Albert Einstein, 1947
The nuclear age began in great secrecy in 1942. A team of international scientists, supervised by General Leslie Groves of the Army Corps of Engineers, worked to develop the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, brought instant death to more than 200,000 people like you and me, and brought an agonizing death to even more. This summer, again, in Nagasaki, citizens mourned the death of about 5,500 pupils and teachers in the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of their city. Even today, after witnessing the nuclear horror on humans in 1945, scientists still continue to be hostages to the military, the military to the governments, the governments to the corporations, and the individuals who elect their governments to their own fears for survival and greed.
Undoubtedly, the arms race is fueled in a large part by a number of scientists in government laboratories and in industries, and not only by the military. Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, and TRW, have split more than $2.2 billion in missile defense research and development in the last two years. In the current election cycle they gave over $2 million in campaign contributions to 25 pro-BMD Senators.
On September 21, 2000, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published a list of more than 577 sites that may have been involved in nuclear activities. The DOE is examining each site for possible nuclear contamination. The list includes more than 40 colleges and universities that may have conducted nuclear weapons research over the last 50 years. At the same time, the US Department of Defense (DOD) plans to award $24 million to 35 academic institutions in the US in science and engineering fields to perform research “important to national defense.” Proposals have been solicited by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research, and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization’s Science and Technology Directorate. The average award will be approximately $296,000. (DOD Press Release 2/16/00)
The National Academy of Sciences released a report commissioned by the Department of Energy on August 7, 2000 that states that most of the sites where the US federal government built nuclear bombs will never be cleaned up enough to allow public access to the land. The report also noted that the plan for guarding sites that are permanently contaminated is inadequate.
Confronted with the greatest dilemma in human history, to denounce war altogether or to abolish all life on earth, we still make plans to win wars. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, said, “Given our extensive toolbox and the 40 years of experience of the United States with offensive and defensive weapon systems, we know how to play the countermeasures / counter countermeasures game and we know how to win.” (Associated Press by Robert Burns Sep. 10, 2000)
Most Americans do not know that their government has been using nuclear extortion to maintain and expand global influence and control since the nuclear age began. But there is no government in the world that does not know that a nuclear threat backs up every U.S. or U.S.- led military action anywhere in the world. On more than twenty occasions, beginning with Truman’s threatened nuclear attack against the Soviet Union during the 1946 crisis over two northern Iranian provinces, U.S. presidents have prepared and/or threatened to initiate nuclear war during international crises. The most recent such case was during the 1996 Taiwan crisis when the U.S. responded to Chinese nuclear rhetoric by deploying two nuclear capable aircraft carriers in waters immediately adjacent to the Taiwan Strait. Other such nuclear threats during the Clinton administration have included North Korea, Iraq and Libya.
The U.S. government today does have physical power, but after it uses it, what happens? As a result, the other nations are filled with wrath and indignation, and their people are made angrier. And after the other nations find the first opportunity to pay our government back with violence and death, their violence will be delivered against us. Governments are given power by the people to protect the people, not to put them at high risk and eventually destroy them.
The world is waiting for America’s academic youth to zealously address the most important problem of our time, the preservation of peace. The purest kind of political life is always confined to student life. But as soon as the students leave their colleges and cease to be students, they sink into oblivion, they seek miserable employment, and carry on miserable tasks. They rise no higher in their aspirations. Fresh air and bright light, individual freedom and the empowerment that comes out of obedience to the Truth become more and more distant.
While most of the other nations of the earth are begging for peace, there are those few that persist in their nuclear hypocrisy and double talk, most notably today, the USA. At the NPT 2000 Review Conference, the U.S. delegation provided the following “double-talk” public relations statement, “As the United States reduces the numbers of its nuclear weapons, it is also transforming the means to build them. Over the past decade, the United States has dramatically changed the role and mission of its nuclear-weapon complex from weapon research, development, testing, and production to weapon dismantlement, conversion for commercial use, environmental remediation, and stockpile stewardship.” We can not disarm while, at the same time, we are arming.
