War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

Greetings friends of Ground Zero Center,
We are deep into the Winter of Our Discontent in what has become (almost overnight) a dystopian landscape that is looking more and more like George Orwell’s vision of the future. Our new president seems to suffer from (among his many maladies) attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In his first days in office he has issued executive orders at an unparalleled rate of signing as he makes good on his pre-election pledges to “make America great again;” translation: “lay waste to what is good about America.” Of course, forget about any concern for the health, safety or well-being of all those who will be affected by the President’s sweeping orders (and the Congressional skullduggery of his Republican-controlled Congress). The only thing I haven’t yet seen is a statement pledging to make America’s nuclear weapons great again, although Trump already pledged that he would be “making our military strong again.” Phew – about time!
“Our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace,” Trump said when he signed an executive order last Friday that will lead to what he called “a great rebuilding” of the US military (and will include an evaluation of US nuclear weapons). Trump also described the US military as “the greatest force for justice and peace and goodness that have ever walked the face of this earth. Your legacy exists everywhere in the world today where people are more free, more prosperous, and more secure because of the United States of America.”
If this reads like doublespeak to you, IT IS! We aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto; we’ve travelled back in time to (George Orwell’s) famous book”1984,” where “war is peace.” The people have reconciled themselves to living in a constant state of war – of course the war (or wars) is always being being fought elsewhere – and have learned to seamlessly switch from one emotion (war) to the other (peace) in accordance with what they are told by “The Party.”
Of course, the people have been so subverted in thought (or the lack thereof) by party propaganda that they have become discouraged from seeking “freedom” of thought. Yes, “freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength.” The people accept whatever they are told by “The Party.” BELIEVE AND NEVER QUESTION!!!
But enough of such darkness! We are people of vision and hope (and light); a hope borne not out of some naive faith that others will create a better world, but rather in our own vision, strength and courage to bring about the better world we seek. And we will continue to question, to challenge… to RESIST!
And this certainly is the time to resist!
In his January 26th Opinion piece in Time titled, “It All Looks as if the World Is Preparing for War,” former head of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev said that, “no problem is more urgent today than the militarization of politics and the new arms race.Stopping and reversing this ruinous race must be our top priority.” Gorbachev gets to the heart of the issue: “While state budgets are struggling to fund people’s essential social needs, military spending is growing.” After laying out the problem(s), Gorbachev clearly lays out the first steps needed to move the world away from the brink:

I urge the members of the U.N. Security Council — the body that bears primary responsibility for international peace and security — to take the first step. Specifically, I propose that a Security Council meeting at the level of heads of state adopt a resolution stating that nuclear war is unacceptable and must never be fought.

I think the initiative to adopt such a resolution should come from Donald Trumpand Vladimir Putin — the Presidents of two nations that hold over 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenals and therefore bear a special responsibility.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt once said that one of the main freedoms is freedom from fear. Today, the burden of fear and the stress of bearing it is felt by millions of people, and the main reason for it is militarism, armed conflicts, the arms race, and the nuclear Sword of Damocles. Ridding the world of this fear means making people freer. This should become a common goal. Many other problems would then be easier to resolve.

Gorbachev’s opinion piece followed on the announcement that the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced (on January 25th) to move the minute hand of the famous Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to catastrophe. It is now two minutes and 30 seconds to midnight!

The Bulletin called on us, as citizens, to demand a number of concrete measures by our governments. Chief among them was that: “US and Russian leaders return to the negotiating table to seek further reductions in nuclear arms and to limit nuclear modernization programs that threaten to create a new nuclear arms race.The world can be more secure with much, much smaller nuclear arsenals than now exist—if political leaders are truly interested in protecting their citizens from harm.”

The Bulletin closed its announcement with the following warning and call to action: “For the last two years, the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock stayed set at three minutes before the hour, the closest it had been to midnight since the early 1980s. In its two most recent annual announcements on the Clock, the Science and Security Board warned: ‘The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon.’ In 2017, we find the danger to be even greater, the need for action more urgent. It is two and a half minutes to midnight, the Clock is ticking, global danger looms. Wise public officials should act immediately, guiding humanity away from the brink. If they do not, wise citizens must step forward and lead the way.”

At Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action we continue our work resisting Trident and working to abolish nuclear weapons. Although most all of our active members are also active in a wide variety of movements to build a better world, at GZ we stay focused on our original mission. We are tired of living in a Thermonuclear Monarchy, in which one person (El Presidente) has the authority to take the final action, “that will initiate the great festival of destruction” (as Thomas Merton put it). It is high time for the nuclear-armed nations to stop threatening the entire world with genocide, and we (as citizens) must push our (nuclear-armed) nations’ leadership to support the upcoming Unite Nations negotiations on a legally binding nuclear weapons ban.

As both Gorbachev and The Bulletin have reminded us – It is the responsibility of the two nations that hold 93 percent of the world’s 14,900 nuclear weapons – the US and Russia – to lead the way to a world free of nuclear weapons. It is also clear that nuclear weapons do not exist in a vacuum, and that we will not abolish nuclear weapons without creating a major, global paradigm shift away from resolving conflict through violence. Our work is cut out for us, and we must stay focused on the prize – PEACE!

