Ken Burns’ Vietnam Film Series: Critical Reflections by Veterans and Academics

  “all wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.”  –  Viet Thanh Nguyen   Nothing Ever Dies

Veterans For Peace (Chapter 92, Seattle) invites the public to a panel discussion and forum on the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick documentary series on the Vietnam War in conjunction with the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.

Saturday, October 7, from 6-9 pm, at the Jackson School of International Studies, 101 Thomson Hall, University of Washington campus near Red Square.

Long anticipated and much promoted, the series promised a fresh perspective on one of the most controversial wars in recent history. Did Burns and Novick succeed? Did they get historical facts right? How were the various sides portrayed? How does the documentary help us in having the necessary and important conversations about the war? What does it tell us about America’s current wars?

Panelists will include Vietnam veterans Mike Dedrick and Dan Gilman of VFP, and professor Christoph Giebel, History Department, SE Asia . There will be short presentations and opportunities for discussion and commentary. The event will be filmed and made more widely available.

This event is free and open to the public!

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Thirty Seconds To Midnight Coming to Seattle

Veterans for Peace will host a free screening of Thirty Seconds To Midnight: The Final Wake Up Call at 7:00PM, Friday, June 23, 2017 at Seattle’s University Temple United Methodist Church.

Filmmaker Regis Tremblay states what few others dare to say. Humanity is on the brink of extinction! Nuclear power is not safe. 48 of America’s nuclear power plants are leaking and there is no way to get rid of nuclear waste. President Trump’s reckless provocations of other nuclear-armed countries, including Russia, China and North Korea, risk a nuclear holocaust that would end civilization as we know it. Climate change and global warming, if not mitigated immediately, will end the human experiment on earth sooner rather than later.

A shocking documentary that traces the origins of U.S. genocides, military interventions and wars from the 15th century when the white, colonial explorers first came to the Americas to the very present. American Exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, and the right to claim the earth and its resources as their own are the beliefs that are the foundation of U.S. foreign policy in the 21st Century that has humanity on the brink of extinction.

30 Seconds to Midnight is a sobering wake up call!

Filmmaker Regis Tremblay will be present for the screening and Q&A session. Admission is free and open to the public.

NO donations will be taken at the door; however, DVDs of the film will be available for whatever people can afford (only to defray travel costs).

University Temple UMC is located at 1415 NE 43rd Street in Seattle’s University District. The film will be shown in the church’s Basement Fireplace Room.

Check out Veterans for Peace Chapter 92’s Facebook event page.

Co-sponsors of this event include Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and Seattle Fellowship of Reconciliation.

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Gala fundraising party for the Golden Rule peace boat!

After a successful voyage to Canada, the Golden Rule peace boat will return to Seattle on Wednesday, Sept. 14, for her final encore performance before sailing to California and beyond.

On Wednesday during the day there will be an opportunity for friends and supporters to go out sailing on Lake Union, from the public dock on the southwest corner of Lake Union. To reserve a spot, call Helen Jaccard at 206-992-6364.

The Golden Rule and kayaks with OHIO Class (Trident) submarine visible in background at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Delta Pier on August 9th

The Golden Rule and kayaks with OHIO Class (Trident) submarine visible in background at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Delta Pier on August 9th

Then at 5 pm on Wednesday evening we will hold a gala farewell party at the nearby Center for Wooden Boats (1010 Valley Street, Seattle). This is a benefit to recoup some of the many expenses of keeping a boat in the water. There will be a $25 charge at the door.

We will be entertained by members of the Seattle Labor Chorus, along with singer/songwriter Mike Stern, who wrote the Ballad of the Golden Rule. Food and drink will also be provided.

The soiree will end at 8:00PM.

So please do join us next Wednesday if you can. Bring your friends and neighbors too. They will learn about the Golden Rule’s history as the boat that inspired Greenpeace when she tried to stop atmospheric nuclear testing in 1958. We will show a slide show of her recent adventures too.

A grand time will be had by all, and we will put a little wind in Goldie’s sails.

Click here to view or download the event flyer.

If you can’t come to the party, you can still support the mission by sending a check to VFP Golden Rule Project, PO Box 87, Samoa, CA, 95564 or through the web site, vfpgoldenruleproject.org.

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Abolish Nuclear Weapons? Follow the Golden Rule

By Leonard Eiger

On July 16, 1945 the United States government detonated the first atomic device in the test named Trinity. Less than one month after the Trinity test, the United States dropped two atomic bombs – on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – that killed over 100,000 people in less time than it took to type a few of these words. As many as 220,000 were dead from the effects of radiation by the end of 1945. Even today, 64 years later, survivors and subsequent generations suffer the effects of radiation.

On August 24, 1949, the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test at the Semipalatinsk test site in modern-day Kazakhstan. So too, in the land around Semipalatinsk, have generations of people been horribly affected by radiation exposure resulting from some 450 nuclear tests conducted there.review smartphone android

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Semipalatinsk Test Site

So began a long journey (and nuclear arms race) that has led humanity down the perilous road of preparation for its own destruction. Scientists have continued to seek the power of gods, creating ever more destructive nuclear devices over the years, and military planners have continued asking for more of these awful weapons in every shape and form (and method of delivery).

