Fast for Peace at Westlake Center

Buddhist Monks to Fast for Peace at Westlake Center

Friday’s Opening Day of the Winter Olympics in Korea brings an order of Japanese Buddhist Monks to Seattle’s Westlake Center Plaza to fast and pray for peace.

The Reverend Senji Kanaeda of the Nipponzan Myohoji order will be joined by fellow peace activists in 55 hours of fasting from Friday, February 9 to Sunday, February 11.

  • Friday, beginning at Noon
  • Saturday, from 9:00AM to 3:00PM
  • Sunday, from 9:00AM to 3:00PM

The public is invited to join them any time during those hours in praying, chanting, and drumming and/or fasting for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Information will be available on how people can get involved in bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula and reducing the risk of violent conflict and nuclear war.

This event intends to heighten awareness of increased nuclear threat arising from military confrontation and rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Hailing from Japan where nuclear weapons once annihilated hundreds of thousands of their citizens, Nipponzan Myohoji Monks are committed to spreading the word about the inevitability of a full scale nuclear war destroying the world as we know it.

Kanaeda lives with fellow monks at their Temple on Bainbridge Island, but he spends many months of the year leading long peace walks that cover much of the Pacific Northwest from Yakima to Olympia to Seattle and beyond. These colossal walks often culminate on the Kitsap Peninsula where a vast portion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is deployed on Trident Submarines. The monks regularly attend vigils and demonstrations at the U.S. Naval Base, Bangor to protest nuclear preparation and expansion.

Currently the Rev. Kanaeda is leading an effort to build a Peace Pagoda on the Kitsap Peninsula and has a design concept drawn for it. A pagoda is a small beautifully tiered temple dedicated to peace. Nipponzan Myohoji Monks have built pagodas in several countries. Their dedication to peace and nuclear abolition has taken them on walks virtually around the world. The fasting event at Westlake Center is one of the many peace activities that comprise Kanaeda’s fully dedicated life.

“We are focusing on the abolition of all nuclear weapons on earth and realizing the safety of the world for now and the next generations,” Kanaeda said. He can be reached at 207-780-6739 or cell 206-724-7632 or kanaedasenji@gmail.com.

Endorsing organizations include Rainier Valley Neighbors for Peace and Justice and Earth Care not Warfare.

Share widely

It’s 2 Minutes to Midnight: The Clock is Ticking!

Do you want to live with the threat of nuclear war?

I would guess that most people would answer with a rousing “NO!” And yet, humanity has been living under the threat of nuclear annihilation for most of the decades following World War II during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Even now, nearly three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States and Russia still stand poised to destroy each other’s nations (many times over), and take the rest of the world with them.

What’s more, the two Superpowers, through their mad pursuit of nuclear weapons and the rampant militarism associated with that race, led the way to the proliferation of nuclear weapons that has further increased the risk of nuclear war and the end of civilization. India and Pakistan are at each others figurative throats, each having amassed considerable nuclear arsenals. And now, there is a huge focus on (and fear of) a nuclear-armed North Korea. Where will all this end?

Earlier today the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to global catastrophe – two minutes to midnight – the closest the Doomsday Clock has ever been to the “destruction of civilization.” The hands of the Clock were set at two minutes to midnight only once before – in 1953 after the U.S. tested its first thermonuclear device and the Soviets followed with their own H-bomb test.

Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has used the Doomsday Clock to symbolically indicate how close humankind currently is to “the end of the world,” represented by midnight. To set the clock, the Bulletin factors in the threats of nuclear war, climate change, and (most recently) artificial intelligence run amok. 

The opening paragraph of today’s announcement, addressed to “leaders and citizens of the world,” says: “In 2017, world leaders failed to respond effectively to the looming threats of nuclear war and climate change, making the world security situation more dangerous than it was a year ago—and as dangerous as it has been since World War II.”

When the clock was set a half-minute closer to midnight just one year ago, we were warned: “Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.” Our “public officials” have not only failed to lead humanity away from the brink; their lack of wisdom has led us further toward that dangerous precipice. It is absolutely time for “wise citizens” to step up and demand action.

In 1991, thanks to the end of the Cold War and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, the hands of the Clock were set back to 17 minutes to midnight, providing a huge sigh of relief. Since then, all but one announcement have resulted in the hands inching ever closer to midnight.

How much closer to midnight do we have to come before we accept the urgency of our situation – that we must remove the threat of nuclear weapons before the clock, and humanity’s luck, run out of time?

