Quotable

"We could, in a moment in time, destroy everything—ourselves and all that we had every touched or loved—by means of our own technology and by our own hand." -Robert Jay Lifton, psychiatrist and the author of “Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima,” and a memoir, “Witness to an Extreme Century.”


Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Don't modernize nukes, eliminate them"

Editor's Note: The following opinion by Patrick Hiller, a Professor in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University, Portland, OR, in The Cap Times is the perfect response to this week's announcement by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel about plans to pour yet more money into the government's already out-of-control nuclear weapons spending spree. Hagel once again parroted the indefensible party line (this is beginning to sound like a broken record): “Our nuclear deterrent plays a critical role in securing U.S. national security.”

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Patrick T. Hiller: Don't modernize nukes, eliminate them

Did you notice? Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel just announced plans to massively “upgrade” the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Should we numbly accept new plans by our government to revitalize systems which without doubt are the greatest threat to human survival? Did we forget that our president told the world in Prague in 2009 that America is committed to seeking peace and security by creating a world without nuclear weapons, and for that announced intention received a Nobel Peace Prize?

The concerns outlined by Hagel could have provided an excellent opportunity to significantly implement the needed steps away from nuclear weapons. Cheating scandals on qualification tests or misconduct by top officers overseeing key nuclear programs certainly are worrisome. Even more worrisome is the fact that nuclear weapons still exist and are not considered an abnormality. The more troubling aspect of Hagel’s announcement is the broader nuclear modernization program. Making sure the so-called triad of strategic deliver systems grows, the Pentagon can plan for plenty of new missile submarines, new bombers, and new and refurbished land-based missiles. The Monterey Institute of International Studies sums up their well-documented report: “Over the next 30 years, the United States plans to spend approximately $1 trillion maintaining the current arsenal, buying replacement systems, and upgrading existing nuclear bombs and warheads.”

Even the most doubtful among us will see the contradiction between the commitment of seeking a world without nuclear weapons and “revamping the nuclear enterprise” as Hagel noted in his keynote speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum last week.

It appears that the absence of the Cold War and the soothing rhetoric about a world without nuclear weapons keeps us complacent — can anyone imagine one million people demonstrating against nuclear weapons as they did in New York City in 1982? That same year was the largest exercise in direct democracy (voting on an issue rather than representatives to decide "our" view) when voters in referendums in about half the states decided overwhelmingly to call for a freeze on research, development, production and deployment of nuclear weapons. I think we the people should make ourselves heard again. We should say:

First, nuclear deterrence is a myth and ought to be rejected by all people and governments. In the Santa Barbara Declaration by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the major problems outlined with nuclear deterrence are: 1) its power to protect is a dangerous fabrication; 2) the assumption of rational leaders; 3) the threatening of mass murder is illegal and criminal; 4) it is immoral; 5) it diverts badly needed human and economic resources; 6) its ineffectiveness against non-state extremists; 7) its vulnerability to cyber-attacks, sabotage and error; and 8) setting an example to pursue nuclear weapons as deterrence.

Second, diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies. Once the “unthinkable” nuclear option no longer plays a central role in security planning, and once the nuclear weapons are de-coupled from conventional military forces, the elimination of nuclear arsenals can be facilitated.

Third, don’t wait for conditions to be ripe. There is statistical certainty that a nuclear weapon will be used at some point. The only way to make sure it does not happen is to eliminate all.

Fourth, encourage compliance with all international treaties and create new ones that will ban and eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide.

Fifth, move our government toward unilateral disarmament. Without a nuclear arsenal we are not making anyone less secure. What if the United States would take the lead in a global “disarmament race”? After decades of international military interventionism the United States might become a loved and respected country again.

Sixth, recognize the role of nuclear weapons in the chain of global violence ranging from hand guns on the streets to catastrophic environmental and humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use. Violence and the threat of violence on all levels perpetuates violence.

No Russian takeover of the Ukraine, Chinese territorial claims, or even Pakistani expansion of nuclear arsenal makes it any more logical to revitalize our nuclear arsenals. We can reject the myth of nuclear deterrence and we can help the government shift the spending priorities to health care, education, infrastructure, the environment, renewable energy, low-income housing and many more important areas. Currently our public conscience is lacking urgency with regard to nuclear weapons. We owe it to ourselves and our children to activate this urgency and make the elimination of nuclear weapons a step toward a world beyond war.

