Intimidation doesn’t bring peace – it only brings fear


The [Tacoma] News Tribune ran an editorial on December 15th titled Who’s guarding the nukes at Kitsap-Bangor? that minimized the value of Plowshares while reminding us that “in the real world – as opposed to the wishful-thinking world – intimidation is sometimes the only means of maintaining peace.” 

We must cut the editorial staff at The News Tribune some slack, along with much of the citizenry, since they take their example from our nations leaders (along with their accomplices the Military-Industrial Complex) who utilize “intimidation” nearly across the board as an instrument of foreign policy.  And – Nuclear weapons are the ultimate form of “intimidation!”

Fr. Bill “Bix” Bichsel, one of the Disarm Now Plowshares activists responded to the editorial and the paper published Bix’s response today.  You can read it below.

I hope you will find as I did that Bix’s thoughtful response demonstrates he is no naive peace activist; it shows that he has a firm grasp on both the spiritual world and the physical world, and understands but does not accept the “real world” referred to by the editorial. 

Thank you Bix for continuing to show us that there is an alternative world where we convert “things of war into things of peace and our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh”; may we all hear the call to create this world. 





I take deep issue with the editorial of Dec. 15, “Who’s guarding the nukes at Kitsap-Bangor?”

The editorial states, “But in the real world – as opposed to the wishful thinking world – intimidation is sometimes the only means of maintaining peace.” Intimidation never brings or maintains peace; it only maintains a state of fear.

One nation pointing its nuclear weapons at another produces fear that brings the other nation to arm itself. Intimidation brings on an endless cycle of fear and the proliferation of nuclear weapons among nations.

In this “real world,” fear, hopelessness, apathy and ever-cycling violence reigns. It seems to me that the majority of Americans are lulled into living out this reign of fear in which the political, economic, corporate, military and media power is in the control of the few.

The editorial describes the “wishful thinking world” by alluding to the vision of Isaiah11:6-9, in which the “… lions lie down with lambs.” Isaiah’s vision expresses the deep hope that people can work through entrenched layers of fear, prejudice and hate that keep people apart. It is a vision of hope for a peaceful kingdom.

In this Advent season, we reflect on the coming of the Prince of Peace, who comes in vulnerability, weakness and poverty to proclaim the peaceful kingdom. In this kingdom to which all are invited, forgiveness, putting down the sword, nonviolence and loving one another are foundational. The invitation calls for deep and hard work.

One should not pray “thy kingdom come on earth …” if one doesn’t believe it. The hard work of the kingdom calls us to work through our deep fear and prejudices. Jesus taught and lived the way of peace, and it led him to his execution. This is to know the depth to which we are called to peace and nonviolence.

But the execution is not the final say: If we wish to continue the work of the Prince of Peace, we must work to make active nonviolence real in our lives and in our world. The kingdom will not come by waiting for it, but by following and acting on the deepest longing for peace in our hearts.

Besides the faith underpinning of the work for nuclear weapon disarmament, there is the legal reality that nuclear weapons are illegal under U.S. and humanitarian laws. The Hague Agreements, the Geneva Protocols, the U.N. Charter and the Nuremberg Principles to which the United States is a signatory all outlaw nuclear weapons because they are indiscriminate killers of civilians and because they destroy the environment and infrastructure of cities and civilizations.

Article 6, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that all treaties and agreements made by the United States with other nations become the supreme law of the land. These laws are incorporated into our domestic laws.

In addition, the U.S. war crimes law outlaws the use of weapons of indiscriminate killing. At the recent trial in which I and four companions were convicted of entering the Stategic Weapons Facility Pacific at Bangor, where the nuclear warheads for the Navy’s Trident subs are stored, we were forbidden the use of humanitarian law and necessity as a defense.

One further note: Nuclear weapon disarmament does not mean that the United States gets rid of all nuclear weapons at once, but that we move in good faith toward disarmament along with other countries. While the United States has decreased the number of its nuclear weapons, it has continued to refurbish and rebuild plants and newer weapons.

There are many preliminary things to be done toward disarmament. The United States could ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty, take the weapons off of hair-trigger readiness, initiate a no-first-strike agreement, stop uranium mining and enhancement and and ratify the new START treaty. The United States could begin to train workers in the dismantling of nuclear weapons and facilities, and begin to offer job training for converting things of war into things of peace and our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.

The Rev. Bill Bichsel, S.J., of Tacoma is a Roman Catholic priest who has led protests against nuclear weapons since the 1970s.

Source: The News Tribune,

Original News Tribune editorial:

One Response

  1. The article by Bill Bichsel is unusual in that it actually mentions Jesus. I have been following the disarm now plowshares action, public witness, and courtroom testimony and have been frankly amazed at the absence of any talk about Jesus and Yahweh. In article after article and report after report the emphasis has been on international law and, seemingly, good citizenship. In one of the earlier articles this was mentioned along with the “of the people, by the people and for the people” rhetoric.

    The reason that people who follow Jesus go out into public is to proclaim the love and power of God. It is only God who can save us from our situation and for followers of Jesus to go out into public and not speak of Jesus is unthinkable. How can we show our loyalty to the gospels if we do not talk about the gospels in public witness. We live in the most murderous Empire in history and it is only God who can bring it to an end. God is in fact bringing it to an end and the important work of proclaiming that to people, telling people to prepare for the fall of the society and revealing that God is preparing a new heaven and new earth as the prophets declared and as Revelation proclaimed is left undone.

    It is certainly right to focus on specific weapons systems and to talk about international law but only in the context of Jesus and Yahweh. We all have to make a choice about whether we are citizens of Empire or followers of Jesus. We cannot be both. The rhetoric seems to be that of secular leftism.

    Bichsel states that “Nuclear weapon disarmament does not mean that the United States gits rid of all nuclear weapons at once, but that we move in good faith toward disarmament along with other countries.” What does this mean. The only moral position that a follower of Jesus can take is to demand that the government get rid of all nuclear weapons no matter what other nations do. Would we get rid of our Auschwitzes only if other nations give up theirs. To have even one nuclear weapon is blasphemy. If the other nations do not give up their weapons do you believe that we should not give up ours? God is our security. That is what you should be saying in public. In your argument about disarmament you have taken the mainstream Imperial position. We have to follow Jesus no matter what.

    I had two letters on the former dialogue page that raised the same questions and others that were not answered. Those letters are apparently no longer on your website. You did acknowledge one of the letters but did not answer it. I spoke with one of your members at a gathering but did not go into the issues in depth. I believe that these are extremely important questions and should be answered on your website. If I am the only one bringing up these issues it would greatly surprise me but that may be the case. I will reduce the questions to two. Why is there an absence when it comes to revealing the reality of God on the street and in court? Do you believe that it is the moral imperative of the followers of Jesus to demand that this country disarms completely no matter what other nations do?

    Don Whitman

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