Six Minutes to Midnight
The minute hand of the symbolic Doomsday Clock was moved back by one minute on January 14. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (bas) cited a “more hopeful state of world affairs” regarding the threat of nuclear war and global climate change. The clock is now set at six minutes to midnight.
The “Doomsday Clock,” created in 1947, is a symbolic measurement of the likelihood that mankind will begin nuclear war, with midnight representing the zero hour—global destruction. The farthest from midnight the clock has ever been was in 1991 when the Cold War era ended, and it was set at 17 minutes to midnight. The nearest to the zero hour it has ever been was in 1953 when it sat at two minutes to midnight following the announcement that the U.S. and the Soviet Union had tested thermonuclear devices within less than a year of each other.
The bas reported that the most recent change represents new optimism on the part of its panel of scientists—including 19 Nobel laureates—about the threat of nuclear war, and global cooperation on climate change.
“The main factor,” bas board member Lawrence Krauss told National Public Radio, “was that there’s been a sense that there’s been a sea change in the possibility for international cooperation regarding both nuclear weapons and climate change” (January 15).
“There are now—largely, one would have to say, as a result of the election of Barack Obama—new international talks and agreements to reduce arms,” he said.
To those keeping close watch on global developments relating to nuclear proliferation, this statement likely comes as a shock. An unbiased evaluation of global trends since the clock was last adjusted in 2007 reveals that the threat of nuclear war has only multiplied in that time.
A U.S. administration operating on a policy of appeasement and trust of enemies has convinced this panel of scientists that the world is a safer place because of its softening stance, but the opposite is true. The Obama administration last year slashed America’s homeland missile defense budget and abandoned plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe that would have served as a major deterrent to a nuclear attack on its allies. Have America’s disarmament policies really lessened the threat of nuclear war? Has its willingness to perpetually suspend judgment on Iranian designs in the name of diplomacy removed the world one inch from the danger of nuclear war? Policies of appeasement have only shown Iran, North Korea and other nations how quickly U.S. will to counter their aggressive actions is evaporating. Those policies have emboldened the rogue nations of the world.
A litany of headlines shows Iran making great strides toward nuclear armament. In December, the Times of London cited secret Iranian documents revealing that Tehran has been working on a “neutron initiator”—the trigger used to detonate a nuclear bomb. This discovery further exposed the deceit of Iran’s claims that its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes. Compounding the significance of Iran’s nuclear advancements is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s desire to plunge the world into a nuclear abyss for religious reasons.
2009 saw a North Korea of unprecedented defiance. Since President Obama took office, Kim Jong Il’s nation has successfully tested a bona fide nuclear weapon and a long-range missile, withdrawn from the 1953 armistice agreement with South Korea, and announced that it will weaponize its plutonium reserves. In response to these belligerent acts, the Obama administration showered Pyongyang with concessions, including caving in to Kim’s demand for bilateral talks.
Russian Arms Reduction
High on the list of 2009’s celebrated international peace talks was July’s discussion between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about cutting the nuclear arsenals of their respective countries. But even a cursory look at the agreement reveals these reduction plans to be ludicrous—at least for America. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer called the agreement “useless at best, detrimental at worst,” because Russia agreed to dismantle a certain quantity of its archaic offensive nuclear warheads in exchange for the U.S.’s elimination of a comparable amount of its state-of-the-art nuclear defense weaponry. In this laughable scenario, Russia loses nothing, and the U.S. loses everything.
Although Pakistan’s nuclear weapons haven’t yet come under direct attack by Islamists, the looming threat is increasing. Never before have Pakistan’s weapons been in so much danger of being stolen by terrorist organizations. In 2007, militants attacked nuclear weapons facilities in Punjab, Sargodha and Kamra. In 2008, they blew up gates to the Wah weapons complex, leaving 63 people dead. The U.S. government is funneling substantial funds into Pakistan’s military because the stakes are so high. So far the terrorists have been kept at bay, but the threat is growing.
Krauss was careful to point out that the January adjustment was the first time in history that the bas has moved the clock’s time by an increment as small as one minute. In explaining that the board’s optimism is reserved, he said, “If we don’t follow up on all the talk that’s been happening with action, it could go much closer to midnight. On the other hand, if all of these things that we hope are going to happen happen, it could move much further away.”
So the move was essentially based on talk—on diplomatic initiatives. But an objective analysis of our diplomatic track record shows that these efforts will prove fruitless in most situations and counterproductive in others.
However slight the adjustment, the bas’s optimism over these talks showcases man’s refusal to admit that the problems threatening us are too big for us to solve. It highlights mankind’s unwarranted confidence in itself. Six thousand years of strife-ridden history have failed to teach our experts that man does not know the way of peace. Man’s inability to effect peace should have become more evident in the last two years. But, as the danger intensifies, man’s delusion that he is able to solve his own problems has only grown stronger.
It will take Christ’s intervention to keep us from annihilating ourselves and usher in true peace (Matthew 24:22). There is no cause for optimism about mankind solving its problems, but there is every cause to be optimistic about God’s solutions to humanity’s troubles!
For more about this hope-filled future—a future in which the concept of a Doomsday Clock will be totally irrelevant—request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s inspiring booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.