Even the most limited use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic global consequences. The horrific loss of human life; the long-term effects on the environment, climate, and human health; and the destabilization of the global economy and international relations are difficult to imagine. Nuclear war would mean the end of civilization as we know it. Prevention is the only reasonable choice!

There is only one way to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again – eliminate them worldwide. It is up to the United States, the only nation to have ever used nuclear weapons, and the nation that led the world to this moment, to lead the way. And that work needs to begin with a paradigm shift and the initiation of a sincere dialogue with Russia.

What can (and should) we, as “wise citizens” do to lead the way to help move humanity back from the brink? Here are a few steps each of us can take (for starters):

  • Support, and get directly involved with, at least one organization directly working on nuclear abolition.
  • Senator Ed Markey, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament has introduced legislation into the Senate (with companion legislation in the House introduced by Ted Lieu) to restrict the authority of the U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack without first consulting congress. Call on your members of Congress to support this legislation.
  • Tell Congress: Detente, not Escalation with Russia!
  • Urge your members of Congress to call for direct diplomacy (without preconditions) with North Korea, and against further threats of war.
  • You can also support legislation that reduces the risk of war with North Korea. Call your Representative and urge her/him to cosponsor HR 4837, the “No Unconstitutional First strike on North Korea Act.” Click here for a directory of U.S. Representatives. You can also call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121
  • Call on the United States to attend the UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament (coming up in May 2018) at the highest level and to make sincere efforts at the conference to reduce nuclear risks and advance the abolition of nuclear weapons. Click here to find your members of Congress.
  • Introduce the Back from the Brink resolution at your professional association, faith community, civic group, educational institution, town hall or municipality. Click here to download the text of Back from the Brink:A Call to Prevent Nuclear War and see a list of endorsing organizations.

Historian Lawrence Wittner, in his book Confronting the Bomb, says that it is not the conventional explanation of “deterrence” that has saved the world from nuclear annihilation over the past 72 years, but a “massive nuclear disarmament movement.” Wittner documents how real, grassroots citizen activism brought very real pressure to bear, not only only on the U.S. government, but many other governments as well, to control the arms race and prevent nuclear war.

The question now is whether we can revitalize that citizen-led movement and create a groundswell that no nation, particularly those with nuclear weapons, can ignore. Here’s to that hope!

###

***Click here to read the full 2018 Doomsday Clock Announcement.***

Share widely

U.S. Nuclear Posture: Bringing Us Closer to the Brink

The draft 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was leaked earlier this month. A new NPR is issued every four years, and essentially paves the way for our nation’s continuing reliance on nuclear weapons. Presidents have used the NPR to implement their individual nuclear weapons agendas, and in the case of President Trump, we’re talking about a guy who seems to want a lot more nukes. Although much of what the 2018 draft NPR says is not particularly groundbreaking, it makes at least one very troubling (and downright wacky) recommendation. Read on to learn more.

MINI-NUKES ON TRIDENT???

The 2018 draft NPR drops quite the bombshell (no pun intended) when it calls for essentially changing up the mission of the nation’s ballistic missile submarines (in a dangerous way).

“…in the near-term, the United States will modify a small number of existing SLBM [Trident] warheads to provide a low-yield option…”

One argument for this approach (in the 2018 draft NPR) is that the U.S. “will not require or rely on host nation support to provide deterrent effect.” This would appear to be a way to hedge our bets against other nations currently hosting our tactical nuclear weapons, in case they change their minds and tell us to remove them.

Arming a “strategic” weapon like the Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile is an extremely dangerous recommendation. Currently, the D5 missile carries either (or both) the W76 (100 kiloton yield) or W88 (475 kiloton yield) thermonuclear-armed warhead. Either one is a dramatic contrast to a low-yield (likely no more than 10 kiloton) “tactical” warhead.

In a time of crisis, an adversary would not be able to distinguish the different incoming warheads, although they could detect a launch and know it was launched from a submarine. A nation under attack by warheads from any D5 missile, would have to assume the worst case scenario – a full-scale attack – and that would likely trigger full-scale (nuclear) retaliation.

It is mind-boggling that this idea ended up in the 2018 draft NPR. I would expect nuclear weapons experts to be shaking their heads and asking if the person, or persons, who came up with this idea came from a psychiatric ward.

HOW MANY SUBMARINES?

The 2018 draft NPR says that, “The COLUMBIA program will deliver a minimum of 12 SSBNs to replace the current OHIO fleet and is designed to provide required deterrence capabilities for decades.

