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”)

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

April 23, 2016


Kevin Martin



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


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:

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


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

Hillary to voters: “I got this.” Voters and Bernie to Hillary: “Not so fast.”

February 12, 2016


–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Somehow I had avoided watching more than a few minutes of any of the presidential debates of either party prior to last night (presumably I’ll live longer for it), but I tuned in to the chatfest from Milwaukee somewhat dutifully. My main interests were how would Bernie Sanders come across (reasonable or no) and how desperate would Hillary Clinton be after the shellacking New Hampshire voters gave her on Tuesday.

Generally speaking, I think Mrs. Clinton is plenty desperate to be president, but for the most part last night she did not betray that, other than nakedly obvious pandering to African American voters in continually praising President Barack Obama. Instead, for now Hillary’s main argument to the voters comes down to “I got this, I can manage things” on whatever issues come up. As Bernie said however (to repeated presumptive off-key “when I’m in the White House” statements by Hillary), she’s not in the White House, yet, and I suspect odds are about even she won’t be come next January.

I could go into her high negatives with voters, her hawkishness and militaristic bent (more on that soon, but it’s not a big stretch to say her 2002 vote to support the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq may cost her the presidency once again, as it did in 2008), her Wall Street patrons and other problems, but my main sense is her “I got this” mantra is weak tea compared to Bernie’s call for a political revolution.

One need not necessarily believe our country, the world, humanity and our very Earth are in mortal danger (from MLK’s “triple evils” of racism, militarism and extreme materialism), as I do, to get on board Bernie’s “A future you can believe in” train, though it’s easy to see why young voters, even young women, are doing so in droves. Americans, at least the ones voting in Democratic primaries (to limit the scope of this for now) broadly agree on the problems we face, so the question is not just who has better solutions, but whose campaign wants to empower people to “be the change we seek in the world,” to quote Mohandas Gandhi. One could also just compare, on every issue, that Bernie’s proposals, far from being radical, would actually solve the problems they are intended to address (or at least go a long way toward doing so), while Hillary tut-tuts condescendingly that Bernie is unrealistic, but they share the same goals (a victory for Sanders), and then offers more tepid proposals.

On both scores, concrete solutions and empowerment, Bernie is the far more genuine candidate. I don’t believe it’s even close.

Lastly, recent “I got this” presidential candidates, broadly defined as those who were complacent, overconfident or felt entitled to the White House, usually lose (Jimmy Carter 1980, George Herbert Walker Bush 1992, Bob Dole 1996, Al Gore 2000, John Kerry 2004, John McCain 2008, Mitt Romney 2012). Perhaps Barack Obama was an “I got this” candidate in 2008 and 2012, but he benefited from the country’s revulsion with the Bush/Cheney train wreck and extremely weak general election opponents in McCain (with running mate Sarah Palin!) and then Romney.

So no, Hillary, you ain’t got this, not by a long shot, and your “I will fight for you” mantra rings very hollow to me. You don’t have credible solutions to the crises in health care, the economy, climate change, racism, police brutality, extreme wealth disparity or even your supposed strong suit, foreign policy. Lots more campaigning to do, lots more votes to be counted, and I suspect many more people supporting Bernie for real hope and practical solutions they can help be a part of creating.


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