October 24, 2010 UN Day
 Nuclear Disarmament Panel 1:00 PM -- 3:30 PM
SGI-USA San Francisco Culture Center & Ikeda Auditorium
2450 17th Street / Potrero, San Francisco

"Rejuvenating the SF Bay Area Nuclear Disarmament Movement"
with Q&A and Breakout Discussions

For notes about how the panel went, see below.

Panelists (see below for bios, photos, interviews):

  • Cara Bautista, formerly of Peace Action West
  • Prof Martin Hellman, Stanford University
  • Scott Yundt, Staff Attorney for Tri-Valley Cares
  • David Krieger, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
  • Christina Weber, SGI-USA Youth Peace Committee, SF Zone Leader
  • Jackie Cabasso, Exec. Dir. Western States Legal Foundation
  • Moderator Dr Bob Gould, Pres. SF-Bay Area Physicians for Social Responsibility
  • Registration & more information at www.una-sf.org, 415 267 1866
     

    Cara Bautista

    Bio: Cara Bautista graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004 with a BA in Psychology. She spent a year studying abroad at University College Cork, Ireland, where she became interested in international issues. She gained more than six years of experience in the non-profit sector working for Peace Action West as an advocate for a U.S. foreign policy based on diplomacy and international cooperation. As the former Deputy Political Director, Cara led campaigns focused on nuclear disarmament, diplomacy with Iran, and served as the coordinator for the Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Policy degree at the University of California, Berkeley.

    Interview

    Q: Our Oct 24th panel is going to discuss "Rejuvenating the San Francisco Bay Area Nuclear Disarmament Movement" with the idea of coming up with a plan of action, nothing that detailed, of course, more like bullet points.  Do you have some preliminary thoughts on the matter?

    A: I am looking at this question in a couple ways.  To know what to do, we have to ask ourselves first why we are focusing on youth?  What are we hoping they will do?  Do we expect them to be donors?  Volunteers?  The future leadership of our organizations?  What?   Then, too, we need to tailor our outreach to the needs of the youth.  If they have graduated, they are in debt and looking for paying work.  If we can supply a 40 hour a week job, even temporary or as a fellowship, then they can give the issue their full attention.  For college students, we might think of internships, but again they have to be targeted towards what the students are looking for.  They are looking for something meaningful, something that will enrich their lives.  Research, blogging, reporting are often what students express interest in doing as an internship. 

    Q: What is your take on the wider issues of nuclear disarmament? 

    A: I've found that those working on other progressive issues are experiencing the same frustration with the White House and the Senate.  Nuclear disarmament is yet another important issue that is not on the public's mind.  The nuclear disarmament movement might want to network with other progressive groups and apply their lessons to our work.  It looks to be a long process.  We like to push for zero, but getting there will take longer than we think.  If we look for a string of smaller victories, we have a chance of some satisfaction. 

    Q: How has your involvement in nuclear disarmament work affected your life on the personal level? 

    A: The work has had a big effect on my life.  It has given me so many opportunities.  It was my experience with nuclear disarmament work that awoke my larger interest in activism.  Now I have gone back to grad school in Public Policy to learn better how to forward progressive causes in general.  So it has made a big difference. 
     


    Prof. Martin Hellman

    Bio: Martin E. Hellman was born in New York, NY on October 2, 1945. He received his B.E. from New York University in 1966, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1967 and 1969, all in Electrical Engineering.

    Prof. Hellman was at IBM's Watson Research Center from 1968-69 and an Assistant Professor of EE at MIT from 1969-71. Returning to Stanford in 1971, he served on the regular faculty until becoming Professor Emeritus in 1996. He has authored over seventy technical papers (click for publication list), six US patents and a number of foreign equivalents.

    Hellman is best known for his invention, with Diffie and Merkle, of public key cryptography. In addition to many other uses, this technology forms the basis for secure transactions on the Internet. He has also been a long-time contributor to the computer privacy debate, starting with the issue of DES key size in 1975 and culminating with service (1994-96) on the National Research Council's Committee to Study National Cryptographic Policy, whose main recommendations have since been implemented. More detailed information is available on his honors and awards, his university service, and his professional and civic service.

    Prof. Hellman also has a deep interest in the ethics of technological development. With Prof. Anatoly Gromyko of Moscow, he co-edited Breakthrough: Emerging New Thinking, a book published simultaneously in Russian and English in 1987 during the rapid change in Soviet-American relations. His current project in this area, Defusing the Nuclear Threat, has been endorsed by a number of prominent individuals.