This is clearly paving the way to build more than the 12 submarines called for in the current plan, and that would be nothing more than a make-work program for the weapons makers. Some experts, such as Plowshares Fund’s Joe Cirincione, have called for fewer than 12 New Tridents.

As Cirincione says, “If you just need this to be a deterrent force, to respond in case someone is crazy enough to actually attack the United States and thereby deter them from ever doing that, well, you really could be talking about four, five, six nuclear submarines, each of which would have 16 missile tubes, each of which would carry five or six warheads. That’s a lot of nuclear weapons.”

Of course, if even one of those Trident submarines launched all of its nuclear-armed missiles, that would be way more than enough nuclear firepower – in addition to the immediate and near-term deaths – to cause billions of deaths due to famine caused by the effects on agriculture and food supplies.

A NEW MISSILE? OF COURSE!

The 2018 draft NPR confirms what many already know – the Navy, in addition to building a new submarine, is also planning on “the timely replacement of the D5 SLBM.” The current D5 missile is undergoing what the government calls a “life extension” that will allow it to be deployed until 2042. The Navy plans to begin studies in 2020 on a replacement that will be viable for the life of New Trident.

TRIDENT: THE CROWN JEWEL

The 2018 draft NPR continues to tout Trident as “the most survivable leg of the Triad” – the Triad being ballistic missile submarines, land-based missiles, and bombers. Under the U.S.-Russia New START treaty signed in 2010, roughly 70-percent of U.S. nuclear warheads either are or will be deployed on Trident.

It also states that Trident is “at present, virtually undetectable, and there are no known, near-term credible threats to the survivability of the SSBN force.” And while saying that the U.S. will “hedge against the possibility” of advances in anti-submarine warfare that could threaten Trident in the future,” the draft NPR demonstrates some concern about how this could affect the “survivability” of Trident in the future.

“In coming decades, advances in adversary anti-submarine warfare and missile defense capabilities could challenge the effectiveness of current SSBN and SLBM systems.” The British American Security Information Council has researched and written extensively on the risks posed to Trident by rapidly emerging technologies, including unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and hacking. Trident is, by no means, invulnerable to future threats.

Essentially, the NPR is saying that the Navy is preparing to build a new generation of ballistic missile submarines based on today’s threats. With today’s rapid advances in technology, it is highly likely that New Trident will face vulnerabilities right out of the starting gate, and that those threats will continually evolve.

THE UPSHOT

Aside from the impacts on Trident, the draft 2018 NPR clearly demonstrates that the U.S. government is dead set on perpetuating the Doomsday Machine (the title of Daniel Ellsberg’s new book). It is set to pour billions of taxpayer dollars into what is essentially the machinery of our nuclear extinction. It is the continuation of over seven decades of such preparation.

There is, of course, no meaningful discussion of the use of diplomacy and conflict resolution, nor is there any mention of our obligations toward disarmament stemming from our participation in the Non-Proliferation Treaty. But we shouldn’t expect any of that in a document that is only intended to promote our nation’s continued reliance on nuclear weapons as the ultimate tools of foreign policy.

At very least, we need to raise the alarm about the 2018 draft NPR and its potential consequences. At a time of great geopolitical instability, we cannot be creating new controversy and building tensions. This NPR, with its mad talk of deploying low-yield warheads on Trident, serves to further destabilize already delicate and deteriorating relations with Russia, and possibly other nuclear-armed nations.

I trust we can use this new NPR to generate a public dialogue on just why we need to (or need not) continue the same course as the last (nearly) quarter century. The NPR uses fear as its driving force, citing the dangers posed by Russia (and China, among others), and yet it is the U.S. and Russia that must lead the world away from the false security of nuclear weapons. We keep driving each other deeper into the nuclear abyss, and at some point one or the other has to reach out a hand and say “ENOUGH!” There is no security in nuclear weapons, and they should, therefore, have no place in U.S. national security strategy.

BRINGING US BACK FROM THE BRINK

Physicians for Social Responsibility has come together with other organizations to ask the United States to make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of national security policy. In a joint resolution – Back from the Brink: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War – the groups call on the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by:

  • renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first
  • ending the president’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack
  • taking US nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert
  • canceling the plan to replace its entire arsenal with enhanced weapons;
  • actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action has endorsed the resolution and, if you are a part of any organization – civic group, professional association, faith community, university, or municipality – we invite you to become an endorser too. Help us build a groundswell for abolition. Future generations depend on us!

Share widely

Daniel Ellsberg: Dismantling the Doomsday Machine

Daniel Ellsberg is known to many for leaking the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. A lesser known fact is that Ellsberg drafted Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s plans for nuclear war in 1961, and developed an intimate understanding of the madness of the most dangerous (nuclear) arms buildup in history. In his newest book, “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” Ellsberg chronicles the evolution of the “Doomsday Machine” we have created, and offers steps to dismantle it.

Another little known fact about Ellsberg is that he testified in court in support of Ground Zero “White Train” demonstrators on Thursday, June 20, 1985.  The next day, on June 21, 1985, a Kitsap County jury acquitted all 19 demonstrators for blocking a train loaded with Trident nuclear warheads on its way to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor on February 22, 1985.  February 22, 1985 was the last time the White Train was used to ship nuclear warheads to Bangor, Washington.

Ellsberg will appear in Seattle to speak about “The Doomsday Machine” at University Temple United Methodist Church on Tuesday, January 9th at 7:30 PM. Tickets are available through Town Hall Seattle.

The following is the full article from the Saturday, June 22, 1985 Seattle Post-Intelligencer, written by John Marshall.

Ellsberg knows the fears of nuclear foes

She cites the writings and example of Daniel Ellsberg, she details her deepening commitment to the non-violent fight against nuclear weapons.  Karol Schulkin is on the witness stand in the Kitsap County Courthouse explaining how she came to put her body on the tracks in front of a White Train thought to be carrying warheads for Trident submarines.

It was a tough decision arrived at over years, Schulkin says.  Her voice choking, her eyes filling with tears, she explains, “Part of me still doesn’t believe that those trains are still coming and it depends on people like me to try to stop them.”

Many others brush away tears in the packed courtroom this Thursday morning, including Daniel Ellsberg himself.  Schulkin’s testimony, he would say later, “went to my heart like a lightning bolt.”  People have told him many times that what he has done has changed their lives, but never before has Ellsberg listened to someone say that under oath, someone who is on trial for non-violent actions.

So Ellsberg, an intense and emotional man, fights to keep his feelings under control as Schulkin testifies.  For he has been there, too, when the private doubts pile up, depression thwarts action and always there’s the uncertainty that the protest will make any difference at all.

It was that way with the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg remembers.  For two years, he had tried to interest several prominent anti-war senators in the massive Top Secret study of the Vietnam decision-making in hopes of ending the war.  But, one after another, they declined.  And the war dragged on, the killing continued.

“I didn’t have any confidence the Pentagon Papers would do anything,” Ellsberg recalls.  “I still had hopes it might, but it was just a question of feeling the situation was desperate and I had to do what I could.  And as Schulkin said, ‘It seemed to be up to me.’  Others could do much more with the papers, much easier, with much less risk, but it was pretty clear they weren’t going to do it.”

The Pentagon Papers would prove to be political dynamite, not only contributing to the end of the war, but to the Nixon administration as well.  For Ellsberg’s release of the papers to the press so enraged the administration that it launched a secret “Get Ellsberg” campaign, including the burglary of his psychiatrist’s office.  And that set in motion the illegal acts and dirty tricks that became the scandal called Watergate.

After Vietnam, Ellsberg turned his protest efforts toward the nuclear weapons and nuclear war plans that he had once studied and revised as a 30-year-old analyst at the Defense Department in 1961.  “I felt at the time that I’ll never do anything as important as this,” he says, “and that hasn’t been eclipsed.”

But Ellsberg’s perspective on the threat that nuclear weapons pose would change so greatly that, 20 years later, he would be arrested in protests at nuclear weapons facilities in Colorado and California.  And it would bring him to Kitsap County, where he takes the stand in support of the 19 White Train protesters.

Wearing a gray business suit, his silver hair clipped short, the 54-year-old Ellsberg speaks calmly about why he considered Trident to be the greatest threat ever to world peace.  It is, he says, a “first strike” weapon that tips the precarious balance of nuclear terror between the United States and the Soviet Union.

“That’s why we are all now placed in the position of the parents at Jonestown when they were rehearsing suicide with their children,” Ellsberg testifies.  “They should have mutinied, they should have told Jim Jones, ‘We will not do that!’”

Later, over lunch, Ellsberg empathizes with the White Train protesters.  He talks of the loneliness of protesters who find, as he did, that friends vanish from their lives without a trace.  Compensation does come from the sense of community with fellow protesters, he says, and there is some satisfaction, too, in taking action.

But always, Ellsberg says, there’s the constant inner battle with feelings of hopelessness and despair: that nuclear war is just too great a threat and protests against it are just too few and too feeble.

“But God knows,” Ellsberg says, “I don’t think we’ll survive without this.”

Share widely

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.

Share widely