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By Robert F. Dodge, MD
A national collaborative grassroots coalition to abolish nuclear weapons is rapidly emerging in this country. The effort called “Back from the Brink: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War” started last fall after the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted by 122 nations with the U.S. and other nuclear nations boycotting. The campaign endorses the Treaty and important protective policies such as ending the President’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack, renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first, taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, and canceling U.S. plans to replace its entire nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons. This Call was crafted by dozens of organizations including Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Soka Gakkai International.
Nationally this effort is bringing together social, environmental and economic justice communities recognizing that their concerns are all connected and that there is no greater insult, impact or effect to each of these than nuclear war. Our families, children and communities have a right to exist in a world free of this threat.
The driving force for this movement has been the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons and the recognition that there is no meaningful medical or humanitarian response to nuclear war. It is fitting that in August, 73 years after the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945 respectively that significant progress was made in the U.S toward the elimination of these weapons.
Following the U.S. Council of Mayors’ unanimous adoption of the Resolution at their annual June meeting in Boston where it was sponsored by Mayor Franklin Cownie of Des Moines, Iowa, the Los Angeles and Baltimore City Councils unanimously adopted the Resolution. Eleven other cities around the nation as well as more than 150 faith organizations, civic groups, and thousands of individuals have done so as well.
Taking the national lead, the California Legislature passed Assemblywoman Monique Limón’s AJR 33 in the State Assembly on August 20th and Senate on August 28th. This measure from the nation’s largest state and 6th largest global economy, urges our federal leaders and our nation to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, to make nuclear disarmament the centerpiece of our national security policy, and to spearhead a global effort to prevent nuclear war. The Call itself empowers everyone from individual citizens to organizations, communities and states to take action in the international movement to abolish nuclear weapons.
The rest of the world is speaking out for nuclear disarmament as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is being ratified. Once ratified by 50 nation states, it will ban nuclear weapons, just as every other weapon of mass destruction including chemical and biological weapons have been banned. Open for signature since last September, presently there are 60 nations that have signed the Treaty and 14 nations who have ratified it, the latest being New Zealand in July.
We the people of the U.S. must join this international effort. As the only nuclear nation to have used these immoral weapons and one who maintains 45 percent of the 14,400 global weapons, we have a moral and legal responsibility; as a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) we promised to work for the complete abolition of these weapons.
Nuclear war must never be fought and cannot be won. The only way to prevent this is by the complete abolition of these weapons. The existence of these weapons and the threat they pose is a threat that does not have to be. This is a threat invented by man and is a threat that man can eliminate. It is not a threat that will magically go away or that “they” will take care of. It is a threat that we the people must demand be eliminated. In a functional democracy, it is imperative that all citizens make their voices heard.
Robert Dodge writes for PeaceVoice, is a family physician practicing in Ventura, California, is the Co-Chair of the Security Committee of National Physicians for Social Responsibility and is the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles.