush, Republican, President of the United States, is unilaterally indeed single-handedly disarming us.
US bombers and land-based missiles have been taken off alert. One of the two radar command centers that watched for Soviet bombers headed for North America has been closed, and one operates 40 hours per week.
All the suitcase-sized tactical atomic bombs have been ordered out of Europe.
``I am directing that the United States eliminate its entire worldwide inventory of ground-launched short-range theater nuclear weapons,'' said President Bush on Sept. 27. Thousands of nuclear warheads will have to be dismantled in Amarillo, TX, provoking conflict between environmentalist and ``peace'' activists (Insight 8/18/91).
All tactical nuclear weapons will be removed from naval vessels also. In fact, the vessels that carry the Tomahawk cruise missiles (which can be armed with nuclear warheads) will themselves be put in mothballs, shortly after they were taken out of storage to serve in the Gulf War.
The size of the fleet is slated to decrease to 451 and then will probably continue to decrease further (even though 95% of the material for Desert Storm got to the Gulf by ship).
Long-range missiles slated for destruction under START will be taken out of commission immediately, before Congress even ratifies the treaty.
Plans to deploy the MX missile on rails will be abandoned. The mobile Midgetman will be cancelled.
Engineers are working on ways to destroy solid rocket fuel. Conceivably, the retired missiles could be converted for use in launching satellites into space, but they might then ``threaten private industry with unfair competition and produce exhaust fumes that might threaten the ozone layer'' (AZ Daily Star 9/19/91).
The rationale is that there
is no longer a realistic threat, and that we should set a good
example for the rest of the world: throw away our most powerful
weapons and restrict our military to fighting forest fires and
buzzing peaceful American farms in search of marijuana plants.
Do You Feel Safer?
The United States might as well destroy its deterrent force if there is nothing to deter or if deterrence doesn't work anyway. The first question to ask is whether others are hastening to follow our example.
Mikhail Gorbachev promised to curtail development of new long-range missiles, to take heavy bombers off alert status, and to discuss cooperation with the United States in developing antimissile defenses against terrorist or Third World threats. It is not clear how many bombs Mr. Gorbachev has under his control or for how long he will have them, but President Bush feels ``comfortable that whoever is in charge will do the right thing'' (Wall St J 8/30/91).
What is actually happening within the Soviet military? There are conflicting reports. It is said that Prime Minister Ivan Silayev announced a 50% cut in the 1992 military budget (AZ Daily Star 9/1/91). It is also said that Gorbachev increased the budgets of the KGB and military by 20% and 37% for the next 12 months (former NATO commander General Sir Walter Walker, quoted in Money Strategy Letter 10/14/91). Gorbachev promised conversion of 600 weapons factories to civilian goods; six have been converted. The military draft exemption was recently repealed for 5 million military-age students (McAlvany Intelligence Advisor Sept/Oct, 1991), but the Soviet army is supposed to be transformed into a smaller, all-volunteer force (Star, op. cit.) According to McAlvaney, the Soviets recently deployed 18 new rail-mobile first-strike SS-24 missiles and just completed 75 underground civil-defense structures around Moscow, each the size of the Pentagon (op. cit.)
Outside the Soviet Union, nations are clamoring to follow the example set by the US in the Gulf War. An arms bazaar is on. Defense contractors are eager to sell, especially as the US military budget is cut. Eastern bloc countries are desperate for hard currency. Czechoslovakia has announced plans to export 5500 weapons (Atlantic Nov 1991).
Iraq's nuclear weapons program was much more advanced than anyone, including Israel, had suspected. North Korea, where Communism still lives, is believed to be within a year of having an atomic bomb. Israel is not the only nation actually to have been struck with SCUD missiles. Afghan troops fired at least three into a rebel-controlled city last summer, killing more than 300 persons. Algeria is building a nuclear reactor with China's help.
Reverse Deterrence and Non-Deterrence
The present outcome of the Mutual Assured Destruction non-strategy appears to be what Lowell Wood has called ``reverse deterrence.'' The United States has deterred itself, but no one else.
