GZ New Year E-News: Get Involved/Take Action

Dear Friends of a world free of nuclear weapons,

Welcome to the Mad, Mad, Mad world of 2018! A world that could be reduced to cinders in less time than it would take to watch the movie Dr. Strangelove, a film that is ironically, to quote Daniel Ellsberg in his new book, The Doomsday Machine, “essentially, a documentary.” The ultimate madness of the past 70-plus years is that those responsible for nuclear war planning knew all along (or should have known) that they were planning for the probable extinction of life on Earth.

Nearly a quarter century since the beginning of the nuclear age, and well past the time of Kings, the world is still at the mercy of the Thermonuclear Monarchs, the anointed ones who have their fingers on what people like to call the “nuclear button.” Of course, as Ellsberg explains, it is even worse than that. Not only in the United States, but probably in most other nuclear-armed nations, the authority to use nuclear weapons has been delegated to countless others (besides the President) principally in the military chain of command. The ability to start a nuclear war is (and always has been) much easier than anyone would expect.

The current crisis with North Korea has been compared with and considered (by some) as the closest we have come to nuclear war since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Whatever the parallels, there is one key difference. We currently have (in the U.S.) a president who appears to have no concept of the potential consequences of his cavalier statements toward North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong-un. Whatever his underlying motives are, his actions speak for themselves, and they threaten not only North Korea, but all of humanity.

Even a limited nuclear war with North Korea would likely result in the deaths of millions on and near the Korean peninsula, and horrific and lasting environmental effects and human suffering lasting many generations. As the drumbeats continue to drone on, there is another way.

This month we honor and celebrate the birth of the prophet and peacemaker Martin Luther King Jr.  Although widely known for his civil rights leadership, after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts in 1964 and 1965 Dr. King began challenging our nation’s fundamental priorities. He maintained that the civil rights laws meant nothing without human rights, including economic rights. He spoke out against the huge gaps between rich and poor, and called for “radical changes in the structure of our society” to redistribute wealth and power.

By 1967 Dr. King had become one of the country’s most prominent opponents of the Vietnam War as well as a staunch critic of overall United States foreign policy. In his “Beyond Vietnam” speech, Dr. King made a significant leap from fighting for civil rights for African-Americans to morally challenging U.S. dominion over the rest of the world. His was a strong, prophetic voice for peace, and clearly understood the madness of nuclear weapons. As Vincent Intondi, author of African Americans Against the Bomb, stated:

When asked in December 1957 about the use of nuclear weapons, King replied: “I definitely feel that the development and use of nuclear weapons should be banned. It cannot be disputed that a full-scale nuclear war would be utterly catastrophic. Hundreds and millions of people would be killed outright by the blast and heat, and by the ionizing radiation produced at the instant of the explosion . . . Even countries not directly hit by bombs would suffer through global fall-outs. All of this leads me to say that the principal objective of all nations must be the total abolition of war. War must be finally eliminated or the whole of mankind will be plunged into the abyss of annihilation.”

King remained committed to the antinuclear cause throughout the Civil Rights Movement. In 1959, five months after being stabbed in Harlem, King addressed the War Resisters League’s thirty-sixth annual dinner, where he praised its work and linked the domestic struggle for racial justice with the campaign for global disarmament: “Not only in the South, but throughout the nation and the world, we live in an age of conflicts, an age of biological weapons, chemical warfare, atomic fallout and nuclear bombs . . . Every man, woman, and child lives, not knowing if they shall see tomorrow’s sunrise.” He asked, “What will be the ultimate value of having established social justice in a context where all people, Negro and White, are merely free to face destruction by strontium 90 or atomic war?”

While many people are concerned about North Korean nuclear weapons, the U.S. and Russia still hold 13,800 of the world’s nuclear warheads, while North Korea is estimated to have about 10. Kim Jong-un will not use his nuclear weapons unless his regime is threatened by military action. There is absolutely NO acceptable military option in the standoff with North Korea. Nonviolent conflict resolution (in the form of sustained diplomacy) is the only way to resolve this crisis. Nonviolence is the answer.

It is, perhaps, perfect timing that the 2018 Winter Olympics will be hosted by South Korea, beginning on February 9th. North Korea and South Korea (at the South’s invitation) will also engage soon in official talks in what will be the first high-level contact between the two countries in more than two years. And it is quite probable that the North will send athletes to compete in the winter games. It is critical that the U.S. not undermine any of these efforts. It is time for President Trump to cease his violent threats toward North Korea and reduce the risk of nuclear war. Oh, and it would also help if we just called off (rather than postponing till after the Olympics) yet another military drill with South Korea!

