Quotable

"The moral cost of nuclear armament is that it makes of all of us underwriters of the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people and of the cancellation of future generations." -Jonathan Schell


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Thermonuclear Fable for Our Time

Friends,

You probably never thought you'd see rock videos at The Nuclear Abolitionist.  Well, check out this brilliant rock video by The Decemberists, called "Calamity Song," written for their recent album "The King is Dead." 

As a New York Times music review describes it,
The video, which made its online debut on Monday, depicts the playing of Eschaton, a game invented by [David Foster] Wallace that he describes about 325 pages into [his novel] “Infinite Jest.”    

Adolescents from a New England tennis academy are seen ritualistically serving balls on a court onto which a map of the world has been superimposed. The balls, which represent five-megaton nuclear warheads, are aimed at objects labeled as military targets — power plants, missile installations — while a lone child oversees the game from a nearby computer terminal.       
Powerful music, visual imagery and message!  As Stephen Kobasa said, it's "a visual fable for our time," and we had certainly better give it serious consideration.

Peace,

Leonard

Friday, August 19, 2011

Former submarine commander now anti-nuclear weapons activist

Friends,

The Central Kitsap Reporter ran the following article today about Captain Tom Rogers, US Navy, Retired, who served on nuclear submarines and was also the commander of one during the Cold War.

Years later Tom is now an active member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, an organization of peace activists who study nonviolence and work for the abolition of all nuclear weapons with an emphasis on Trident, which is quite literally in its back yard.  Less than two weeks ago Tom, along with four other activists, was arrested while trying to block traffic into the Bangor Trident sub base in a symbolic act of closing the base.

This interview provides a perspective rarely found among anti-nuclear activists, yet one that is extremely important.  Tom is intelligent, articulate and passionate in his calm way.  His is a voice that needs to be heard.

You can also see a video of the August 7th action, photos, and more at the Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Blog.

Peace,

Leonard

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Sub commander is now an anti-nuke activist — Tom Rogers was arrested while blocking Bangor gates

By TOM JAMES
Central Kitsap Reporter Staff Writer

Aug 19 2011
Tom Rogers, a former submarine commander turned antinuclear protester, was arrested Aug. 8 while blocking the gate at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor, home to a large nuclear weapons stockpile.

The date of his protest was chosen to commemorate the Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 bombings of Heroshima and Nagasak, Japan in 1945.

What led you to protest at the gate at Bangor?

In the years following the end of the Cold War I became less and less comfortable with the concept of nuclear deterrents when there really wasn’t anybody out there that we were deterring. What we were doing was spending a whole lot of money not to be any safer. It made me mad as a former naval officer who dedicated my life to the Cold War – that’s what I did – and as a taxpayer, and as a resident of Kitsap County, because the continuing presence of the weapons at Bangor is a danger to people and the environment, even though the folks out there do as good a job as they can.

You knew what was going to happen?

It was the culmination of a process of discernment and deciding if it was the right time for me to do that. Getting arrested was a step I hadn’t taken. I’d been at ground zero for eight years and I’d been very active, I’d testified at trials, I’ve written things, I’ve done a lot of work. But I was always dubious about the value of getting arrested. Four of us decided we would symbolically close the base by dragging that big inflatable missile into the road, and closing the base. And that’s what we did.

Was it hard to step over those barricades?

No. Not at all. Once I had gone through the process of discernment, and decided that it was time for me to do that and we made a plan and we rehearsed it, and had three other people with me that were going to cross the line with me there was no looking back, there was no recrimination.

You excelled in the military, and you say you're still promilitary?

I was a child of the ‘60s. I lived in Haight-Ashbury for a little while in the mid-’60s, the summer of love, I was a hippie. Then I got drafted – the Vietnam War was raging – it was 1966, so the first thing I did was I went home, to Connecticut, and I went to the local Navy recruiter and I said, ‘I’m not into this Army thing, what can you do for me?’ … and I said thank you very much, let’s do it. And that’s how I stayed out of the Vietnam War.

So I was an unlikely candidate for my subsequent career, but I kind of fit. I was technically proficient, smart, knew how to work. Then they just kept making me offers I couldn’t refuse. I never was really committed to making the Navy a career, it just sort of happened. They kept promoting me. I was surprised at every promotion board.

What is it about nuclear weapons that makes it OK to break the law protesting them?

