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.”


Monday, August 30, 2010

Kansas City, Kansas City Here It Comes...

Dear Friends,

August 29th marked the first observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests, proposed in 2009 by the Government of Kazakhstan at the sixty-fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Preamble of the resolution emphasizes “that every effort should be made to end nuclear tests in order to avert devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people … and, that the end of nuclear tests is one of the key means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world”.

In his message for the Day, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that “there is real momentum behind this great cause”, and that he looked forward to “working with all parties to rein in spending on nuclear weapons and rid the world of the nuclear threat”.

Meanwhile, back on the Homeland "reigning in spending on nuclear weapons" is not on the table, and ironically the very efforts the U.S. government is putting into building up the U.S. nuclear weapons complex is doing nothing to "rid the world of the nuclear threat", but everything to increase it. And what of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Obama??? According to Nukewatch:
President Obama has declared that he intends to increase next year’s funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA’s) nuclear weapons research and production programs by 14%. Further, despite crippling national debt, he claims their budgets will rise by more than 40% from $6.4 billion in 2010 to $9 billion by 2018. This means that eight years from now, nearly three decades after the end of the Cold War, spending on NNSA research and production programs for nuclear weapons will be 75% higher than the annual Cold War average of $5.1 billion. Is this the right path to Obama’s declared long-term goal of a nuclear weapons-free world?
Now isn't that special! As part of the "modernization" of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, the government will soon break ground on a brand new bomb production plant in Kansas City. Rougly 85 percent of the non-nuclear components for the nation's nuclear weapons come from the current Kansas City plant. Don't worry about the employee health concerns and huge environmental contamination at the current plant though; they'll probably get it right the second time around. Won't they???

Well, there are lots of us out there who don't want to see a second time around. The nation has plenty of nukes with plenty of shelf life left, and we should be spending a whole lot more energy working towards that "nuclear weapons-free world" the Pres has been touting (although his deeds have not followed his words).

What is extra special about this project is that the local Kansas City, MO government is subsidizing private developers, who will build and eventually own the plant (can you say PRIVATIZATION???), using over $750 million in municipal bonds, while the City closes schools and hospitals. What's wrong with this picture?!?!?!

On September 8, 10:00 AM Central Time, federal, congressional and municipal officials will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Kansas City Plant (KCP), and there will be some additional guests (who aren't on the government's guest list). What I hope will be a huge group of nuclear resisters will be showing up at Highway 150 and Botts Road to tell the government, "NO NEW BOMB PLANT!"

I know that most of us can't drop everything and swing over to Kansas City, but we can certainly show our support and solidarity with those who will be there, some of them likely engaging in acts of resistance that will get them arrested.

Please send your message of support (either individual or organizational) to Ann Suellentrop (annsuellen@gmail.com) Kansas City Physicians for Social Responsibility, one of the co-sponsors of the September 8th action. Then ask others to do the same.

I can only hope that some Raging Grannies will show up at Highway 150 and Botts Road on September 8th and perform an appropriate (or should I say inappropriate) version of that great song, Kansas City in dishonor of the new bomb plant.

Supporting our comrades in the struggle for a nuclear weapons-free world.

Peace,

Leonard

Read the Statement of Resistance to Nuclear Weapons Production that was delivered to workers and officials during the August 16th civil resistance at the site of the new Kansas City nuclear weapons production plant where 14 resisters were arrested.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Kansas City bomb plant and the upcoming September 8th civil resistance. Here you will find a huge archive of materials courtesy of the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Nuclear Watch New Mexico.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Building Bridges (To Peace)

Friends,

I had the good fortune and honor of spending the weekend commemorating the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with fellow nuclear abolitionists, people of a deep, abiding faith in the ability of humanity to one day rid our world of the scourge of nuclear weapons, and build one that is just, peaceful and sustainable.

Rodney Herold videotaped much of that weekend at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and put together a remarkable video that documents the nonviolent direct action that took place on Monday, August 9th, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, at the Trident nuclear submarine base at Bangor, Washington. Rodney did much more than simply document the event; he created a powerful statement of hope and the need to build bridges of understanding.



A few years ago the Rev. Joe Hale posed the question, “Is it ever possible to make peace by destroying bridges?” He was speaking in reference to Israel’s indiscriminate destruction of Lebanon, but he could have been speaking of any number of foreign policy decisions made by the U.S. government since September 11, 2001.

The events of that fateful day in 2001 sewed the seeds of fear, anger and hatred, and fueled decisions in the highest levels of government that have made our nation and the world a much more dangerous place. However, things could have taken a much different course, and we still have the opportunity to change course before it is too late.

