Thursday, October 27, 2011

Nevada Test Site: Ho-Hum

A great example of the trivialization
of what has gone on at the Test Site.
The Nevada Test Site tour was an eye-opening endeavor in many ways. Seeing the remnants of our nuclear testing regime was shocking. What struck me over and over from the moment we left Las Vegas on the bus early in the morning was the "ho-hum" attitude of our tour guides, the nonchalance with which they presented a selected set of facts and other statements about the test site and the long-term effects of radiation and nuclear waste.

I suppose that to live with yourself as a NTS lifer, you must force yourself to believe that what has gone on there over the past 60 years has been of great benefit to the country, or at least not particularly damaging. I will give some examples of how this attitude came across.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Can the "Superpowers" Abolish Nuclear Weapons?

One of the arguments I often hear from supporters of nuclear weapons and skeptics of nuclear disarmament in the United States is that Russia would never agree to fully abolish nuclear weapons, so there is no reason to even pursue it.

Next week (October 11-12) is the 25th anniversary of the Reykjavik Summit, where Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev came close to an agreement to abolish all strategic nuclear weapons within 10 years.

Can you imagine? In the thick of the Cold War, the Presidents of the United States and the Soviet Union seriously discussed getting rid of all of their nuclear weapons, and almost accomplished it. Of course, there would have been a lot of details to work out - among them tactical nuclear weapons and missile defense (Reagan's insistence upon missile defense is what ultimately derailed the summit).

So why is it that now, 20 years after the Cold War ended, there are still over 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world? Why do the US and Russia each have about 1,000 nuclear weapons on high-alert? Come on, President Obama and Prime Minister Medvedev. If Reagan and Gorbachev can almost accomplish it, certainly you can at least start talking about it! A Nuclear Weapons Convention for the phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons is within reach if the leaders will lead.

For more background on the Reykjavik Summit of 1986, see NAPF President David Krieger's essay "Looking Back at Reykjavik."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

This Story Just Couldn't Wait

I'm currently working on the October issue of The Sunflower newsletter, which will be published on October 3. As with every issue of The Sunflower, this one is filled with important stories on key nuclear issues. But this story is so extraordinary, so brazen, that I just couldn't wait until Monday for people to read it.

Thanks to my colleagues in the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, Tom Clements of Friends of the Earth and Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, for breaking this story.


The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have announced a plan to increase tritium production by 50% at the Watts Bar "civilian" nuclear power plant. Tritium is a key component of nuclear weapons, boosting the explosive power of fission and thermonuclear weapons.

In the announcement of the proposed 50% increase in production, NNSA also admitted that current tritium production is releasing three to four times the amount of tritium into the Tennessee River as originally estimated. NNSA also admits that tritium demand has been less than they originally expected.

Ralph Hutchison, coordinator of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, said, "Our use of commercial nuclear facilities to produce nuclear materials for weapons has sent a powerful, clear and dangerous signal to the rest of the world. It has undermined our efforts to constrain weapons production activities, crossed a once-impermeable boundary [between civilian and military facilities], and diminished our security."

Hutchison also said, "With the likely prospect of additional arms control agreements, and budget constraints leading to calls for a reduction in the bloated US strategic reserve (the 5,000 or so warheads we keep in the garage in case we ever use up our 1,500 deployed warheads and need more), the need for tritium will continue to decline. Still these agencies are proposing a 50% increase in production!"

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sept. 21: Peace 1, Nuclear Missiles 0

I just got word that the US Air Force has postponed the planned test of a Minuteman III nuclear missile. It was originally scheduled for September 21, the International Day of Peace. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, together with organizations around the world and many thousands of our supporters, worked hard to register our ardent opposition to this test.

Of course there has been no government statement saying, "We were wrong to schedule this test on the International Day of Peace and now recognize the problems inherent in our continued reliance on missile testing and nuclear weapons." Nor will there ever be such a statement. But we should all be proud of our work against this test, and we must continue to spread the message that the only to stay safe from a nuclear attack is to implement a Nuclear Weapons Convention for the phased, verifiable, transparent and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons worldwide.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Anti-Nuclear Resisters in Court

I just got back from court. I went in support of two dedicated protestors, Father Louis Vitale and Dennis Apel, who were arrested at Vandenberg Air Force Base for "trespassing," even though they were in the designated protest zone the whole time. The whole "designated protest zone" concept is outrageous in and of itself, but for the base security to arrest these men on a public highway was nothing more than an attempt at intimidation.

The judge granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the case, so the charges have been dropped. The defendants and others plan to be back at Vandenberg on September 21 to protest the next nuclear missile launch on the International Day of Peace.

While the anti-nuclear resisters in California were let off by the legal system this time, a group in Tennessee is facing a more uphill battle. Below is an article by John LaForge that bears repeating:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Anomaly of Budget Increases in a "Debt Crisis"

We've all heard the Beltway mantra this year: "Cut the budget. Cut the budget."

When push comes to shove, what does this really mean? If powerful lawmakers can exempt extraordinarily wasteful and unnecessary projects from budget cuts while further slashing the already-meager budgets of other important projects that enhance society, what does that say about the priorities of those we have left in charge?

In an all-too-common display of pork politics, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has asked President Obama to declare a funding "anomaly" for a list of nuclear weapon programs. In the likely event that Congress can't agree on the FY2012 budget by October 1, the government will likely continue to run on a Continuing Resolution (CR), meaning that most programs will be funded at their 2011 level for the duration of the CR. The anomaly would fund certain parts of the nuclear weapons complex at the higher 2012 levels during the CR. This money would largely go to the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

Heinrich is joined by Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), Chair of the House Armed Forces Strategic Forces subcommittee. In their letter to President Obama, the two lawmakers write that the anomaly is needed to keep "on track the tight schedule for infrastructure modernization and life extensions of our current warhead types."

Turner wrote In a recent blog post entitled To Remain a World Leader, U.S. Must Stop Mounting Debt, "If Congress and the President do not work together to stunt the unsustainable growth of our debt, the consequences will be grave."

