Alert: Tell the President to go to Hiroshima, but with a purpose!

April 28, 2016
The Cenotaph at ground zero in Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped the first nuclear bomb 71 years ago

The Cenotaph at ground zero in Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped the first nuclear bomb 71 years ago

There is still time before he leaves office for President Barack Obama  to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons, as he advocated in his Prague speech in 2009.

Working with our Japanese colleagues, Peace Action has called on the president to go to Hiroshima, but not just for symbolic sake. We call on President Obama to visit with Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) to learn from their powerful witness, and to take further steps toward nuclear disarmament, including:

-further nuclear reductions in the U.S. arsenal, in concert with Russia;
-initiating negotiations for the verifiable global elimination of all nuclear weapons, as the U.S. and other nuclear states are required to do by Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty;
-canceling the 30 year, $1 trillion planned boondoggle to completely overhaul the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

We expect an announcement from the White House soon.  So, please call the President today – 202.456.1111.

Peace Action and our allies continue to press the issue through our grassroots network and in the media.  You can listen to a radio interview I did last Sunday on KPFA or you can read an op ed that I wrote and was published last Saturday in Greenville, NC’s Daily Reflector.

Most importantly, please call the President today – 202.456.1111.

Peacefully yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


Radio interview on President Obama’s possible visit to Hiroshima

April 25, 2016

Executive Director Kevin Martin was on KFPA Pacifica radio, Berkeley, California and beyond, on Saturday discussing the president’s possible (now perhaps likely) visit to Hiroshima next month. The interview begins at about 4:10 into the April 23 news broadcast (scroll down to “The KPFA Evening News April 23”)

https://kpfa.org/archives/2016/4/23/


Op-Ed in The Daily Reflector, Greenville NC – President Obama should visit Hiroshima, but not empty-handed

April 23, 2016

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Kevin Martin

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit to Hiroshima’s ground zero, where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb nearly 71 years ago, was laudable. Kerry is the highest ranking U.S. official to visit Hiroshima’s Peace Park, and the event’s significance was enhanced by the presence of the other foreign ministers of the G-7 nations.

Clearly, Secretary Kerry was deeply moved, calling it “gut-wrenching” and saying “everyone” including his boss, President Barack Obama, should go there. While Kerry said he would tell the president this when he gets back to Washington, he refrained from publicly advocating the president go to Hiroshima next month when the G-7 economic summit convenes in Japan.

However, as there have been reports for some time that the president is considering going to Hiroshima, this certainly looks like a classic Washington trial balloon.

So should the president go? The answer, like with many issues, is “it depends.”

If the president and other heads of state plan to go as a symbolic gesture, they needn’t bother. Empty promises, especially from the nuclear weapons-possessing states, of someday perhaps ridding the world of the scourge of nuclear weapons would be unsatisfactory and even insulting to the people of Japan, and especially to the Hibakusha, atomic bomb survivors whose steadfast witness that no one ever again suffer as they did is awe-inspiring.

Of course Barack Obama, the U.S. president most personally committed to achieving global nuclear weapons elimination since John Kennedy, need not go empty handed.

First, he should meet publicly with Hibakusha such as members of Nihon Hidankyo, a group nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, to hear their personal stories and learn from their persistence, patience and sense of forgiveness.

And there couldn’t be a better audience, nor a better time for a president whose days in office are dwindling, for Obama to announce concrete steps toward the goal he enunciated in his Prague speech in 2009, the security of a world free of nuclear weapons. Steps he could announce in Hiroshima should include:

— initiating negotiations for global nuclear weapons abolition as required of the original nuclear weapons states (the United States, Russia, China, France and Great Britain) by Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT);

— announcing further nuclear reductions with Russia, as use of even a fraction of our combined current arsenals of approximately 14,000 warheads (over 90 percent of the world’s total) could cause nuclear winter, resulting in severe climate change leading to global famine;

— canceling the planned $1 trillion, 30-year plan to completely overhaul the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, from nuclear research laboratories to warheads to delivery systems.

The U.S. cannot on the one hand say it is for ridding the world of nuclear weapons while at the same time it proceeds with a scheme to spend this outrageous sum, which would be better invested in job creation, green energy production, education, affordable housing and infrastructure repair here at home. Predictably, every other nuclear weapons state has followed suit and announced plans for their own “nuclear modernization,” and this certainly shreds our credibility to preach continued abstinence to non-nuclear states from a nuclear barstool.

As someone who has visited Hiroshima three times on August 6, the anniversary of the atomic bombing, I can assure the president he would indeed be deeply moved by going to Peace Park. That’s not sufficient though, and the opportunity could be squandered if it’s made to be about him, or whether he is apologizing for the bombing 71 years ago, which would be a pointless debate.

President Bill Clinton, in his last year in office, wished he could go without sleep, as there was so much he wanted to do in his limited time left in the White House, and there was a “dog-ate-my-homework” frantic nature to much of what he proposed late in his second term, and much left undone when he left office. President Obama ought not to make the same mistake. The president should go to Hiroshima as the leader people expect him to be, and he envisions himself to be, on an issue of utmost urgency to humanity.

