by Spencer Graves
You, dear reader, are cordially invited to promote a safer and saner world working with other supporters of PeaceWorks, Kansas City. First, however, some background.
Former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and other experts have said that the risk of a nuclear war by accident is unacceptably high and is much higher than the risk of a nuclear first strike against the US. Moreover, the current programs to “modernize” US nuclear weapons and ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) reduce the time a potential adversary would have to decide if a report of a nuclear first strike from the US was real. These new weapons will increase the threat of nuclear Armageddon — a nuclear war generating hundreds of firestorms lofting so much soot into the stratosphere that crop yields worldwide collapse, and up to 99 percent of humanity starves to death if they do not die of something else sooner.
Perhaps the simplest step the US could take to reduce the risk of nuclear war is to officially adopt a “No First Use” policy, as envisioned in S.1148 / H.R.669. Those Senate and House bills would require congressional approval for any first use of a nuclear weapon unless “the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff first confirm[ed] to the President that there has been a nuclear strike against the United States, its territories, or its allies.” S.1148 was introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) with 8 co-sponsors. HR.669 was introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and has 33 co-sponsors as of 2021-07-25. Only one person representing Kansas or Missouri in the US Congress is listed as a co-sponsor: Emanuel Cleaver.
Another step to decrease the risk of nuclear war would be to reduce or eliminate funding to “modernize” US nuclear weapons and ICBMs and to use that money instead to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine or address other purposes (like combatting global warming), as envisioned by S.982 / H.R.2227. S.982 was also introduced by Sen. Markey with three co-sponsors. HR.2227 was introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and has 15 co-sponsors as of 2021-07-25. None of the co-sponsors of these bills are from Kansas or Missouri.
The PeaceWorks-KC Board on July 12 encouraged me to develop “Activist Circles” to help our supporters collaborate in lobbying our elected officials. As part of this process, I’m asking our officials in Washington to support S.1148 and HR.669 (about “No First Use”) and S.982 and H.R.2227 (to reallocate funds currently scheduled for building faster ICBMs to developing a universal coronavirus vaccine and other purposes).
I’m also asking mayors and city council members in the greater Kansas City area to join the ICAN Cities Appeal (about not making our cities targets, which our city is, because we have a nuclear weapons plant here) and to ask their mayors to join Mayors for Peace. Locally, that involves supporting the conversion of our National Security Campus (formerly called the Kansas City Plant) from making parts for nuclear weapons to developing better responses to global warming. Some of the technologies used in producing nuclear weapons are different from what is required to slow or even reverse global warming. However, the basic physics, chemistry and mathematics are sufficiently similar that the same people working at the plant today can do what is needed to combat global warming. Timmon Wallis, former executive director of NuclearBan.us, said, “We need these people … urgently to work” against the threat of climate change.
For more, see my notes on this in a Google Doc, accessible by clicking here.
—Spencer Graves, Secretary-PeaceWorsk-KC, is a Vietnam-era veteran with a PhD in statistics. He also researches the long-term impact of alternative approaches to conflict.