New Fence at Naval Base Kitsap

by Susan Crane

Naval Base Kitsap, in Washington state, is planning to build a new fence to protect the Trident submarines and the nuclear weapons that are carried on the subs.

The cost for the fence, and projects encompassed in the fence building, is $14,000,000. Not 14 hundred, not 14 thousand, but 14 million dollars. That, my friends, is a lot of money.

That much money, fourteen million dollars, could pay salaries and benefits for 140 well paid teachers for a year, or buy 16,000 families of four food for a month, or send 560 students to college for a year.

And that 14 million will never keep the illegal and immoral Trident warheads safe, because they are inherently unsafe. They already cause death and destruction from the mining of uranium and radioactive materials, to production, deployment, threats to use, and actual use. Additionally they are unsafe because they force other countries to spend money that should be spent on human needs on developing nuclear weapons, in an attempt to secure themselves from our nuclear weapons.

A number of retired Secretaries of State, including Henry Kissinger, as well as some in the military have endorsed the elimination of nuclear weapons because they are unsafe as an instrument of US foreign policy.

And what does it mean that President Obama has pledged to bring global nuclear weapons down to zero? What does it mean that the US has signed a non-proliferation treaty and has agreed to decrease nuclear weapons production? As long as the US maintains its arsenal of roughly 5200 nuclear warheads and plans for its next generation of Trident submarines, other nations feel forced for their own security, to build nuclear weapons, too.

It makes no sense to me that here in the United States we consider that our nuclear weapons are good, moral and lawful, while the nuclear weapons of anther country (depending upon our relationship with it) are evil, immoral and illegal. It is, to me, the same sort of logic that says it’s OK, righteous, and defending freedom when the US drones are used to kill civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq, and when the people on the bottom fight the occupying forces using explosives strapped to their bodies, that is considered outrageous, immoral and beyond any defense. Why is it any worse to look at the people you kill before you kill them? Why is it outrageous to die with those you are killing, instead of sitting thousands of miles out of harms way and drop hellfire missiles on people?

If the word “terrorist” has any meaning, it would seem that the US use of drones and the US continued development of nuclear weapons bring terror into many hearts, and many lives; and into the everyday life of many children.

And now we hear that President Obama has asked for a 7 billion dollar increase for nuclear weapons spending over the next five years; making the 2011 fiscal year budget $11.2 billion.

The fence at the US/Mexico border costs more than 14 million, as it’s much longer. That fence fence probably won’t keep people from coming across the border, and neither will the fence at Naval Base Kitsap keep us safe from the danger of nuclear weapons. (or keep Plowshares activists away). So long as the weapons exist, and the fear deep within our hearts that drives us to rely on these insane, omnicidal weapons, we live in constant danger of something far greater than any terrorist attack.

Is it not time for us to to re-evaluate the value of fences and walls, and consider whether we should start building bridges? Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that,

Love is the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or to bow before the altar of retaliation. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals who pursues this self-defeating path of hate.

Dr. King’s calls us to take a different, yet life-giving path. To do so, we will have to make radical changes in both our individual and collective lives, and as a nation will have to stop threatening other nations with regime change, fulfill our obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and stop holding the threat of nuclear weapons over other countries, and start using true diplomacy rather than military action as a tool of foreign policy.

And what does all this ultimately mean? It means that tearing down fences and building bridges is the only way we will ultimately stop the downward spiral that is bankrupting our nation both morally and financially, and build a safer world for current and future generations. May it be so, and may it start with each of us.

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