"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

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Brief Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons

By David Hall, MD*

Nuclear arsenals are a big deal again: extravagantly expensive, militarily unusable, environmentally devastating, morally reprehensible, and now being rebuilt for threatened, accidental, or intentional use to the next century.

Nuclear weapon states have reversed course. In 2010 the USA committed to modernizing its entire nuclear weapons complex as a condition for signing the New START treaty with Russia with its small reductions in both nuclear arsenals. India and Pakistan have been steadily enlarging their small arsenals for years. China and Russia are now building new ballistic missile submarines.

We are in a new global nuclear arms race as the nuclear weapon states continue to follow the US modernization initiative. The hostile or even accidental use of just one modern nuclear bomb would be globally catastrophic, many times the devastation and death toll of the 911 attacks on the US World Trade Center. If used they would violate every international humanitarian law and treaty, would constitute a crime against humanity, and so-called deterrence would have failed. Security through “deterrence” in a multilateral suicidal nuclear world is “specious and illusory.” (Pope Francis)

The trillion dollar modernization of the US arsenal does not meet basic standards for ethical, moral, or rational behavior. The driving force behind modernization is the military-industrial-Congressional complex protecting jobs building these weapons of mass murder.

“The truth is that the President only had a superficial understanding” of what would happen in a nuclear war, [Ex-Chief of Nuclear Forces General Lee ] Butler says. Congress knew even less because no lawmaker has ever had access to the war plan, and most academics could only make ill-informed guesses.”

In place of this specious and potentially suicidal policy, we must pursue cooperative global security initiatives that can address serious global threats to life on Earth - the root causes of a potential nuclear war - climate change, severe poverty, ethnic and religious intolerance - and access to loose fissile materials to make a bomb.

Continuing to upgrade and build new weapons of mass destruction invites a world like Johannesburg during apartheid with nuclear armed barriers between rich and poor.

We need a global Truth and Reconciliation Commission to bring us together before we blow ourselves back to the Dark Ages.

*Dr. David Hall is a child and family psychiatrist and a past president of local and national PSR. For over 20 years he has campaigned for the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction. He is active with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and its work to abolish the Trident nuclear weapon system.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Real Problem with Defense Contracting

Op-Ed by Glen Milner*

Representative Kilmer’s op-ed, “Fix broken defense contracting,” failed to address the real problem with defense acquisition (Seattle Times, April 23, 2015)

Kilmer stated that the defense sector is an economic driver in Washington State and that Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) and Naval Base Kitsap combine for more than $12 billion in economic impact per year. But this figure belies the fact that the two bases (not including 324,000 acres for JBLM at the Yakima Training Complex) take up 97,400 acres of prime real estate in Pierce and Kitsap Counties including valuable waterfront on Puget Sound. This is more acreage than the entire City of Seattle and would likely bring a greater economic gain if used by the private sector.

We are told that greater efficiency for defense acquisition will benefit our local economy. First on Kilmer’s list is to fully reverse automatic spending cuts known as sequestration for the military. However, no mention is made of the tax increases and/or cuts to social programs needed to end sequestration and increase funds for military programs.

Kilmer and other members of Congress are promoting a six-year process to streamline acquisition that will “maximize the capabilities and strengths of our military.”

The bigger problem with defense acquisition is the promotion and procurement of multiple weapons programs that become more expensive with each successive year. Nuclear weapons programs provide an example. The Air Force is currently planning for new long range nuclear bombers and replacement intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) while the Navy is building a replacement SSBN-X nuclear submarine.

These nuclear weapons delivery systems and other plans to upgrade our nuclear arsenal will cost nearly $1 trillion over the next 30 years. Many of these long range programs have already begun even though their combined costs are too expensive to complete.

Kilmer is a strong proponent of the Navy’s Trident nuclear submarine base in his 6th Congressional District. According to a 2015 Congressional Research Service report, the projected budget for the SSBN-X replacement submarine program for FY 2016 is $1.39 billion with the planned procurement of the first submarine in 2021. The 12 replacement submarines are expected to cost nearly $100 billion with the last submarine being placed into service in 2042.

The $100 billion for replacement submarines does not include the $1.2 billion the Navy is currently spending each year for upgrades to the existing Trident D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. By 2042, the end of the service life of the D-5 missiles, new missiles will have to be designed, tested, and deployed. The Navy has not publicly discussed the cost for the replacement missiles for the new SSBN-X submarines.

Last year Congress created a new military account for the replacement submarines, called the “National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund.” Congress has yet to allocate funds to the account.

Never mind if our nation actually needs more advanced weapon systems. As Kilmer and other members of Congress ponder ways to simplify and streamline the acquisition process for the military, costs will continue to spin out of control.

The way to fix defense acquisition is to start making cuts in defense spending, the sooner the better.

*Glen Milner lives in Lake Forest Park and is a researcher and activist with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo. See www.gzcenter.org. Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action is also on Facebook.

A partial list of references:









http://www.answers.com/Q/How_many_acres_is_the_city_of_Seattle  Seattle is 91,200 acres compared to the 97,400 acres for the two military bases. I checked this figure with the 142.5 square miles at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle and other sources.