Please join us in continuing to push for nonviolent solutions to the crisis with North Korea, a situation that should never have gotten to this (boiling) point. Here are a few current actions we can all take to make our voices heard:

SUPPORT THE OLYMPIC TRUCE:  The United Nations has asked member states to observe an Olympic truce between February 2nd and March 25th. South Korea has also asked the U.S. to delay its war rehearsal flights over South Korea until after the truce. Please sign the petition urging all nations to support the Olympic truce (and to continue it indefinitely thereafter).

Sign the People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea: Alarmed by the threat of a nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea, Peace Action, joined by other 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. What we want is a peace treaty to finally end the lingering Korean War!

Tell Congress: Open Vital Channels to North Korea:   Several unresolved humanitarian issues between the U.S. and North Korea must be addressed urgently – and offer diplomatic avenues for stabilizing relations with Pyongyang. Issues such as repatriating the remains of U.S. servicemen left in North Korea following the Korean War and reuniting divided Korean and Korean American families should be priorities in the U.S. policy toward North Korea.  Contact Congress and urge them to open these channels and to pursue diplomacy, not war, with North Korea.

Beyond the Bomb has written an Open Letter to Congress about how President Trump is moving us closer to nuclear war. I suggest that we all take that letter and visit our members of Congress or their local staffers, demanding that they reign in this loose cannon who occupies The White House. Click this link to find your members of Congress, and find the nearest office where you can meet with staffers to present your case.

Tell Twitter: Crack down on @RealDonaldTrumpTwitter has recently cracked down on some groups using its platform to “promote violence against civilians to further their causes,” but had the nerve to say that Donald Trump is not violating its terms of service, even in the wake of his last Tweet about having a “much bigger & more powerful Nuclear Button” than Kim Jong-un. This could be, by far, Trump’s most egregious and testosterone-laced Tweet toward North Korea, and it’s high time he stops threatening nuclear war. Since most of Congress doesn’t seem to have the courage or conviction, perhaps we can at least convince Twitter to do something about this. Tell Twitter: Crack down on @RealDonaldTrump.

As for all of us at Ground Zero Center, we haven’t been resting through these turbulent times. Check out what we’ve been up to in the January 2018 Ground Zero Newsletter that just went to press. While you’re there, you can subscribe to our E-Newsletters is you aren’t already on the mailing list.

I recently finished reading The Doomsday Machine, and on the last page he quotes Dr. King’s prophetic warning (related directly to nuclear weapons) that, We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.” Speaking of Ellsberg, he will appear in Seattle on January 9th to speak about The Doomsday Machine. Tickets are sold out, and I expect that we will have a video to share if you miss it. And here’s a special offer to any of your who will be in Seattle that evening and would like to attend, but missed out on tickets. The first person to email me at outreach@gzcenter.org will receive two free tickets to the Ellsberg event. I will email you direct links from which you can print your tickets. I will also announce the lucky winner in our next E-Newsletter.

On Saturday, January 13th Ground Zero Center hosted a vigil at the Bangor Trident base, our way of honoring Martin Luther King Jr’s life and works. We will have news and photos from that event available soon.

The monks of the Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Miyohoji Temple are currently on their annual Peace Walk honoring Dr. King from January 10th through the 15th. You are welcome to join any portion of the walk. Click here to see the schedule and find contact information.

And finally, if you’re in Seattle on January 15th, join us at the 36th Annual MLK Seattle Celebration at Garfield High School. Ground Zero Center will be in the march, and we welcome you to join us marching, holding banners and signs, and handing out leaflets. This year’s theme is Take a Knee for Justice! Click here to learn more.

You can check out all Ground Zero events at our Events calendar at gzcenter.org, and in between E-Newsletters you can keep up with the resistance at our Facebook page. And please share this E-Newsletter with at least two (or more) people who aren’t already engaged in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons. This is shaping up to be a watershed year for our work, and we need to build a groundswell of support for abolition. As Dr. King once said:

“We must recognize the fierce urgency of now… Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.”

On behalf of Ground Zero Center,

Leonard Eiger

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When will we learn the lesson of war?

Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece was written by Ground Zero member Marianne Mabbitt, and published in the Kitsap Sun on September 19, 2017. 