One response is to start ``with a full-throated recognition of our great good fortune at the way things have turned out'' (Nature 8/29/91). That's what the Trojans did when the Greeks, after a long and bloody war, inexplicably admitted their inferiority, declared defeat, and sailed for home, leaving a gift behind on the beach.
The prudent response is to start now to build defenses, from underground shelters to space-based Brilliant Pebbles.
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, the ``messenger'' at the synapse between two nerve cells or a nerve and muscle cell. After the message is delivered, the acetylcholine is broken down by AChE. If the AChE doesn't work, acetylcholine accumulates, causing excessive, uncoordinated stimulation, followed by depression or paralysis.
The symptoms are:
Give atropine. Atropine blocks the action of acetylcholine at certain types of nerve endings (muscarinic junctions) and thus reverses some of the effects of the AChE inhibitors (not the muscle paralysis). The dose is 2 mg intramuscularly, repeated every 3 to 8 minutes until marked signs of atropiniza-tion appear: flushed face, dry mouth, widely dilated pupils, and rapid heart rate. (The pupils are not a reliable sign as they can remain constricted even when enough atropine has been given.) Very large doses may be required, up to 50 mg the first day for insecticide poisoning, according to the pharmacology text. Such a dose may be too high for nerve gas or much too low (author-ities have differing opinions). The physiologic response is the key. Mild symptoms of atropinization (such as a dry mouth) need to be maintained until the effects of the poison wear off, perhaps for several days.
The military provides soldiers in the field with auto-injectors of atropine and pralidoxime chloride. This kit is not available to civilians, but Survival Technology does offer the API5 atropine kit, with five autoinjectors containing 2 mg of atropine each, designed for laboratory workers. This can be obtained for $48.50 by FAXing a doctor's prescription, along with shipping and billing instructions, to 301-656-5600. (The company is located in Bethesda, MD.) It is cheaper to buy atropine in multi-dose vials, but therapy could be started much more quickly with the autoinjectors.
As soon as the first dose of atropine is administered, decontaminate the patient to prevent further absorption of the poison through the skin. Remove contaminated clothing and wash the skin with soap and copious amounts of water. Personnel need to protect their own skin with gloves and protective clothing.
After the patient is fully atropinized, he can be given an antidote that regenerates the AChE-pralidoxime or Proto-pam. This can reverse paralysis and coma as well as the mus-carinic effects. The dose is 1 gm by slow intravenous injection, repeated in 30 minutes if needed. This drug should not be given in the presence of carbaryl (Sevin) intoxication or overdosage with neostigmine or physostigmine. It is of little use with some nerve gases such as soman (GD) because the inhibited enzyme ``ages'' so rapidly (with a half-life of 4 minutes in the case of GD). Pralidoxime in high doses can itself cause neuromu-scular blockade and AChE inhibition. It is quite expensive, about $30 per dose.
Experience in Angola has suggested that the usual antidotes may actually be harmful with some newer chemical warfare agents. Prevention of exposure is obviously the best course. Better means for detecting attack and determining its nature should be a high civil-defense priority, along with population protection measures.
With the usual agents, combined treatment with atropine and artificial ventilation is theoretically capable of protecting a patient against 50 to 100 times the dose that would otherwise be fatal. Improvement of symptoms after institution of treatment is an excellent prognostic sign. Recovery is often complete, but there have been reports of long-term impair-ment.
1.Dreisbach, RH: Handbook of Poisoning, Lange Medical Publications, 1983.
2.Heyndrickx, A: Personal correspondence.
3.Sidell, FR: What to do in case of an unthinkable chemical warfare attack or accident, Postgrad Med 88:70-84, 11/15/90.
4.Goodman & Gilman's The Pharmacologic Basis of Therapeutics.
For information about using the shelter display, call DDP at 602-325-2680.
We suggest that you commemorate the occasion (Saturday, December 7) by checking your emergency shelter and supplies, ordering a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills if you don't already have one (see enclosed order form), and making one or more Kearny fallout meters if you haven't already done so.