Sunday, November 13, 2022

Report on a meeting with Rep. Sarbanes aide to discuss nuclear weapons


Consider doing lobbying with your legislators on this issue of getting US nukes out of Europe.  We believe they are provocative and threatening to Russia.  Note that one purpose of our lobbying efforts is to educate the staff.  They are overwhelmed in the jobs, and appreciate when we bring up issues with which they are unfamiliar.  Anyone concerned about the dangers inherent in nuclear weapons, should consider urging your legislators to say to the Biden administration it is imperative that US nuclear weapons must be removed from Europe.


On November 2 at 10 AM, Ellen Barfield, Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter of Veterans for Peace, Lou Curran, Prevent Nuclear War/Maryland and I representing the Baltimore Nonviolence Center met with Ben Gantt, a foreign policy aide to Rep. John Sarbanes.  Janice Sevre-Duszynska, also with the Nonviolence Center, opted to attend a Zoom meeting of Baltimore Peace Action.


I began the interaction with Gantt explaining that I was taught that Columbus was a great explorer who discovered America.  But when I read Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States, I saw a different take on the explorer, as he was actively engaged in the genocide of the indigenous people. 


And a similar scenario was evident with regards to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.  The conventional story was that President Kennedy made Khrushchev back down and agree to remove the Soviet nuclear weapons from Cuba.  Actually, though, what really happened was there was an agreement that Kennedy would remove US nuclear weapons from Turkey and pledge that the US would not invade Cuba. In return, the Soviet nuclear weapons were removed from Cuba.


   Following this thread, our main ask for Rep. Sarbanes: urge President Biden to agree to remove US nuclear weapons from Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.  This could jump start negotiations with Russia about nuclear disarmament treaties. Sadly Bush II and Trump abrogated several nuclear weapons treaties.


I indicated I read that the placement of US nukes in Europe violates the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  I asked the aide to please investigate if this is accurate. 


  I then spoke on behalf of Janice.  Ever since President Obama decided to spend more than a trillion tax dollars on refurbishing the nuclear arsenal, Janice has been very upset.  She recognizes that these are wasted tax dollars which should have been spent on climate chaos mitigation, healthcare, education and many other social programs. It is presumed that Obama promoted the “upgrade” of the nuclear arsenal to reward weapons contractors such Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.


  We brought to Gantt’s attention that for years we have been protesting weapons contracts at Johns Hopkins University.  The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons [ICAN] which won the Nobel Peace Prize indicated that JHU was the #1 School of Mass Destruction as it receives the most nuclear weapons research dollars.


  Ellen explained as a veteran she saw that US nukes were installed in foreign countries on a wink-wink basis.  She also pointed out that there are 800 US military bases overseas, an example of a huge misuse of tax dollars.  It was also brought up that the Pentagon is a major contributor to climate chaos.  We did thank Sarbanes for voting for an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense [sic] Authorization Act (NDAA), which would have reduced the Pentagon's budget by $100 billion. We also praised the representative for his work on protecting the vote.


   Lou indicated that Rep. Sarbanes should co-sponsor H.Res.1185 - Embracing the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. And he should speak to his colleagues in the Senate to introduce a similar resolution.  Lou informed the aide that the Baltimore City Council approved a Back from the Brink resolution – five steps which the United States could do to prevent a nuclear war. And Baltimore is a Nuclear Free Zone.  While Back from the Brink was a resolution, the Nuclear Free Zone came about in 1992 as a legally-binding ordinance.  And recently the City installed new NFZ signs on roadways throughout Baltimore.  Getting our Maryland representatives to co-sponsor 1185 would continue that anti-nuclear weapons perspective in this state.

We concluded our presentation with some of our other concerns. The power to order the use of a nuclear weapon must be removed from the president. The United States has roughly 1,700 deployed nuclear weapons and another several thousand in reserve. Four hundred of these are on missiles in underground silos, ready to be launched within minutes of a presidential order. These weapons must be taken off hair-trigger alert. The U.S. is set to spend $264 billion dollars on the projected lifetime cost of the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent program, which is set to replace the land-based nuclear missiles.

  Ben Gantt indicated he welcomed meeting with us and emphasized that John Sarbanes is concerned about military spending and any use of nuclear weapons.  We agreed to stay in touch, and look forward to the representative’s response to our asks.

Kagiso, Max   

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] Go to

"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


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