Seventy-eight years ago today the US launched a new world with the dropping of an atomic bomb on the residents of Hiroshima Japan. That legacy is pulsing today as the nuclear weapon states – US, Russia, France, Britain, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea fail to discuss steps to reduce the number of weapons and threaten their use. The newly released film “Oppenheimer” gives a hint at some of the deliberations that went into developing and using the bomb, but if you want a real ring side seat, there is nothing better than Gar Alperovitz’ The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb. In the three-hour film, there are few minutes devoted to that decision and all the players involved in it, but one who reads Alperovitz account will see the seeds of current global affairs germinating in that decision.
One might hope that the popularity of “Oppenheimer” combined with the increasing threats posed by the Russia vs. Ukraine/NATO conflict, might trigger more sane minds to work to reducing the nuclear arsenals and the conditions that might even inadvertently spark their use. That’s surely at the forefront of the Veterans for Peace restoration of the ship “The Golden Rule”, which attempted to disrupt testing of nuclear weapons in the Pacific during the 1950s. Actions like this Quaker nonviolent direct action did eventually lead to the halting of atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. Nonviolent direct action works!!
The current crew of the Golden Rule that has sailed up the Mississippi into the Great Lakes will be in Michigan this week with a stop at the Quaker’s Red Cedar Friends Meeting House in Lansing on August 15th at 6:30p.m. to help us consider how we could work to meet the goals of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) – their elimination. While we’ve have been lucky to date that these weapons of mass destruction have not been unleashed since Hiroshima and Nagasaki 78 years ago, they continue to rob our treasuries of billions of dollars that might be used to address hunger, health care, climate change or any of the other threats to our prosperity. The U.S. alone, under both Republican and Democratic administrations plans to spend nearly $1 TRILLION on the weapons over the next decade. What a huge waste of our resources –financial, human, and environmental.
There is barely a pittance spent on negotiating arms control or elimination of the weapons and rarely do we hear anything from our Washington officials even calling for more efforts to reduce the weapons, only more money to build more and newer weapons. This has just played out again in the recent National Defense Authorization Act passed in different versions by each house of Congress. But they both believe in shoveling more money for building and maintaining these scourges of humanity.
Just at the brave crew of the original Golden Rule attempted to sail into the testing zone in the Pacific to halt the testing of these hideous weapons, we must find the courage to speak out and make the abolition of these weapons a focus for the U.S. government that is responsible for unleashing this sword of Damocles on the life of our planet. Silence is not an option. Please urge your members of Congress to support H. Res. 77 “Embracing the Goals and Provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”