Get involved in anti-nuclear weapons organizing against Johns Hopkins University, and get ready for a gathering on January 22 to proclaim nuclear weapons are now illegal. Regions around the world are joining together at particular sites which play a role in maintaining a nuclear arsenal. In our region, JHU is the site where we will gather on January 22 to remind President Ron Daniels that nuclear weapons are illegal, and that continued research on mass murder weapons is immoral.
Published on Portside (https://portside.org/)
David And Goliath
In Our Time
We are living in
the year 2020 AD, signifying two thousand twenty years after the birth of
Christ. For the writer and atomic bomb survivor, Kyoko Hayashi, however,
“the significance of the birth of Christ pales in comparison” with the event
that demonstrated “humans had gained the means to destroy their own species,
all other species and the earth.” Thus, she invents a new calendar “the
A-Bomb calendar” that designates 1945 as year 1.
The fatal act of
using and showcasing the unrivalled power of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki in August 1945 launched a Cold War competition with the Soviet Union,
an arms race that has culminated today in nine countries possessing
approximately 16,000 nuclear weapons (the US and Russia having most).
Moreover the current B83 nuclear weapons of the US arsenal are 80 times, more
powerful than the two atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities.
Further, under the Obama and subsequent administration, the US government is in
the process of modernizing its nuclear arsenal by 2046, carrying an estimated
cost of $1.7 trillion in current dollars. And so also are Russia, China
and the other 6 nuclear nations. They are the biblical Goliaths in our
We have never been
so close to nuclear annihilation, in the opinion of many nuclear weapons
experts, as today. The seminal measure of this risk to all life on the
planet is the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Doomsday Clock, an annual
gauge of nuclear Armageddon since 1947. This gauge of risk has ranged
from 7 minutes to midnight in 1947 to 2 minutes in 1953, and 17 minutes in
1991, due to the détente with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the
agreement with Russia to mutually reduce nuclear weapons. But by 2020 the
Bulletin set the Doomsday Clock at its closest time to midnight ever: 100
seconds. Two other dooming factors also figured into their calculation:
the accelerating climate crisis and cyber-based disinformation. In the
Bulletin’s words “trends…in nuclear weapons and climate change…have failed to
improve…[and] the international political infrastructure for controlling
existential risk is degrading, leaving the world in a situation of high and
As we finish 2020,
the US is in a “full-blown arms race” – both nuclear and conventional - with
Russia and China; and Iran and North Korea are building nuclear programs out of
self-protection from US threats. Further, Trump has withdrawn from nuclear
treaties and the 2017 nuclear accord with Iran; and Saudi Arabia may have
nuclear ambitions. Currently the US has no coherent foreign policy on
nuclear weapons and no climate policy. Increasingly it is flying
nuclear-capable bombers ever closer to Russian and Chinese territory,
stimulating a higher paced arms race. Arms control and security expert Michael
Klare depicts this taunting maneuver as “simply nuts” and rushing us to
Armageddon. The 2021 Doomsday Clock will likely move closer to midnight.
But perhaps not: a strong shaft
of light now pierces the gloom of a nuclear weaponized
world. On October 24th, Honduras became the 50th country
to ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear
Weapons. Under the treaty’s provisions, the possession, manufacture of,
threat of and any actual use of nuclear weapons is an international
crime. On January 22, 2021, the treaty will become international law.
The backdrop to
this landmark Treaty encompasses the unstinting work of non-governmental organizations
laboring for decades to educate countries about the mortal risks of nuclear
weapons and war and, most significantly, the lifelong heart-rending public
testimonies of the thousands of Hibakushas - survivors of the atomic bomb, like
writer Kyoko Hayashi. Together their efforts culminated in 122 nations in
the UN adopting the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons in 2017, despite heavy
pressure by nuclear nations, foremost the US, not to do so.
Three years later
50 of those countries have ratified the treaty, the number of signatories
needed for the treaty to become international law. Many more are in the
process of their legislatures ratifying the treaty.
What can we make
of scarce US media coverage of this global humanitarian advance in eliminating
nuclear weapons? Yes, we are numbed by ongoing bad news of Covid,
economic recession, climate crises and an anti-science administration
entrenched in denial. But we are also benighted by a press and
politicians for whom nuclear weapons seem to be a non-issue, gauging by primary
and presidential debates.
are the biblical David and Goliath struggle of our day. Let us keep in
mind that David prevailed.
Pat Hynes, a
retired Professor of Environmental Health, directs the Traprock Center for Peace
and Justice. https://traprock.org
Donations can be sent
to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206,
Baltimore, MD 21212. Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at]
comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class
has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles.
The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject
class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their
lives." Eugene Victor Debs