Sorry, Rep. Turner. You can't have it both ways. Squandering billions on new nuclear weapons production facilities and stunting the unsustainable growth of our debt are not compatible. The only anomaly I see here is that such a request can be made by anyone with a straight face.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What Hypocrisy?

Breaking news from the United Nations Security Council: The United States, the UK, France and Germany have formally charged Iran with violating Security Council Resolution 1929, which bars Iran from undertaking ballistic missile activity. Apparently the activity in question is Iran's recent launch of its Rasad 1 satellite, which relies on ballistic missile technology.

Fair enough, right? I don't think Iran should be developing, testing or deploying ballistic missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

But wait! The US Air Force has scheduled its next test of its Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile for September 21 - the International Day of Peace. The US has test-fired the Minuteman III over 200 times since its introduction into the US nuclear arsenal in the 1970s. As David Krieger wrote in a recent opinion piece, "The US approach to nuclear-capable missile testing seems to be 'do as I say, not as I do.'  This is unlikely to hold up in the long run."

If the US, UK, France and Germany would spend as much time and energy pursuing the global conditions necessary for the abolition of all nuclear weapons as they do pursuing hypocritical UN Security Council resolutions, we would all be better off.

By the way, you can take action to oppose the September 21 launch of the US nuclear missile at this link.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Struggle for Democracy

Big things have been happening in Kansas City, Missouri over the past few months. For decades, the Kansas City Plant has manufactured the vast majority of non-nuclear components for the US nuclear arsenal. For the first time in the long history of nuclear proliferation around the world, a new plant was proposed that would be effectively owned by a city, financed through $815 million in municipal bonds. An inspiring group of citizens, calling themselves the Kansas City Peace Planters, has resisted this proposal with a welcome degree of success thus far.

The Peace Planters have engaged in civil disobedience at the construction site of the new plant, calling for the new plant to engage in green energy work instead of destructive nuclear weapons work. This has brought media attention to the issue and has increased public awareness of the outrageous proposal to build new nuclear weapons facilities 20 years after the end of the Cold War.

Monday, August 29, 2011

International Day Against Nuclear Tests

Craters from nuclear tests
at the Nevada Test Site
Today, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Geneva branch hosted a seminar commemorating the International Day against Nuclear Tests in conjunction with the UN Mission of Kazakhstan. The International Day against Nuclear Tests – August 29 – was  adopted by the United Nations General Assembly last year at the urging of Kazakhstan.

Today’s seminar looked at the history of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, where the Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests, causing untold damage to the land and downwind inhabitants. Kazakhstan closed the Semipalatinsk site 20 years ago today. The seminar also examined the importance of ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which still needs ratification from a few key nations, including the United States, to enter into force.

I am traveling to Las Vegas in October for the fall meeting of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability. As part of our meeting, we will take a tour of the Nevada Test Site, where the United States conducted 1,021 nuclear detonations between 1953 and 1992. The pictures of the Nevada Test Site (like the one above) and the testimony of those living downwind from the Nevada Test Site are shocking and sad. I’m sure that a visit in person to the test site will add another layer of strength to my belief that nuclear testing must be stopped forever, and a just compensation paid to the victims of nuclear testing around the world.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Power of Voice

As some of you know we are just around the corner from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 17th annual Sadako Peace Day. While this day holds special significance for us at the Foundation, it also serves as a reminder of our role as a human race to wage peace and use our voices as a source of power.

When we think back about the great peace leaders in history they all seem to recognize one thing: the power of voice. I mean think about it- What would the world be like if on August 28th 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. only thought, “I have a dream.” What about if in 1873 Susan B. Anthony decided that giving a speech on women’s right to vote would be better left unsaid? After all, she had just been arrested for casting an illegal vote in the presidential election.

German-Swiss poet and novelist, Herman Hesse, once said “Everything becomes a little different as soon as it is spoken out loud.” And he’s right; the power of voice is the best tool we have to stand up for what we believe in. It is able to transcend time, promote social change, and advocate a safer nuclear-weapons free world for generations to come.

So I have to admit, when I first learned about the power of voice I was skeptical. I thought, 'sure it must be easy to inspire and unite the masses once you have perfected the art of oratory like John F. Kennedy or Malcom X, but most of us have not mastered the skills of communication.' That is where Sadako Sasaki comes in.

Sadako Sasaki was only two-years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Ten years later she was diagnosed with leukemia and made it her dying wish to spread peace on the wings of 1000 paper cranes. This courageous little girl said, “I will write peace on your wings, and you will fly all over the world.” Sadako was not a professional speaker or wizard of words, but she was able to able to leave her legacy through her heartfelt message and compassion for humanity. And like the great peace leaders throughout history, she recognized the power of her own voice.

Since Sadako’s death, children and adults from countries all over the world honor her spirit by creating paper cranes as symbols of peace. Many of them even travel to the Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima where they bring their own folded paper cranes as a message of peace and desire for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In memory of Sadako let us be reminded that we can protect our world through the power of our own voice, no matter how average that voice may be.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

“One Giant Leap for Mankind."

How amazing it is that 42 years ago, 240,000 miles from Earth Neil Armstrong became the first human to walk on the moon. While history sometimes regards the Moon landing as a victory for the United States, it is important that we recognize this accomplishment as a triumph for humanity. Entertain this thought for a moment: what if instead of the American flag, Neil Armstrong dug an ‘Earth flag’ into the Moon’s surface? I know I know I can’t rewrite history, but here at the Foundation we believe that only when we overlook boundaries and identify ourselves as inhabitants of one Earth will we truly be able to wage peace on a global scale.

