Weapons and Consequences

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In this exclusive Q&A with rabble.ca, Rosalie Bertell warns against runaway technology — both terrorists using low-tech equipment with high-tech applications, and the U.S. government using the war effort as a reason to shut down dissent against building Star Wars.


What kinds of weapons do you expect the U.S. to deploy if and when it uses military force in pursuit of its proclaimed enemies in southwest Asia?

Since the U.S. sold weapons to [suspected terrorist Osama] bin Laden and the Taliban, and the British Special Forces taught them warfare tactics, the U.S. and Britain are fairly well versed in what to expect. I also think that public sympathy for the people of Afghanistan will limit the force used, since neither country wants to lose public support. Therefore high-tech special-force attacks are the most probable approach. Humanitarian aid will no doubt be coupled with military action.

What effects do you think the events of September will have upon the U.S. plans for Star Wars?

Part of the Star Wars scenarios includes better “control” of dissent in America. Declaring national emergency and giving the government sweeping powers is in line with the overall plan, just a bit ahead of the expected timing. Once the “vengance” part has been satisfied, I would expect the surveillance to stay in place with public consent and the missile defence program to continue.

Missile defence is coupled with global surveillance and the ability to wage war anywhere on the planet without moving troops and oil tankers. “Depositing energy” would not require either planes or missiles.

[Note: in her latest book, Bertell explains that “depositing energy” refers to beaming or bouncing energy down from the sky in order to burn or explode targets.]

How do weapons manufacturers affect U.S. politics? How do weapons manufacturers affect the U.S. and world economies?

Weapons manufacturing and sales bring foreign currency into the U.S., increasing its wealth. Wars increase sales. Increased sales become leverage with Congress, since the military can argue that “everyone” has the current technology and the U.S. must have new research funds to “stay ahead.”

A “little war” is expected to boost a faltering economy and silence those who have not shared in the past economic boom.

What effects have the wars of the 1990s had upon the world’s climate and weather patterns?

Every rocket that is fired (in war or military exercises) makes the ozone problem worse. The oil fires worsened the planet-warming trend. A point source of heat (like the Caribbean Sea) is well known to create high-speed winds and change air pressure, temperature, moisture and weather. War is truly bad for our planet earth.

Are there other everyday technologies that terrorists could use to destructive ends in the U.S.?

The means available to terrorists are often spin offs from U.S. military technology. The attack on the World Trade Center was a demonstration of low-tech weapons with high-tech planning. There are no limits to the means that could be used. In Israel they say, “Anyone, anywhere, any time.” I would add: With anything.

Are you worried about the possibility of attacks on nuclear power plants?

Of course. Also, we need to worry about oil refineries, chemical plants, military biological and chemical warfare laboratories, level-four biological laboratories, and every place where large numbers of people congregate. There are also real concerns about water supplies and food. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) set an unacceptable precedent in Bosnia by deliberately striking oil refineries and chemical plants.

Are you worried about chemical or biological attacks in the U.S. homeland?

Of course. They would most likely be strikes on U.S. biological or chemical facilities.

Are you worried about the effects of secret weapons that the U.S. might use against its enemies?

The use of “secret weapons” by the U.S. would just escalate the problems and teach terrorists new tricks. It is not really the means of war that we must limit — it is war itself. This does not mean that terrorist attacks should go unpunished. The punishment needs to be measured and undertaken by international agencies.

What advice would you give the U.S. and Canada about responding to the events of September 11?

It offers an excellent opportunity to use the international infrastructure that has been carefully built up over the last few years. We have an international police force, with 179 countries participating, and a new world criminal court (well supported in Canada, but which the U.S. has not joined). It would help if the U.S. would accept development of international law: for example the covenants of social and economic rights, which the terrorists violated; the most recent twelve United Nations proposals directly against terrorism; and the documents condemning organized crimes.

It is not acceptable in domestic law for the victim to pursue and deliver penalty to the criminal. The U.S. should seek outside intervention and step back. It is not exempt from crimes of passion. Both Canada and the U.S. could use this opportunity to accept international law and courts as the proper place for dealing with global criminals.


As president of the Toronto-based International Institute of Concern for Public Health, Rosalie Bertell (PhD, GNSH) has won major international awards for her investigations into the health effects of the nuclear and other environmentally dangerous industries. Her vocation as a grey nun has allowed her to devote her life to her work.

Bertell’s first book — No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth — has been translated into Swedish, French, German and Finnish. A Russian translation is in process. Her second book — Planet Earth: The Latest Weapon of War — was published in the United Kingdom last year.

Although recovering from serious health problems, Bertell agreed to answer some questions for rabble.ca.

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