    He also worked to develop an environment within Stanford University within which students of diverse backgrounds could function to the best of their ability. This work was recognized by four teaching awards, including three from minority student organizations.

    A Fool's Errand: v 2.1 by Martin E. Hellman

    When Diffie, Merkle and I first started working in cryptography in the early 1970's, my colleagues uniformly told me we were crazy. They argued that, with NSA's huge budget and head start, we could never hope to discover anything new and, if we did, "they" would classify it. Both arguments were valid and later came to haunt us, but hindsight shows it was wise to be foolish.

    In the 1980's, I took on another fool's errand, trying to end the threat that nuclear weapons posed to our continued survival. While that problem remains unsolved, more progress was made than would have been rational to expect. Since the problem remains unsolved, I am now embarked on another phase of trying to solve it, which can be thought of as fool's errand version 2.1. 

    Interview

    Q: Our Oct 24th panel is going to discuss "Rejuvenating the San Francisco Bay Area Nuclear Disarmament Movement" with the idea of coming up with a plan of action, nothing that detailed, of course, more like bullet points.  Do you have some preliminary thoughts on the matter?

    A: My current market segmentation approach at Stanford is described on my web site's new home page at nuclearrisk.org and is serendipitously oriented toward exactly the question of our panel. It may not work, but nothing we've done in the past has, so it's time to experiment with some new approaches. Paradoxically, I believe the way to rejuvenate the nuclear disarmament movement is to de-emphasize nuclear disarmament -- though keeping the ultimate goal present in somewhat stealthy form. It's amazing how many people -- even those who identify themselves as progressive or even (God forbid!) liberals stop listening as soon as someone says "zero." I can explain more about that paradox and will probably do so in my talk.

    Q: What other perspectives do you bring to nuclear disarmament?

    A: Risk analysis is a way to bring greater objectivity to the debate over our nuclear weapons posture. Instead of arguing at a subjective level -- for example, "It's too dangerous to trust fallible human beings with the ability to destroy civilization." vs. "It's been 65 years since WW2. Don't mess with success." -- it brings an objective (albeit approximate) focus. It also breaks down a catastrophic failure into a sequence of smaller failures, thereby helping illuminate the danger. The home page of my web site at nuclearrisk.org explains more and has links to additional information. In particular, the paragraph that compares risk reduction to more ambitious sounding goals such as nuclear disarmament, provides an important link to the topic for the panel. For what it's worth, I personally believe that reducing the risk to an acceptable level will require changes of that magnitude.

    Q: How has your involvement in nuclear disarmament work affected you personally?

    A: Working to eliminate the threat posed by nuclear weapons has changed my life in major ways -- I took a leave without pay from Stanford for 18 months in 1984 and 1985 to work full time on the issue as a Beyond War volunteer, and am working essentially full time (probably more than usual) on it again now, also without compensation. But it was really how my life changed that got me involved in this issue, not the other way around. A long story, but suffice it to say that I had to change if my marriage was going to survive, and the changes needed to do that also got me involved here.


    Scott Yundt

    Bio: Scott Yundt is Staff Attorney for Tri-Valley CAREs. Scott's scope of work currently includes pursuing federal environmental litigation to prevent the collocation of biowarfare agent research facilities and nuclear weapons at Livermore Lab and right to know litigation under the Freedom of Information act to compel documents the group had requested but never received. Scott manages all of the group's community right to know activities. He also facilitates a support group for local nuclear weapons workers made ill by on the job exposures and assists them in making claims for benefits and compensation from the federal government. Additionally, Scott heads up the group's activities to achieve conversion of Livermore Lab from nuclear weapons to a "green lab" focused on civilian science. Scott attended the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of San Francisco School of Law, where he received a Public Interest Law Certificate and the Pro Bono Publico Award for his commitment to serving the public interest.

    Interview

    Q: Do you have any preliminary thoughts on what we can actually do to bring in the younger crowd?