To change course we must start building bridges rather than destroying them. To do so will require that our nation stop threatening other nations with regime change, fulfill our obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and stop holding the threat of nuclear weapons over other countries, and start using civilian diplomacy rather than military action as a tool of foreign policy. It will also require major shifts in our patterns of energy consumption that have created such a huge reliance on oil. Our priorities must change dramatically.

But none of this can happen without changing ourselves and how we define and address the evils in our world. Not long after 9/11 and before completing the mission in Afghanistan, President Bush laid out the next stage in his war on terror and announced his plans to confront the infamous “axis of evil”, rogue states that threaten the world with weapons of mass destruction. Many years before, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke of a completely different axis of evil, one of racism, poverty/materialism, and war that mire people in misery, divide people against one another, and threaten the world with extinction.

President Obama has taken President Bush's lead in trying to rid the world of evil primarily through military action, and foreign aid/poverty assistance linked to what we determine to be "good" government and "good" economic practices. Dr. King, however, believed in addressing racial and cultural tensions, committing unconditionally to free the world of the scourge of poverty, and utilizing nonviolent intervention in international conflicts.

What ultimately sets the two strategies apart are their motivations. The current one is based on fear and hatred and the need for power and desire for resources; the other on faith and compassion and the quest for justice, which are values shared by the world’s great religions. And beyond the motivations, we have seen the consequences of coercion and violence. We, as people of a common humanity, are called to seek a different approach in which we build bridges instead of destroying them.

As Dr. King once so eloquently stated, “Love is the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or to bow before the altar of retaliation. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals who pursued this self-defeating path of hate.” (from Where Do We Go From Here. Chaos or Community? C1968).

Dr. King’s prophetic voice calls us to follow the well-worn path of love and nonviolence, building bridges along the way, connecting with ALL of humanity. I invite you to watch Rodney's video. I hope it will provide you with a glimpse into the hearts and minds of dedicated nuclear resisters, and the network of people who support them. They are people of hope, people who work to build bridges rather than destroy them.

One final note about the video is the poignant music, "Able, Baker, Charlie and Dog", by musician and songwriter Joe Crookston. The song is a very personal story about Joe's grandfather who was part of a U.S. Navy construction battalion in World War II that built the runways on Tinian Island from which the bombers carrying the atomic bombs took off for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Joe's song is far more than background music; it is an integral element, providing yet another person's contribution to our deeper, human understanding of the atomic bombings and the nature of war itself. The song is the perfect accompaniment for Rodney's video.

Peace,

Leonard

This post is a revised version of an article originally written for Every Church a Peace Church.

Note: In 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 24 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined. For thirty-three years Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Bomb and the Hope

Dear Friends,

Nuclear weapons are, for most people, an abstract concept; a concept that exists in the mind (if at all), without any concrete existence. Today's nuclear weapons are kept out of sight and out of mind, not just to protect them from those pesky terrorists (and plowshares activists) but also from the public's awareness. But for the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some of whom are alive today, these weapons are anything but an abstraction, and they are very much aware of the existence of today's nuclear weapons.

Sixty-five years after the atomic bombings we continue working to keep the memory of these horrific events alive, and we typically do so by sharing the facts about and experience of the bombings through written and spoken word, photographs, art, as well as through testimony of survivors of the bombings (Hibakusha).

At last week's From Hiroshima to Hope lantern floating ceremonies at Green Lake in Seattle, Washington, the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Poster Exhibition (from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum) was on display. I was, however, most deeply touched by a presentation of dance accompanied by music that artistically portrayed the bomb and its effects on people far beyond its physical effects. The Bomb and the Hope, an original dance choreographed by iori Yoshimura, is a powerful and moving piece that is (as the title states) about the Bomb, but even more so about Hope.

In the dance a widow comes in searching for her husband, sees him dead, and experiences terrible grief. Then the bomb enters, and when it sees what it has done it feels the magnificence of its power and intimidates the widow, who initially succumbs, feeling fear that reaches such a peak the bomb gets excited and strikes at the widow. Her fear is so great that the widow falls back, feeling that she can't go on - a turning point.

The bomb questions itself; "Is this all I have? Fear? The widow finally approaches the bomb, and touches it. At that moment the bomb questions how the widow can forgive. The bomb then goes off in awe, transformed. The widow takes off her shawl, which has hidden her grief, and walks off, ready to go on.



The Bomb and the Hope was choreographed by iori Yoshimura, danced by iori Yoshimura (as the widow) and Heather Porter (as Pika, the white lightening of the atomic bomb), with accompaniment by Denny Moore on the Native American flute.

I was deeply moved by the spirit of this beautiful dance. It is a testament of the power of the arts to touch our innermost reaches, allowing us to see things in a different light, and perhaps helping lead to our own inner transformation along the nonviolent path. Perhaps The Bomb and the Hope will reach many who have not yet been able to see the atomic bombings as anything more than historical events or sets of statistics. Perhaps it will transform people by helping them see the power of forgiveness.

Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Peace,

Leonard

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Nuclear Weapons: Resistance Is NOT Futile!

Dear Friends,

The anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have come and gone. The weekend surrounding those two anniversaries was filled with activities commemorating the events. In Hiroshima it was the first time ever that the U.S. Government sent a representative to attend the ceremonies to mark the moment the first atomic bomb was dropped.

There were also other events around the world commemorating the atomic bombings. Some, such as the
From Hiroshima to Hope Lantern Floating Ceremony at Seattle's (Washington State) Green Lake brought people together for peace and nuclear disarmament.

Other events also commemorated the atomic bombings in their own unique solemn fashion by condusting nonviolent resistance actions in which some participants engaged in creative acts intended to symbolically close facilities engaged in the design, production, storage or deployment of nuclear weapons.

People vigiled, demonstrated and acted (nonviolently), and some participants were arrested for their actions at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor (aka Sub Base Bangor),
Vandenburg Air Force Base, California, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, The Pentagon, the Strategic (Nuclear) Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, Lockheed-Martin's nuclear weapons facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, California.

Nuclear resisters (from left to right) Alice Zillah, Macknight Johnson and Rev. Anne Hall holding a banner, blocking the entrance to Trident nuclear submarine base Bangor, symbolically closing the base, on August 9, 2010. A total of nine resisters blocked the roadway and were arrested that day. Resisters ranged in age from 21 to 88.

People sometimes ask why people choose to engage in such actions when there are other "legal" avenues available to voice one's opinions, avenues that include voting, letters to the editor, correspondence and visits with elected officials, and public demonstrations.

The answer most provide is that they have tried all of these methods, but feel that they have had little, if any, real impact. And in light of what many international legal experts cite as the illegality (and don't forget the immorality) of nuclear weapons and the threat of their use under international law, we (as citizens) must act; we believe that it is essentially our moral obligation and our legal right.

But don't take my word for it; you should hear it from someone who has been arrested more than once, and tried and convicted for her actions. Ann "Kit" Kittredge was recently tried for her action with another resister, Denny Moore, during a Ground Zero vigil honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on January 16, 2010, in which they set up a wooden ladder near the base entrance at the Trident nuclear submarine base and strategic weapons storage facility at Bangor, Washington, and attempted to climb over the barbed wire fence onto the base. They carried with them a letter to the base commander imploring him to disarm the base.

At Kittredge's trial on May 3rd she testified on her own behalf as to the reasons for her action in January. She spoke purposefully and passionately about her act; you can read a copy of her testimony (below), which she provided. My hope is that this testimony of one resister will help people better understand why some choose to resist.

I know many people see resistance as a futile gesture, but for those who make the difficult choice to resist, it is anything but futile. It is a statement of hope, of faith, of a deep abiding belief that we can create a peaceful and sustainable world free of nuclear weapons for future generations.

May it one day be so.

Peace,

Leonard

Testimony of Ann Kittredge in United States District Court, Tacoma, Washington on Friday, July 16, 2010.

My name is Ann Marlowe Kittredge.

I am a mother, grandmother, firefighter/EMT, Massage Therapist, Organic Farmer and Peace Activist. i am 11th generation American and a Daughter of the American Revolution. I was taught that the United States Constitution gives me the right to the petition for redress of grievances and that as a citizen of this Democracy and the world it is my patriotic duty and responsibility to do so.After exhausting countless other lawful avenues to advocate for the removal of nuclear weapons and the threat
and/or harm from their potential use I chose to attempt to reenter Naval Base Kitsap to bring to the attention of the relevant officer my concern.

When our Congress and the Federal Judiciary FAIL to ensure that the Executive Branch act within International and U.S. law, to limit method and means of the threat or use of military force, WE THE PEOPLE are compelled to act without being treated as criminals.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention various types of weapons are prohibited under all circumstances. The Trident Nuclear missile submarines at Naval Base kitsap are one of these. These barbaric first-strike Weapons of Mass Destruction are incapable of distinguishing between combatants and civilians and therefore are in violation of International Law per Geneva Protocol of 1925 and by the US Army Manual 27-10 on the Law of the Land National Law. The Charter at the Nuremberg Tribunal made explicit that violations of the Law of War are criminal. Furthermore the United States is obligated under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty to negotiate the elimination of it's nuclear weapons and is failing to do so.

I cannot look my children and grandchildren in the eye and tell them I am aware of this atrocious, destructive, unlawfulness and that I did nothing. I feel it is imperative that I take action in upholding the law for peace and justice or I am complicit in this illegal behavior either by cooperation or by silence.

This is why I chose to reenter Naval Base Kitsap.

Thank You