Nobel Peace Prize: No time to rest on our laurels

Greetings Friends of a Better World,

This is a time of grave danger (to all of humanity). Never has it been more evident how few people have so much control over the fate of humanity. We quite literally live in (as author Elaine Scarry calls it) a “Thermonuclear Monarchy.”

I have felt for many years that the story of the nuclear abolition movement has been something akin to the fable of the Little Dutch Boy who holds his finger in the dike to keep it from flooding the city. However, in our version of the story, the boy (or girl) has had that finger in the dike for what seems an eternity, and the waters behind the dike have risen and fallen many times over the years. All along, most people have walked by and ignored the child. The few who paid attention told the city’s leaders, who always explained that all was well; that they had things well under control. And now, once again the waters are so near the top of the dike that the child feels the water as it splashes over the lip. The pressure on the bulging dike is phenomenal, and the citizens can clearly see the dike bowing bulging as it nears the breaking point. Yet, most they go about their daily routine, and the city leaders continue telling the people that all is well, the dike is doing its job and is designed to hold back all the water that might build up behind it. When asked about the child, the city leaders say that, “The child is just playing a child’s game, pretending to hold back the water. The hole is NOT a real issue. We adults have everything under control. There is no danger. The system that we have developed has worked as intended all these years, and will continue to work. Trust us.”

The people have heard these words over and over. They have been taught to respect the authority of their leaders, to believe whatever they are told by them, that they are here to protect the people from the dangers of the world around them. And indeed, the world is a dangerous place. One might think I am writing just about climate change and its effects. In fact, as the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has said in its most recent reset of the famous Doomsday Clock, the two most existential issues of our time are the potential for nuclear war and the effects of climate change.

Earlier in 2017 The Bulletin’s Science and Advisory board set the clock at Two And A Half Minutes To Midnight, the closest it had been since 1953 after the US, and then the Soviet Union, tested their first hydrogen bombs (pushing the clock to 2 Minutes To Midnight). In that announcement they warned: “Only a few more swings of the pendulum, and, from Moscow to Chicago, atomic explosions will strike midnight for Western civilization.” The 2017 announcement came just weeks into the new Trump administration. One can only imagine how close The Doomsday Clock would be to midnight should The Bulletin reset the hands today!

News outlets have continually raised the issue of tensions between the US and North Korea over the past year since Trump came into power. It has been a story of reciprocal (and escalating) taunts between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, two leaders whose egos and hubris get in the way of their responsibility(s) to their people. Trump, the leader of one of two nations possessing roughly 93 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, has initiated not only the taunts, but both direct and indirect threats of (thermonuclear) violence against North Korea, the result of which would be the loss of millions of lives on the entire Korean peninsula, Japan, and Guam, and possibly elsewhere. As many of us have stated time and time again, “There is no acceptable military response to the situation with North Korea!”

It is unconscionable that one person should not only have the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons, as does President Trump, but also the power to directly threaten other nations with nuclear devastation. Trump’s current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has strained to apply diplomacy with North Korea, countering Trumps threats of nuclear annihilation. And just last week we learned that the drumbeats of change are afoot once again with Tillerson likely on his way out, and someone on his way in who will likely walk in lockstep the Trump and his inflammatory rhetoric (and increase the drumbeats of war), adding yet more fuel to the pyre Trump is building for millions (if not more) human beings.

One of the greatest problems currently plaguing the US movement to abolish nuclear weapons is the overwhelming plethora of other issues overshadowing this most urgent issue. And there is no end of irony here. Politicians make absolutely ridiculous decisions to gut the Affordable Care Act, dismember regulatory entities (like the EPA) and the regulations associated with them intended to protect the public health and welfare, give yet more tax advantages to those already possessing the vast majority of the nation’s wealth, and pass a $700 billion military spending bill for the (not so) simple reason that they benefit financially from these decisions and retain the perks and power of public office. Yet, they have no clue that the inevitable use of nuclear weapons will be the great equalizer.