If you are able, please join us at one of our upcoming events in the Puget Sound area: 
Upcoming GZ Events – Save the Dates

The Mother’s Day Three on Trial in Federal Court on April 12th. Larry Kirschner, Bernie Meyer and Gilberto Perez were arrested by the Navy for “trespassing” during the 2016 Mother’s Day weekend vigil and nonviolent direct action, and will appear for trial in the US District Court, Western District of Washington, Tacoma Courthouse on Wednesday, April 12th at 1:30 PM.

On April 21, 2017, in honor of Earth Day, Ground Zero and allies, featuring Native Americans sisters and brothers, will gather in Seattle to paddle, walk, and speak out against nuclear weapons and the destruction of our planet! Watch for more details coming to the GZ Calendar.

 
Join us at Ground Zero Center on Saturday, May 23rd as we honor the original intention of Mother’s Day (for Peace). The Seattle Peace Chorus will be performing.
All of these events are posted (and details are still in development) at gzcenter.org. The calendar is on the right side of the home page.
PLC 2017, and “The Coming War on China”
The Pacific Life Community will hold its annual gathering this March 5th through the 7th here in Puget Sound. In addition to honoring the legacy of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen, who once called the Bangor Trident base the “Auschwitz of Puget sound,” there will be a screening of an important new documentary by the Australian filmmaker and journalist John Pilger, “The Coming War on China” — a free film event that is open to the public.   Click here to see the trailer for the documentary.  Click here for details on PLC 2017 and the showing of the documentary.

Join the Hibakusha Appeal for a Nuclear Ban Treaty

The Hibakusha, those who suffered the effects of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have launched a signature campaign calling for an international treaty to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons, in the hope that no one will ever have to suffer as they have. They delivered the first batch of 564,240 signatures on October 6 to the Chair of the United Nations General Assembly’s First Committee on disarmament, and will keep on until 2020 or until a ban treaty is negotiated.

On October 27, 2016, the UN adopted a landmark resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, with 123 nations voting in favour of the resolution, 38 against, and 16 abstaining. The negotiations to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” will begin this March. Let’s Join our voices with those of the Hibakusha to support the negotiations and say “Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Never Again.”

Onward Together Toward a Better World
If you missed our January 2017 Ground Zero Newsletter, here’s the link to read it online. Keep up with news and upcoming events at our web site – GZCENTER.ORG. Our NO To NEW TRIDENT campaign web site is at NOTNT.ORG. Check us out on Facebook – at Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. In case you haven’t heard of the current controversy involving a failed Trident missile test in the UK, we’ve been covering that at our NO To NEW TRIDENT Facebook page! Finally, you can find most current nuclear weapons-related action alerts (where you can sign petitions and send emails) at The Nuclear Abolitionist.
In the spirit of the world’s great Peace makers who did not shrink from confronting injustice and oppression where it was concentrated, Ground Zero Center is situated adjacent to Bangor Naval Station, home to one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the world. Established in 1977, long before 9/11, its name describes the center point of a detonation, in this case the site of a concentration of weapons of mass destruction. In the 21st century, Ground Zero describes a metaphor for the power of love. Our actions cause a chain reaction that emanates out from us in every moment. When we focus on love, compassion, kindness, peaceful understanding and social justice, what we say and what we don’t say, what we do and don’t do, affects our part of the world in ways we may never know. While few of us have the power as individuals to create global peace, one by one, collectively embodying nonviolence as a way of life, each of us can help move the world a little closer in that direction (from our web site).
The Navy continues to mover forward with plans to build a new generation of ballistic missile submarines, that will cost likely well over $100 billion (just to build). The costs in terms of proliferation, a burgeoning submarine arms race, as well as the newly developing Cold War are astronomical. The risks it presents are absolutely existential. Trident is probably the most extraordinary and diabolical killing machine/system in the history of the human race. Ironically, of all nuclear US nuclear weapon systems, it is the one least likely to be cut or reduced for any reason. Although there have been calls by some to reduce the number of submarines planned (e.g. from 12 to 8), we at GZ believe that the only acceptable number of New Tridents is ZERO!
For now our democracy, although fragile, remains intact. No matter how anyone attempts to stifle our freedom of speech and/or protest, we will continue to speak truth to power and to act on our consciences. We will continue to resist the slavery that is implicit in our nation’s continuing reliance on nuclear weapons as an instrument of foreign policy. We will challenge the ignorance that is implicit in relying on the archaic doctrine of “strategic nuclear deterrence.” And we will never accept that war is anything but an affront to peace.
Peace to All,
Leonard, for all of us at Ground Zero Center

Leonard Eiger
Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Comunications Co-Chair) www.gzcenter.org
NO To NEW TRIDENT Campaign (Coordinator) www.notnt.org
Puget Sound Nuclear Weapon Free Zone  (Coordinator) www.psnukefree. org
  

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