Sunday’s opening episode of the new Ken Burns documentary airing on PBS this week, “The Vietnam War,” exposed some history of Vietnam that was never common knowledge in the United States.
Most Americans knew that it was once called French Indonesia and that the French had a long embattlement and defeat in Vietnam. However, most of us never read of Hoh Chi Min’s experiences in the United States and England, or that he’d written letters to American presidents expressing his values as similar to many in the U.S. Constitution: of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, of freedom and independence. That was his goal for the people of Vietnam. Five American presidents, from Truman through Nixon, stated at one time or another their aversion to war there, and yet it continued.
The documentary reviews the horrors of war, the waste of lives and resources, the humiliation of our televised defeat after so long a struggle and the agony survivors endured and still do today. We are repeating similar painful experiences in the Middle East, the United States having been in Afghanistan for over 14 years with no end in sight.

Certainly, we as Americans have doubts about our mission and effectiveness in fighting foreign wars and we are tired of these unending wars that squander the lives and talents of our servicemen and women. The money, technology, research and energy should be redirected to life sustaining projects. The enormous tax dollars we spend on the military budget is obscene compared to the budget of our social programs needed at home such as schools, housing, energy, transportation, agriculture and preserving natural resources. The legislators and corporations that make up the war machine continue to lie to us so they can continue to rake in huge profits.

Various pieces of the military industrial complex are in every state in our nation. We are told we must keep supporting them for the jobs they provide us. But the money is siphoned from programs we need, from jobs we’d rather be doing that are constructive to our own society, not destructive to others. In the end, we are the ones we destroy as well. We bring home the guerrilla military tactics, the weapons, the nightmares and violence. The United States continues to escalate the level of violence in our own land in our media, in our schools, our games, our sports, on our streets and in our homes. “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.”

When will we learn that war only begets more wars? When will we deny the war machine our tax dollars and demand that we build up our own nation again? Democracy demands an informed electorate to vote rationally but we have so limited our real news sources and dumbed down our schools that the future looks very bleak for the youth of the United States. Who is paying attention to the next war on the horizon?

Resist a first strike of North Korea! We must resist the litany of atrocities committed in our name in any country. Today we are on the brink of another war with North Korea. This one involves a nuclear weapons exchange that could annihilate the earth’s atmosphere as we know it. The planet cannot withstand any more nuclear explosions. Tell your representatives to support the Senate bill, ‘Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017.’ It requires Congress to authorize nuclear weapons strikes rather than the President alone. We must stop the cycle of violence our country imposes on others and on ourselves.

We must stop the bleeding and bind our wounds. We must dialogue and plan for the near future and envision a country that believes and ACTs towards liberty and justice for all. If not now, when? If not us, who will do it? If we don’t act, will we even be here after a nuclear war North Korea?

M.G. Mabbitt lives in Silverdale.

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Activists blockade west coast nuclear base in plea to de-escalate nuclear crisis with North Korea

Activists blockaded the West Coast nuclear submarine base that would likely carry out a nuclear strike against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) should President Donald Trump give the order.

Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, is home to the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the US. More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on the eight ballistic missile submarines based at Bangor or stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) at the Bangor base.

Activists with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action held a vigil and nonviolent direct action at the Bangor base on August 14th, several days after the 72nd anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Participants briefly blockaded the base during the morning shift change by carrying banners onto the roadway at the main entrance gate.

(left to right) Nuclear resisters Susan DeLaney, Philip Davis and Charles (Charley) Smith

All were removed from the road by Washington State Patrol Officers, cited for being in the roadway illegally, and released on the scene.

Those cited were Philip Davis, Bremerton, WA; Susan DeLaney, Bothell, WA; Ryan DeWitt, Olympia, WA; Sarah Hobbs, Portland, OR; Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA; Ben Moore, Bainbridge Island, WA; and Charles (Charley) Smith, Eugene Catholic Worker, Eugene, OR.

One of the banners implored the Trump administration to stop its incendiary rhetoric toward North Korea. It read, “No Nuclear Strike On N. Korea!”

(from left to right) Sarah Hobbs, Ben Moore and Ryan DeWitt

Ground Zero spokesperson Leonard Eiger said, “No one knows where this escalating rhetoric of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will end. To take either leader at his word, a nuclear holocaust is an acceptable event. There is no acceptable military solution to this nuclear standoff. Diplomacy is the only way out of this mess.”

The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Bangor, Washington. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Click here to see photos of the action, as well as events that took place on the Sunday prior to the action. You are welcome to download and use photos (taken by Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action).

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Preventing Nuclear “fire and fury” on Nagasaki Anniversary!

Editor’s Note: This post is the GZNonviolenceE-Newsletter sent out earlier this morning. If you would like to receive the E-Newsletters, please click here.

Dear Friends of a world free of nuclear weapons,

I wouldn’t normally send another GZNonviolenceE-Newsletter so soon, but these are anything but normal times! “Crisis” is not too strong a word to describe the situation!

