August 6 and August 9, 2015, are the 70th anniversaries of the horrific atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By the most conservative estimates, these attacks killed over 120,000 civilians immediately, and at least another 120,000 people died over the next year as a direct result of injuries, burns, and radiation exposure that they suffered in the attacks. The more long term effects of increased rates of cancer and birth defects in atomic bomb survivors and their offspring continue to be studied to this day. But the destructive power of the atomic bombs used in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks was miniscule compared with today's nuclear weapons.
In a speech that President Obama delivered in Prague in April of 2009, he stated:
"The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War….Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up….So today, I state clearly and with conviction America 's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons."
Sadly, though, President Obama has not lived up to the promise of his speech in Prague. Although he did exhibit commendable diplomatic leadership in helping broker an international agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, he has shown little leadership in persuading other countries that already have nuclear weapons to participate in nuclear disarmament, and he has requested an increase in spending on our own country's nuclear weapons in his 2015 budget. The Congressional Budget Office projects that "modernizing" America's nuclear arsenal will cost $355 billion through 2023.
PSR/Sacramento leaders meet regularly with local elected U.S. Representatives to discuss the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons and the insanity of spending hundreds of billions of dollars to "modernize" weapons that if ever used, would lead to the end of human civilization as we know it. We urge our supporters to take action individually as well by contacting the President, California Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and their U.S. Representatives by telephone, email, and U.S. mail to insist that we stop wasteful spending on nuclear weapons and that we live up to the commitment that President Obama made in his Prague speech and that our nation as a whole made in signing the 1970 international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to rid the world of nuclear weapons, including abolishing our own nuclear arsenal.
PSR/Sacramento also works toward the elimination of war as anything other than a very last resort as a means of international conflict resolution, and the prevention of diversion of vital resources toward war and preparation for war. We oppose the discredited concepts of "pre-emptive war" and the so-called "War on Terror." It has been repeatedly shown throughout history that conventional military force is not only ineffective in halting terrorism, it breeds terror. We decry the unjust, unnecessary, and counter-productive attacks launched on Afghanistan and Iraq by the U.S. led coalition following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. We mourn for the millions of innocent victims on all sides of these conflicts. (See the March 20, 2015 report, Body Count, released by PSR and IPPNW). We support working through the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to resolve international conflicts. We believe that the most effective way to reduce the threat of terrorism is to work through programs such as the United Nations Development Program to address the root causes of terrorism, including fostering humanitarian programs that address illiteracy, poverty, social injustice, and degradation of the environment; and promoting local public safety programs as well as international peace-keeping operations based upon intelligence sharing among democratic institutions operating within the rule of international law.
PSR is a partner in Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World. Sign the call for a world free from nuclear weapons.