"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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In Memory of Anne Montgomery: "Let the Children Live"

Dear Friends,

In the long, hard struggle for a just, nonviolent, peaceful world there are participants who dedicate their lives so fully to the service of others - truly to all humanity - that they shine (in a humble way) bright as the noonday sun.

Anne Montgomery, RSCJ, who passed away yesterday, is one of those extraordinarily bright spirits.  Her every breath, every step, every word, every action embodied the deepest spirit of love and compassion.  Her nonviolent spirit poured from her and touched so many in this world. 

Anne's work for a just, peaceful world is not over.  It lives on in each of us who were touched by her life. 

From Christian Peacemaker Teams to Plowshares actions, Anne put her life on the line so that others may live.  This photo is a small tribute to what dwelled in the depths of Anne's huge heart.

Sr. Anne, August 7, 2010, at a vigil at the Kitsap Mall, Silverdale, WA,
during Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action's weekend
commemorating the Hiroshima & Nagasaki atomic bombings.

Even on a grey, wet Pacific Northwest afternoon (photo above) Sr. Anne's beautiful spirit shined forth for anyone who would look into her eyes.

May we continue the good struggle toward a nuclear weapons free world for the sake of future generations. 

You can read about Anne's life in the Memoriam to Anne at the Society of the Sacred Heart.

Reflections, information on Anne's funeral, and more at Disarm Now Plowshares.

Click here to read Fr. John Dear's interview with Anne.

In Peace,


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Declaration of the 2012 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

2012 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

Declaration of the International Meeting

Sixty-seven years after the US atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, about 20,000 nuclear weapons are still threatening the very survival of the human race. This threat must be rooted out as soon as possible. We call on people around the world to work together to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. The accident of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011 has brought the horror of the nuclear dangers into sharper relief. We extend our solidarity with all nuclear victims.

Throughout the world, people are taking actions demanding their freedom and dignity, opposing social inequality and poverty, and for an end to war and occupation. In Japan, which has suffered the tragedies of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Bikini, actions of citizens demanding zero nuclear power plants are developing on an unprecedented scale since the outbreak of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident, to the level of shaking the entire nation. The voices of the citizens are changing the course of the future of countries and the world.

The call for “No More Hibakusha, No More Hiroshimas and Nagasakis” is heard around the world in this development. The intense desire of the civil society, expressed by signatures collected on streets, in workplaces and campuses, is meeting positive responses in the international politics.

The present situation calls for a drastic strengthening of peace movement and public support. The NPT Review Conference in 2010 reached an agreement to achieve the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. The focus now is on the implementation of this agreement. With the start of the preparatory process for the next NPT Review Conference in 2015, many non-nuclear-weapon states governments are resolved to move the situation forward. Sixteen nations, including Non-Aligned and New Agenda Coalition states as well as NATO members, together made an appeal for a ban on nuclear weapons, focusing on the humanitarian dimension of the use of nuclear weapons. It is time now that the civil society, local governments, the United Nations and national governments should join forces to open a door of a “world without nuclear weapons”.

The use of nuclear weapons can never be justified for any reason whatsoever. One nuclear bomb, if used, would cause catastrophic consequences, which the Hibakusha called a “hell on earth”. It is a crime against humanity and civilization. The disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, where people could not live as humans or die as humans, continue to warn the human race of that. The serious consequence of the nuclear power plant accident also shows how inhumane it is to use nuclear energy for military purpose. Nuclear weapons and humans cannot coexist. Retaining such weapons is morally unacceptable.

Inhuman and immoral as they are, nuclear weapons are to be banned by law and eliminated. We call for the start of negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention, to establish the rule of law. In the UN General Assembly, 130 countries voted in support of the resolution for it, and the NPT Review Conference in 2010 called on all countries to make “special effort” to establish a “framework” to create a “world without nuclear weapons”. The agreement should be honored and implemented.

