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.”


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day (March 1st)

[This post is from Peace Movement Aotearoa, New Zealand, and was originally published in 2009]

Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day ('Bikini' Day), 1 March, marks the anniversary of the US 'Bravo' nuclear bomb detonation at Bikini Atoll [*] in 1954. The explosion gouged out a crater more than 200 feet deep and a mile across, melting huge quantities of coral which were sucked up into the atmosphere together with vast volumes of seawater. The resulting fallout caused widespread contamination in the Pacific.

Powdery particles of radioactive fallout landed on the island of Rongelap (100 miles away) to a depth of one and a half inches in places, and radioactive mist appeared on Utirik (300 miles away). Radiation levels in the inhabited atolls of Rongerik, Ujelang and Likiep also rose dramatically. The US navy did not send ships to evacuate the people of Rongelap and Utirik until three days after the explosion. The people in the Marshall Islands, and elsewhere in the Pacific, were used as human guinea pigs in an obscene racist experiment to 'progress' the insane pursuit of nuclear weapons supremacy.

Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Day is a day to remember that the arrogant colonialist mindset which allowed, indeed encouraged, the horror mentioned above continues today - the Pacific remains neither nuclear free nor independent.

It is a day to think about the many faces of colonisation - physical, cultural, spiritual, economic, political, nuclear, military - past and present; the issues of independence, self-determination and sovereignty here in Aotearoa New Zealand and the other colonised countries of the Pacific; and the ability of Pacific peoples to stop further nuclearisation, militarisation and economic globalisation of our region.

It is a day to acknowledge and remember those who have suffered and died in the struggle for independence around the Pacific; those who have opposed colonisation in its many forms and paid for their opposition with their health and life; and those who have suffered and died as a result of the nuclear weapons states' use of the Pacific for nuclear experimentation, uranium mining, nuclear weapons testing and nuclear waste dumping.

It is a day to celebrate the strength and endurance of indigenous Pacific peoples who have maintained and taken back control of their lives, languages and lands to ensure the ways of living and being which were handed down from their ancestors are passed on to future generations.

It is the day to pledge your support to continue the struggle for a nuclear free and independent Pacific, as the theme of the 8th Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Conference said: No te parau tia, no te parau mau, no te tiamaraa, e tu, e tu - For justice, for truth and for independence, wake up, stand up !

- Peace Movement Aotearoa

[*] In 1946, a military officer representing the US government asked the people of Bikini if they would be willing to leave their atoll temporarily so that the United States could begin testing atomic bombs for "the good of mankind and to end all world wars". They have been prevented from returning to their home ever since because of the level of radioactive contamination remaining there.

In April 2006, together with the people of Enewetak, they filed a lawsuit against the US government in the US Court of Federal Claims. The lawsuit sought compensation for the taking of their property, and damage claims resulting from the US government’s failure and refusal to adequately fund the orders of the Nuclear Claims Tribunal. In 2000 and 2001 the Tribunal awarded compensation totaling around $948 million for loss of the islands, clean-up and resettlement costs, and personal injury and hardship. So far the Tribunal has only paid out about $3.8 million.

On 29 January 2009, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against the people of Bikini and Enewetak, saying an agreement between the governments of the United States and Marshall Islands in 1986 is a settlement that is beyond judicial review - affirming the US Court of Federal Claims ruling on 2 August 2007. The decision of the Court of Appeals is

available here, and the people of Bikini's response to the 2007 Court of Federal Claims ruling is here. A history of Bikini Atoll and the people's struggle for justice is on this web page.
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Editor's Note: The following is their most recent call for negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

This year, New Zealanders have the opportunity to help turn the hope of a nuclear weapons-free Pacific, and indeed a nuclear weapons-free world, into a reality by adding their signatures to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Aotearoa New Zealand (iCAN ANZ) petition to parliament.

The petition calls on the New Zealand government to actively engage with like-minded governments committed to abolishing nuclear weapons to launch, without delay, an initiative to start the process of negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Convention; and it will be considered by a parliamentary Select Committee later this month. The petition form is available on the iCAN ANZ website at http://www.icanw.org.nz

Monday, February 27, 2012

Largest Demonstration and Civil Resistance against U.S. Missile Test in almost 30 years

by Jim Haber, Coordinator, Nevada Desert Experience

The United States Air Force test-launched a first-strike, nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) early in the morning on February 25 despite the largest anti-test demonstrations in almost 30 years. The launch took place in the dark fog of night at 2:46 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) on the central California coast to the other end of the Ronald Reagan Missile Range in the Marshall Islands over 4000 miles away.

Testing warhead, bomb and delivery systems all violate the spirit of working towards nuclear disarmament to which the United States has obligated itself. The February 24 protest began at 5 minutes to midnight—the current setting of the “Doomsday Clock” of the Federation of American Scientist's Bulletin of Atomic Scientists—in the hopes that public pressure would force President Obama to turn away from his pro-nuclear budget (with increases for both nuclear weapons and power). The test-launch of ICBMs makes hypocrites of U.S. foreign policy planners who demand a stand down of nuclear ambitions from countries we're hostile to, while furthering the upgrade of our own weapons of mass destruction. The quantity and quality of U.S. nuclear weapons dwarf all others; we must not wait for other nations to pull back but must increase the rate of dismantlement of our own nuclear weapons.

Daniel Ellsberg, who as a military analyst for the RAND Corporation in the 1960s developed strategic plans for the Secretary of Defense MacNamara and who later leaked the lies of Vietnam war planners in what became known as the Pentagon Papers, crossed the line at the base and was taken into custody along with 6 other men and 8 women in an act of civil resistance. “They cannot be allowed to test these lightning rods of doomsday without arresting American citizens. We need to push this. It takes public pressure through education and public protest,” Ellsberg said at the rally before entering the base. Twenty-nine years ago, Ellsberg was also arrested at VAFB with hundreds of others who went into the back-country of the huge base to disrupt launch plans for another ICBM, the MX missile which ultimately was not deployed, largely due to public pressure. Ellsberg continued by stating, “No one in this country should have their hands on the destruction of the world. We can't trust these folks with the future of humanity.

