Ever since the news media got wind of the jury’s verdict in the Disarm Now Plowshares trial there has been an onslaught of questions about the trial: What were the reasons for their Plowshares action? Will they appeal? Why did they choose to defend themselves? What happens next? What does this mean for the nuclear weapons abolition movement?
As I think back on the events of the past week a flood of questions come to my mind, among them: Why did the government stifle nearly every attempt by the defense to question and confirm the presence of nuclear weapons at Bangor? We couldn’t they bring up the issue of humanitarian law relating to nuclear weapons? So many questions come to mind that would have opened up a discussion of why our nation continues to rely on nuclear weapons as a tool of foreign policy and is building up its nuclear weapons research and manufacturing infrastructure as well as working on a new generation of ballistic missile submarines.
One might question the value, both in human and economic terms, of continuing to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons that by their very nature indiscriminately kill civilians in huge numbers and leave the land scarred and unable to sustain life for generations. Scientists have shown that even a limited nuclear conflict (with weapons much smaller than those deployed by the U.S. or Russia) between countries like India and Pakistan would have devastating global effects. Scary stuff indeed!
One of the dangers of asking questions is that we might just learn something we do not want to know, such as the fact that two decades after the fall of the end of the Cold War there are still far more than enough nuclear weapons deployed and ready to launch on command to end life as we know it. Those Trident missiles deployed on our submarines that the Disarm Now Plowshares defendants attempted to talk about in their trial are on alert status, and would be launched within minutes of the order given by the President. Such sobering facts make most people very uncomfortable. And yet, should we ignore such inconvenient truths we do so at our own peril, in addition to putting future generations at risk.
The Disarm Now Plowshares 5 asked themselves many questions throughout their long process of discernment, planning and preparation for their Plowshares action. It was not done with haste. Most importantly, they stood up and questioned our government’s illegal acts regarding nuclear weapons; they challenged them! Their example is a fitting example for the movement to abolish nuclear weapons.
Perhaps one of the questions many of you reading this are asking is “Can we as members of civil society do anything to abolish nuclear weapons?” If history is an indicator I would answer a firm “Yes!”
Lawrence Wittner, a distinguished historian and author of Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, documents the fact that “deterrence” is a myth; that the only thing that has kept us from destroying ourselves with nuclear weapons has in fact been the global grassroots campaign that has challenged governments and thwarted their grandiose nuclear visions Wittner’s book shows us that we must continue this struggle that began even before the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and that it is more imperative than ever that we re-energize this movement.
May each one of us as citizens carry out our rights and responsibilities to question and challenge our government’s continuing deployment and threat of use of nuclear weapons. Write letters to the editor; talk to people everywhere you go; put up yard signs. Above all, be creative. Voice your concerns and above all, ASK QUESTIONS! I am learning that asking questions works far better than telling people what to do. It’s just like parenting; it offers less to push back against.
Speaking of QUESTIONS – Why hasn’t the Senate ratified the New START Treaty??? Let’s flood the Senate with phone calls, emails and faxes!!! Even if your Senators support ratification, implore them to do everything in their power to end debate (intended to weaken the treaty) and vote NOW!!!
As we regroup and focus now that the trial is over, we will be engaging and resisting Trident with a renewed sense of direction, and looking forward to including all who are ready to question and participate in a true grassroots movement of civil society to continue to resist Trident and abolish nuclear weapons.
I hope you will continue read this blog to keep informed of opportunities to act together to resist Trident and work towards nuclear abolition. Above all – Keep asking questions!
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