The nuclear-armed nations have conducted a total of 2054 nuclear tests at dozens of test sites around the world, most of them located on lands occupied by indigenous peoples (in what has been called “nuclear colonialism”). Many tests were conducted above ground, resulting in radioactive fallout contaminating surrounding areas and affecting the people living there. Many underground tests also vented radioactive material into the air.

Yet even as governments pushed forward with their nuclear weapons programs, people pushed back against nuclear weapons and nuclear testing, even in the early days of the Cold War.

In 1958 a crew of anti nuclear weapons activists set sail on a boat named the Golden Rule; their destination was the U.S nuclear test zone in the Marshall Islands; their goal was to stop the government’s atmospheric nuclear testing. Although the Golden Rule‘s crew was arrested, tried and jailed, its example of nonviolent direct action inspired many who followed, and helped pave the way for the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

In Kazakhstan a mass civil society movement that began in 1989, led by poet Olzhas Suleimenov and current President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, ultimately led to the closure and decommissioning of the Semipalatinsk test site. President Nazarbayev signed the decree closing Semipalatinsk on August 29, 1991.

The Golden Rule sails again, this time as an emissary of Veterans for Peace, sailing for an end to war and nuclear weapons. I was on board the Golden Rule on August 9, 2016, the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, when she led a peace flotilla sailing past Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor on Washington State’s Hood Canal. Bangor is the West Coast home port of eight of the the U.S. Navy’s fourteen OHIO Class (Trident) ballistic missile submarines. A collaboration with Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, the flotilla’s purpose was a water-based nonviolent protest and witness for peace and an end to the threat of nuclear war.

Located just 20 miles west of Seattle, Bangor represents the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines based at Bangor or stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) at Bangor.

The Golden Rule on August 9th, with a Trident submarine visible at the Delta Pier.

The Golden Rule on August 9th, with a Trident submarine visible at the Delta Pier (beyond the yellow buoy).

As we sailed past the base and the Trident submarine (with some missile hatches open) being serviced at the pier, I thought about the Navy’s ongoing testing of the Trident missiles. Although the tests do not involve nuclear detonations, they do involve launching missiles (loaded with dummy warheads) from submerged submarines to a test site in the Marshall Islands. This is essentially a test to ensure that the missiles will function as intended in a nuclear war.

I also found myself thinking ahead to August 29th, which is not only the historic day on which the Semipalatinsk test site was closed, but also the United Nations International Day Against Nuclear Tests. It was under Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s initiative that the UN proclaimed the annual August 29th commemoration.

Kazakhstan is preparing to host a major international commemoration and conference in Astana on August 29th, co-organised by Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. The conference will gather leading parliamentarians, prominent politicians, diplomats and disarmament experts, as well as religious leaders and civil society representatives from around the world to discuss further steps needed to make meaningful advances towards global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

The conference is being held at a time when the nuclear-armed nations are rapidly modernizing their arsenals, while North Korea continues to pursue its own arsenal. The U.S. alone 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 increase the probability of nuclear war.

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.”

President Nursultan Nazarbayev at a memorial to the victims of nuclear testing in the town of Semey, formerly Semipalatinsk.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev at a memorial to the victims of nuclear testing in the town of Semey, formerly Semipalatinsk.

As for Kazakhstan, President Nazarbayev long ago moved beyond rhetoric and showed real courage, not only when he closed Semipalatinsk, but also when he returned all of the nuclear weapons Kazakhstan inherited subsequent to its independence to Russia; Kazakhstan was, at that time, the fourth largest nuclear state in the world.

President Nazarbayev continues to demonstrate both courage and vision on the eve of this historic conference that will take place in a nation whose people have suffered greatly from the nuclear madness that has threatened the world since that first test in 1945.

The Astana conference, Building a Nuclear Weapon-Free World, is expected to call for new actions, such as a UN Security Council resolution prohibiting all nuclear tests, the establishment of nuclear weapons free zones in North East Asia and the Middle East, agreement by nuclear-armed States to no first use, and the commencement of United Nations-led negotiations in 2017 to prohibit nuclear weapons globally.

As we prepare for this historic conference, an exerpt from the preface to Epicenter Of Peace, written by President Nazarbayev, seems appropriate: “As a weapon it cannot be easily directed and aimed as the target is yourself, the life and culture of modern humanity. You cannot look into the human dimension of the military atom because there is nothing there but pure evil. Nuclear weaponry cannot be trusted because in the name of freedom it offers not friendship but slavery. What benefit can be gained from the nuclear trust? When will humanity truly move beyond the last stages of the Cold War and regain faith in itself?”

Perhaps when we learn to follow the Golden Rule.

 

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Peace flotilla and nonviolent direct action at Trident nuclear submarine base mark anniversary of atomic bombings (Press Release)

Contact: Leonard Eiger (425) 445-2190 or Glen Milner (206) 365-7865

Silverdale, Washington: Local peace activists staged a water-based nonviolent protest and witness for peace in Hood Canal at the Trident nuclear submarine base on August 9th marking the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The activists travelled along the Bangor waterfront where nuclear warheads and Trident missiles are loaded onto submarines and where submarines are resupplied for ballistic missile patrols in the Pacific Ocean. On August 8th activists staged a vigil and nonviolent direct action in which some activists blocked the entrance gate to the same Naval base.