From left: David Krieger, Fr. Louis Vitale & Daniel Ellsberg (photo by Jim Haber)

(As a student at nearby UC Santa Barbara, the author also went back-country in 1983 at Vandenberg and was arrested along with Ellsberg and 55 others at the U.C.S.B.'s administration building in opposition to the continued management of the U.S. national weapons laboratories by the University of California.)

Ellsberg also pointed out that Cold War deterrence was based on various lies and mistakes like when U.S. plans were based on the thought that the U.S.S.R. had 1000 missiles but actually only had 4 at that time. Current war plans continue to be based on misrepresentations, including those regarding Iraq, Iran, North Korea and the ongoing nuclear programs of Israel, Pakistan and India.

Our peace actions and civil resistance at VAFB, and at the Nevada Test Site, Y-12 Plant in Tennessee and elsewhere in the expanding nuclear “bombplex” all are part of an international effort to wake up the public and our leaders to the immorality, illegality and stupidity of maintaining nuclear capabilities. The U.S. program encourages horizontal proliferation. All nuclear weapons must be eliminated. “Theirs” are bad; ours are at least as horrific. The move to make ICBMs dual use—meaning they carry nuclear or non-nuclear warheads—further increases nuclear danger by potentially confusing adversaries into thinking they're under nuclear attack.

Quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. are sadly and prophetically apropos in many situations. In this moment two stand out: “The choice is not between violence and nonviolence, but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” Also, “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”

With about a hundred demonstrators braving the damp cold of the designated protest area outside of Vandenberg, other important attendees crossed the line in “anti-test”: David Krieger, founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and his wife Carolee committed their first-ever acts of civil resistance and were exhilarated by the experience. Cindy Sheehan who's son was killed as a soldier in Iraq and who has become an outspoken peace activist also was cited and released. Judy Talaugon, a grandmother and descendant of the local Chumash people blessed and welcomed the protesters. Importantly, Paul O'Toko, an elder from Micronesia and founder of Indigenous Stewards International, brought a sizable group including several of his children although they did not engage in the trespass itself. Fr. Louis Vitale OFM, a frequent presence at VAFB and other demonstration sites said, “I would gladly give my life even to delay a missile launch.”

The last test-launch of a Minuteman III was a rare failure necessitating the destruction of the missile mid-flight. A subsequent test scheduled for September 21, 2011, the U.N.-designated International Day of Peace, was postponed as a growing chorus of international opposition was decrying the contradiction of a peace-loving nation testing such a thing on that special day.

The next test-launch is now scheduled for March 1, extremely soon after last Saturday's test. March 1 is the anniversary of the tragic “Bravo” test of a hydrogen bomb in the Bikini atoll for which the swimwear received its name due to the brightness of the 20 megaton blast. That test dropped radioactive fallout on the people of Rongelap, leading to catastrophic health and genetic problems that continue to this day, necessitating the on-going evacuation of their island. It also sparked the Japanese anti-nuclear movement which had been prevented to exist under the U.S. occupation that followed World War II. The Lucky Dragon fishing vessel, a Japanese ship, was also caught in the fallout of the March 1 test, another day that deserves to be retired from nuclear development plans. (And don't they all?)

Jim Haber is the Coordinator of Nevada Desert Experience (NDE) in Las Vegas, Nevada which organizes interfaith resistance to nuclear weapons and war. He is also on the National Committee of the War Resisters League.

Video of line crossers taken by videographer Ben Johnson with Occupy Santa Barbara:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-YiU6waGOU or shorter url: http://is.gd/vafbp

Photos of the Vandenberg demonstration taken by Mary Lou Anderson and Jim Haber:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimhaber/sets/72157629458207405/

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Oppose the U.S. Government's Nuclear Missile Test Launch

On February 24th, the first Friday of Lent, there will be global peace protests surrounding the U.S. government's scheduled launch - one of the government's countless test launches - of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). These ICBM's, which are scattered around the U.S. in their underground silos armed with nuclear warheads, are ready to launch on warning by the President's command. These missile test launches serve only to increase tensions and counter any real efforts at disarmament and non-proliferation.

One of the protest sites will be Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, where the launch will occur. Please check out MacGregor Eddy's Blog at http://vandenbergprotest-macgregor.blogspot.com/ to learn more. This is also the place to watch for up-to-date information on the launch, along with information on other protest sites. 
Minuteman III launch from Vandenberg

Fr. Louis Vitale will be at Vandenberg for the evening protest, and on February 23rd Daniel Ellsberg will join David Krieger, of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, in Santa Barbara for a press conference and presentation.

If you can participate and are coming from the San Francisco Bay Area there is a group going down to Vandenberg on the 24th on the Green Tortoise charter bus (leaving from West Oakland BART station). It will also stop at San Jose and Salinas. Catholic Workers can ride free, and anyone who can't afford the charter fare can get a subsidy to ride the bus. Check with MacGregor if you are interested in participating and/or have questions at macgregoreddy@gmail.com, or 831-206-5043.

Related to the Vandenberg test launch - PLEASE sign the petition at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation calling on President Obama to cancel this test launch and fullfill our nation's obligations to move toward the abolition of nuclear weapons.  You can help this petition exceed its goal of 5000 signatures by sharing this email or the link to the petition: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6357/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9008. Share it on Facebook, Google+, or anyplace else you can think of.