Kevin Martin writes for PeaceVoice and is executive director of Peace Action, a grass-roots peace and disarmament organization.


A trillion dollars for new nuclear weapons?

April 13, 2016

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New Hampshire Peace Action Executive Director Will Hopkins and Arnie Alpert of New Hampshire’s American Friends Service Committee office had a terrific op-ed in the Manchester (NH) Union Leader on Monday.

By Will Hopkins and Arnie Alpert
As U.S.-Soviet relations heated to the boiling point during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Capt. Vasili Arkhipov, second-in-command of a Soviet submarine, refused to authorize a nuclear missile launch when his ship was cut off from communications with Moscow and under fire from U.S. depth charges. We have him to thank for avoidance of nuclear war.

Nuclear war was narrowly avoided again in 1980, when faulty U.S. alarm systems signaled incoming Soviet missiles. The Pentagon later put the blame on a failed computer chip. In 1983, Soviet satellites mistook unusual sunlight glinting off clouds as incoming missile fire, and once more a cool-headed commander narrowly stopped a nuclear exchange. In 1995, a Norwegian scientific rocket was mistaken for a U.S. nuclear missile, and again Russian leaders were able to recognize a false alarm before it was too late.

We have been lucky, but at some point, if we don’t change course and if the U.S. and Russia keep our missiles on high alert status, our luck is liable to run out.

Yet instead of pursuing negotiations with the Russians and other nuclear powers for worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons, or taking steps to de-alert our existing missiles, the U.S. is planning a total overhaul of its nuclear weapons program, including new generations of nuclear warheads, bombers, land-based missiles, air-launched missiles and submarines.

The projected price tag? About $1 trillion over the next 30 years.

If the United States and Russia exchanged 1,000 nuclear warheads (less than one-twelfth of our combined arsenals), the resulting impact on the climate would render the planet uninhabitable.

Even an exchange of 50 to 100 nuclear warheads would result in global famine capable of killing off one third of humanity.

From rising wealth inequality and poverty, to ISIS and Al-Qaida, and to our crumbling infrastructure, nuclear weapons do nothing to protect us from the real threats we face. Spending a trillion dollars for more or “better” ones makes us less safe and diverts precious funds from what we need.

It also defies our obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and creates tremendous obstacles to any efforts aimed at preventing new countries from acquiring their own weapons of mass destruction.

You pick: veterans’ health care, reducing the cost of higher education, repairing roads and bridges, assuring that no one is poisoned by our public water supplies; there are multiple better places to invest our public resources.

On April 18, tax day 2016, please join us in calling on our elected leadership to oppose the trillion dollar nuclear weapons plan, push for deep cuts and de-alerting of our nuclear stockpile, and for putting our tax dollars to work in ways that will make us more secure.

Will Hopkins is executive director of New Hampshire Peace Action. Arnie Alpert is co-director of the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire program.

– See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/Another-View-Will-Hopkins-and-Arnie-Alpert-A-trillion-dollars-for-new-nuclear-weapons#sthash.Y8BccMJg.dpuf


Kerry, Obama and Hiroshima – Please take action!

April 11, 2016
The Cenotaph at ground zero in Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped the first nuclear bomb 71 years ago

The Cenotaph at ground zero in Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped the first nuclear bomb 71 years ago

Recently we sent you a request to contact President Barack Obama on further initiatives to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons, as he advocated in his Prague speech in 2009, and again less than two weeks ago in a Washington Post op-ed.

Today, we have an even more compelling opportunity in the wake of Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Park and news reports the president is also considering paying his respects there next month during the G-7 economic summit in Japan.

Peace Action, and our Japanese colleagues, want the president to go to Hiroshima, but not just symbolically. Please contact the president and urge him to visit with Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) to learn from their powerful witness, and to take further steps toward nuclear disarmament, including:

-further nuclear reductions in the U.S. arsenal, in concert with Russia;
-initiating negotiations for the verifiable global elimination of all nuclear weapons, as the U.S. and other nuclear states are required to do by Article VI of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty;
-canceling the 30 year, $1 trillion planned boondoggle to completely overhaul the U.S. nuclear weapons complex.

We have some time to build this short-term campaign, and are reaching out to colleagues in the U.S. and internationally. Let’s get it off to a good start with a strong Peace Action response! Please contact the president today, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Peacefully yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. This may be President Obama’s last real chance for further progress on nuclear weapons reductions before he leaves office. Please contact him today, he needs to hear from us!


Tell President Obama, Don’t Stop Now.

April 6, 2016

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Last Thursday, the Washington Post ran an op-ed from President Obama: How we can make our vision of a world without nuclear weapons a reality. The President is hosting a Nuclear Security Summit and is using the occasion to reflect on what little has actually been done since his Prague Promise to rid the planet of these ultimate weapons of mass destruction.

Please write the President today and tell him its too early to close the book on his promise that America would lead the world to a future free of nuclear weapons. 