Because I’ve testified for people who’ve broken the law – felonies – and here’s the deal. In 1996 the international court of justice, which is the judicial arm of the United Nations, was asked for a judgment on whether nuclear weapons were illegal. And after a year of hearings and deliberations, they came back and said unequivocally, that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegal under international law. That came out of … the Geneva Accords. If you look at those, its obvious that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal under those accords.

Now here’s the leap. I believe that deployment of nuclear weapons on board Trident submarines who are on alert patrol and can shoot those weapons within 30 minutes at anybody in the world constitutes a continuing threat of use. So we believe that the United States is doing something illegal.

Is it hard to go on base now that you've taken part in the continuing protest?

Absolutely not. I exercise my rights and obligations as a citizen of being an activist off the base. When I’m on the base I’m a Navy veteran, I use the facilities, and I feel very justified in doing so. I really have no relationships with anybody who is actively working on the base now, but if I did I would not compromise those relationships. I can live these two lives very happily within myself.

Central Kitsap Reporter Staff Writer Tom James can be reached at tjames@bremertonpatriot.com or (360) 308-9161 ext. 5062.  The URL for the article is http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/kitsap/ckr/news/128084923.html.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kucinich Calls for Freedom from Fear, Nuclear Weapons and War!

Friends,

Congressman Dennis Kucinich spoke at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action on Sunday, August 7, 2011 during the organizations annual gathering to commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  His speech was timely and powerful, calling on the United States to take concrete steps to work toward a nuclear weapon's free world.  He also called on the US to forge a new doctrine of Strength through Peace.  Kucinich wrapped up his speech by reminding us that it is up to we the people to "resolve that we shall become as architects of a new world free of fear, free of nuclear weapons, and free of war."

The following is the entire, unabridged transcript of Kucinich's speech.  You can also watch the entire speech as well as the question and answer period by clicking here.

Peace,

Leonard
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(Note: audio starts here)… last night, and I see one of my brothers here. Some of you might have been there for Hiroshima to Hope, and that was a very important occasion. Given the importance of this organization and your dedication to nuclear abolition, I’ve decided to prepare some remarks especially for this occasion that would reflect the potential that we have to take a new direction

The human heart is Ground Zero. It’s in the human heart where blind fear hides in dark chambers. It’s there where murderous intensity is unleashed against our brothers and sisters and the world. It is there where nuclear explosions first take place. It’s there where the world ends.

The world also begins in the human heart. It’s where courage creates new possibilities. It’s where nuclear weapons can be abolished, and where war itself can be no more. The human heart is where the impulse for life resounds with such a powerful pulsation that one person, indeed all of humanity, experiences love through the energy of the heart, the rhythms of the heart, the luminosity of the heart. We draw from our hearts our own transformational potential and the ability to re-create the world. 


Here we are free of the death wish. Here we summon the strength to wrest the nuclear Sword of Damocles from the hands of fates we ourselves have fashioned from the projection of our fears. Three score and six years ago that nuclear Sword of Damocles was dropped not once but twice upon the people of Japan. Today we require ourselves to lay our ears on the heart of the world and to listen to the cries of the souls of our Japanese brothers and sisters who perished in two flashes or who were poisoned by radiation, and to be mindful of the suffering of the Hibakusha who live to testify to the nullification of our own humanity through the use of the ultimate weapon.

We gather here not only to assert that doctrines of unilateralism, pre-emption and first strike must be set aside as profoundly dangerous relics. But we come together in recognition that nuclear weapons represent the ultimate escalation of war, and that it is our responsibility to make war itself obsolete through direct actions and through concrete steps that can take is in the direction of peace. For we cannot hope to abolish nuclear weapons unless we change the thinking that created those weapons and unless we change dramatically the U.S. role in the World.

We need a new doctrine of strength through peace, which relies on diplomacy the size of human relations addressing the needs of people everywhere for sustainability, for housing, for education, clean water, clean air and freedom from fear. A new doctrine of strength through peace will provide for a strong defense with a powerful basic fighting force of Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard that will re-establish America’s role in the world mindful of the cost and consequences of the US’ current global presence and the benefits of international cooperation for security through the United Nations. 