Fun Fact: It turns out that 73 world leaders did in fact share the victory of the Moon landing- at least in spirit. Today I came across an article on called “The Untold Story: How One Small Disc Carried One Giant Message for Mankind.” The article said that prior to the Moon landing the U.S. State Department authorized NASA to collect messages of peace and good will from 73 leaders of the world's nations. These microscopic messages were etched into a tiny silicone disc about the size of a half-dollar. Buzz Aldrin then carried the disk in his spacesuit's sleeve pocket before leaving it on the Moon. Here are a few of the messages:

“On this unique occasion when man traverses outer space to set foot on Earth’s nearest neighbor, Moon, I send my greetings and good wishes to the brave astronauts who have launched on this great venture. I fervently hope that this event will usher in an era of peaceful endeavor for all mankind." Indira Gandhi, prime minister of India

"This is a message from black militants. It is a message of human solidarity, a message of peace. In this first visit to the Moon, rather than a victory of technology we salute a victory of human will: research and progress, but also brotherhood." Léopold Sédar Senghor, president of Senegal

"On behalf of the British people I salute the skill and courage which have brought man to the moon. May this endeavor increase the knowledge and well-being of mankind." The Queen

Monday, July 18, 2011

“Live Long and Prosper”

I have to admit when I hear these words it’s hard not to picture the stereotypical Sci-Fi convention equipped with futuristic space costumes and Vulcan salutes. And I’m not alone; the Simpsons, Futurama, and even Family Guy have all poked fun at Star Trek at one time or another, but in this case imitation truly is the most sincere form of flattery. Trekkers everywhere will tell you that laced deep within the interstellar adventures of Starfleet Academy are teachings of loyalty, tolerance, and social responsibility that transcend both time ‘and space.’

NAPF’s Peace Leadership Director Paul Chappell recently sent me a radio interview called, “Star Trek and Peace” and I have to say: I get it. While the show’s creator, Gene Roddenberry originally sold the idea for Star Trek as a ‘Western in outer space,’ the only showdowns we see on the frontier are those concerning peace, war, and morality. When describing the theme of the show Roddenberry says, "It speaks to some basic human needs, that there is a tomorrow - it's not all going to be over in a big flash and a bomb, that the human race is improving, that we have things to be proud of as humans. No, ancient astronauts did not build the pyramids - human beings built them because they're clever and they work hard. And 'Star Trek' is about those things."

And he’s right. Not only does Starfleet Academy represent a hard-working peacekeeping navy, but it unites both aliens and humans alike to benefit the greater good. When faced with moral dilemmas like ‘just war’ and self-defense, Star Trek forces us to self-reflect and ask “in combating evil, how much evil can we do ourselves?” This reoccurring theme is often paired with the idea that what we leave behind is just as important as how we lived.

The show also tackles the issue of nuclear weapons. In an episode called “The Doomsday Machine” the USS Enterprise crew encounters a powerful device built to destroy both sides in a war. Although it was intended only as a deterrent (sound familiar?) the device ended up being activated and destroying its creators. The episode originally aired in 1967; does anyone else find it odd that the theme is just as prevalent over forty years later?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Egyptian Protests and Lessons on Waging Peace

If the average American looked deep enough into their newspaper today, they may have thought they were experiencing déjà vu. For, hidden amongst talks of national debt, a war in Libya, and debates about the future of nuclear energy is a rather peculiar story about Egypt. Nearly six months after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians have returned to Tahrir square in droves to protest. For them, the government has not done enough to protect the rights of its citizens or bring justice to oppressors.

There is a lot we can learn from this move. While many Americans are disaffected by how little changes in the United States, Egyptians are reminding us of so many lessons we have forgotten. As Egyptians are becoming the masters of waging peace, here are five lessons we can carry away from their success:

1. Prepare and Educate

When protests were first being organized in Tahrir Square, one of the biggest challenges was getting people out. Not only did some fear being attacked by the government for protesting, many others were faced with daily indoctrination by state-run news.

To resolve these issues, organizers of the protests had to prepare. Months in advance, these protesters spent countless hours gathering support, spreading the message, and hyping the protests. They passed along messages and videos that were based in factual evidence with proof that the government was lying, the press was lying, and that Egyptian rights were being repressed.

When the protests started, many organizers spent time pushing intelligent leaders to the front of the movement to drive the message. Mohamed ElBaradei was one such leader. Others spent time educating protesters about democracy, rule of law, and checks and balances. Today, if you go to the protesters at Tahrir square, a tent sits in the middle of the protests filled with books and digital literature on democracy and law.

Today, peace leaders have failed to gain this sort of traction. Instead of focusing on facts and spending a good amount of time preparing, peace movements all too often resort to emotion and partisan politics.

2. Remain Persistent

The average protest in the United States lasts one day. Organizers send out invitations, rent space, hire bands and speakers, and chant their message from outside the Capitol. At the end of a few hours, everybody packs up and returns home.

Egyptians proved that their cause mattered to them by remaining persistent. It took less than 1% of the population just 18 days to peacefully bring down a dictator who controlled their country for 30 years. Their persistence didn’t stop there, either. When the interim government refused to lift emergency law, protesters returned to the streets. When that same government banned protests, the people protested even more. Now, when they fail to prosecute those who committed crimes in the Mubarak regime, Egyptians turned out to the streets with every intent of staying until their needs are met.

Today, it would be newsworthy if an American protest lasted longer than a weekend.

3. Control the Message

One of the biggest failures of people fighting for a cause is controlling their message. Interested in gaining numbers, we oftentimes allow for more radical and extreme elements to enter our movements and make some noise. This destroys the peace movement’s credibility.

Egyptians were faced with the exact same problem. As they drove back the police and took control of Cairo for the people, several renegades began ransacking shops and vandalizing the city. The protesters, knowing Mubarak would try and paint their movement as violent and unruly to justify his crackdown, responded firmly. They set up an ad hoc policing system where vandals and thieves were put under citizen’s arrest and placed in makeshift jails. Regular citizens took turns guarding prisoners. Once order was restored and Mubarak had been ousted, the prisoners were freed and protesters spent several days sweeping the streets and cleaning the city.

The protests in Tahrir square today have become even more impressive. Organizers have blocked off the square from traffic and set up checkpoints at each end. When someone wishes to join the protest, they are searched for weapons, drugs, stolen goods, and contraband. A media tent has been established where reporters are welcome to come and gain insight from the organizers and interview individuals representative of the protest’s message.

4. Be Results-Driven

There is only one thing that matters when a protest organizes, and that is results. However, protests today seem to be deemed successes by an entirely different variable: numbers. In a world of satellites and statistics, opposing viewpoints are declared victors solely on how many people come to their rally. And, of course, nothing changes.