The President can begin by cancelling the 1 trillion dollar plan for modernizing the nuclear weapons production complex, aka, the “nuclear weapons forever” program.

The Pentagon has a habit of designing weapons to meet every specific possible scenario conceivable and money has never been an object.  But when they talk about nuclear weapons, the weapons and nuclear war fighting scenarios become frighteningly real as the weapons are being designed to be used – not to deter – attack.  That reality intensifies the risk of nuclear war.

There are concrete steps the President can take, including actions he doesn’t need Congressional consent for, like ‘de-alerting’ all U.S. nuclear weapons currently at the ‘launch on warning’, hair trigger ready.

In his op-ed the President says: “As the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them.”  I could not agree more.

Please write the President today and tell him there is still much he can do in the remainder of his term to free the world from the threat of mass destruction.  Thank you!.

Peacefully yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


No Nukes or New Nukes?

March 15, 2016

The Trillion Dollar Question the Media Have Neglected to Ask Presidential Candidates

News at Home
tags: nuclear weapons, election 2016, US nuclear arsenal

Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://www.lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?

President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning against the military-industrial complex.

Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates?

The expenditure is for a thirty-year program to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and production facilities. Although President Obama began his administration with a dramatic public commitment to build a nuclear weapons-free world, that commitment has long ago dwindled and died. It has been replaced by an administration plan to build a new generation of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities to last the nation well into the second half of the twenty-first century. This plan, which has received almost no attention by the mass media, includes redesigned nuclear warheads, as well as new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs, and production plants. The estimated cost? $1,000,000,000,000.00—or, for those readers unfamiliar with such lofty figures, $1 trillion.

Critics charge that the expenditure of this staggering sum will either bankrupt the country or, at the least, require massive cutbacks in funding for other federal government programs. “We’re . . . wondering how the heck we’re going to pay for it,” admitted Brian McKeon, an undersecretary of defense. And we’re “probably thanking our stars we won’t be here to have to have to answer the question,” he added with a chuckle.

This nuclear “modernization” plan violates the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the nuclear powers to engage in nuclear disarmament. The plan is also moving forward despite the fact that the U.S. government already possesses roughly 7,000 nuclear weapons that can easily destroy the world. Although climate change might end up accomplishing much the same thing, a nuclear war does have the advantage of terminating life on earth more rapidly.

This trillion dollar nuclear weapons buildup has yet to inspire any questions about it by the moderators during the numerous presidential debates. Even so, in the course of the campaign, the presidential candidates have begun to reveal their attitudes toward it.

On the Republican side, the candidates—despite their professed distaste for federal expenditures and “big government”—have been enthusiastic supporters of this great leap forward in the nuclear arms race. Donald Trump, the frontrunner, contended in his presidential announcement speech that “our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work,” insisting that it is out of date. Although he didn’t mention the $1 trillion price tag for “modernization,” the program is clearly something he favors, especially given his campaign’s focus on building a U.S. military machine “so big, powerful, and strong that no one will mess with us.”

His Republican rivals have adopted a similar approach. Marco Rubio, asked while campaigning in Iowa about whether he supported the trillion dollar investment in new nuclear weapons, replied that “we have to have them. No country in the world faces the threats America faces.” When a peace activist questioned Ted Cruz on the campaign trail about whether he agreed with Ronald Reagan on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, the Texas senator replied: “I think we’re a long way from that and, in the meantime, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves. The best way to avoid war is to be strong enough that no one wants to mess with the United States.” Apparently, Republican candidates are particularly worried about being “messed with.”

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has been more ambiguous about her stance toward a dramatic expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Asked by a peace activist about the trillion dollar nuclear plan, she replied that she would “look into that,” adding: “It doesn’t make sense to me.” Even so, like other issues that the former secretary of state has promised to “look into,” this one remains unresolved. Moreover, the “National Security” section of her campaign website promises that she will maintain the “strongest military the world has ever known”—not a propitious sign for critics of nuclear weapons.

Only Bernie Sanders has adopted a position of outright rejection. In May 2015, shortly after declaring his candidacy, Sanders was asked at a public meeting about the trillion dollar nuclear weapons program. He replied: “What all of this is about is our national priorities. Who are we as a people? Does Congress listen to the military-industrial complex” that “has never seen a war that they didn’t like? Or do we listen to the people of this country who are hurting?” In fact, Sanders is one of only three U.S. Senators who support the SANE Act, legislation that would significantly reduce U.S. government spending on nuclear weapons. In addition, on the campaign trail, Sanders has not only called for cuts in spending on nuclear weapons, but has affirmed his support for their total abolition.

Nevertheless, given the failure of the presidential debate moderators to raise the issue of nuclear weapons “modernization,” the American people have been left largely uninformed about the candidates’ opinions on this subject. So, if Americans would like more light shed on their future president’s response to this enormously expensive surge in the nuclear arms race, it looks like they are the ones who are going to have to ask the candidates the trillion dollar question.

– See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/162279#sthash.oTIi2tNb.dpuf


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