Yesterday, on the eve of the 72nd anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, President Trump explicitly threatened to attack the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) with nuclear weapons! Here’s the exact quote:

“They [North Korea] will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He [Kim Jong-un] has been very threatening … and as I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen.”

Trump’s extremely provocative statement was in response to news earlier in the day that North Korea can now arm its long-range missiles with nuclear warheads.

While it is true that North Korea has nuclear weapons (and says it is prepared to use them in response to any attacks by other nations), and that it can at least reach its neighbors with them, there is NO military solution to this situation.

Trump outrageous and inflammatory statement has brought tensions with North Korea to a new (and extremely dangerous) high. The consequences of any military action against North Korea would be catastrophic, and Trump’s words threaten not only North Korea, but potentially millions of people in South Korea, Japan and other nations in the region.

Amid the escalating war of words between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is reportedly visiting Seattle and the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base 20 miles west of Seattle on the Kitsap Peninsula today and tomorrow.

The August 7th Department of Defense (DoD) news release said Mattis would be visiting Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor within the week to be briefed by Submarine Group 9 leaders, and taking a tour of the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Kentucky.

The Bangor submarine base, just 20 miles from Seattle, has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.  If Washington state were a sovereign nation, it would be the third-largest nuclear-weapons state in the world.

Ground Zero member Glen Milner spoke of the upcoming visit by the Secretary of Defense and stated, “Hopefully, this is not as ominous as it sounds.  But it should remind citizens of the Pacific Northwest that our area will be in the forefront of any nuclear exchange, whether it involves North Korea, China, or Russia.”

At this moment it is likely that at least two of the eight Trident submarines home-ported at Bangor are on patrol in the Western Pacific region, ready to launch their thermonuclear-armed missiles on the direct order of President Trump.

The USS Kentucky, the Trident submarine that Defense Secretary Mattis will tour at Bangor, is estimated to carry about 108 nuclear warheads.  The W76 and W88 warheads at Bangor are equal respectively to 100 kilotons and 455 kilotons of TNT in destructive force.  One submarine deployed at Bangor is equal to more than 1,400 Hiroshima sized nuclear bombs.

Mattis’ visit to the Bangor Trident base underscores the importance that the US Government places on nuclear weapons and particularly on what it calls its “strategic nuclear deterrent,” of which Trident is the most important “leg” of the nuclear triad (submarines, bombers and land-based missiles).

“Deterrence” is a relic of the Cold War; a doctrine that no longer applies in a post-Cold War world. And yet, the US continues to justify a more than $trillion nuclear weapons buildup (over 30 years) using this doctrine to justify it. And Trident will ultimately carry roughly 70-percent of the U.S.’ nuclear warheads under the U.S.-Russia New START treaty signed in 2010,

No one knows where this escalating rhetoric of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will end. To take either leader at his word, a nuclear holocaust is an acceptable event.

The current situation is analogous to two unstable people standing with lighted matches on opposite sides of a swimming pool filled with gasoline. Without a change in course it is only a matter of time.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action condemns Trump’s statement, and we call on our members of Congress to respond immediately to de-escalate this crisis before the unthinkable occurs.

Please contact your members of Congress today and call on them to demand that President Trump immediately stop threatening North Korea and authorize the State Department to utilize all diplomatic tools at its disposal to reduce tensions with the North and resolve the nuclear crisis.

Click here to find contact information for your members of Congress.

If you live on the Kitsap Peninsula, Representative Derek Kilmer will hold a Town Hall Meeting this evening from 5:30 to 7:00 at North Kitsap High School Auditorium, 1881 NE Postmark St, Poulsbo, WA  98370. He will hold a second Town Hall Meeting tomorrow (Thursday, August 10th) from 5:30 to 7:00 at Mason High School, 200 E Campus Dr, Belfair, WA 98528.

Please also support the effort to restrict the president’s authority to launch a nuclear first strike. Although we never want to see nuclear weapons used again, the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act would, at least, prohibit a president from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. It’s a step in the right direction.

When you are done, please share this E-Newsletter with your network and, if you are in the Puget Sound region, join us this coming weekend to not only commemorate the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but to also speak out and take action to abolish these horrific devices of nuclear extinction that threaten all of humanity. Click here for information on this weekend’s events. 

Future generations rely on our actions! We must not let them down.

Let us keep working together to ensure that the horrific “fire and fury” that was unleashed on hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings 72 years ago will never be seen again. No More Hiroshimas! No More Nagasakis!

On behalf of Ground Zero Center,

Leonard Eiger

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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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