Patrick. T. Hiller, Ph.D., Hood River, Oregon, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a conflict transformation scholar, professor, on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association, and director of the War Prevention Initiative of the Jubitz Family Foundation. This column was provided by PeaceVoice.

Source URL:  http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/patrick-t-hiller-don-t-modernize-nukes-eliminate-them/article_8168fbd0-4221-54e9-b48b-6120bb94f7b9.html

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nuclear Deterrence is a Myth

Editor's Note: I'm reprinting the following article by Rizwan Asghar on nuclear deterrence in light of the ongoing use of this archaic construct by the United States government to justify its ongoing nuclear modernization efforts. Just about every article I read on the Navy's plans to replace its ballistic missile submarine fleet quotes someone citing the need to maintain our "strategic nuclear deterrent." We never see anyone - least of all anyone in Congress - question what is obviously one of the greatest myths of our time. Is there any reasonable justification for building new nuclear weapon systems?
  
Beyond the deterrence myth, Asghar also raises the key issue affecting proliferation when he says that:  
The continued existence of nuclear weapons is also the reason for their gradual spread. So long as even one country has nuclear capability, others will also want to acquire that status.
Disarmament is the only answer, and it is time for the nuclear nations - led by the United States and Russia - to come to the table in good faith and get down to the real business of abolishing nuclear weapons. The 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is not that far off. It is time to bring pressure to bear on all parties in preparation for this critically important conference.

Rizwan Asghar is a columnist for Pakistan's The News International, and writes frequently on nuclear weapons issues.

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The deterrence myth

Rizwan Asghar
Friday, November 07, 2014
The News International

The concept of nuclear deterrence gained increased prominence during the cold-war period when a generation of national security scholars and practitioners, including Bernard Brodie, Kenneth Waltz, etc, advocated nuclear development as an effective deterrent.

However, most academic research on the subject is directed towards explaining the theoretical modalities of nuclear deterrence rather than a systematic analysis of the empirical evidence on the efficacy of nuclear weapons as a deterrent. In the 21st century, the growing efforts to stigmatise and ultimately ban nuclear weapons reflect a shift in the nuclear weapons debate – a shift that aims at challenging the long-held myth of nuclear deterrence.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the strategy of nuclear deterrence is always successful and prevented many cold war crises from erupting into full-scale nuclear war. The advocates of this theory are of the view that the overwhelming fear of mutually assured destruction provides a measure of stability in times of crisis.

In their opinion, nuclear deterrence provides full security against attacks with conventional forces or nuclear weapons, thus reducing the likelihood of war between two nuclear-armed countries to a minimum. This argument gained such widespread acceptance that it today emerges as a formidable obstacle in the way of efforts to promote nuclear disarmament.

These advocates of nuclear optimism are so assertive in their view that their influence in both academia and policy-making circles can easily be seen. More importantly, though, powerful lobbies in almost all nuclear weapon states have developed stakes in vast nuclear establishments, spending budgets of billions of dollars. These vested interests always resist efforts to cut down nuclear weapons.

In 2010, President Obama had to earmark $185 billion to modernise nuclear warheads and delivery systems over the next 10 years in the bargain for smooth passage of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia.

The trump argument in favour of retaining nuclear weapons capability is that the use of nuclear weapons brought an early end to World War II. New research by well-known Japanese historian, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, has proved it totally wrong that Japan surrendered because of the dropping of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

In fact, the Japanese decided to surrender when the Soviet Union renounced the 1941 Neutrality Pact and joined the Allied Powers in war. By 1944, 66 Japanese cities had been completely destroyed by conventional weapons but the Japanese government continued military resistance – the destruction of two more cities could not make much difference.

History is witness to the fact that attacks aimed at ordinary civilians are rarely given any consideration when it comes to taking vital decisions in times of war. After the end of World War II, Japan’s leaders attributed their failure to the sudden use of nuclear weapons only because it was politically convenient for them on the domestic front to blame an ‘outside’ factor.

Historical records show that deterrence could work only in a few cases. Even a single case of failure has the potential to lead to a nuclear war. More alarmingly, deterrence threats, due to their inherently uncertain nature, sometimes lead enemy nations to behave in ways that are quite inimical to achieving the goal of deterring aggression.