The Egyptian protesters are results-driven. Big numbers might get media attention, but a lack of attention hasn’t prevented Egyptians from creating real and effective change. As the government realizes how little it can do without the will of the people and gives concessions, the Egyptians only grow more confident that they can receive everything they deserve.


Do Americans have the capacity to return to our roots of waging peace? Do we have the will to make our needs heard? The answer seems to be a resounding “yes,” for, in a microcosm of what is going on in Egypt, the citizens of Wisconsin displayed many of the above qualities to fight for their rights. Peace warriors should take heed of this development and strive to implement these very policies elsewhere.

All of these qualities are what it takes to be an effective peace warrior. Each leads to more results, and each leads to greater confidence and results. As one protester put it: “We don’t request anymore: we give orders.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Science, Religion, and...Peace?

British Chemist Peter Atkins once said, "Science is almost totally incompatible with religion." While I do not doubt his expertise (the man literally wrote the book on Molecular Quantum Mechanics) I’m going to have to disagree with him on this one. Yes religion is based on beliefs unlike science which relies on hard facts, but what if the two ‘opposites’ had much more in common than we thought? And what if the similarities between them could be used to further our understanding of humanity and peace?

The first time I really sat down and thought about the relationship between science and religion was after watching Ron Howard’s commentary on the book-based movie “Angels and Demons.” He said “We are all just trying to understand the universe,” and he’s right. This longing to understand the universe is what made the 14th Dalai Lama vow that his spirituality and respect for science would never be at odds with each other. It is also the reason that Albert Einstein extensively studied the life of Gandhi, one of the greatest spiritual leaders of all time.

Our shared interest in understanding the universe can serve as a vital tool for promoting peace and acceptance. I recently watched a satellite interview of Pope Benedict XVI and the International Space Station crew. The Pope’s first question was “how can science affect peace?” The crew responded that when you understand how fragile and beautiful the planet is you have a new-found appreciation for all inhabitants of the earth. The Pope then acknowledged that scientific exploration is an adventure of the human spirit; one that instills hope and appreciation for all mankind.

Well my friends, you heard it from the Pope himself. Not only are science and religion compatible, but when used together they can create a powerful force that promotes peace and acceptance.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Nuclear Power Plant Safety?

Last week, I heard a report on NPR that was surprising, but all too familiar in today’s age where greed fuels politics. Recently Japan raised the danger level rating of the Fukushima disaster to a level 7, the highest level on the International Nuclear Event Scale, putting it on the same level as Chernobyl. The severity of this recent crisis has called into question the safety of U.S. nuclear power plants. An extensive investigation recently conducted by the AP revealed that U.S. reactors are much less safe than they appear to be. Over 30% of U.S. reactors are first generation reactors just like those at the Fukushima plant. This means that many of our reactors are almost 50 years old, and during the past years many have avoided significant repairs.

It is a fact of life that over time things wear down, and nuclear reactors are no different. Metals rust, concrete crumbles and pipes leak, which allow for accidents to more easily occur. Not only are many of the reactors in the U.S. old, but many of them have slid through the cracks due to corrupt or lax safety inspections. Here’s how: the government and nuclear power industry have been working together to re-adjust regulations or tweak risk assessments in order to make the plants appear safe in the eyes of the public. Nuclear power plants cost billions of dollars to build, but call for additional funding in order to keep them running efficiently and safely. In order to avoid high repair costs and still pass safety inspections and regulations, energy companies have built close ties with the Nuclear Regulation Committee (NRC). The NRC has repeatedly argued that safety measures are too strict and could be easily loosened without causing any harm. As safety measures are relaxed, reactors begin to wear down, which is able to occur unnoticed. For example, the picture above shows a 5-by-5-inch hole in a section cut from the top of the reactor vessel at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio. The hole was a result of boric acid, which leaked from inside the reactor due to cracks in the vessel head. Only three-eighths of an inch of steel cladding remained, which according to the NRC could have resulted in a reactor breach in as little as two months. Fortunately, this hole was discovered before an accident occurred, but three-eighths of an inch is cutting it too close.

It is time that our government places the safety of our citizens above costs. It is depressing to see that time and time again, the government values cutting costs over saving lives and implementing safety measures. The U.S. government not only needs to tighten safety standards and conduct more outside audits, we need to follow other countries who are investing in other safer forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar power. The Japanese government says it will make up the loss of its nuclear future with solar power and other renewable energies. Countries such as Germany, Italy, and Switzerland have also halted many of their nuclear power programs. It is time for the U.S. to re-think its energy programs and focus on safety and sustainability.


Monday, July 11, 2011


For those of you who don’t know, Sunday is 'Netflix documentary day.' Since coming to Santa Barbara I have made a habit of waking up early on Sundays and getting all the day’s work done in the morning so by the time 3:00 rolls around, I can lose myself in countless hours of instant cinematic gratification. Yesterday’s pick was a 2008 film directed by two Harvard University professors called, “Secrecy.” In addition to detailing the history of government confidentiality from its origins in the 1940s, the film features countless gripping interviews with former CIA and national security experts on the topic. Popcorn anyone?

The most compelling concept I took from "Secrecy" was that despite what we are told, classification does not always promote national security. In fact, in many cases over-classification can actually make us less secure and even violate the rule of law. There is no greater example of this than the Manhattan Project. In addition to being the pinnacle of modern government confidentiality, the Manhattan Project demonstrated how secrecy can be used as a tool to keep a large amount of power in a small amount of hands.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Scoop of Philanthropy

Ahh the Fourth of July. For many of us, Independence Day involves backyard barbecues, trips to the beach, and lots of fireworks. While these things are all very nice, there is one essential ingredient that all Fourth of July celebrations must have: ice cream. I know, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind while contemplating the birth of the United States, but would you believe that Thomas Jefferson actually requested a scoop of ice cream while writing the Declaration of Independence? Ok I made that up, but if it were true it would certainly help me transition into the next part of this blog.
The truth is Independence Day reminds me of ice cream because ice cream reminds me of childhood memories. And I'm not talking about just any ice cream, what I am referring to is “Vermont’s Finest.” Yes, that’s right folks, the one and only: Ben and Jerry’s. Growing up, I spent my summers living in a log cabin very close to the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Waterbury, Vermont. What I didn’t know then was that while I was deciding between Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were perfecting the art of corporate social responsibility.
What does this mean? It means that if you look at the back of most pints of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, you will see more than a witty description of the flavor; you will see a cause. In 2006 that cause was a national campaign that used free ice cream samples to raise awareness about nuclear weapons spending. The company’s motive behind the American Pie Campaign can be found in the 2006 Social and Environmental Assessment Report. “We looked at the $30 billion in the U.S. budget earmarked for nuclear weapons spending — while millions of American children are living in poverty or without health insurance — and we decided the time was right to speak out on this important issue once again.”

