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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GZ endorses IPPNW statement on Korea crisis

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Ground Zero) is deeply concerned about the Korea crisis. The tense situation that continues to evolve has been likened to a “Cuban Missile Crisis in slow motion.” There is no military solution to the standoff with theDemocratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK); diplomacy is the only reasonable approach.

In addition to the immediate dangers involved, this situation points to much greater issues that must be addressed in order to prevent proliferation and reduce the risks posed to humanity by nuclear weapons.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)has issued a statement on the Korea crisis on April 28, 2017 (see full text below). Ground Zero endorses the IPPNW statement, and calls on the US Government to not only seek a permanent, peaceful resolution to the Korea crisis, but also fully support the upcoming second round of United Nations negotiations of a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

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IPPNW statement on Korea crisis

APRIL 28, 2017

The persistent tensions on the Korean peninsula are rapidly escalating into a crisis fueled by mutual fears, provocations, and the volatile temperaments of two unpredictable, nuclear-armed heads of state. The current US administration seems determined to “resolve” the situation through shows of force and military threats. The government of Kim Jong-un is accelerating its efforts to test and build nuclear weapons and missiles, while promising “massive” retaliation should the US follow through on those threats.

Tens of millions of people on both sides of the demilitarized zone are literally caught in the middle of an evolving conflict that could erupt into war—potentially nuclear war—with a single misstep or ill-considered decision on either side. Not only are the lives of millions of North and South Koreans at stake; an armed conflict would inevitably draw in neighboring countries—especially China, Russia, and Japan.

This is exactly how a regional nuclear war could start and escalate into a global catastrophe. The targeting of even a tiny fraction of the combined nuclear arsenals of the DPRK, US, Russia and China on cities in the Korean peninsula or elsewhere would result in a global nuclear famine putting billions of people worldwide at risk of starvation. The consequences of such a war have been described in recent years at three international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, which reaffirmed the long-held conclusion that nuclear weapons must never be used again under any circumstances, and that the only way to ensure our survival is to prohibit and eliminate the weapons themselves.

If immediate steps are not taken to defuse the current crisis and resume diplomatic approaches to the security issues on the Korean peninsula, the world may well run out of time to prevent a nuclear disaster, despite having had more than 70 years to eliminate the most urgent threat to our common survival. No other option should be on the table.

The alternative to nuclear war is a good-faith effort by the US, the DPRK, and other regional powers to replace military threats and actions with diplomatic initiatives that take the security interests of all parties into account. All nuclear weapons-related activities in the region and everywhere else in the world—including nuclear tests, missile tests and tests of missile defense systems, provocative military exercises, and verbal nuclear threats—should be halted immediately. A formal end to the Korean War, which was halted in 1953 with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, must be a goal of regional diplomacy

The current crisis in the Korean Peninsula is the latest example that a world divided into nuclear “haves” and “have nots” is untenable. The possession and threat of use of nuclear weapons by a handful of states promotes, rather than discourages, conflict and the spread of nuclear weapons. Proliferation is a symptom that requires a global solution.

Last March, the international community took a huge step forward toward ending the nuclear crisis when more than 130 countries, in partnership with international organizations and civil society, began negotiating a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons as a basis for their total elimination under international law. These negotiations have inspired a new sense of hope that effective leadership toward a world without nuclear weapons is possible, and that a clear path toward that goal can be defined by year’s end. Every government should support and participate constructively in those negotiations.

Source URL for IPPNW Statement on the Korea crisis: https://peaceandhealthblog.com/2017/04/28/korea-crisis/

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