How can our government speak about fulfilling international treaties and disarming its nuclear arsenal while at the same time it is also transforming the means to build them. This talk is nothing else but insanity. How can we, the citizens, passively accept such insane statements? The West, in its blind arrogance states, “Although we are not likely to use them in less than matters of the greatest importance, or in less than extreme circumstances, nuclear weapons always cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict in which the U.S. is engaged. Thus, deterrence through the threat of use of nuclear weapons will continue to be our top military strategy.”
(U.S. Strategic Command, Policy Committee, Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence, 1995, obtained under the Freedom of information act by Hans M. Kristensen.)
Both the USA and Russia have changed their nuclear doctrines recently, mirroring one another. They both threaten to use nuclear weapons first for many reasons that were not considered before.
There are voices against this nonsense but unfortunately, they come out too late to be effective — only after the retirement plan is in place and family security has been accomplished. In General Lee Butler’s own words, former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Strategic Command, we read: “I was responsible for war plans with more than 12,000 targets, many to be struck with repeated nuclear blows, some to the point of complete absurdity… And in the end, I came away from it all with profound misgivings and with a set of deeply unsettling judgments: That from the earliest days of the nuclear era, the risks and consequences of nuclear war have never been properly weighed by those who brandished it; that the stakes engage not just the survival of the antagonists, but the fate of humankind…..Their effects transcend time and place, poisoning the Earth and deforming its inhabitants for generation upon generation. They leave us wholly without defense, expunge all hope for meaningful survival. They hold in their sway not just the fate of nations but the very meaning of civilization…. At worst it invokes death on a scale rivaling the power of the creator…. It is time to reassert the primacy of individual conscience, the voice of reason, and the rightful interests of humanity.” The fact is that most if not all admirals and generals are agreed that nuclear weapons are “too hot to handle” but they do not dare admit it, until they retire.
In the case of nuclear weapons, the American public has been totally and deliberately excluded from policy decisions, which are vital for its very survival. Einstein said in 1947 that “Unless Americans come to realize that they are not stronger in the world because they have the bomb but weaker because of their vulnerability to atomic attack, they are not likely to conduct their policy at the United Nations or in their relations with Russia in a spirit that furthers the arrival at an understanding.”
The world, just like a nation or a family, can stand on its own only if there are members who are willing to always give, even when there are other members who always want to get. But when almost all of the members within the world, whether they are nations, families or individuals, want to always get, there is only one way they can ever be in harmony and balance, and that way is that they must share. And this self-evident principle for sustainability could be ignored without grave consequences before the nuclear age, but today unless it is embraced and practiced globally, our age will be the last one on earth. Our world, as it is, does not qualify for the coming universalization. And it does not qualify for universalization because the attempted globalization is fueled not by kindness but by greed for exploitation and control.
Do we have any difficulty predicting which nation will really be responsible for the end of the world? It will not be the one who fires first. It is the one that intimidates everyone else and proliferates weapons of mass destruction all over the earth, and while the other superpower is in great trouble, instead of saying thank God, now at last we can start disarming, we talk about winning and we build more weapons. It was not then for peace that the West wished and accomplished the abolition of the Soviet Union, it was about control, exploitation, and world domination. We support the Russian nuclear scientists to withhold their skills but who will support the American nuclear scientists to do the same? It has been said that the cold war was won. Will the hot war be won? Have we won peace? Unless we embrace the ideal of universal brotherhood out of love and sharing instead of out of the desire to control humanity, we will face the horror of nuclear war and we will face it soon.
Let’s not comfort ourselves that someone else, man or God is watching out for humanity. The train is now on the bridge and is going very fast. The first compartment is full of scientists and educated people who profess that they know what they are doing. The middle compartments are full of people, nearly six billion people! The last compartment is loaded with ammunition, violence and death. The compartments are held together very tightly. I am appealing to all who read these words to come out of the nuclear train now. You will hear this appeal again and again, every time you look in the mirror of your soul, every time you look in the eyes of your children and in the eyes of people you love, and yes, every time you look at a flower and at a bird. Come out.
