Just as we once thought that we no longer had the need to assert that there is no such thing as a good Nazi, we are finding that we must once again proclaim that nuclear weapons present a horrific danger, and make the case for their elimination. They don’t protect us or make us safer. In fact, nuclear weapons make our world more, not less, dangerous. We saw this throughout the Cold War in the 1950s as the US and USSR attempted to outdo each other in stockpiling enough weapons to destroy the planet many times over. Then China developed nuclear weapons to deter the USSR from attacking it, which led India to become nuclear-armed, compelling Pakistan to develop a nuclear weapons program of its own. And today, we see that North Korea has concluded that it needs to become nuclear-armed in order to deter the U.S. from attacking it.
The increased military threat is not the only way nuclear weapons endanger us. Their development and maintenance is highly polluting. And they don’t come cheap. The Trump administration is now supporting a proposal developed under the Obama administration to “upgrade” our nuclear arsenal at a cost of $1 trillion over 10 years. This, at a time when our subways, bridges, and roads are crumbling. What great nation would allow its public transportation system to exist in the condition that ours does? You can see why if you look at where the money is being spent.
As Noam Chomsky commented in an interview earlier this summer, “The most important issues to address are the truly existential threats we face: climate change and nuclear war.” Yet, at the many rallies and demonstrations which have taken place all across America in the past few months, the issue of nuclear weapons very often goes unmentioned. Likely it is because there are so many other abominations that people experience personally on a regular basis, while the nuclear missile silos, bombers, and submarines are remote, and unseen. But it is critical that we revive demands of previous decades that the United States, the first nation to possess nuclear weapons, and the only one to use them in war, take the lead in calling together all nations in the nuclear club to reduce and eventually eliminate this scourge.
Brooklyn For Peace is calling on all progressives to support this demand, and to make it as visible as demands against racism, and calls for climate justice. We know that nuclear weapons are a way of saying to the world that no lives matter.
As a small start, there is currently a bill in the Senate and the House that would pledge the United States not to use nuclear weapons in a first strike. We call on Representative Donovan to support the Markey-Lieu bill, H.R. 669 (S.200) bill. His constituents must call him and email him to make this demand, to make it clear to him that this is a critical issue for the people in his district. I ask everyone attending this rally today to pledge him or herself to contact their Representative, and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to start doing something about nuclear weapons.
Member, Brooklyn For Peace (Peace and Economic Justice Committee)
Sept 4, 2017