The United States brought nuclear weapons into the world. It is the only country to have used them, and it did so on innocent civilians.
Nuclear weapons are now many times more powerful than the fission bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They make no nation safer but imperil all nations and the planet we all live on. Nuclear weapons are intrinsically immoral.
Fifty years ago, the United States signed the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. We joined the four other nuclear countries in 1968 to promise to work “in good faith” toward “complete disarmament,” while other nations that signed the treaty agreed to never obtain them.
The current nuclear arsenal of the United States, however, and its plans to modernize its nuclear weaponry over the next 30 years (at a cost of $1.2 trillion, according to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office), radically belie the promise our nation made when it signed the Nonproliferation Treaty. Our country’s current deployment of more than 1,500 nuclear warheads in its triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles, strategic bombers, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles endows us with monstrous nuclear capacity and supremacy over all other nations.
In February of this, the 50th anniversary of our signing the Nonproliferation Treaty, the Pentagon released its “Nuclear Posture Review” (NPR). In his preface, General Jim Mattis stated:
“This review confirms the findings of previous NPRs that the nuclear triad—supported by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) dual-capable aircraft and a robust nuclear command, control, and communications system—is the most cost-effective and strategically sound means of ensuring nuclear deterrence.”
“This review affirms the modernization programs initiated during the previous Administration to replace our nuclear ballistic missile submarines, strategic bombers, nuclear air-launched cruise missiles, ICBMs, and associated nuclear command and control.”
So, 50 years after promising to help purge the world of nuclear weapons, our nation insanely believes the best way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons is to assure that they are ever more effective. Moreover, we have the audacity to demand that other nations such as Iran and North Korea not have such weapons.
Has there ever been a greater and more dangerous hypocrisy in the history of civilization?
We are people who have protested at Vandenberg Air Force Base against nuclear weaponry. We protest at Vandenberg, because our nation tests its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) by firing them from the base to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, degrading the environment, health, and economic welfare of the small country’s indigenous peoples. We also protest at Vandenberg because the soldiers assigned to launch our nation’s nuclear ICBMs are trained at the base.
Many of us have protested at Vandenberg for decades. We are old and young. We are Asian, black, brown, Native American, Pacific Islander, and white. We are agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Catholics, Jews, Protestants, and Quakers. Some of us are military veterans of wars; others are lifelong pacifists. Many of us have been arrested during our peaceful protest at Vandenberg. Some of us have gone to prison; one of us went before the U.S. Supreme Court.
We are all one in our opposition to the possession of nuclear weapons by any nation, foremost our own. We are also one in our love for humanity, and we hope that our nation will one day rid itself of its nuclear arsenal and authentically lead other nations to join it.
Until that day, we continue our protest.
Sue Ablao (Bremerton, WA); Mary Lou Anderson (Las Vegas, NV); John Dennis Apel (Guadalupe, CA); Mary Becker (Montecito, CA); Kelly Bowles Gray (Los Olivos, CA); Kent Carlander (Santa Barbara, CA); Karen Claydon (Santa Barbara, CA); Felice Cohen-Joppa (Tucson, AZ); Jack Cohen-Joppa (Tucson, AZ); Peggy Coleman (Los Gatos, CA); Dudley Conneely (Goleta, CA); Susan Crane (Redwood City, CA); Lucas Dambergs (Tacoma, WA); Reverend John Dear (Santa Fe, NM); Jeff Dietrich (Los Angeles, CA); Clancy Dunigan (Langley, WA); Dennis DuVall (Prescott, AZ); MacGregor Eddy (Salinas CA); Ed Ehmke (Menlo Park, CA); Daniel Ellsberg (Kensington, CA); Marilyn Fahrne (Santa Cruz, CA); Scott Fina (Orcutt, CA); Elizabeth U. Flanagan (Santa Barbara, CA); Toni Kathleen Flynn (Arroyo Grande, CA); Karan Founds-Benton (Los Angeles, CA); George Franklin (San Francisco, CA); Bruce K. Gagnon (Brunswick, ME); Cris Gutierrez (Santa Monica, CA); Jim Haber (San Francisco, CA); Chris Hables Gray (Santa Cruz, CA); Lynn Hamilton (Monterey, CA); Anne Hall (Lopez Island, WA); David Hall (Lopez Island, WA); David Hartsough (San Francisco, CA); Jan Harwood (Santa Cruz, CA); Tom H. Hastings (Portland, OR); Tensie Hernandez (Guadalupe, CA); Susan Hubbard (Monterey, CA); Brother Senji Kanaeda (Bainbridge Island, WA); Reverend Stephen Kelly, SJ (Oakland, CA); Katie Kelso (New Orleans, LA); Jane Kesselman (North San Juan, CA); Mary Klein (Palo Alto, CA); David Krieger (Santa Barbara, CA); Richard Lai (Las Vegas, NV); Frances E. Lamb (Bend, OR); Andrew Lanier, Jr. (San Jose, CA); Sandy Lejeune (Santa Barbara, CA); Sherrill A. Lewis (San Luis Obispo CA); Reverend Jeannette Love (Carpinteria, CA); Peter Lumsdaine (Port Hadlock, WA); Nancy Lynch (Santa Barbara, CA); Max Magen (West Marlboro, VT); Jorge Manly Gil (Guadalupe, CA); S.C. Maurin (San Francisco, CA); John Mazurski (San Francisco, CA); Betty McElhill (Tucson, AZ); Allison McGillivray (Eugene, OR); Gale McNeeley (Santa Maria, CA); Christine Milne (Santa Barbara, CA); Jessica Morley (Grants Pass, OR); Ken Murphy (Santa Barbara, CA); Elizabeth Murray (Poulsbo, WA); Donald Nollar (Los Angeles, CA); Mary Jane Parrine Ehmken (Menlo Park, CA); Hilary Peattie (Goleta, CA); Lacksana Peters (San Leandro, CA); Lorin Peters (San Leandro, CA); Lawrence Purcell (Redwood City, CA); Susan Pyburn (San Luis Obispo, CA); Mary Rice (Crozet, VA); Sister Megan Rice (Washington, DC); George W. Rodkey (Tacoma, WA); Jack Schultz (Santa Cruz, CA); Martin Sheen (Malibu, CA); Valerie Sklarevsky (Malibu, CA); Lida Sparer (Ridgecrest, NC); Starhawk (San Francisco, CA); Anne Symens-Bucher (Oakland, CA); Laura-Maire Taylor (Las Vegas, NV); Edward Van Valkenburgh (Santa Cruz, CA); Tom Webb (Oakland, CA); J. Webb Mealy (Santa Barbara, CA); dress wedding (Oakland, CA); Lynda Williams (Sebastopol, CA); Michael Wisniewski (Hacienda Heights, CA); Samuel Yergler (Eugene, OR); John Yevtich (New Orleans, LA); Brother Gilberto Zamora Perez (Bainbridge Island, WA); Randy Ziglar (Santa Monica, CA).
The 91 co-signers of this commentary have all protested at Vandenberg Air Force Base. They come from 11 states (and the District of Columbia) and both coasts of our country, and include such notable national figures as Daniel Ellsberg, actor Martin Sheen, peace activist Sister Megan Rice, author Father John Dear, and David Krieger, founding executive director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.