August 6 and August 9, 2016, will be the 71st 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.
Many people have heard the story of Sadako and the 1,000 Cranes, about the young Japanese woman who survived the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast in 1945 but who later contracted leukemia, probably due to the radiation to which she was exposed. According to Japanese legend, if you fold 1,000 paper cranes, your wish will be granted. Sadako succeeded in folding over 1,000 cranes as she battled leukemia, but her wish to live was not granted, and she died 10 months after her leukemia was first diagnosed.
Between now and August 6, 2016, please help us write a story with a happier ending - The Story of Sacramento and the 1,000 Phone Calls - by calling President Obama and our elected members of Congress to urge them to oppose any further spending on nuclear weapons and to instead work toward the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.
Phone numbers for President Obama, for Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and for U.S. Representatives Bera and Matsui are listed below:
Please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org after you make your calls to let us know who you contacted and when so that we can keep track of the progress toward our goal of making at least 1,000 phone calls by August 6. Read on for further information and talking points.
As you may know, President Obama visited the city of Hiroshima on May 27, 2016. It was the first time that a US President had visited Hiroshima while still in office. In his speech in Hiroshima, President Obama noted that following World War II:
An international community established institutions and treaties that work to avoid war and aspire to restrict and roll back and ultimately eliminate the existence of nuclear weapons…. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them.
President Obama had expressed a similar view on nuclear weapons near the beginning of his presidency. In a speech in Prague in April 2009, he said:
The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War….So today, I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, though, in the interval between his speeches in Prague and Hiroshima, President Obama's actions haven't matched his lofty words.
President Obama should be given some credit for having helped broker the New START treaty in 2009, leading to modest reductions in deployed nuclear warheads by the US and Russia; and the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 to prevent that country from acquiring nuclear weapons. In 2015, though, Obama also approved a deal to provide India, a violator of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with nuclear fuel. Although the fuel was designated for peaceful power generation, it allowed India to use more of its indigenously mined uranium for the production of nuclear weapons.
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPNW), of which PSR is the US affiliate, founded the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in 2007. ICAN now has more than 420 partner non-governmental organizations in 95 countries. At a conference in Vienna in December, 2014, ICAN adopted a pledge to “stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.” In December of 2015, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of adopting this pledge, but the United States was one of just 29 countries to vote against it.
IPPNW sent representatives to the United Nations Open Ended Working Group meeting in Geneva in May, 2016, prior to President Obama's visit to Hiroshima, to develop “legal measures, legal provisions and norms” for achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world. OEWG, as it is called, was formed in 2015 and is supported by 138 nations, but opposed by 12, including the United States, and President Obama didn't send a representative to the meeting in Geneva.
Finally, in stark contrast to his commitment to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons in Prague in 2009 and in Hiroshima in May, 2016, President Obama is currently proposing that the United States spend $1 trillion over the next 30 years to “modernize” its nuclear arsenal.
PSR/Sacramento will be consponsoring the annual August Peace Event on the afternoon of Sunday, August 7, to commemorate the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki . Between now and August 7, we're asking all PSR/Sacramento supporters to help in making a total of at least 1,000 phone calls to President Obama and our Sacramento area members of Congress to demand that we stop spending money on nuclear weapons and that instead, we honor the commitments that our country made in signing the NPT in 1970 and that President Obama made in his speeches in Prague in 2009 and in Hiroshima in May of this year to work urgently toward the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.
As another US President, John F Kennedy, stated over 50 years ago:
Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or by madness. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us.
Thanks for your help in writing the story of Sacramento and the 1,000 Phone Calls. Phone numbers for President Obama and Sacramento area members of Congress are listed above. For additional contact information, or if you don't know who your U.S. Representative is, click on the following email@example.com after you make your contacts to let us know who you contacted and when so that we can keep track of our progress toward our goal of making at least 1,000 phone calls by August 6.
In addition to working on the issue of the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons, 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.