With public opinion for a total ban on nuclear weapons growing, there is a strong resistance to maintain nuclear arsenals. Some nuclear powers and their allies insist on their “nuclear deterrence” and maintain their nuclear alliance and “nuclear umbrella”. The highly expensive modernization of nuclear weapons continues. In no sense does nuclear arsenal guarantee peace or security. They should face up to the reality that the nuclear deterrence policy has actually helped nuclear proliferation accelerate. Only when nuclear deterrence doctrines are overcome, can the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” be achieved. Peace movements and public support will play the key role here. It is important that an international conference on a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East, as set out by the NPT Review Conference, should achieve a good success. We support the call for the signing of the protocol of the South East Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Treaty by the nuclear weapon states. We oppose NATO’s nuclear doctrine and interventionism and demand the withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from Europe. We support the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula.

Lasting peace and security cannot be achieved by force. We oppose the use or threat to use forces and demand the resolution of all conflicts by diplomatic and peaceful means. We support a world order of peace based on the UN Charter and other instruments of international law. We oppose foreign military bases and demand their withdrawal. In solidarity with the effort for independent and democratic changes in the Middle East countries, we call for a peaceful solution of the problem in Syria without outside military intervention. We demand a peaceful and diplomatic solution on the problems on Iran.

In order for the Japanese government to take actions commensurate to the only A-bombed country, the role of the Japanese peace movement is becoming ever more important. We extend our support and solidarity to the movements for the abrogation of the Japan-US “secret nuclear arrangements”, which allow nuclear weapons to be brought into Japanese territories; for the strict observance of the “Three Non-Nuclear Principles”; for establishing a nuclear weapon-free Japan; the opposition by the people of Okinawa and other communities involving local authorities to the deployment of the dangerous US new transportation aircraft Osprey and to the deployment or port calls of US nuclear-powered warships; the movement demanding the removal of the Futenma base in Okinawa and other US military bases in Japan and for defending and having fully operated Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution.

The accident of the Fukushima Daiichi NPP has brought the danger of nuclear power plant into clear view. The procurement of the energy sources for sustainable development, without relying on NPP and without thus leaving the danger to the future generations is the necessity. We work for the eradication of the nuclear damage stemming from each stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. Noting the link between nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants, we oppose the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, the accumulation of plutonium and the military use of nuclear energy. We express our solidarity with the idea for a nuclear-free world.

We propose the following actions worldwide:

-- Let us build up international opinion demanding the start of negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention by collecting signatures in support of the “Appeal for a Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons” and many other actions. Let us develop campaigns in different countries and regions in demand for the removal of nuclear weapons and for nuclear free zones.

-- Let us further develop our effort to make known to the public the consequences of the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through A-bomb photo exhibitions. The truth on the suffering from the A-bombs renders every excuse on nuclear weapons meaningless. Let us strengthen support and solidarity with the Hibakusha, from which the World Conference against A and H Bombs and its movement started. Struggling against cover-up or underestimation of the effects of nuclear damage, we will strengthen solidarity with all nuclear victims. Let us work in solidarity with the movements for support of the victims of Agent Orange and other war atrocities.

-- We will develop solidarity with a broad range of movements for a shift from nuclear power to renewable energy resources. No more nuclear victims of any kind is a shared desire of the movements against nuclear weapons and for zero nuclear power plants. Let us keep building these movements to open the way to a future with no more nuclear damage.

We oppose disparity of wealth and growing social inequality. Hands in hands with all people who stand for freedom, democracy and demilitarization, working against hunger, poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and for the resolution of social injustices, drastic cuts in military spending and armament, for the improvement of social welfare, human rights, protection of global environment, overcoming of patriarchal structure and for the rights and equal social status of women, let us open a door to a nuclear weapon-free, peaceful and just world.

With the Hibakusha, and with the young generation who bear the future, let us make strides forward.

August 4, 2012
International Meeting
2012 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Were the Atomic Bombings Necessary?

As we prepare to commemorate the anniversaries or the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are many questions we might ponder.  One of the most fundamental questions is "Were the atomic bombings necessary?"  In the following essay David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, challenges the conventional understanding that the use of atomic bombs was responsible (and necessary) for ending the war. 


