No to the $1 Trillion Nuclear Weapon Escalation

This article appeared in the 2016 Fall Newsletter

The disappointing outcome of the 2015 UN Review Conference of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty was a serious setback to proponents of nuclear disarmament.  Re-arma­ment proposals have emerg­ed from the Pentagon, the Administration, and weapons industries, for a 30-year $Trillion dollar “mod­ern­ization” of the three types of nuclear delivery systems. This proposal represents in essence the launching of a new nuclear arms race. In response, MAPA’s Nuclear Disarmament Working Group has opened a campaign to rebuild a broad-based U.S. movement for nuclear disarmament.

The Working Group’s assessment was that the proposal was so immoral, so destabilizing in terms of true security, and so outrageous an expenditure of people’s tax dollars, that we would be able to build a campaign of resistance: “No to the $Tril­lion Dollar Nucle­ar Weapons Escalation.”

The long-term political focus of this campaign is to cut the appropriations for nuclear weapons upgrades, which are voted on annually by the Appropriations committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. This political strategy builds on our understanding that continuing to appropriate billions of dollars for weapons purchases will require Congress to cut spending for housing, transportation, health care, education, biomedical research, environmental protection and sustainable energy development. The campaign proposes forming alliances with groups fighting for those human needs . Thus, the core messages will be “Build Housing Not Bombs: Subways Not Submarines”; “Fund Healthcare not Warfare”; “Invest in Minds Not Missiles.” This strategy builds on the past three years of coalition building by the Mass Budget for All Campaign and the increasing support for the People’s Budget developed by the House Progressive Caucus.

The Nuclear Disarmament Working Group presented its proposed long- term campaign to MAPA members at a meeting Oct. 24th. Elaine Scarry laid out the basis of our focus on the fundamental immorality of nuclear weapons, Peter Casey described the enormous costs to taxpayers, and Gary Goldstein explained the increasing danger of a nuclear exchange or accident. We heard from allies including Sayre Sheldon of WAND, Liz Gron­lund of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and DiDi Delgado of Cambridge Black Lives Matterm; from representatives of our campus committees; and from local political leaders including Cambridge City Councilor Dennis Carlone and State Representative-elect Mike Connolly.

On Saturday Oct. 22nd, we shared our campaign vision with Catholic peace activists attending the Massachusetts Pax Christi Fall Assembly. Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International reported on a Vatican conference’s recent rejection of the Just War doctrine that has long been Church teaching, and its affirmation of the immorality of nuclear weapons. Pax Christi and Peace Action members discussed working together over the coming year, organizing local forums and educational events.

One step forward has been constitution of a Faith Communities Outreach Committee. Chaired by Methodist Rev. Herb Taylor of Harvard-Epworth Church, with members Christie Dennis, Alice Kidder, Pat Ferrone (state coordinator for Pax Christ­i) and Rebecca Garcia, this com­mittee will develop relationships and activities with congregations and communities of faith in Greater Boston .

MAPA’s Nuclear Disarmament Working Group meets roughly monthly. In the near future we will identify local organizations ad­vo­cating for housing, healthcare, education, and other human needs, and begin to determine concrete ways that cuts in the Congressional weapons budget could enable increases in funding for the programs they support. We intend to use the framework developed by the Progressive Caucus for the People’s Budget, and develop a People’s Budget for Massachusetts.  To join the listserv for the NDWG, contact the office at info@masspeaceaction.org .