Since you wish to reside in the Elysée Palace, do not forget the bunker that lies underneath it. This is the PC - Command Post - known as "Jupiter", in which (unless you’re away from Paris) you will have to shelter in the event of a serious crisis and from which you will perhaps give the order for France’s atomic missiles to blast the population, thousands of kilometres away, of what will have become an enemy state. If you do, you will go down in history as the greatest of murderers. An exaggeration, surely? Alas, no.
"Fundamentally dangerous, extraordinarily costly, militarily ineffective and morally indefensible" : that’s how nuclear weapons were described by General Lee Butler (former head of the US Strategic Air Command, where he had the task of launching them if his President gave the order). France’s strike force fits this definition, as will now be proved.
Dangerous. The smallest of our warheads - our atomic bombs - is the equivalent of 100 000 tonnes of TNT, in other words 7 times the power of the "Little Boy" bomb that caused 250 000 deaths in Hiroshima. Every French nuclear-missile-launching submarine (there are three operational vessels ensuring permanent alert) carries 16 missiles with 6 warheads each: 96 nuclear warheads in all and 700 Hiroshimas -not long ago it was 1000 Hiroshimas. As for the missiles on France’s Mirage jets, each one equates to 300 000 tonnes of TNT - 22 Hiroshimas.
Militarily ineffective. Imagine the "surgical strike" that such weapons can deliver! Yet that is what President Chirac (speaking in Brittany on 19 January 2006) called "a firm and appropriate response from us" to an attack on our "vital interests" - for example a bomb attack masterminded by some power which our intelligence services thought they could identify, or a threat to our "strategic supplies" of uranium or oil.
This threat to use nuclear weapons against a state not possessing them is grotesque ("Bomb blast in Paris : 50 dead/ Tehran suspected and punished: 2 million dead"). But their use against a nuclear power would be even more absurd. President Giscard d’Estaing reveals in his memoirs that he secretly resolved, when he was president, in the thick of the Cold War, not to use them even in the event of an invasion: he would have preferred to see France occupied - with a likelihood of recovery - than to see her annihilated. That tells us how little this nuclear "Maginot Line" is really worth as a deterrent... Yet we don’t pay peanuts to have it.
Extraordinarily expensive. France’s nuclear strike force, between 1945 and 1988, cost 1500 billion franc (at 1997 values). For the years 2007-2012 it will cost at least 18 billion euros, according to predictions, merely for research and development of new nuclear weapons: for the 4th SNLE-NG submarine and the M51 missiles, the ASMP-A, the TNO, and the LMJ... (acronyms which basically mean "vertical nuclear proliferation"). One can now understand why the arms-merchants who control two-thirds of the French press, aided by the nuclear lobby, have for decades imposed a media censorship known as "consensus".
Morally indefensible. In total the 348 warheads which France declares are now in service are the equivalent of 47 million tonnes of TNT and theoretically could cause a billion deaths. "Hurray for France!" cried General de Gaulle at the dawn of this beautiful adventure... France is the "homeland of Human Rights"... and of the great hypocrite Tartufe: her Constitution now forbids capital punishment for a criminal, but authorises the Head of State to execute millions of innocent people without trial! Even if it means ending all human history...
Do not imitate the great criminals. We still remember Nero who set fire to Rome, and Hitler. But once you’ve committed your crime, Madame ou Monsieur future president, will there be a posterity to remember you and your underground bunker? That’s not certain. Do you have the stuff of a Nero? Also uncertain. We know that you have social fibre and your heart on your sleeve. But you must choose between humanist discourse and "deterrence posture", between those two faces of Janus. Are you putting the nation’s "vital interets" before the lives of French nationals? Will you be able to commit a genocide, a crime against humanity? That is the key question.
A crime against humanity: General de Gaulle, chief promoter of the "strike force" tacitly admitted it was. At the end of the Council of Ministers on 4 May 1962, Alain Peyrefitte, then a government spokesperson, put to him this question: « Hundreds of thousands of victims, women and men, old and young incinerated in a split second, plus hundreds of thousands dying in the following years after atrocious suffering, is that not a crime against humanity?" What did de Gaulle reply? Nothing : « The General lifted his arms. That was not his problem. »
Not his problem, maybe, but yours and ours. You will be the button-presser for such a Holocaust; and we will be accomplices for having permitted its preparation. Active accomplices as conceivers, apologists, builders, execution agents. Passive accomplices as voters and taxpayers. And probable victims, because of the boomerang effect: one massacre provoking another, either immediately (a nuclear riposte) or later (biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear one). For terrorism - which is impossible to deter by nuclear weapons - easily crosses frontiers, as does and will do anyway radioactivity. Now is therefore the time when we have to look outside the hexagon of France.
Foreigners are waiting for a gesture from France. The mayors of 1600 cities, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thousands of NGOs, dozens of Nobel Prizewinners, and leading figures as varied as Gorbachev, El-Baradei, Kofi Annan, Ban Ki-Moon, McNamara, Kissinger, Shultz, Perry, Nunn, or Pope Benedict XVI have all understood that the only way to stop nuclear weapons proliferation is not "preemptive war" like the Iraq War or the possible nuclear war that Bush is preparing against Iran, but the universal controlled nuclear disarmament required by Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which France ratified in 1992.
This is an urgent matter, of crucial importance. A matter for the whole sovereign people, which has a right to know your intentions before electing you, and to make known its will subsequently. Hence these questions:
1) Do you want France to ask all the nuclear States, whether or not they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to negotiate, adopt and set in motion by 2010 at the latest a timeline for eliminating their nuclear arsenals under strict and effective international control, to suspend until the end of 2010 her programmes for new nuclear weapons, and to redirect that budget into meeting real needs - social, health, cultural, educational, environmental or humanitarian needs?
2) Do you undertake, if elected president of France, to organise a referendum on the above question, within a year of being elected?
This is a great plan for the planet, one without which the nuclear catastrophe has every chance of taking place. The voters who want to see France associated with it, in good faith, have no other "strike force" to use than their voting papers. So don’t wait for the first round of the election before hearing their "final warning". Give us now some reasons to hope and to vote for you.
The will to disarm and save the Earth by acting TOGETHER in solidarity or else the solitary paranoia of the global killer ready to annihilate his or her own people in the name of "the nation": those are two options, two postures, two destinies. Choose one. Not tomorrow, not too late. NOW.
Published 16 March 2007 in the regional weekly "Haute Saintonge".