Resisting Trident: For Love and for Life

Resisting Trident: For Love and for Life

by Lynne Greenwald

Although I’ve been “part of the peace movement” since the 1970’s, two phrases have remained a common thread throughout the years:  “Don’t take myself too seriously,” and “Resistance should be a song, a dance, an act of love.”

At the Pentagon in the mid-1970’s I experienced what seems to have been a life-altering experience and I knew from that point on, that with my life I had to show that nuclear weapons were wrong.  This became a foundation for my life on the East Coast, in Montana and in Washington State.  I moved to Kitsap County over 26 years ago, to join Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and to raise a family.  Living in this community, it has been possible to learn how to become neighbors to those in the military and discovering our common desires.

I was pregnant with my first daughter when I learned of the Nuclear (White) Train that traveled from Amarillo, Texas to the Trident Submarine Base at Bangor.  The train carrying nuclear weapons was originally parked over night on the tracks behind the Poverello Center, a shelter I helped manage in Missoula, Montana. Christy’s birth was motivation to join a community, nonviolently resisting Trident.

A lot has changed over the years – my three children are all independent young adults now, and the Trident Base continues to expand.  As part of the U.S. strategic military triad (air, land and sea), Trident remains entrenched in the nuclear posturing with its ability to deliver its deadly cargo to any location in the world within 15 minutes.  The beginning of the Iraq war convinced me to take my demands for the end of all war, and the abolition of all nuclear weapons, to the Trident Base in my community.

Last August I was arrested for the third time for “crossing the blue line” at the Base. On November 2, 2009 I entered the Trident Base with four friends and proceeded to walk to the nuclear weapons storage facility.  As part of the Disarm Now Plowshares group we spent several hours walking on the Base and cut through fences that “secured” the largest single stockpile of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal.

I can’t not act to stop nuclear weapons from being planned, developed or deployed.  The compelling reasons include a faith that life is to be nurtured, not destroyed; that all resources should be used for life-giving purposes for all; and that nuclear weapons do not make us safe, and actually make us less secure.  When entering the base I carry prayers for peace and images of children, including 2-year-old Ali Hussein, who died late April 2008 following a U.S. missile attack on his home in Baghdad, Iraq.  I take a vision of a world without nuclear weapons and war, and sunflower seeds representing hope for this violated earth.

All signs indicate that this country is not preparing for nuclear disarmament.  On January 29, 2010 Joe Biden presented an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, the President’s Nuclear Vision.  The article clearly outlines a plan to maintain and further develop the strength of the nuclear arsenal, with a proposed $7 billion ($600 million more than Congress approved last year) to be spent to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile and complex.

Knowing what I know, acts of Civil Resistance are a responsibility I take seriously, committing my life to the elimination of all nuclear weapons.  Trident nuclear weapons are illegal and immoral. Even the existence and threat to use nuclear weapons violates International Law and the International Tribunal of Justice of 1996.

I began this article by mentioning two thoughts that run through my actions.  By committing acts of Civil Resistance we have an opportunity to create an alternative peaceful world.  I am convinced that “those in control” completely lack creativity and imagination and need our voices and lives to describe another reality – complete nuclear abolition in our lifetime.

Lynne is preparing for a trial March 3 for an August 2009 trespass at the Bangor Trident BaseShe currently lives in Tacoma and volunteers at the Guadalupe Catholic Worker House.  As a member of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, she is helping to plan for a May 1 – 3 gathering and action to coincide with the NPT Review gathering at the UN in NYC.

May 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review: It’s Crunch Time

by Bill Bichsel, SJ

President Obama’s speech in Prague on April 5, 2009 dedicating this country to lead the global effort to abolish nuclear weapons brought tremendous hope and joy to the nations of our world.  This vision disintegrated into contradictory parts with Vice President Biden’s announcement of the President’s approval of the new investment in the nuclear arsenal.

A good part of this year’s budget will go to the development of new nuclear weapon components at their key nuclear weapon projects: at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and at the Kansas City Plant in Missouri. The Missouri plant for producing a major, non-nuclear component for nuclear arms is well into the planning stages and will replace the existing plant. The facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee plans to reinvest in its ability to produce uranium components, while the Los Alamos plant plans to increase the U.S. capability to produce plutonium pits – the core of a nuclear weapon – from 20 to 125 pits annually.