During the early years of the cold war, nuclear proponents would claim that the presence of nuclear weapons had enormous potential to ensure success in political negotiations while preventing all sorts of conventional or nuclear attacks. However, an impartial analysis of political events during the cold war calls the fundamental soundness of these claims into question. It is part of the historical record that the possession of nuclear capability by the US could not intimidate the Russians during talks after World War II.

The Yom Kippur War of 1973 proved the second part of the argument wrong that nuclear weapons could prevent any sort of attack. Israeli nuclear capability could not prevent a number of Muslim states from starting an all-out war for regaining occupied territory and for Palestinian independence. The efficacy of the nuclear umbrella was also questioned when the UK and France developed their own nuclear capability despite concrete assurances of security from the US.

The Cuban missile crisis is another case often cited to support the idea of nuclear deterrence. It is generally believed that the nuclear deterrent was the main factor that brought back the US and Soviet Union from the brink of a nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. When the information regarding the installation of nuclear-armed Soviet missiles in Cuba became known, though US President Kennedy knew that by blockading Cuba he would touch off a crisis that could lead to nuclear war, he went ahead, undeterred.

The fact is that the Soviet Union’s decision to withdraw nuclear missiles may be regarded as supporting the nuclear deterrence theory but Kennedy’s reaction does not support the theory. In 2008, Michael Dobbs, a British politician, wrote an insightful book titled One Minute to Midnight, revealing that the Cuban missile crisis came very close to a nuclear war at least three separate times during those decisive days and nuclear war was averted not by the efficient functioning of nuclear deterrence, but just ‘by chance’.

In a nutshell, the idea of nuclear deterrence is too fragile to be relied upon and the fear of massive nuclear retaliation is not always able to prevent countries from taking the course of action they want. The emerging threat of nuclear terrorism is also a question mark on the efficacy of nuclear deterrence because terrorist groups hardly take well thought out rational decisions, as states are believed to take. The continued existence of nuclear weapons is also the reason for their gradual spread. So long as even one country has nuclear capability, others will also want to acquire that status.

Email: rizwanasghar5@unm.ed

Original source URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-282749-The-deterrence-myth

Friday, September 5, 2014

Nuclear Weapons Do Not Make Us Safer!!!

What crazy times these are? But then again, hasn't the entire nuclear age been pretty crazy? At a recent youth forum, Vladimir Putin made the most significant nuclear threat in decades. “I want to remind you that Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations. This is a reality, not just words.”

Earlier today a young engineer in his early 20s, who I have known for many years, engaged me in a conversation about radioactive decay and how to survive a nuclear war. It seems like the day's of duck and cover that many of us grew up with during the Cold War may be returning. One can't help but think of the insanity in all of this. The Cold War ended well over a couple decades ago, and yet we seem to be watching a new Cold War unfolding. 

He's no puppy dog!
If one watches too much of certain news channels, one could easily be led to believe that it's those evil Russians once again, with Vladimir Putin taking the place of Nikita ("We will bury you!") Khrushchev. So Putin may not be some choir boy, but hey - Obama (and the U.S.) isn't exactly blameless. We continue to pursue a nuclear weapons renaissance, and since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been pushing NATO (bad drug that it is) as if we were an out-of-control drug cartel.

It is time for Obama and Putin to sit down like two adults (who just happen to preside over what are evidently still the two superpowers) and come to grips with the conflicts they have created. And, it is certainly time for them to sit down and negotiate a serious reduction in the two nation's nuclear arsenals. Russia and the U.S. can and must lead the way to a nuclear weapons-free world.

Deterrence is a relic, and should we continue pretending that it is a valid doctrine into the rest of this century, humanity will be in grave peril. The risk of nuclear war (and its consequences) is simply unacceptable. David Krieger states it directly and succinctly in the following letter to the editor recently published in The Washington Post.

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Letter: Nuclear Weapons Do Not Make Us Safer

by David Krieger

This letter to the editor of the Washington Post was published on August 22, 2014.

Are NATO-based nuclear weapons really an advantage in a dangerous world, as Brent Scowcroft, Stephen J. Hadley and Franklin Miller suggested in their Aug. 18 op-ed, “A dangerous proposition”? They are not. They make the world a far more dangerous place.
David Krieger


Nuclear deterrence is not a guarantee of security. Rather, it is a hypothesis about human behavior, a hypothesis that has come close to failing on many occasions. Additionally, nuclear weapons are not “political weapons,” as the writers asserted. They are weapons of mass extermination.

The United States and the other nuclear-armed countries are obligated under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and/or customary international law to pursue negotiations in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race and complete nuclear disarmament. This is the substance of the Nuclear Zero lawsuits brought by the Marshall Islands against the nine nuclear-armed countries at the International Court of Justice and in U.S. federal court. The United States continues to evade its obligations.

Rather than continuing to posture with its nuclear weapons in Europe, the United States should be leading the way in convening negotiations to eliminate all nuclear weapons for its own security and that of all the world’s inhabitants.

David Krieger, Santa Barbara, Calif.

The writer is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bearing The Message of Abolition and Peace on Hiroshima Remembrance Day

Dear Friends,

Sixty-nine years ago today at appoximately 8:15am (Hiroshima time) the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima.

The blast and firestorm caused by detonation of the bomb over the city left upwards of 80,000 people dead and 70,000 injured. Of the injured, many died in the subsequent days, weeks, months and years due to radiation-related effects.  The multigenerational effects of the radiation continue to cause suffering.

 
The survivors of the atomic bombings came to be known as Hibakusha (literally translated as "explosion-affected people").

Today we remember the victims of the atomic bombings, and to properly honor their memory we must recommit ourselves to ridding the world of these horrific weapons of extraordinary devastation.

Remembrance requires experience and the knowledge that flows from it. In the case of the atomic bombings, we can learn from the experience of those who were there, those who survived, suffering, and in some cases continue to suffer today.
 
This blog post holds the testimony of a survivor, a Hibakusha of HIroshima.  Ms. Tokie MIZUNO put the words of the story of her personal experience in the bombing of Hiroshima to paper for the first time in 2010. Her act preserves (and shares) her story and makes a plea for us all to find our common humanity and work for peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.


Tokie MIZUNO giving her testimony in May 2010
It has taken great courage for these Hibakusha to pass on their difficult and painful stories. They make us see (and feel) the horrors of nuclear war and hopefully mobilize our hearts to action. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate expression of violence, capable of extinguishing life as we know it. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with life!

Ms. MIZUNO represents all Hibakusha in saying, “No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis!” All who read her testimony become witnesses to it, and as witnesses it is my deepest hope that we will all share her story far and wide, spreading her message, and the message of the Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs (GENSUIKYO), a message of peace.

With great thanks to Tokie MIZUNO, Hibakusha of Hiroshima.

May we all rise up and say (and work for "No more Hiroshimas, No more Nagasakis!"

Peace,

Leonard

Testimony of Tokie MIZUNO,
 Hibakusha of Hiroshima


My name is Tokie MIZUNO and I am a survivor of Hiroshima. 65 years ago, when I was 5 years old, the atomic bomb was dropped on my city, Hiroshima. I was near my grandmother’s house, 1.2 kilo-meters from ground zero.

The City of Hiroshima was completely destroyed and was turned into rubble by the enormous destructive power of the atomic bomb. As other survivors, I was barely alive and the damage on my body and mind was unbearable.

I might have been lucky to survive but life hasn’t been easy on me financially, physically and mentally. This agony should not be repeated on anybody else on earth. That’s why I have become involved in anti-nuclear actions with other Hibakusha as well as many other Japanese people.

We have been collecting signatures for a nuclear-weapon-free world, and engaging in activities to defend the Japanese Constitution, especially the Preamble and Article 9, which pledges never to wage war again.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution clearly states “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat of use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

And it adds “In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” Article 9 is our treasure.

This treasure for Japan was achieved with the sacrifice of precious lives of 20 to 30 million people in Asia and Pacific. This is one of the greatest achievements for the world, too, and we will hold on to it forever.

Let me talk about that day.......

On the morning of August 6th, 1945, just before Hiroshima was hit by the atomic bombing, one of the women in my neighbourhood came to my house and said “We have some sweets. Why don’t you come and have some?”

So my little 3-year-old brother and I happily followed her. In those days it was very difficult to have sweets. My neighbour’s son, a soldier, was back from the battlefront to treat his wounds. He brought some sweets with him for his family and the neighbour invited us in.

We were about to eat our sweets when the bomb exploded.

With a blinding flash, the whole house was flattened.

I found myself trapped under the rubble. I tried to look out from my little prison and saw my younger brother, rescued by a soldier, standing there with blood on his face and head.

I myself was pulled out of the rubble. My right arm was heavily injured and I had several cuts on my face. My neighbour tore her underwear into pieces and covered my arm to stop it bleeding. Later I was told that it was her treatment that saved my right arm.

I don’t remember how many hours had passed, but I saw my mother crawling to me over piles of rubble. She was desperately looking for me and my younger brother. She looked awful with only tattered patches of her clothing on her body and her hair standing on end.

My 12-month-old baby brother was still buried under the rubble. My mother and grandmother were desperate and were removing the debris saying they should get him back home, even if he was dead.

They also called out for help to people walking by but nobody stopped. They went on their way absentmindedly - they were like ghosts.

We saw flames in the distance coming towards us. Terrified, my younger brother and I were both crying. I don’t remember the pain of my injury, but many collapsed houses around us horrified me, although my father thought I was just stunned.

Fortunately, my baby brother was alive, and we managed to escape to a raft on the river. There were countless dead bodies floating and fire balls were falling all around. Red-hot galvanized plates darted towards us and made a huge noise when they dropped into the river. It was not a safe place to be.

At that time I was so young that I don’t remember exactly what happened. But my deceased parents and grandmother told me a lot about that day.

There was a woman on the raft who gave us food and water. She also gave my mother part of a Kimono to use as bandages and as a strap to carry me on her back.

In the evening, cooling our bodies with river water, we finally found a place to evacuate to. It was a shrine near a railway station called Koi.

Because my grandmother and I were seriously injured, we two were left at the shrine while my mother and brothers escaped to my aunt’s house in Itsukaichi City. My uncle who rushed to Hiroshima to search for us carried them on his handcart.

Grandmother thought we could have some treatment at the shrine but nothing was available. We were given only one rotten rice ball. We finally evacuated to my aunt’s house.

They were farmers and gave us good food. I had tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled shallots etc. to my heart’s content. It may be this diet that has kept me healthy.

My father had to spend several nights at shelters in Hiroshima. He died abruptly from TB in August 1956, which we believe was due to residual radiation. Later when I was working to collect survivors’ stories, I learned that there were many Hibakusha who suffered from TB during those difficult times.

My mother died in Oct. 1967. I believe that both of my parents were killed by the atomic bomb. At that time I thought that it was our fate and that because Japan was at war we couldn’t complain about it.

I also thought we were just unfortunate because we were in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped. Later I learned history, which completely changed my mind. I knew why the US had done it.

The US government has kept saying that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war and saved millions of people’s lives. That’s what they teach at schools.

However, in 1944 there was scarcely any food left for Japanese people. People were dying from hunger. Japan’s ground and air forces and navy were almost completely destroyed. It was obvious that Japan was finished.

Nonetheless, 210,000 people were killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why?

In 1945 the war ended, but another war, the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union had already started. The US wanted to have an advantage over the Soviet Union militarily and politically by showing the power of nuclear weapons. They also wanted to test their newly developed technology, atomic bombs.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as testing grounds with real live people.

Let me share with you what the atomic bombing had done to us. The atomic bomb caused massive destruction and killed tens of thousands instantly and indiscriminately. It also emitted massive amounts of radiation which has afflicted us for decades.

Hibakusha describe the moment of the bombing as “The Sun dropped on us and burnt us”. When Bomb exploded, a huge fireball, 280 meters in diameter, was generated in the air.

Heat rays emitted from it raised the ground temperature, from 3000 to 4000 degrees Celsius (5500 to 7300 degrees Fahrenheit) near the hypocenter.

This was a boy, the charred remains. 700 meters from the hypocenter (Aug. 10. Nagasaki).


This is the shadow of a man (Shadow burnt into the granite steps.

Within 1.2 kilo-meters of ground zero, those who were directly affected by the heat rays suffered terrible burns and their internal tissues and organs severely damaged. Most of them died instantly or within a few days.

The explosion also created a powerful blast and destroyed most of the wooden houses in 2-kilometer radius of ground zero. People were blown through the air and many crushed to death under collapsed buildings.

Radiation left the human body with serious damage. It penetrated deeply into our bodies, damaged cells and diminished the blood generation function of bone marrow.

It also damaged inner organs. Even those who looked uninjured later became ill and died.

Residual radiation left on the ground affected many long after the explosion. Those who entered the city to search for their families/friends or for relief operations eventually developed similar symptoms and died.

Nuclear weapons are unspeakable weapons. They don’t allow us to live nor die as humans. They are weapons of absolute evil which can never co-exist with human beings.

3.2 million Japanese people lost their lives in the Asia-Pacific War. 20 to 30 million people were victimized by the Japanese military in Asia.

Learning from it, we have acquired the war-renouncing Japanese Constitution. However, military spending in the world is growing. Trillions of dollars are being spent for military purposes. If used for peaceful purposes, this money could solve many problems for human-kind.

20th century war is gone. Our responsibility is to hand over a peaceful and cultivated 21st century to the next generation. I strongly believe that we can hand over a nuclear-weapon-free world to future generations if we work together in solidarity with the people of the U.S. and with the people of the world.

Thank you.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Plowshares Speak from Prison: Transform Now!!!

Editor's Note: Sr. Megan Rice, along with Gregory Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, engaged in a Plowshares action on July 28, 2012. Known as the Transform Now Plowshares, these three dedicated peacemakers attempted direct engagement towards the abolition of nuclear weapons and our transformation to peaceful, sustainable, life-giving alternatives to these horrific weapons that could end life (as we know it) on our small planet.

Sr. Megan, Greg and Michael are all in Federal prison for their selfless actions on behalf of humankind and the planet that sustains us. What follows is a reflection (on the second anniversary of their Plowshares action) from Sr. Megan on behalf of behalf of her Plowshares partners.

Sr. Megan reminds us that although few will ever engage in a Plowshares action, each of us needs to be engaged at some level in order to help move humanity closer to the dream of a nuclear weapons free world. There is something that each of us can do. Read on to learn more.

(l to r) Greg, Megan and Michael
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OPEN LETTER FROM THE BROOKLYN METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER

from Sr. Megan Rice, on behalf of the Transform Now Plowshares

July 28, 2014

Our Dear Sisters and Brothers,

We send warm greetings and many thanks to all who actively engage in the transformation of weapons of mass destruction to sustainable life-giving alternatives. Gregory Boertje-Obed (U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas) Michael Walli (Federal Correctional Institution McKean, Bradford, Pennsylvania) and I are sending you some of our observations and concerns on the 2nd anniversary of our Transform Now Plowshares action.

On July 28, 2012, after thorough study of nuclear issues, and because of our deepening commitment to nonviolence, we engaged in direct action by cutting through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the U.S. continues to overhaul and upgrade thermonuclear warheads.

On that day, two years ago, when we reached the building where all U.S. highly-enriched (bomb-grade) uranium is stored, we prayed and also wrote messages on the wall, such as “The Fruit of Justice is Peace”. (Realistically, the higher and stronger fences built as a result of our nonviolent incursion can never keep humans safe from inherently dangerous materials and weapons.) We acted humbly as “creative extremists for love”, to cite one of our most important and revered leaders, Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are a number of reasons for what we did. We three were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear systems have already caused, and we realize that all life on Earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental, or technical error.

Our action at the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge exposed the storage of weapons-making materials deliberately hidden from the general public. The production, refurbishment, threat, or use of these weapons of mass destruction violate the fundamental rules and principles by which we all try to live amicably as human beings. The United States Constitution and the Laws of War are intended to ensure the survival of humanity with dignity. However, it is abundantly clear that harmony and cooperation among nations can never be achieved with nuclear weapons. (These arguments, we assume, will be made on our behalf during the eventual appeal of our convictions that accused us of sabotage, though it was never our intention to harm our country.)

Our “crime” was to draw attention to the criminality of the 70-year-old nuclear industry itself and to the unconscionable fact that the United States spends more on nuclear weapons than on education, health, transportation, and disaster relief combined.

We three Transform Now Plowshares consider it our duty, right, and privilege to heighten tension in the ongoing debate of Disarmament vs. Deterrence because history has repeatedly taught us that the policy of deterrence doesn’t lead to security, but rather to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. During our trial, the U.S. prosecutors and the U.S. courts accused the wrong people when they claimed that we violated the law, because what we did was to make America’s citizens aware of egregious preparations for mass murder.

We took action because we were acutely aware that our government has failed to keep its long-standing promise to pursue nuclear disarmament. (As Ramsey Clark testified during one of our pre-trial hearings, the U.S. entered into the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the 1960’s because our country was finally facing up to the severe human and environmental consequences of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as to the hideous results of countless nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government within and beyond our own borders.)

One of our pressing concerns is that U.S. prosecutors and the courts adhere to an obsolete view of security with no cognizance – or consciousness – of the horrific effects caused by nuclear weapons. Greg, Mike, and I believe that, undeniably, the U.S. is in a state of denial. It’s what Hannah Arendt called not evil, but the banality of evil. “There’s nothing deep about it. It’s nothing demonic! There’s simply the reluctance ever to imagine what the other person is experiencing, right?” (Hannah Arendt, "Eichmann was Outrageously Stupid" in The Last Interview and Other Conversations, Melville House, Brooklyn 2013, p. 48).

We citizens cannot permit ourselves to be rendered passive and mute by the banality of evil! Only complete nuclear disarmament can save humanity. At stake is the honor and dignity of the Hibakusha, along with the physical, environmental, emotional, and psychological trauma long suffered by victims of the nuclear system, from uranium miners to down-winders. (From 1946 to 1958, Marshall Islanders were bombarded with 67 atomic and thermonuclear tests that were carried out by the United States.)

Michael Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and I are in U.S. prisons because, ironically, our action at Oak Ridge was based on the common sense reality that we human beings have endured more than enough destruction and exploitation. We believe that we citizens can exercise our collective power to consciously transform our nation’s priorities. We all need to actively insist on more humane uses for the billions of dollars now budgeted for the nuclear weapons/industrial complex.

Two years ago, as we neared the building in Oak Ridge, we were extremely surprised by the ineffectiveness of the system that supposedly guarded our nation’s most important National Security Complex. We believed that we were about to expose the source of unfettered violence that has led to the chronic spiritual and economic decline in the U.S. As it turned out, it was the laxity of the security system at Y-12 that caught the attention of the courts and the mainstream media. Security weakness became the big story. There was no mainstream acknowledgement that the national security complex is rotting from its own irrelevance.

Most surprisingly, our July 2012 action and our court cases have revealed that it is not the U.S. government that is in control of the nuclear weapons complex, but in reality it is the corporations that are in control through their solicitation and manipulation of endless funding for the refurbishment of unlawful thermonuclear warheads. We three are incarcerated because we stood up to a nuclear weapons industry that is kept thriving by the interlocking and obsolete institutions that subscribe to the long-discredited notion that law and security can be enforced by ever-greater force.

Regarding the 22.8 billion dollar contract recently awarded for the operation of the Y-12 site in Oak Ridge and the Pantex site in Texas for the refurbishment of thermonuclear warheads and a new Uranium Processing Facility (UPF), the relevant corporations don’t actually operate under the long-discredited myth of “nuclear deterrence”. Rather, corporations such as Babcock and Wilcox, Lockheed, and Bechtel operate under limited liability subsidiaries, joint ventures, consortiums, and partnerships for the main purpose of making profits by engaging in huge nuclear weapons production/refurbishment contracts. By this time, Congress certainly is aware that valid contracts can be issued only for the dismantlement of all nuclear weapons and for the environmentally-sound treatment and disposition of all nuclear materials.

In order for the U.S. to negotiate for nuclear disarmament in good faith, we say it is essential to peaceably transform these very corporations so that they are no longer able to violate the most basic moral and legal principles of civilized society by deliberately precipitating planetary self-destruction.

We thank you for your letters and your concerns. We ask you to support the Republic of the Marshall Islands in their current legal actions against the United States in U.S. federal court and against the U.S. and all the other nuclear weapons states in the International Court of Justice, for failure to eliminate their respective nuclear arsenals. You can learn more and add your support by signing the petition at www.nuclearzero.org.

Blessings,

Greg, Michael and Megan

[You can learn more about the July 28, 2012 Transform Now Plowshares action, and find prison addresses to write a note of support to Sr. Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, at http://transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com/]