"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." — Elie Wiesel

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Mayors say Cut Nukes, Redirect Funds to Cities' Urgent Needs

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) unanimously adopted a strong, comprehensive, new Mayors for Peace resolution at its 80th annual meeting on June 16, 2012.  The resolution calls for U.S. leadership in eliminating nuclear weapons (globally) and redirecting nuclear weapons spending to meet the urgent needs of cities. Following is the full text of the resolution.



1. WHEREAS, more than two decades after the end of the Cold War, nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons, over 95% of them in the arsenals of the United States and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to cities and people everywhere; and

2. WHEREAS, recent studies show that a nuclear war involving no more than 100 Hiroshima sized bombs used on populated areas—less than 0.5% of the global nuclear arsenal—could have catastrophic effects on the global climate leading to a precipitous drop in average surface temperatures, reduction of the ozone layer, and a shortened agricultural growing season resulting in global famine leading to the starvation of up to one billion people; and

3. WHEREAS, in an historic November 2011 resolution, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement emphasized “the incalculable human suffering that can be expected to result from any use of nuclear weapons, the lack of any adequate humanitarian response capacity and the absolute imperative to prevent such use;” found it “difficult to envisage how any use of nuclear weapons could be compatible with the rules of international humanitarian law;” and appealed to all States “to pursue in good faith and conclude with urgency and determination negotiations to prohibit the use of and completely eliminate nuclear weapons through a legallybinding international agreement;” and

4. WHEREAS, President Obama rightly said in Prague, “One nuclear weapon exploded in one city ... no matter where it happens, there is no end to what the consequences might be—for our global safety, our security, our society, our economy, to our ultimate survival,” and the 2010 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) affirmed, “It is in the U.S. interest and that of all other nations that the nearly 65-year record of nuclear non-use be extended forever,” the NPR nonetheless retained the option to initiate nuclear warfare when under conventional attack, explicitly rejected reducing the high-alert status of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles, and retained the capability to deploy U.S. nuclear weapons on tactical fighterbombers and heavy bombers, including at NATO bases in Europe, while proceeding with a modernization of the bombs carried on those planes; and

5. WHEREAS, President Obama submitted a plan to Congress in 2010 projecting investments of well over $185 billion by 2020 to maintain and modernize U.S. nuclear weapons systems, including construction of new nuclear warhead production facilities and an array of new delivery systems, and subsequent annual budgets have provided for funding at this level; and

6. WHEREAS, in 2011, the United States spent $711 billion on its military, 41% of the world total and twice as much as the next 14 countries combined, including China, Russia, six NATO allies and three major non-NATO allies; and

7. WHEREAS, the continuing economic crisis is forcing mayors and cities to make ever deeper cuts in critical public services; and

8. WHEREAS, cuts to federal programs such as Community Block Development Grants (CDBGs) and the Home Investment Partnership program (HOME) have forced cities, local agencies and non-profits to lay off staff, reduce or eliminate services, delay infrastructure projects and reduce program benefits to low and moderate income families; and

9. WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted resolutions in 2004, 2006 and each year since, expressing strong support for Mayors for Peace, its 2020 Vision Campaign and its Cities Are Not Targets project, and the 2010 and 2011 resolutions called for deep cuts in nuclear weapons spending and redirection of those funds to meet the needs of cities; and

10. WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a second resolution at its 2011 annual meeting, “Calling on Congress to Redirect Military Spending to Domestic Needs;” and

11. WHEREAS, Mayors for Peace announced on September 21, 2011, the United Nations (UN) International Day of Peace, that its membership had surpassed 5000 and now has over 5250 cities in 153 countries and regions, including more than half of the world’s capital cities and over 190 U.S. members; and

12. WHEREAS, in his address to the 2011 U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized the importance of Mayors for Peace and the support of the USCM, declaring, “I welcome the resolution you will adopt at this conference, in particular its reiteration of support for my five-point [nuclear disarmament] plan,” and concluding, “The road to peace and progress runs through the world’s cities and towns;”

13. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors reaffirms its call on the President of the United States to work with the leaders of the other nuclear armed states to implement the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament forthwith, so that a Nuclear Weapons Convention or a comparable framework of mutually reinforcing legal instruments can be agreed upon and implemented by 2020, as urged by Mayors for Peace; and

14. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on Congress to terminate funding for modernization of nuclear warheads, delivery systems, and production facilities, to slash spending on nuclear weapons well below Cold War levels, and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities; and

15. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls for the withdrawal of all tactical U.S. nuclear weapons from foreign soil and the immediate standing down of all nuclear forces on high-alert as steps to ensure that non-use of nuclear weapons is extended until global non-possession is achieved; and

16. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors calls on its members to raise public awareness about the ongoing dangers and costs of nuclear weapons by organizing public displays of the “5000 Member Milestone” Hiroshima – Nagasaki poster exhibitions in their City Halls, and encourages its members to join Mayors for Peace Executive City Montreal’s “Minute of Silence – Moment of Peace” global initiative by observing a minute of silence at 12 noon on September 21, 2012, the UN International Day of Peace, and posting photos and videos of events in their cities to a dedicated internet platform; and

17. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors expresses its continuing support for Mayors for Peace; pledges to continue assisting in the recruitment of new members; and supports USCM representation at General Conferences of Mayors for Peace in Hiroshima and Nagasaki every four years and annual Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign General Meetings; and

18. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the U.S. Conference of Mayors agrees to take up this matter at its 81st Annual Meeting in June 2013, and that mayors shall remain engaged in this matter until cities and citizens throughout the world are no longer under the threat of nuclear annihilation, whether by accident, design or by global famine resulting from catastrophic climate change caused by a limited nuclear exchange wherever it may occur in the world.