Were the Atomic Bombings Necessary?

by David Krieger July 30, 2012

On August 14, 1945, Japan surrendered and World War II was over. American policy makers have argued that the atomic bombs were the precipitating cause of the surrender. Historical studies of the Japanese decision, however, reveal that what the Japanese were most concerned with was the Soviet Union’s entry into the war. Japan surrendered with the understanding that the emperor system would be retained. The US agreed to do what Truman had been advised to do before the bombings: it signaled to the Japanese that they would be allowed to retain the emperor. This has left historians to speculate that the war could have ended without either the use of the two atomic weapons on Japanese cities or an Allied invasion of Japan.

The US Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that, even without the use of the atomic bombs, without the Soviet Union entering the war and without an Allied invasion of Japan, the war would have ended before December 31, 1945 and, in all likelihood, before November 1, 1945. Prior to the use of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the US was destroying Japanese cities at will with conventional bombs. The Japanese were offering virtually no resistance. The US dropped atomic bombs on a nation that had been largely defeated and was trying to surrender at the time of the bombings.

David Krieger
Despite strong evidence that the atomic bombings were not responsible for ending the war with Japan, most Americans, particularly those who lived through World War II, believe that they were. Many World War II era servicemen who were in the Pacific or anticipated being shipped there believed that the bombs saved them from fighting hard battles on the shores of Japan, as had been fought on the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. What they did not take into account was that the Japanese were trying to surrender, that the US had broken the Japanese codes and knew they were trying to surrender, and that, had the US accepted their offer, the war could have ended without the use of the atomic bombs.

Most high ranking Allied military leaders were appalled by the use of the atomic bombs. General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces Europe, recognized that Japan was ready to surrender and said, “It wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing.” General Hap Arnold, commander of the US Army Air Corps pointed out, “Atomic bomb or no atomic bomb, the Japanese were already on the verge of collapse.”

Admiral William Leahy, Truman’s chief of staff, put it this way: “The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. In being the first to use it, we adopted an ethical standard common to barbarians of the Dark Ages. Wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

What Truman had described as “the greatest thing in history” was actually, according to his own military leaders, an act of unparalleled cowardice, the mass annihilation of men, women and children. The use of the atomic bombs was the culmination of an air war fought against civilians in Germany and Japan, an air war that showed increasing contempt for the lives of civilians and for the laws of war.

The end of the war was a great relief to those who had fought for so long. There were nuclear scientists, though, who now regretted what they had created and how their creations had been used. One of these was Leo Szilard, the Hungarian émigré physicist who had warned Einstein of the possibility of the Germans creating an atomic weapon first and of the need for the US to begin a bomb project. Szilard had convinced Einstein to send a letter of warning to Roosevelt, which led at first to a small project to explore the potential of uranium to sustain a chain reaction and then to the Manhattan Project that resulted in the creation of the first atomic weapons.

Szilard did his utmost to prevent the bomb from being used against Japanese civilians. He wanted to meet with President Franklin Roosevelt, but Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. He next tried to meet with the new president, Harry Truman, but Truman sent him to Spartanburg, South Carolina to talk with his mentor in the Senate, Jimmy Byrnes, who was dismissive of Szilard. Szilard then tried to organize the scientists in the Manhattan Project to appeal for a demonstration of the bomb rather than immediately using it on a Japanese city. The appeal was stalled by General Leslie Groves, the head of the Manhattan Project, and did not reach President Truman until after the atomic bombs were used.

The use of the bomb caused many other scientists to despair as well. Albert Einstein deeply regretted that he had written to President Roosevelt. He did not work on the Manhattan Project, but he had used his influence to encourage the start of the American bomb project. Einstein, like Szilard, believed that the purpose of the U.S. bomb project was to deter the use of a German bomb. He was shocked that, once created, the bomb was used offensively against the Japanese. Einstein would spend the remaining ten years of his life speaking out against the bomb and seeking its elimination. He famously said, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.”

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.  This essay was originally published at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation website (http://www.wagingpeace.org/articles/db_article.php?article_id=381)