Nuclear War & the movies: a critique of ‘Countdown to Zero’: Robert Jensen

Robert Jensen is one of the cultural workers in the world that I respect tremendously, along with Angana Chatterji, Barry Lopez, Yuri Kochiyama, Judith Butler, Angela Davis, among many others.  He speaks to getting to the root of our issues in the contemporary world as far as oppression and social justice, ecological devastation and proliferations of violence, cultural wars, and identity formation in late capitalist patriarchal globalization.

I will post more of his works on topics such as racism, sexism and heterosexism, masculinity, and others later.  What I respect in this regard is his accountability to these topics and to what I believe is a core of the issue: the unequal distribution of power/wealth and the ‘isms’ such as racism and others as tactics of certain kinds of uses of power and violence.  His works are anti-oppression, centering on a national US and global imperialism centered on national, patriarchal and white-supremacist ideological formations which intensify greed and dominance as forms of governance.  Through this, our cultures are formed.  There is no fancy idealism in his views.  I also enjoy this fact.  He presents activism as not anything special but an everyday life of struggle, without romanticizing.  I love this approach.

In the videos I present here, he is at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, in a discussion with attendees on the screening of the film entitled ‘Countdown to Zero.’  This movie is supposed to be released soon and is based with many accurate facts, from my own research, but along with Robert Jensen himself, I have critiques about.  The most glaring one is perhaps the most obvious, as you may have gathered from my postings throughout my blog.  It is the fact that the movie is a propaganda tool used to incite fear of the rogue states that the US government has ‘othered’ through its racist rhetoric, without giving historical facts along with an analysis of the power relations that inform the historical development of the present predicament.

Since the US has achieved almost total control of the world through its nuclear power, just by sheer numbers, through lies regarding Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs (that they were militarily necessary instead of the fact that over a million civilian Japanese were killed in the Second World War as a strategy against the Soviet Union, as one example); and that other countries must now want to not be controlled by the US by not having its own strong weapons as defense.  Constant subjugation through economic pressures, food and medical aid manipulation and stipulations, debt-making, not to mention the assassination of democratically elected leaders in many countries, would lead to countries needing nuclear power in order to equalize.  The movie presents these acts of survival as crazy and presents the US as the sole savior and rational peacemaker in the race for nuclear weaponry.

As Robert Jensen also states in the video, I do not want some of the leaders and groups to have weapons, but also the way we pursue nuclear non-proliferation must also be just and based on different accountabilities than the ones now pursued by the US.  The US continues to flaunt its domination and this will fail for all of us.  The US will not give up its monopoly of violence (i.e. nuclear weapons) so that is not something I wish to waste time on at this moment.  But  accountable, ethical non-proliferation actions which include actions that assure non-subjugation of other nations is a start.

Robert Jensen site:

These videos are each about 10 minutes or so, with the total being 30 minutes or so.


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