The Obama Administration’s proposed budget includes a request of over 7 billion dollars to improve and modernize its nuclear weapon production base. The modernization and production of a new generation of nuclear weapons is the latest and most deplorable violation of the spirit and intent of the NPT, Nuclear Weapon Non-Proliferation Treaty , which was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1970. The “improvements” of the nuclear arsenal will increase the indiscriminate killing power of the weapons. Nuclear weapons are illegal and immoral under international and U.S. law and are outrageous violations of humanitarian law.  They are crimes and sins against humanity and the continued participation in the maintenance and production of these weapons is to participate in societal sin.  When a person through conscience becomes aware of the rightness or wrongness of a given action, then that person is personally responsible to follow the dictates of conscience.

In presenting the President’s Nuclear Vision in the Wall Street Journal, Vice President Biden quoted Obama, “…no nation can secure itself by disarming unilaterally, but as long as nuclear weapons exist, all nations remain ever on the brink of destruction.”  Obama’s Prague speech continued, “We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.”

Before making a few suggestions about how Obama could start and lead the world in nuclear weapon abolition, let me deal with the term “unilateral.” Some nuclear weapon supporters use the term to convey the idea that any step toward disarmament would be unilateral disarmament or the U.S. “going it alone” and leaving the country defenseless. The word can be used to try to ridicule or cut off dialogue about nuclear weapon abolition.

All NPT nations know and agree that nuclear weapon disarmament won’t take place without an enforceable agreement between the nations about the time, pace and modus of abolition.  All nuclear nations must agree to the move – not just one country.

The big question is, “who will take the lead?”  The NPT review committee will meet in May of this year to determine whether the NPT nations can actually set a date when the NPT nations will eliminate all nuclear weapons.  The review committee has met every 5 years since 1970 and has never set a date for nuclear weapon disarmament. There is fear among nuclear weapon researchers that unless a date is set, it will be too late to stop nuclear weapon proliferation in third world countries. Nations will be armed against one another in a death dance.  Steven Leeper of the Hiroshima Peace Museum, and who works for Mayors for Peace states, “It is crunch time.”

Mayors for Peace is an international body of over 3000 mayors working for nuclear weapon abolition.  At the NPT Review Committee meeting in May 2010 at the United Nations in New York City the group will propose that all NPT nuclear weapon states agree to the abolition of all of their nuclear weapons by 2020.  Mayors for Peace will also propose that these states submit plans on how and by what time table the disarmament will proceed at the 2015 NPT Review. This proposal is known as the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol.

In response to the President’s “Nuclear Vision,” I would like to suggest how the $7 Billion request for modernization of the nuclear arsenal can be turned into a first step toward nuclear weapons disarmament that is committed and can bring hope and encouragement to NPT nations as well as our world. The suggestion has two parts.

First, let the Obama administration request $3 billion to implement the decommissioning of the 3 plants mentioned previously in this article, as well as the Livermore Laboratory in California. This request should include money to retire current workers or to pay for retraining employees to work for needed national endeavors such as green energy and to repair environmental damage. Let the clean up of Hanford and similar nuclear contaminated places be priorities. Money should be invested in the planning for safe disposal of all nuclear weapons in the U.S. This plan must be submitted to the NPT Review Committee in 2015.

Let $4 Billion be invested immediately in the health and welfare of the Haitian people and the rebuilding of the country’s infrastructure. Let this be the first installment in our debt to the Haitian people and our duty to share resources with those most in need.

Ways to work for Nuclear Weapon Abolition:

  1. Each day forgive someone or forgive yourself.
  2. Each day perform an act of random kindness (saying hello to    someone for instance).
  3. Each day take time to thank God for the person(s) who has helped or inspired you.
  4. Learn about Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action.
  5. Learn about the NPT Review coming up this May at the United Nations in New York.
  6. Write your elected Representative and Senators to oppose nuclear weapons.
  7. Organize or join a gathering that will support abolition of all nuclear weapons during the week of the NPT conference.
  8. Inquire about a group who will meet with their mayor to inform their elected official of Mayors for Peace.
  9. Join a group (senior citizen, student, etc.) that will reflect and act on the nuclear weapon bondage.
  10. Write a letter or article to the editor of your paper about your experience in working for nuclear weapon abolition.
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