No amount of money will ultimately protect them (or the millionaires and billionaires who fund their campaign coffers) from the “fallout” of nuclear war. They will ultimately have to come out of their elaborate bomb shelters to face an unrecognizable and dangerous world, or at least what is left of it. Those they have paid to protect them will be AWOL, doing their best to just survive. All the gold and glitter of Trump Tower, should it still be standing, will be worthless (and likely radioactive) in a post-apocalytic world.

The good news is that civil society has done extraordinary things, culminating in 2017 with 122 nations creating a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Each of these accomplishments represents the collective actions of countless citizens, organizations, diplomats, parliamentarians and others working in concert for the benefit of humanity. And just for the record, the ban treaty is an extraordinary example of the best of the United Nations.

Today’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies in Oslo, Norway represent a huge achievement. It is a day to celebrate and gather strength for the long struggle ahead. We mustn’t allow ourselves to rest for more than this brief celebratory moment, as we are engaged in a struggle against extraordinarily strong and deeply entrenched forces that worship the bomb and all it represents.

2018 will be a make or break year, a year in which we must maintain and build upon the momentum created in 2017, and use every creative strategy available to engage a massive upwelling of global citizen support for abolition. We will need to build alliances across every movement. We will need to reach deep within people’s hearts and minds to gain their attention and support. We will need to ask the difficult, but necessary, questions, like: “CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?”, as did Ground Zero Center in our most recent Seattle bus advertisement. We must develop a global citizen-led movement unlike any in the history of the nuclear abolition movement.

I began this letter on a dark note, yet even as I wrote those words I felt (and still feel) a lightness and hope. That hope is is based on the knowledge that each of you reading these words holds a light within you, and that together our light will ultimately drive away the darkness that has persisted throughout the nearly three quarters of a century of the nuclear age.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action is honored to be part of this movement working to give humanity a more secure future. We will continue speaking truth to power and helping build a movement that will be impossible for the Thermonuclear Monarchs to ignore. The greater, immediate, challenge will be keeping the dike from bursting. The standoff with North Korea, that seems to be more of a personal feud between the countries’ “leaders,” must be brought under control. Although there is evidently no way to control Trump’s compulsive tweeting, Congress can (and must) reign in his ability to start a war, which, in the case of North Korea, would most certainly go nuclear. 

Click here to write your members of Congress and demand that they support legislation to prevent preemptive and unconstitutional attacks on North Korea.

U.S. peace groups have come together to send an open message to Washington and Pyongyang that we are strongly opposed to any resumption of the horrific Korean War. Click here to add your name to the People’s PeaceTreaty with North Korea before the end of the month!

Click here to read about and support diplomacy with North Korea! I cannot stress enough that there are NO acceptable military solutions. Sustained diplomacy is the only answer!

Finally, here’s an opportunity for Congress to clearly state that, “It is the policy of the United States to not use nuclear weapons first.” Although I personally have a problem with the idea of using nuclear weapons at all, this bill is an important step, and is establishing an critical dialogue, particularly with such a reckless President in control of nuclear weapons. Click here to sign on as a citizen co-sponsor.

When you’re done with the action alerts, since most of us couldn’t attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, click here to view a video of the entire ceremony, including speeches by ICAN’s Beatrice Fihn and Setsuko Thurlo, a Hibakusha of Hiroshima. Congratulations to all who have brought us this far, and here’s to the work yet to be done! 

On behalf of Ground Zero Center,

Leonard Eiger

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Celebrate the Nobel Peace Prize with us!

Editor’s Note: Ground Zero Center is an organizational affiliate of ICAN, winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Come help us and others around the state celebrate this recognition of the role of civil society in the abolition of nuclear weapons. Read more below:

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts in passing the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In the current, hostile political climate (here in the US), we must take time to celebrate our progress toward a nuclear-free world.

ICAN’s victory is everyone’s victory. So please join us on December 10ththe same day the Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Norway, for one of these SEVEN events around Washington State:

***SEATTLE – WE CAN: Ban the Bomb

Join the Washington Coalition to Stop the New Nuclear Arms Race at Leif Erikson Lodge, 2245 NW 57th St, Seattle, WA 98107 Sunday, December 10th. Doors at 6pm, Program 6:30-8:30pm   RSVP HERE

We’ll have food and drinks, music from the Seattle Peace Chorus, and remarks from local leaders including Bruce Amundson, President of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility; Michael Ramos, Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle; and Kim Nesselquist, Consul of Norway.