    A: Use Social Media Tools 
       * Causes (on Facebook)
       * Twitter
       * Blogs
       * Web based action alerts
       * Linked In
       * Kick Starter

    Speak Out
       * Host talks/debates at local high schools, Junior Colleges, universities, law schools
          - Creating talking points that are oriented towards youth
             - Generally explain the threats of nuclear weapons
                - Locally - nuke complex, pollution, worker exposures, use of resources
                - Nationally - damage from uranium mining, transportation dangers, storage of waste
                - Internationally - testing, use of a weapon in war, terrorism, accident, miscalculation
          - Focus on current events that will be interesting to students
             - Treaties
                - The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
                - The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
                - The Non-Proliferation Treaty
             - Government Waste
                - Boondoogle projects like the National Ignition Facility at Livermore Lab
                - Huge Nuclear weapons budget
                - New bomb plants
             - The University of California's involvement in managing Los Alamos National Lab and Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL)
             - Brain drain of weapons complex that could be put to more useful civilian science
             - Nuclear energy, repossessing, and the implications for nuclear security
       * Anti-recruitment campaigns at job fairs ect for nuclear weapons related jobs at LLNL, Sandia, and weapons related work at Lockheed Martin, Bechtel and URS ect.
       * Tabling at concerts, campus events, ect

    Media 
       * Write in and offer stories to student run papers
       * Speak on radio shows, KPFA, KALX and other college radio

    Activate
       * Work to support and stimulate membership in student anti-war groups, namely reincarnate the Coalition to demilitarize the UC
       * Create and expand on student internship opportunities at local anti-war, peace and abolition groups
       * Involve campus and youth groups in already existing movement
       * Connect with youth through peace oriented religious organizations 

    Q: What is your take on the current state of progress towards Nuclear Disarmament?  Your own perspective.

    A: My perspective is that the world, under the poor example of the US, is not progressing towards nuclear disarmament at this time despite the high level rhetoric to that effect. In fact we are squandering current opportunities to move towards disarmament while the public is being fooled into believing that we are taking important steps in that direction. 

    The huge increase in US nuclear weapons funding that took effect at the beginning of this month and is already planned to continue for the next decade is a huge step away from disarmament. Establishing a least a decade of funding for new bomb plants, refurbished nuclear weapons (Life Extension Programs) and a "modern nuclear weapons complex" capable of building 50-80 new bombs per year, is hardly progress towards nuclear disarmament.

    Q: On a personal level, how has your involvement in the Nuclear Disarmament Movement made a difference in your life?

    A: My fairly new involvement in this movement has made important differences in my life

    • I have a greater understanding of my own, and every individuals, capacity to make change in this country and the world
    • I have a greater appreciation for the hard work and accomplishments of decades of work on this and other peace and environmental activists
    • While I have learned incredible amounts about the politics and legal structures that relate to nuclear weapons, I have also gained awareness as to the incredible amount I have to learn.
    • I have learned how to have compassion and empathy for nuclear weapons workers many of whom fall victim to illness for their years of devoted work on the complex and come to realize gross error and inequity involved in this dirty industry
    • I also realize the very precarious nature of our existence on this planet, our good fortune at having not destroyed ourselves yet and the alarming rate with which we continue down the path to annihilation.

    David Krieger

    Bio: David Krieger is a founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and has served as President of the Foundation since 1982. Under his leadership the Foundation has initiated many innovative and important projects for building peace, strengthening international law, abolishing nuclear weapons and empowering a new generation of peace leaders. Dr. Krieger has lectured throughout the United States, Europe and Asia on issues of peace, security, international law, and the abolition of nuclear weapons. He has received many awards for his work for a more peaceful and nuclear weapons-free world. He has been interviewed on CNN Hotline, MSNBC, NPR and many other television and radio shows nationally and internationally.


    Christina Weber

    Bio: Christina Weber is a tremendous networker and an enthusiastic and energetic dynamo. Currently she oversees sales and business development for Sustainable Industries in California.  Before joining the sustainable business sector, Christina served on the management team of a global nonprofit providing economic development to Russia and three years working in international education. Christina holds a MA in International Affairs from The Australian National University and a BA in International Business & Politics.  She is San Francisco Zone Leader for the SGI-USA Youth Peace Committee. 

    Interview

    Q: Our Oct 24th panel is going to discuss "Rejuvenating the San Francisco Bay Area Nuclear Disarmament Movement" with the idea of coming up with a plan of action, nothing that detailed, of course, more like bullet points.  Do you have some preliminary thoughts on the matter?

