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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Appeal for diplomacy in the Korean nuclear crisis

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ground Zero Center is a member of Abolition 2000, and has endorsed the Appeal for diplomacy in the Korean nuclear crisis. The following message is from Alyn Ware, on behalf of UNFOLD ZERO, an affiliate of Abolition 2000.

The United States and North Korea should step back from the brink of war in North East Asia, and instead adopt a diplomatic approach to prevent war, according to an appeal sent yesterday to these two governments, and to the UN Security Council, by members and affiliates of the Abolition 2000 global network to eliminate nuclear weapons.

110 organisations and over 200 additional civil society representatives from 44 countries endorsed the appeal. it highlights the increasing risk of war – and possibly even the use of nuclear weapons by miscalculation, accident, or intent, calls for ‘immediate commencement of negotiations to prevent a military conflict from erupting,’ and urges ‘the UN Security Council to prioritise a diplomatic solution to the conflict.’

Endorsers of the appeal included parliamentarians, mayors/city representatives, scientists, academics, business leaders, medical professionals, veterans, educators/teachers, Nobel Peace Laureates, Right Livelihood Award laureates (the ‘alternative Nobel Peace Prize’), religious leaders, artists, nuclear victims, lawyers, women’s organisations, youth, former UN officials & diplomats, NGO leaders and other civil society campaigners.

Diplomacy with North Korea has worked in the past, and could succeed again if the security concerns of all countries in the region are taken into consideration,’ said Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation (PNND) and coordinator of the appeal. ‘This could include negotiations for a North East Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone, which appears to have cross-party support from the three key countries – Japan, South Korea and North Korea.’

‘We support the call for a negotiated settlement of the dispute between Korea and USA, Japan, South Korea and neighboring countries with a view to secession of nuclear testing in the interests of humanity and protection of the planet,’ said Ela Gandhi (South Africa), Grand-daughter of Mohandas Gandhi and Co-President of Religions for Peace.

We support this call for diplomatic approach for North Korea,’ said Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and member of Women Cross DMZ, a group of women who walked from North Korea to South Korea in support of peace. ‘As we experienced during our visit to North Korea, the people want peace not war.’

‘I feel sad for the ordinary folk who live in North Korea,’ said Karipbek Kuyukov (Kazakhstan), a second generation victim of nuclear tests and Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project. ‘We [in the USSR] went through that too. We thought having weapons of mass destruction means being stronger and more powerful, but it is like an illusion. It is like carrying a huge rock up a steep mountain.’

The appeal also opposes any pre-emptive use of force by any of the parties, calls on all parties to refrain from militaristic rhetoric and provocative military exercises, and welcomes the offers by the UN Secretary-General and the European Union Foreign Minister to assist negotiations to resolve the conflict.

UNFOLD ZERO, an affiliate of Abolition 2000, joins others in the Abolition 2000 network to promote this appeal.

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CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?

On July 17, and continuing for eleven weeks, 26 King County Metro buses will display the following paid advertisement: CONGRESS WANTS $1 TRILLION FOR NUKES. What will be left for our children?  The ad includes a photo of a Trident nuclear submarine in Hood Canal and the eyes of a child.

 

The statement in the ad refers to the planned expenditure of $1 trillion for the next 30 years for upgrading the nation’s nuclear facilities and modernizing nuclear weapons.  The nuclear weapons modernization plan was initially planned and evolved under the Obama administration.  President Trump has given his support to this plan and stated in December 2016 that the “United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability…”

The bus ads are an effort by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, a grass roots organization in Poulsbo, Washington, to reawaken public awareness of the dangers of nuclear weapons in the Puget Sound region. 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, Rodney Brunelle, said of the bus ad campaign, “We hope to generate a measure of citizen interest, and to begin a public discussion of nuclear weapons in the Puget Sound region. The submarine base at Bangor has the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.  The discussion needs to begin here.”

Photo courtesy of intersection.com

The issues

* The U.S. is currently spending more on nuclear weapons programs than during the height of the Cold War.