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Power of Poetry

Robert Frost once said, “Writing a poem is discovering.” Since I prefer reading poems to writing them I would like to add that reading a poem is also discovering, and sometimes even rediscovering (no disrespect, Mr. Frost). Since working as an intern with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation I have learned to rediscover poetry in a way that I did not expect, and not just any poetry: war poetry.

Here is the irony in all of this: in Georgia I worked at an Air Force museum where we literally played the History channel’s documentary, “WWII in HD” on repeat all day long. I found it interesting and informative, but never moving. Who would have thought that a few simple words about the very same war could evoke so much emotion? Let me give you an example:

Monday, June 27, 2011

“No Regrets for Our Youth”

In a recent publication titled, “An Open Letter to Graduates” NAPF President David Krieger asks several thought-provoking questions to the future leaders of our world. While some of the questions require sincere self-reflection, others empower a sense of responsibility and commitment to change the world for the better. While reading the letter for the first time one question reminded me of a recent conversation I had with my older brother, Joe. “Does your education lead you to believe that money will buy happiness?”

For as long as I can remember, Joe has been one of the people I respect the most in my life. He works extremely hard, thinks for himself, and makes the best of every situation he’s in. On my last trip home he told me that he didn’t feel like he was really helping people in his profession and it was starting to take a toll on his life. This came as a shock to me since he went to a great school and spent the last several years working a well-paying job for a busy medical practice. He said, “It just seems like when I do help people, it’s in a very indirect way and I can’t help but think that I could be doing more.” What I learned from Joe is that the root of a fulfilled life is not success, but how you benefit humanity.

We have all heard the joke, “Money can't buy happiness, but I'd rather cry in a Ferrari.” I have to admit that I too would rather cry in a Ferrari, but here are the facts: a Ferrari won’t promote a safer planet, a Ferrari won’t stand up against injustice, and “a Ferrari” is not a suitable answer for our grandchildren when they ask us what contribution we made to the world during our lifetime. According to David’s letter, the true path to an enriched and happy life is through compassion for others, courage, and commitment. And these qualities are worth far more than a $200,000 Ferrari.

I recently watched a Kurosawa film called, “No Regrets for Our Youth.” The movie follows the story of a spoiled girl named Yukie who only cares about the superficial elements in life. When she falls for a man who is arrested for protesting the Fascist government, she realizes how empty her shallow life had been. This movie is significant because it teaches us that it is never too late to support something bigger; something that will benefit mankind and the generations to come. We all have traits that resemble Yukie prior to her transformation, but if she is capable of change then so are we. David’s letter is addressed to recent graduates, but we can all learn from the questions he asks us to consider. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Einstein: Looking Beyond the Hair

There are few people in history who have had the ability to view the world in a different light; to see the workings of nature and humanity with imagination and wonder. Albert Einstein was one of those people. I know what you’re thinking: he’s the really smart guy who looks like he stuck his finger in a light socket, right? Yes, that’s the one. Sure he had scraggly white hair and an absent-minded brilliance that would put any modern day physicist to shame, but if you take the time to read about the life of Einstein you will learn that that he was actually a lot like you and I.

Einstein once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” It is this curiosity that allowed him to picture what it would be like to ride on a motorcycle at the speed of light, study the bending of starlight, and question the relationship between time and space. It was also this curiosity that compelled him to continue his experiments after failing his university entrance exam in 1895 and being turned down time after time while trying to find a job.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Samurai Sword as a Symbol of Peace

For most people the image of a Samurai sword doesn’t automatically evoke warm fuzzy feelings of peace and tranquility, but despite popular belief we can actually learn a great deal from the Samurai soldier. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Non-violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a unique weapon in history, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.” If we fight for peace with a sword that heals, tactical strength and discipline will enable us to cut through violence and injustice.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Star Wars Can Teach Us About Nuclear Energy

Ask epic filmmaker George Lucas where he got his inspiration for the Star Wars Trilogy and he will tell you tell you about Akira Kurosawa. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Kurosawa films, fear not. I too just recently learned of the award-winning Japanese director and already find myself totally inspired by his ability to capture the human spirit on film.

Now I have to warn you: upon netflixing a Kurosawa film don’t expect to see any futuristic Endor space battles or Darth Vader cameos. Think more along the lines of Yoda’s timeless wisdom meets traditional Japanese culture. Recently here at the NAPF office I was shown a clip from one of Kurosawa’s later films called “Dreams,” which seemed eerily predictive of the Fukushima tragedy.

Yes Kurosawa was a brilliant director, but I don’t think psychic medium was part of his forte. And that’s the whole point; it doesn’t take a nuclear scientist, foretelling prophet, or award winning director to see how dangerous nuclear energy is. Kurosawa’s dream or should I say nightmare, portrays a nuclear meltdown following the eruption of Mount Fuji. And as horrifying and chaotic as the scene is, the few survivors can’t help but discuss the fact that it was all preventable.

Monday, June 13, 2011

“Lockheed Martin Developing Ninja Robots”

OK..It’s a little off topic, but I just couldn’t resist this one. I know what you’re thinking: this article reads more like something out of a Marvel comic book rather than the Christian Science Monitor, but I assure you it’s real. While our over-the-top technological advancements may provide some short-lived humor, they represent a more serious issue regarding international law and our country’s disregard for it. Now I’m not saying that Lockheed’s robots are going to use their super-human ninja skills to violate the laws of war, but I am suggesting that throughout history the United States’ government has had a tendency to overlook international law for the sake of "defense."