The August 9th peace flotilla, named “Boats by Bangor,” included the original peace ship, the Golden Rule, which set sail in 1958 to the South Pacific to stop nuclear weapons testing in the atmosphere. A National Project of Veterans for Peace, the Golden Rule continues to inspire many peacemakers and peace ships around the world.

The Golden Rule, skippered by Rich Giles of Winslow, Washington, led kayaks and another sailboat, the S/V Silent, along the entire length of the waterfront of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, including the Delta Pier and the two Explosives Handling Wharves at Bangor where Trident submarines are maintained and nuclear warheads and Trident D-5 missiles are loaded into submarines.

The Golden Rule and kayaks with OHIO Class (Trident) submarine visible in background at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Delta Pier on August 9th

The Golden Rule and kayaks with OHIO Class (Trident) submarine visible in background at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor Delta Pier on August 9th

The peace flotilla included 15 people aboard the Golden Rule, 5 people on S/V Silent, and 13 kayakers.

The flotilla was a collaborative effort by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and Veterans for Peace, and included members of the annual Pacific Northwest Interfaith Peace Walk led by the Bainbridge Island Nipponzan Miyohoji Buddhist Temple.

Hood Canal is tightly controlled by the Navy with multiple easements from State agencies that restrict access and development near the submarine base, and with a series of federally established security zones that are enforced by Coast Guard, Navy, and Marine Corps personnel. Military personnel were courteous and professional in their interactions with the August 9th peace flotilla.live streaming movie Rings 2017 online

This was the first year for a large water-based presence since the first Trident submarine, the USS Ohio arrived at Bangor in 1982. The flotilla is part of a continuing effort by activists to lift the veil of secrecy involving nuclear weapons in Puget Sound.

The “Boats by Bangor” event followed an early-morning action on August 8th by Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action at the Main Gate to the Trident submarine base. While people vigiled on the roadside, and after Ground Zero Peacekeepers safely stopped traffic, four activists risked arrest by entering the roadway carrying banners and blocking traffic into the base.

Sue Ablao, Bremerton, WA and Mack Johnson, Silverdale, WA carried a banner identical to the bus ad currently running on Seattle Metro Transit buses that reads, “20 miles west of Seattle is the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S.” The banner included a map with a line drawn from Bangor to Seattle.

Sue Ablao and Mack Johnson blocking the roadway on August 8th

Sue Ablao and Mack Johnson blocking the roadway on August 8th

Washington State Patrol officers removed Ablao and Johnson from the roadway, and shortly thereafter two more activists, Philip Davis, Bremerton WA and George Rodkey, Tacoma WA, entered the roadway carrying a banner that read “No More Genocide In My Name,” a reference to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki.

State Patrol removed Davis and Rodkey from the roadway, and issued all four activists citations for being in the roadway illegally and released them.

Philip Davis, Bremerton WA and George Rodkey blocking the roadway at the Bangor Main Gate on August 8th

Philip Davis, Bremerton WA and George Rodkey blocking the roadway at the Bangor Main Gate on August 8th

The two-day witness for peace at the nuclear submarine base marked the 71st anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

The Trident submarine base at Bangor employs the largest concentration of deployed nuclear weapons in the U.S. and is the home port for 8 of the Navy’s 14 Trident nuclear powered submarines. More than 1,300 nuclear warheads are deployed on Trident D-5 missiles on SSBN submarines based at Bangor or stored at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) at the Bangor submarine base.

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.

Aerial view of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor waterfront

Aerial view of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor waterfront

The nuclear warheads at SWFPAC and on submarines based at Bangor have the combined explosive power equivalent to more than 14,000 Hiroshima bombs. 

On March 11, 2016, the 10th bi-annual Nuclear Deterrent Symposium was held in Silverdale to discuss the future of U.S. strategic forces. Rear Adm. Charles Richard criticized opposition to the Navy’s $100 billion plan for 12 new replacement SSBN submarines, proclaiming, “It’s a matter of priorities.” The new SSBNs would replace the submarines at Bangor. Richard noted that the USS Ohio arrived at Bangor in 1982 to much protest, and stated, “We have taken that [nuclear weapons] out of the national psyche.”

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility are involved in an environmental lawsuit against the Navy’s second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor. As a result of the lawsuit, plaintiffs discovered that while the Navy insisted the second wharf posed no new safety risk at the base, the federal agency responsible for explosives siting refused to grant approval. The case was filed in federal court in June 2012 and is currently pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

On December 14, 2015, the Navy filed a lawsuit in federal court to block the release of emergency response plans that might benefit the public in the case of a nuclear accident at Bangor. The lawsuit is still pending.

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.

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 July 30, 2016, the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy in Japan asking U.S. President Obama to step up his nuclear disarmament efforts.

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. 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.

 

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