Click here for the Mayors for Peace 2020 Vision Campaign.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Deterrence??? A fresh look at an archaic concept

Editor's Note:  Thanks to Lawrence Wittner for this refreshing challenge to the age old doctrine of deterrence.  This article originally published in History News, June 4, 2012, source URL: http://hnn.us/articles/do-nuclear-weapons-really-deter-aggression


Do Nuclear Weapons Really Deter Aggression?  

By Lawrence S. Wittner

Lawrence S. Wittner is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is "Working for Peace and Justice: Memoirs of an Activist Intellectual” (University of Tennessee Press).
It’s often said that nuclear weapons have protected nations from military attack.

But is there any solid evidence to bolster this contention? Without such evidence, the argument that nuclear weapons prevented something that never occurred is simply a counter-factual abstraction that cannot be proved.

Ronald Reagan -- the hardest of military hard-liners -- was not at all impressed by airy claims that U.S. nuclear weapons prevented Soviet aggression. Kenneth Adelman, a hawkish official in the Reagan administration, recalled that when he “hammered home the risks of a nuclear-free world” to the president, Reagan retorted that “we couldn’t know that nuclear weapons had kept the peace in Europe for forty years, maybe other things had.” Adelman described another interchange with Reagan that went the same way. When Adelman argued that “eliminating all nuclear weapons was impossible,” as they had kept the peace in Europe, Reagan responded sharply that “it wasn’t clear that nuclear weapons had kept the peace. Maybe other things, like the Marshall Plan and NATO, had kept the peace.” (Kenneth Adelman, The Great Universal Embrace, pp. 69, 318.)

In short, without any solid evidence, we don’t know that nuclear weapons have prevented or will prevent military aggression.

We do know, of course, that since 1945, many nations not in possession of nuclear weapons and not part of the alliance systems of the nuclear powers have not experienced a military attack. Clearly, they survived just fine without nuclear deterrence.

And we also know that nuclear weapons in U.S. hands did not prevent non-nuclear North Korea from invading South Korea or non-nuclear China from sending its armies to attack U.S. military forces in the ensuing Korean War. Nor did massive U.S. nuclear might prevent the Soviet invasion of Hungary, the Warsaw Pact’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Also, the thousands of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal did nothing to deter the terrorist attacks of 9/11 on U.S. territory.

Similarly, nuclear weapons in Soviet (and later Russian) hands did not prevent U.S. military intervention in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Nor did Soviet nuclear weapons prevent CIA-fomented military action to overthrow the governments of Iran, Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, and other nations.

Other nuclear powers have also discovered the irrelevance of their nuclear arsenals. British nuclear weapons did not stop non-nuclear Argentina’s invasion of Britain’s Falkland Islands. Moreover, Israel’s nuclear weapons did not prevent non-nuclear Egypt and non-nuclear Syria from attacking Israel’s armed forces in 1973 or non-nuclear Iraq from launching missile attacks on Israeli cities in 1991. Perhaps most chillingly, in 1999, when both India and Pakistan possessed nuclear weapons, the two nations -- long at odds -- sent their troops into battle against one another in what became known as the Kargil War.

Of course, the argument is often made that nuclear weapons have deterred a nuclear attack. But, again, as this attack never took place, how can we be sure about the cause of this non-occurrence?
Certainly, U.S. officials don’t appear to find their policy of nuclear deterrence very reassuring. Indeed, if they were as certain that nuclear weapons prevent nuclear attack as they claim to be, why are they so intent upon building “missile defense” systems to block such an attack -- despite the fact that, after squandering more than $150 billion on such defense systems, there is no indication that they work? Or, to put it more generally, if the thousands of U.S. nuclear weapons safeguard the United States from a nuclear attack by another nation, why is a defense against such an attack needed?

Another indication that nuclear weapons do not provide security against a nuclear attack is the determination of the U.S. and Israeli governments to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state. After all, if nuclear deterrence works, there is no need to worry about Iran (or any other nation) acquiring nuclear weapons.

The fact is that, today, there is no safety from war to be found in nuclear weaponry, any more than there was safety in the past produced by fighter planes, battleships, bombers, poison gas, and other devastating weapons. Instead, by raising the ante in the ages-old game of armed conflict, nuclear weapons have merely increased the possibility that, however a war begins, it will end in mass destruction of terrifying dimensions.

Sensible people and wise government leaders have understood for some time now that a more promising route to national and international security is to work at curbing the practice of war while, at the same time, banning its most dangerous and destructive implements. This alternative route requires patient diplomacy, international treaties, citizen activism, the United Nations, and arms control and disarmament measures. It’s a less dramatic and less demagogic approach than brandishing nuclear weapons on the world scene. But, ultimately, it’s a lot safer.