We Face Bigger Challenges Than North Korea

Editor’s Note: The following commentary, written by Dr. David Hall, was originally published Saturday, July 8, 2017 in the Everett Herald, heraldnet.com. Dr. Hall is an active member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.

President Trump is getting tough. His budget calls for a $56 billion increase in military spending, to be funded by major cuts ranging from environmental protections to community block grants, on top of the already planned trillion dollar rebuild of the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Our president wants to freeze North Korea’s nuclear weapons program by threatening all-out war without starting a nuclear war. Everett may soon be within range of North Korean nuclear-armed missiles. But the threat these weapons pose to us is not the direct hit. The single use of a nuclear weapon anywhere could light the fuse to nuclear escalations no one can contain. This is the risk we live with every day.

It’s time to rethink deterrence. At the heart of deterrence doctrine for every nuclear armed nation lurks a continuous threat to incinerate whole countries, and these weapon systems steal vast human resources from programs of human betterment and environmental sustainability.

North Korea’s threats can escalate to war, or they can galvanize the global call to eliminate these horrific weapons. Even a “small” nuclear war could lead to worldwide famine. Nuclear nations must come together first of all to prevent any war. Then we must find common ground to eliminate this civilization-destroying threat. Bully tactics risk catastrophic escalation. Imagine facing U.S. military might from an adversary’s perspective.

Nuclear deterrence has worked since World War II to prevent any nuclear use. The threat of mass slaughter has kept national leaders from launching a suicidal nuclear strike. Recently, however, Russians are feeling the press of U.S. nuclear capabilities and U.S./NATO missile defenses near their borders. President Vladimir Putin has responded with nuclear threats against Europe and the United States.

Nuclear adversaries all fear U.S. nuclear weapons, especially the nuclear-armed Trident submarines that deploy from Hood Canal just 35 air miles from downtown Everett. We in Washington state are at the center of U.S. nuclear weapons threats to other countries. One Trident submarine can be loaded with nuclear firepower sufficient to block the sun and starve billions of people.

U.S. citizens must speak to these fundamental survival issues. Technologies to detect a nuclear attack are primitive in all the other nuclear nations. National leaders with nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert have as little as ten minutes to decide if an incoming threat is real and who it comes from. Military commanders of nuclear weapons have emergency codes if their national leadership is decapitated. Unstable countries and unstable leaders now have command of nuclear weapons. Deterrence will not last forever.

Congress’s trillion-dollar plan to rebuild our entire nuclear weapon complex includes increasing the accuracy and hard-target kill capacity of our nuclear arsenal, which is driving a new nuclear arms race as dangerous as the Cold War arms race that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commits the U.S. to search for an exit from this global game of chicken. The United States has by far the most powerful military in history. It’s on us to break out of the present stalemate. Our brinkmanship generals and many civilian leaders and contractors want war-fighting capabilities whatever the cost, even raising the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used.

Starting at home, and then with Russia, China and other nuclear nations, we need serious high-level conversations that honor our shared human need for security while celebrating our common humanity.

None of us can afford to let nuclear weapons destroy our common future.

Dr. David Hall is past president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. He lives on Lopez Island.



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“Being Arrested for Peace is an Honor”

Editor’s Note: Doug Mulholland, one of the participants in Ground Zero’s August blockade of the Bangor Trident submarine base, wrote the following report on his August experience, the subsequent court hearing and his thoughts on nonviolent civil resistance. With great thanks to all of the resisters willing to take an extra step (out into the road) for peace.   


Tuesday Oct 27th Brenda McMillan, Mack Johnson, Michael Siptroth and I went to Port Orchard and paid $25 traffic tickets for being pedestrians in the roadway at the Trident Base Trigger gate on August 10th. We did this act of civil disobedience on the 70th anniversary of the nuclear bombing of 2 Japanese cities- Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Our action impeded the flow of a thousand cars – driven by workers at the Trident Sub base, homeport for a substantial proportion of the United States strategic nuclear bombs. Thousands of workers saw us holding up a sign that said, “We can all live without Trident.” After our arrest several of us were thanked by one of the Marines guarding the base entry. The civil disobedience was a deeply courteous, successful and moving event.

Doug (at far left) during the August blockade as State Patrol officers move resisters off the roadway. (photo by Glen Milner)

Doug (at far left) during the August blockade as Sheriff and State Patrol officers move resisters off the roadway. (photo by Glen Milner)

In early August Jefferson County residents Brenda McMillan, Kit Simian and I had joined other activists living in Puget Sound for several days at The Ground Zero center for Nonviolent Resistance located next to the Trident base. I was among kindred spirits who focus on waking the people, and protecting our ability to live on this planet. After much consideration I decided that blocking traffic, and having to pay a pedestrian in the roadway fine would be a reasonable and decent life-affirming act. Kit and others risk a 6 month federal sentence by laying down on the road and sprinkling ashes around their bodies, leaving an outline similar to what was left of people who were vaporized by the nukes used in Japan.

Judge Steve Olsen of the Kitsap district court reduced our fines from $63, and thanked us for what we had done. When it was my turn to speak in front of the judge I talked about what a nuclear attack on the Trident base would be like, where I believe multiple thermonuclear bombs are targeted. Hundreds of thousands of us dead, our hospitals destroyed, Seattle in ruins, vast amounts of radioactive fallout, a f______ nightmare.

The likelihood of a nuclear war at this moment in time is substantial. Currently NATO is playing a war game in Europe called “Trident Juncture 2015” practicing for an all-out war, with the military industries of 15 countries participating. Our government has declared economic war on Russia, Russia is bombing the terrorists we have been incubating in Syria. Missile launch pads are being built in the Ukraine. The nuclear noose around Russia is being tightened. We’re talking brinksmanship people! The noose is around our necks as well.

I am one of thousands questioning the latest round of military growth here in Puget Sound. When I hear the growlers, airplanes designed to detect and destroy radar systems, I know that a nuclear war is being prepared and is practiced for daily. I think of the military not so much as servants of our freedom, but rather part of the military industrial congressional media drug thug complex. War is very profitable for a few, and a job for many thousands of us. Our government is constantly sowing seeds of war. More guns, bombs, planes, subs must be sold, the empire must have control of oil, the global marketplace must be in dollars, military full spectrum dominance must be upgraded, all paid for by borrowing money our children will have to pay so that the 1/10th of 1% billionaire class that that owns capitalism inc. can rule the world.

Being arrested for Peace is an honor. Helping the coming lawsuit that will challenge the Navy’s abuse of the Environmental Impact Statement process is a duty. Come together! We can change the direction the rulers of the world are headed (dead end). In the names of our grandchildren let’s claim the power to survive! We are many and all of us want a world that is not at the edge of destruction.

Doug's wife Nancy (holding grandaughter Inez) and daughter Amanda (photo by Gabe Van Lelyveld)

Doug’s wife Nancy (holding granddaughter Inez) and daughter Amanda  (photo by Gabe Van Lelyveld)


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