The west keeps inventing new adjectives. Sensitive nations, rogue nations, concerned nations. That is pure evil; it is white racism. Have we learned anything from our history as a human race? There is no lesson to be learned from a nuclear war. When there are no students around, there are no lessons to be learned.
I was taught that “Science without virtue is immoral” (Plato). I went to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory believing that I would be useful in helping to dismantle nuclear weapons and in disposing of their deadly byproducts. That was my desire. Instead, very soon, I found myself expected to work on the maintenance of nuclear weapons. Part of my mission as a scientist is to make people everywhere, especially scientists, aware of the Einstein-Russell Manifesto, ( http://www.pgs.ca/pages/mem/russeinm.html ). It has been kept in the drawer for too long. Mostly, only activists know about it. The general public and scientists, for the most part, have never heard of it. It states:
“The general public, and even many men in positions of authority, has not realized what would be involved in a war with nuclear bombs. The general public still thinks in terms of the obliteration of cities. People can scarcely bring themselves to grasp that they, individually, and those whom they love are in imminent danger of perishing agonizingly.”
We urgently need an international organization to support nuclear scientists and nuclear workers to withhold their skills from weapons and power production, and instead use their knowledge and expertise to work towards ‘clean-up’ and the safe isolation of radioactive materials from the environment. Indeed, we need to educate our youth to prevent them from joining such weapons work in the first place. We must organize public hearings out in the open and ‘nuclear truth commissions’ around nuclear weapons and/or nuclear power facilities in our local areas. We need to stay informed about current nuclear debates and engage in public education to inform citizenry of the effects of the global nuclear trade. And most important of all, we need to remember that strength does not come from funds and salaries and large memberships and speaking to the governments, but it comes from an indomitable will. If the people of the world do not take their voice for abolition on the streets with great passion and suffering, the omniside is inevitable. Abolition will not take place by just writing reports about how bad things are, getting funds to write more reports, or increasing membership in the peace movement. It will take place after the education of the public and the willingness to trust one another instead of the great number of institutions we have created out of our fears and mistrust.
If there is a chance for avoiding the omnicide, then there is only one force that can prevent it. It is the greatest force of all; it is the force of suffering. Let each one of us decide today what part we need to play for the abolition of war and its tools. Most people are paralyzed by the inability to think of anything that could be done. We point out the horrors of nuclear war, but we tend not to suggest a practical way to prevent it.
Demonstrations on the days of military tests are great, but only being proactive rather than reactive will bring us closer to peace. The aim of the peace movement should be to bring the people of the earth on the streets for as long as it takes for the governments to realize their duty towards humanity. The aim of the peace movement should be to instill the spirit of suffering in the people of the earth. This can only happen if those that lead the peace movement are willing to lose everything they have, even their own lives, for the sake of the world. Let’s then be courageous and speedily perform the acts that must be performed in the spirit of nonviolence and suffering, for time is approaching faster than humanity can imagine.
Should we call what is wrong right because it is passively accepted by a society that is so busy with everyday life that it has no time to think deeply about anything? Should we call what is wrong right because thousands of people make their livelihood from it? Acid rain and atomic radiation do not need passports to travel the world. Nuclear winter will respect no borders. Our world is crying out for compassionate, wise, courageous, and skillful leaders to provide vision and direction. They are you and me. Let us start talking about solutions and enacting them, rather than just describe problems.
“If you want your life’s work to be useful to mankind, it is not enough that you understand applied science as such. Concern for man himself must always constitute the chief objective of all technological effort, in such a manner as to assure that the results of our scientific thinking may be a blessing to mankind, and not a curse. Never forget this when you are pondering over your diagrams and equations!“
Mr. Andreas Toupadakis, Ph.D. is a Former Research Scientist of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.