This brings me to the topic of today’s blog: the UCAV. Otherwise known as the “combat drone,” this undetectable killer is capable of dropping guided 2,000 lb bombs at the press of a button. What’s the best part? The Air Force gave them cool super villain names like “Sabre Warrior” and “Hunter-Killer.” And it’s only fitting that UCAV operators are basically trained on video games much like those played on an X-box or Playstation. Unfortunately, the targets are live people, not digital images.

Friday, June 10, 2011

President's Message

Today is an important day in history. It was 90 years ago on this day that Babe Ruth became baseball's all-time home run leader. It was 68 years ago today that the ballpoint pen was patented in the United States. And on this day just 48 years ago during the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy gave the Commencement Address at American University where he discussed the importance of peace and how nuclear weapons would destroy that peace by creating, “a new face of war.” While we have come a long way on the road to peace and nuclear abolition, this “new face of war” still remains.

In light of the recently released Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report, NAPF President David Krieger released a message titled, "How Many Nuclear Weapons Still Threaten Humanity?" On this significant day in history we must be proud of how far humanity has come, but we must also realize that the path to nuclear abolition is one we must continue to walk if we ever want to experience the kind of genuine peace that President Kennedy referred to almost 50 years ago: the kind of peace that we all deserve.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Scope of Nuclear Proliferation

While compiling information for Nuclear Files today, I came across a timeline entry from a document from the Carnegie Endowment that helped visualize just how many countries are involved in nuclear affairs:

“December 2001 - The German cargo ship BBC China is intercepted en route to Libya with components for 1,000 centrifuges. The parts were manufactured in Malaysia by SCOPE and shipped through Dubai.”

In a single event, four separate countries and one company are implicated in the illegal transfer of nuclear technology. More than that, none of these countries are typically “counted” when discussing nuclear proliferation.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Study Says Nuclear Weapons Threat Not Decreasing

As we know all too well at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the threat of nuclear weapons is not going to decrease any time soon. For those who have been keeping up with the Department of Energy blog series, it’s clear that the United States is putting more emphasis on developing new atomic weapons or “modernizing” our nuclear arsenal, rather than phasing out or retiring existing warheads. A recent study from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed that we are not alone. According to the Swedish study, “the five legally recognized nuclear weapons states, as defined by the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty are either deploying new nuclear weapon systems or have announced their intention to do so.” And by doing so, nuclear weapons states are only making the WMD club look that much more appealing to non-weapons states.

Monday, June 6, 2011

W78 Life Extension Program

There is a reason why only two people “like” the W78 Interest Page on Facebook. While these nuclear warheads are currently deployed on 200 Minuteman III missiles, the W78s may only be in service for another five years. So does that mean the National Nuclear Security Administration is planning their retirement? Not exactly. In a recent post I briefly discussed how the Department of Energy’s “Life Extension Programs” are just a fancy sounding way to increase the power and destructiveness of existing warheads rather than to “ensure that the nuclear stockpile remains reliable.” This is precisely the case with the W78 Life Extension Program.

According to a declassified study released by the NNSA, the W78 will have been deployed for more than 41 years by 2021. Somehow this fact justifies exploring the possibility of a new joint warhead approach (this is the part where “increase the power and destructiveness” comes in). In other words, instead of replacing the existing W78 that has already been extensively tested, the DOE wants to combine the W78 and W88 warhead to make an entirely new type of bomb.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Nuclear Deterrence Theory: still alive and kicking

One of the major impediments on the path to sustainable universal nuclear disarmament – meaning a world without nuclear weapons as well as the incentive to acquire them – is the persistent belief in the nuclear deterrence theory. This theory – which, in its most common form, claims that the threat of retaliation in kind will deter an opponent from carrying out a nuclear strike against you – was a cornerstone of the security mindset during the Cold War, yet continues to influence foreign and defence policies of nuclear weapon states, and such aspiring states, today.

Excellent efforts by academics, policy analysts and NGOs (with the support of some governments) have recently been undertaken to debunk the nuclear deterrence theory and as far as the present author is concerned, the reasoning displayed in these works is irrefutable and should convince anyone still in doubt of the uselessness of these instruments.[1] However, although there are hopeful signs that in some states the blind belief in nuclear deterrence is losing its grip on security thinking, in others the theory is still very much alive and kicking.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Letter from a Fukushima Mother

So I decided to take another hiatus from the series on the Department of Energy’s most dangerous and budget-busting projects to call attention to a monumentally important email we received here at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Some of you may have read, “Letter from a Fukushima Mother,” as it has been circulating throughout Twitter, but if you haven’t I highly suggest doing so. The letter written by Tomoko Hatsuzawa, a mother of two living in Fukushima City, expresses the devastating impact of the recent nuclear catastrophe and urges the public to speak out against the government’s use of nuclear power. Please don’t read this letter as an outsider looking in, we need to awaken to the fact that what happened in Japan could and will happen in the United States if we continue to pursue nuclear power as the solution to our energy needs. Here are the facts:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

National Ignition Facility Project

According to the National Nuclear Security Administration, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California is the government’s attempt to create "a miniature star on earth" to push the envelope on nuclear weapons design. If you ask me it sounds more like something on Dr. Evil’s “to do” list, maybe after “sharks with laser beams attached to their heads.” When originally proposed in 1994, the project was intended to advance nuclear weapons design, provide additional capability for nuclear weapons effects tests, and develop inertial fusion energy. While the cost of this $7 billion science experiment is alarmingly high, the real problem is its representation of our country’s priorities regarding nuclear weapons.

Although the experiment is being sold as the solution to the world’s energy crisis, it is above all else a nuclear weapons advancement project. Skeptics of the ‘energy solution’ claim that the National Ignition Facility is highly unlikely to lead to a practical energy source, let alone one that could be competitive with renewable energy technologies. Critics even go as far to say that the project is essentially “busy work,” in other words, a plan to keep nuclear weapons design teams at Livermore and increase notoriety for the laboratory.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kansas City Plant Project

Since 2001 the Bannister Federal Complex in Kansas City, Missouri has been on the radar of the EPA, Nuclear Watch, Physicians for Social Responsibility and several other environmental justice groups. Unfortunately for the mega-complex, its notoriety stems from countless health violations and lawless action, not exemplary service. In 2008 the National Nuclear Security Administration recognized the need for a new Kansas City Plant, a key federal facility that manufactures components for nuclear weapons.