* The U.S. currently plans to spend an estimated $1 trillion dollars over 30 years for rebuilding the nation’s nuclear facilities and modernizing nuclear weapons.

* The New York Times reported that the U. S., Russia and China are aggressively pursuing a new generation of smaller and less destructive nuclear weapons. The buildups threaten to revive a Cold War-era arms race and unsettle the balance of power among nations.

* The U.S. Navy states that SSBN submarines on patrol provide the U.S. with its “most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability.”  However, SSBNs in port and nuclear warheads stored at SWFPAC are likely a first target in a nuclear war.  The latest Google imagery shows three SSBN submarines on the Hood Canal waterfront.

* An accident involving nuclear weapons occurred on November 2003 when a ladder penetrated a nuclear nosecone during a routine missile offloading at the Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor.  All missile-handling operations at SWFPAC were stopped for nine weeks until Bangor could be recertified for handling nuclear weapons.  Three top commanders were fired but the public was never informed until information was leaked to the media in March 2004.

* Public responses from governmental officials to the 2003 missile accident were generally in the form of surprise and disappointment.

* Due to ongoing modernization and maintenance programs for warheads at Bangor, nuclear warheads are routinely shipped in unmarked trucks between the Department of Energy Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas and the Bangor base.  Unlike the Navy at Bangor, the DOE actively promotes emergency preparedness.

* The award-winning documentary, Command and Control, and the critically-acclaimed book, Command and Control, by Eric Schlosser, address a dangerous nuclear weapons accident in Arkansas in 1980, and raise important issues for this region.

The bus ad

The bus ads measure 30 inches tall and 144 inches in length and are posted on the sides of 26 King County Metro buses that run through downtown Seattle.  An interactive map of the bus routes may be viewed at http://mapping.titan360.com/atlas.aspx?mapId=49878   The bus ads will run on buses traveling as far south as Federal Way and as far north as Edmonds.

Two bus companies in the Puget Sound area refused to run the ad.  

On June 22, Sound Transit in Seattle told Ground Zero: “Sound Transit’s advertising policy prohibits advertisements that Sound Transit reasonably believes promotes or implies a position on any proposed or existing laws or advocacy on disputed or controversial issues.

Community Transit in Snohomish County also refused to run the ad.  On June 23, Community Transit declared that the ad was a political advertisement which is defined under Community Transit policy as “advertisements that contain political speech referring to a particular ballot question, initiative, petition, referendum, law, candidate, political party or social issue or expresses or advocates opinions or positions upon any of the foregoing. This prohibition includes any advertisement referring to or depicting a candidate for public office in any context.”

Nuclear weapons and resistance

In the 1970s and 1980s, thousands demonstrated against nuclear weapons at the Bangor base and hundreds were arrested.  Seattle Archbishop Hunthausen had proclaimed the Bangor submarine base the “Auschwitz of Puget Sound” and in 1982 began to withhold half of his federal taxes in protest of “our nation’s continuing involvement in the race for nuclear arms supremacy.”

More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed 20 miles west of Seattle on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines based at Bangor and nuclear warheads stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC).

One Trident SSBN submarine 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.

On May 27, 2016, President Obama spoke in Hiroshima and called for an end to nuclear weapons.   He said that the nuclear powers “…must have the courage to escape the logic of fear, and pursue a world without them.”  Obama added, “We must change our mindset about war itself.”

On December 22, 16 President Trump endorsed a growing arms race and posted to Twitter, “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.” 

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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.  The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action offers the opportunity to explore the roots of violence and injustice in our world and to experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action. We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.

Upcoming Ground Zero events:

* The annual Interfaith Peace Walk led by Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple starts in Corvalis, Oregon on July 30 and ends at the Bangor submarine base on August 14.

* Ground Zero Peace Fleet in Elliott Bay to meet the Navy fleet on August 2.

* From Hiroshima to Hope event at Green Lake on August 6 commemorating the victims of the Hiroshima bombing 72 years ago.