We hope you mark this occasion by celebrating with us! If you’d like to celebrate, but live outside the Seattle area, please get in touch with Lilly Adams at to find out about other events happening on Dec 10th around the state, or to learn about how to host a small house party of your own!

***Poulsbo at Ground Zero Center

West Sound for Social Justice, Free Range Films and The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action are partnering to present a community screening of Scarred Lands & Wounded Lives:The Enviornmental Footprint of War, a timely and gripping new documentary by filmmakers Alice & Lincoln Day that examines the environmental footprint of war.

This free community screening will be held on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 p.m. at the The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, 16159 Clear Creek Rd NW, Poulsbo, WA 98370.

Seating is limited; please RSVP at

***Port Angeles

Join the OLYMPIC PENINSULA PROGRESSIVES to learn about the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and take action toward a nuclear weapons-free world. Sunday, December 10, 2017 1:00 PM Port Angeles Library 2210 S. Peabody St. Port Angeles, WA 98362. Two videos will be shown featuring ICAN director Beatrice Finh and Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Guest speakers and panelists include representatives from Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, including Tom Rogers, Lisa and Mack Johnson. Music and songs will be led by a local interfaith peace choir.  For more information, contact


The Olympia Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is hosting a celebration at 3pm on Dec 10th, at the Museum Coach House, 211 21st Ave SW. They are also organizing highly visible banner drops at multiple locations leading up to the event. For more information, contact Tim Russell at


Local peace groups are gathering at 12:30pm – 2:30pm on December 10th Stillpoint at Backside, 1625 Huntley Road, Bellingham. Join them to view a video of the Peace Ceremony and take action by contacting your members of Congress. Sponsored by Pax Christi. RSVP Mary Mele at


Tacoma Fellowship of Reconciliation is hosting a celebration at 4pm on Dec 10th, at the Friends Meeting-House, 2508 S. 39th Street. They’ll have food, drinks, and members of the Tacoma Refugee Choir. For more information, contact Susan Donaldson at


Pax Christi Spokane, Veterans for Peace Spokane, and Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane are hosting an event on Dec 10th at 1:30pm, at 25 W Main St, 3rd Floor, Saranac Building. There will be light refreshments, speakers from the community, and an open mic to share experiences working to ban the bomb!


PS – Many members of our state-wide coalition, Washington Coalition Against Nuclear Weapons, have helped spread the world about this achievement by writing opinion pieces in local media across the state! You can read them here:

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Nobel Peace Prize awarded to nuclear weapons abolitionists

Editor’s Note: This is the press release sent out by Ground Zero Center in response to Friday’s announcement of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.


This year’s Nobel Peace Prize recognizes the central role of civil society in abolishing nuclear weapons.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN is comprised of hundreds of partner organizations in 100 countries, of which, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington is one.

Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Communications Coordinator, said:

“At a time when the potential for nuclear war is as high as it was during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, this award recognizes the huge and critical role of the global movement for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), parliamentarians and citizens has never been more important.”

Civil society has played a central role over many years in drawing attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, and most recently in the negotiations at the United Nations (UN) that brought about the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

122 nations voted to approve the Treaty, and so far over 50 nations have signed on. None of the nuclear-armed nations support the Treaty, and they continue to rely on nuclear weapons as instruments of foreign policy.

The current inflammatory rhetoric on both sides of the US-North Korean conflict, coupled with President Trump’s efforts to undermine the Iran nuclear weapons deal, are in direct conflict with efforts for peaceful conflict resolution among nations.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents the best of what the global community is capable through the UN, and it provides a clear path to abolishing the greatest threat to humanity.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action applauds the decision of the Nobel Committee to support the efforts of those who work within a framework of mutual cooperation and consensus to negotiate mutual security assurances among nations.

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