While the proposal to build a new safer facility is supported by the local community, the method of operation and ownership has been widely disputed. The Department of Energy has decided to turn over possession of the new federal plant to local municipality and private developer, CenterPoint Zimmer. Sound harmless? It is if you don’t pay taxes. Because of local ownership, the Kansas City Plant production costs will be left out of the NNSA annual budget and are exempt from congressional review. According to the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, the new facility will cost taxpayers $1.2 billion in lease payments over the next 20 years.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Uranium Processing Facility

The expansion of the Cold War-era Uranium Processing Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the third, “Most Dangerous and Budget-Busting Project,” on the Department of Energy’s agenda. While the original proposal was estimated to cost around $600 million in 2005, scheduling delays and construction conflicts have prolonged the expansion and tacked on additional costs making it the most expensive bomb plant in history. To make matters worse the NNSA said that it won’t have a definitive price tag until the facility’s design is 90 percent complete.

Monday, May 23, 2011

National Nuclear Security Administration Releases New Strategic Plan

Breaking News: So I had to interrupt the series about the Department of Energy’s, “Nine Most Budget Busting Projects,” because this was just too hot not to print. Just recently I walked into Rick’s office and found him reading the 2011 Strategic Plan published by the National Nuclear Security Administration. When I saw the front cover on his computer screen I was almost positive that he had just ordered “Armageddon” on Netflix, but with Bruce Willis nowhere to be found I soon realized that this was the title page of the updated Strategic Plan that outlines our country’s new national security priorities.

Have you ever played that picture game, “What doesn’t belong?” You know, the one where you look at a photo and have to identify the object that doesn’t fit with the rest of the picture? I’m pretty sure that game was the inspiration for the cover of the 2011 Strategic Plan. On first glance your eyes are drawn to the massive earth sitting in front of a waving American flag. Ok so far, right? But then you notice the strategically placed atomic blast right smack dab in the center of the photo. In an additional irony, the vision on the opening page emphatically states “to make the world a safer place.”

As the first NNSA Strategic Plan released since 2004, the report offers several key goals for the coming decade. The objectives set out to reduce nuclear dangers, manage the nuclear weapons stockpile and advance nuclear propulsion, modernize the NNSA infrastructure, and strengthen the science, technology and engineering base. Throughout the report the five goals are often accompanied by the phrase, “safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile.” The only problem here is that weapons of mass destruction are not safe or secure, and what does effective mean? Effective at causing severe devastation to civilization? Effective at emitting thermal radiation that causes flash blindness and skin burns? Effective at igniting entire cities and towns?

One segment of the plan that is particularly unsettling is in regards to the Life Extension Programs. While these plans claim to ensure that the nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable, what they actually do is increase the power and destructiveness of existing warheads. For example, the 2008 Life Extension proposal for the W76 warhead was so extensive that it resulted in an entirely new type of bomb. When Congress realized that “Life Extension Program,” was essentially another name for upgrade, it denied funding for two of the Department of Energy’s new nuclear weapons.

The 2011 Strategic Plan does have some redeeming initiatives. In addition to improved nuclear safeguards, the plan seeks to secure the most vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide by 2013. However, such a monumental task would require international cooperation and a greater commitment from the United States to reduce (not improve) our nuclear stockpile. The release of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Strategic Plan illustrates the need for an increased dedication to a nuclear free world. Please take a moment to check out our Action Alert Network and help us cut the 2012 Nuclear Weapons Budget!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chemistry & Metallurgy Research Replacement Project

While CMRR stands for Chemistry & Metallurgy Research Replacement project, I think a more appropriate title would be the Costing Massive Resources and Redundancy project. The Department of Energy’s proposal to build a new large scale nuclear facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory is not only ten times costlier than originally announced, but it’s also planned to be constructed on the side of a dormant volcano. Now I’m no seismologist, but I am almost positive that a plutonium facility sitting on top of an earthquake-prone area is not a recipe for success.

According to the Department of Energy’s proposal, the CMRR project will be carried out in a three phase assignment which will ultimately replace the fifty-year old facility responsible for building plutonium pits. The plutonium pit refers to the core of an implosion weapon that is responsible for detonation when compressed by explosives. Because of the radiation emitted from these pits, over half of the former facility has been shut down due to severe contamination, yet another warning sign that makes one question the safety and practicality of the project.

Currently, construction costs for the CMRR project total around $5.86 billion and operations are expected to begin in Fiscal Year 2023. That being said, it is important to note that this same project has been in the works for over a decade. Scheduling delays have wasted valuable resources, time, and manpower on a project that continues to be vulnerable to natural disasters as years pass. The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability finds that $3 billion have already been added to program costs since 2008 due to increasing concerns over seismic activity.

Another cause of concern for the Chemistry & Metallurgy Research Replacement Project is the issue of nuclear waste. As it stands, the new site is planned to be 32,000 square feet larger than the current facility. Such a vast expansion is excessive and increases the risk for improper waste disposal and nuclear proliferation. Need a second opinion?

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, sums up the Chemistry & Metallurgy Research Replacement Project quite nicely. He says, “We should be cleaning up, not building up new production plants that will produce yet more radioactive and toxic wastes. We should be following a conservative curatorship program that prudently maintains the stockpile, saves American taxpayers dollars, and demonstrates leadership toward the nuclear weapons-free world that global security truly needs.” Well put Jay, well put.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nuclear Reality Check

There is a reason why nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen claims that the best way to prevent further nuclear energy is to be a capitalist. With projected spending as high as ten times the anticipated amount, the price of nuclear energy production has gone from excessive to downright absurd. While the nuclear industry remains reliant upon government loans and ratepayer dollars to fund upcoming projects, the concern for public safety and the risks of proliferation have been grossly overlooked.