The doctrine of strength through peace rejects counterinsurgency through recognition that every insurgency is precipitated and fueled by occupation. Provisions of a doctrine of strength through peace will call for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq by the end of 2011. Call upon the US to participate in a negotiated settlement to end the war in Libya. Call upon the US to stop the use of drone missile strikes. Call upon the US to lead a negotiated settlement in the Middle East which protects Israel’s survival and the Palestinians’ absolute right to self-determination while working to strengthen democratic principles, nonviolence, human rights and non-sectarianism in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia.

A doctrine of strength through peace calls upon the United States to renounce all policies of assassination. It forbids the Central Intelligence Agency from having any command and control over weapons systems. It calls upon the Air Force to drop its pursuit of Vision 20/20, which is a plan for the US to try to achieve superiority over space through putting weapons in outer space.

The doctrine of strength through peace sees that the US will fully comply with all international treaties and insist that our allies and partners do the same, including full compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Small Arms Treaty, the Land Mine Treaty, and it calls on the United States to join the International Criminal Court, and that US officials would have to be accountable to that criminal court.

A doctrine of strength of strength through peace sees the US in support of the Ground Zero movement, and that will lead us to nuclear abolition by taking the following steps:

1. to revise and repeal the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which calls for sustaining nuclear forces,
2. to cancel the order for 12 new ICBM-capable subs,
3. to cancel the $29.4 billion in R&D in connection with that program,
4. to cancel the Air Force’s R&D for ICBM follow-ons,
5. to eliminate $600 million in funding under the National Nuclear Security Administration fiscal year 2012,
6. to eliminate $4.1 billion in funding for nuclear weapons modernization over the next five years,
7. to eliminate plans to spend an additional $85 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s weapons activities over the next decade,
8. to focus the CIA on identifying and if necessary interdicting and seizing nuclear materials from non-state actors.

Now consistent with that, the most valuable provision in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review calls for, and I quote, “enhancing national and international capabilities to disrupt illicit proliferation networks and interdict smuggled nuclear materials and continue to expand our nuclear forensics efforts to improve the capabilities to identify the source of nuclear material used or intended for use in a terrorist nuclear explosive device.

The 2010 NPR declares, quote, “The US will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapons state that are in compliance with this nation’s non-proliferation obligations.” This is a telling loophole though in the NPT, which opens the door to the threat of a nuclear attack upon Iran or North Korea, and as such this provision must be changed to forego the use of nuclear weapons against any nation.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review declares the US is not prepared to adopt a universal policy deterring a nuclear attack, declaring that a nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons, and would “only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the US, its allies or partners.” Here again the door is left open to interpreting circumstances, which would allow for the use of nuclear weapons. This provision must be deleted from future Nuclear Posture Reviews and deleted from the policy of the United States today.

It is time for us to challenge the doctrine of deterrence, and reveal it for what it is – a corollary to mutually assured destruction, which is the opposite of survival. The US must ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty once and for all, and we must stop subsidizing the nuclear power industry and its concomitant use of uranium where the byproduct creates material, which can be used for nuclear terrorism.

We can prevent nuclear terrorism by not ourselves threatening it against other nations. We can prevent nuclear proliferation by not participating in it, and thereby become a model for all nations. It’s time for us to deepen our partnership with Russia, and to expedite the arms reduction promise in the Moscow Treaty and START II. It’s time for a new partnership with China, for nuclear abolition and a new defense partnership with China to stop a new arms race from occurring and to stop the disagreements of the present from becoming the conflicts of the future.

Today as we gather in this beautiful setting we have to remember that our destiny and the fate of the planet is not outside our reach. It is within our grasp if it is within our hearts to abolish all weapons and to abolish war itself. On this great day when we reflect upon the great human tragedy of war and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki let us resolve that we shall become as architects of a new world free of fear, free of nuclear weapons, and free of war.

Thank you very much. [sustained applause] Thank you. Great to be here with you.

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Notes: This transcript from the audio recording of Congressman Kucinich’s speech was made by Leonard Eiger, Media & Outreach Coordinator, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. Congressman Kucinich’s speech was videotaped by Todd Boyle, and is posted at YouTube at http://youtu.be/Qo4fItuL8Zw.

Founded in 1977, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the meaning and practice of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual reflection, providing a means for witnessing to and resisting all nuclear weapons, especially Trident. We seek to go to the root of violence and injustice in our world and experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. Learn more at www.gzcenter.org.