* Boats by Bangor on August 12, will be a flotilla of small boats in the waters of Hood Canal out past the perimeter of Naval Base Kitsap Bangor.

* The Annual Ground Zero Hiroshima/Nagasaki Commemoration on August 12 through August 14 at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action with a vigil and nonviolent civil resistance at the entrance to Bangor.

Please check our website at www.gzcenter.org for updates.

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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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Next president has a nuclear option: Scrap the program

Editor’s Note: The following opinion piece was originally published in the Seattle Times online edition on September 27, 2016, and in the print edition on September 28, 2016.

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The USS Ohio sailing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Trident nuclear submarine has been converted to a guided missile submarine. It was first launched in 1979, and was the original nuclear submarine in the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed at what is now Naval Base Kitsap. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

The USS Ohio sailing in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Trident nuclear submarine has been converted to a guided missile submarine. It was first launched in 1979, and was the original nuclear submarine in the U.S. Pacific Fleet stationed at what is now Naval Base Kitsap. (Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times)

HAVE you seen the Seattle bus ads? They read: “20 miles west of Seattle is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.”

In light of recent media attention on who should have their finger on the nuclear button, this statement seems to beg the question: With so many nuclear weapons, what would happen should the president order their use?

“Mutual-assured destruction” is still central to U.S. nuclear deterrence policy. U.S. and Russian nuclear-armed missiles remain on hair-trigger alert 24/7,threatening to end civilization.

One hydrogen bomb deployed from Naval Base Kitsap on Hood Canal could wipe out a large city like Seattle and make the land uninhabitable for centuries. Look up the presentation “One city, one bomb” to understand the devastating potential of modern nuclear weapons.

The United States is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons against another, and we have led the nuclear arms race from its beginning in 1945. Now Congress and the Obama administration have adopted a trillion-dollar plan to rebuild the entire nuclear-weapons complex,including replacement of the Trident submarine fleet on Hood Canal, over the next 30 years. Trident submarines are considered the deadliest weapon ever built.

When our leaders warn that “all options are on the table,” they are threatening to use nuclear weapons. This has happened dozens of times since WW II, including during the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Once the current international prohibition against using nuclear weapons is breached, the door is open for every nuclear-capable nation to use nuclear weapons. Climate scientists have modeled a “small” nuclear war between India and Pakistan assuming 50 Hiroshima-sized bombs from each side targeting cities. Smoke and soot would be lofted by superheated air into the upper atmosphere, lowering temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere enough to reduce agricultural production for a decade. That’s how 2 billion food-insecure people in South Asia and China could starve to death.

This is our policy: to threaten these consequences. But decision-makers are not calculating the scale of devastation built into a single nuclear warhead, much less the thousands they plan to maintain throughout this century. Because the U.S. is building up its nuclear capability, other nuclear nations are building up theirs.

Think the Cuban missile crisis to understand Russian fears of the proximity of U.S. nuclear weapons. The Cuban missile crisis, often described as the closest humankind has come to incinerating itself, was caused by nuclear weapons in proximity to U.S. shores. And the recent coup in Turkey could have put 50nuclear warheads in potentially unstable hands.

Washington state sits at the center of U.S. nuclear policy for our deployed nuclear weapons at Naval Base Kitsapand for the largest Superfund site in our hemisphere at the Hanford nuclear reservation. Plutonium production for U.S. nuclear weapons left millions of gallons of highly corrosive and radiologically lethal sludge that we may never be able to safely dispose.

We are looking for leaders who understand that nuclear weapons are immoral and must never be used. Nuclear weapons threaten genocide on a scale that decision-makers refuse to talk about. The use of nuclear weapons are illegal under the laws of war and humanitarian law — unusable because there is no secure way to limit escalation, exorbitantly expensive and are a massive diversion of human talent and resources away from diplomacy, foreign assistance, innovation and public health.

U.S. priorities in the world are clearly written into our national budget.For the sake of future generations, we ask, “What will be the priorities of the next administration?

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