Recently the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, a non-profit advocating openness and transparency in the nuclear industry, released an alarming report entitled, "Nuclear Reality Check: The U.S Department of Energy’s Most Dangerous Budget-Busting Projects." In addition to reviewing nine of the Department of Energy’s most costly and environmentally hazardous nuclear projects, the report also urges Congress to think twice before providing the Department of Energy’s full $29.5 billion budget request for Fiscal Year 2012.

Among the nine proposed projects are those dealing with the production of MOX, a highly toxic mixed-oxide fuel made with weapons-grade plutonium, while others reveal the soaring costs of construction of new weapons research and production facilities - plans that clearly contradict President Obama’s vision for a world free of nuclear weapons. In fact, one might find it strange that several of the proposed projects actually support the manufacturing of nuclear weapons and processing of fissile material rather than oppose it.

So what exactly are these monumentally expensive and harmful programs on the Department of Energy’s agenda? Wonder no more! Over the next several posts I will discuss each of the high risk proposals and illustrate how they will not only compromise the money in our pockets, but also our health and safety. The first step to change is awareness, so stay tuned to learn more about the following programs.

Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project
Uranium Processing Facility
A New Kansas City Plant
National Ignition Facility
B61-12 Nuclear Warhead Life Extension Program
W78 Nuclear Warhead Life Extension Program
Mixed Oxide Plutonium Fuel Fabrication Facility
Nuclear Reactor Loan Guarantees
Waste Treatment Plant

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Peace Education: Not Just for Hippies

This guest blog post was written by Mallory Servais, a senior at the University of Maryland. Mallory recently attended a lecture by NAPF's Peace Leadership Program Director Paul Chappell. The article was originally published by The Diamondback.

A couple Mondays ago, I found myself with free time and the curiosity to attend one of my favorite Monday activities — the Beyond the Classroom Monday-night seminars. So, sporting my "it's-red-lipstick-Monday" British lipstick and accompanied by my partner-in-peace, I sauntered down to the seminar room. For two hours, former U.S. Army Capt. Paul Chappell talked to us about how killing is unnatural in humans, war is not necessary and peace is entirely possible.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hope for the Future

This guest blog post was written by Jillian Forte, a Nuclear Age Peace Foundation intern since September 2010. Jillian was joined by three other NAPF interns - Justin Galle, Jameisha Washington and Olivia Wong - at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) summit in San Diego at the beginning of April.

NAPF interns Justin Galle, Olivia Wong
and Jillian Forte at CGIU in San Diego.
To all of the older generations who wonder about the future resting in our hands, all I have to say is not to worry. After attending the Clinton Global Initiative University, my faith in my own generation has been restored and is stronger than ever. During the three day conference, almost 2,000 university students and many professionals, including of course, President Bill Clinton, attended the conference to discuss ideas and action plans to instill positive global change. In addition to being greatly inspired and motivated, I have also been assured the world is in fact being changed for the better because the ideas brought forth by students in their late teens and early twenties.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Road to Freedom, The Road to Peace

Upon reaching Birmingham, Alabama, we were greeted by warm sunshine and a haunting stillness in the heart of the vibrant city. With a group of five other students, we entered our history of discrimination and segregation at Kelly Ingram Park. While our trip was focused specifically on racial issues and reconciliation the parallels to peace in the nuclear age were very real.

It’s hard to imagine that at one point in time, this beautiful place was all but beautiful. Smoke filled the sky, people ran amuck, as police dogs and billy-clubs met innocent marchers at Kelly Ingram Park. These people knew the risks of their participation in nonviolent protests. They knew they could die and lose it all. However, they also knew that morally they could wait no longer for justice. A placard with the words of Anne Frank reads, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nuclear Accident Strikes Close to Home

Three Mile Island
Until recently I did not realize that San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are designed to withstand even less seismic stress than the designs of the Japanese nuclear plants.  I see the situation at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon as especially dangerous because we know that a major seismic event is due along these fault lines and could strike either of these facilities at any time.  San Onofre, situated adjacent the beach at Camp Pendleton, would appear vulnerable to tsunamis as well as earthquake.  (I am not aware of the tsunami vulnerability of Diablo Canyon).  In any case I agree that the tragedy in Japan should be a wake-up call at least for us in California and that ordinary prudence requires an immediate and thorough review of these two facilities for earthquake and tsunami vulnerability.  Either site would appear to be a disaster waiting to happen.

The events in Japan and the implications for nuclear power in the U.S. strike especially close to home for me, inasmuch as my father (now deceased) was intimately involved with the nuclear power industry from its inception. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

That's not cool

A few days ago I heard reports from some California-based missile watchers that there was an unidentified missile launch off the coast of San Diego. Well, ends up it was a test launch of a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that was not announced publicly beforehand.

There's not a whole lot new here - the US conducts many tests of its nuclear missiles on land (from Vandenberg Air Force Base) and from the sea. What really struck me about this story was a quote in a news report a few days after the launch.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Four Horsemen Stumble Again

In today's Wall Street Journal, the "Four Horsemen" (Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn) appear to address some of the problems with nuclear deterrence. But what are they really saying?

The four former high-ranking US government officials lay out five somewhat contradictory "practical steps toward deterrence that do not rely primarily on nuclear weapons or nuclear threats to maintain international peace and security."

The first step is to develop a strategy to deal with the many other issues that threaten the survival of a country (chemical/biological weapons, cyber warfare, terrorism, climate change, health crisis).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Remembering Eisenhower's Farewell Address

January 17th will be the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the nation in which he warned of the unwarranted and unprecedented influence of the military-industrial complex.  I think he would be shocked to see how this influence has grown over the past half century and what this has meant in terms of the country’s immense military budgets, the nuclear arms race, the permanent war footing, the failure to achieve meaningful disarmament, and the illegal wars the US has initiated.  In addition to all of this, there is the influence of the military-industrial complex on the media, academia, the Congress and the citizenry.  It has also ensnared US allies, like the UK, in its net.  The only way to assure that the military-industrial complex can be meshed “with our peaceful methods and goals,” Eisenhower said, is through “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry.”
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