    A: We need to build awareness around the issue.  The younger generations did not have to deal with the scare and haven't thought about nuclear disarmament.  In my work with the Rock the Era and Victory over Violence movement I have found that education works.  Young people are surprised when they learn the facts about nuclear weapons and even ashamed that they had ignored the whole issue and easily motivated to do something.  Tactically, on the mobilization side, we need to work with social media to encourage one-on-one dialog.  The Victory Over Violence movement gives us a template to work from.

    Q: What is your take on the wider issues of nuclear disarmament?

    A: I see the movement as having two prongs.  First there is a need for fundamental change in the way political leaders approach nuclear disarmament.  But even more important is the power of the citizenry in civil society - the NGOs and so forth.

    Q: How has your involvement in nuclear disarmament work affected your life on the personal level? 

    A: Well I was much involved this year with Rock the Era and Victory over Violence.  These are youth led SGI (Soka Gakkai International) initiatives.  I led discussions on the subject with groups that had no idea, and on Sunday mornings, too, so you can imagine.  To see these groups of youth wake up and express themselves with such vitality once they understood the gravity of the situation, it was incredibly enlightening and I felt a great sense of promise and hope.


    Jackie Cabasso

    Bio: Jacqueline Cabasso has been involved in nuclear disarmament, peace and environmental advocacy at the local, national and international levels for over 30 years.  Since 1984 she has served as Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) in Oakland, California. Grounded in commitments to nonviolence and international law, working with WSLF she has provided legal support for nonviolent protesters; engaged in environmental review proceedings and litigation to challenge nuclear facilities, transportation of nuclear waste, and proposals to base nuclear-armed warships; and organized grassroots multi-issue coalitions. At the national level Ms. Cabasso serves on the Steering Committee of United for Peace and Justice and convenes its Nuclear Disarmament/ Redefining Security working group.  Internationally, she is a leading voice for the abolition of nuclear weapons, speaking at conferences and events. 

    In 1995, Ms, Cabasso assisted the World Court Project at the historic hearings before the International Court of Justice on the legal status of nuclear weapons.  Since 1994, she has participated as an accredited non governmental organization (NGO) representative in 16 negotiating and review sessions of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), making numerous presentations on behalf of the international NGO community to official NPT meetings. In August 2008, Ms. Cabasso was a featured speaker at the 20th United Nations Disarmament Conference in Saitama, Japan. In October 2008 she addressed the UN First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.  In September 2009 she was a plenary speaker at the 62nd United Nations Department of Public Information/NGO conference, "For Peace and Development: Disarm Now," in Mexico City.

    Since 1982, Ms. Cabasso has been arrested approximately 50 times in acts of nonviolent resistance to U.S. nuclear weapons and military actions at the Livermore Lab, the Nevada Test Site, the White House, and other U.S. military and government facilities. In 1995 she was a "founding mother" of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons. Since August 2007, she has served as North American Coordinator for Mayors for Peace. Ms. Cabasso is a co-author of Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? U.S. Weapons of Terror, the Global Proliferation Crisis and Paths to Peace (2007) and the co-author of Risking Peace: Why We Sat in the Road (1985), an account of the huge 1983 nonviolent protest at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory and the subsequent mass trial conducted by WSLF. Her writings have appeared in publications including The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the journal Social Justice, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Ms. Cabasso is the recipient of the International Peace Bureau's 2008 Sean MacBride Peace Award, and the Agape Foundation's 2009 Enduring Visionary Prize. 

    Interview 

    Q: Our Oct 24th panel is going to discuss "Rejuvenating the San Francisco Bay Area Nuclear Disarmament Movement" with the idea of coming up with a plan of action, nothing that detailed, of course, more like bullet points.  Do you have some preliminary thoughts on the matter?

    I've come to believe that we can no longer approach the abolition of nuclear weapons as a single issue. In order to succeed, we'll need to address interconnected issues of militarization, globalization, and the economy. And we'll need to build a movement that brings together the very diverse constituencies that make up the vast majority of the world's population that does not benefit from the permanent war system. In order to attract these constituencies we'll need to develop an alternative vision of "human" security to replace the outmoded, unsustainable and fundamentally undemocratic concept of "national" security through overwhelming military might.  This work needs to be done starting at the local level, but fully conscious of the national and international dimensions.

    We face a triple crisis -- endless wars, economic decline and environmental degradation. Military spending is eating up the money we need to resolve the other two crises. The peace/anti-war "movements," the racial/economic justice "movements," and the environmental "movements" can't resolve these issues alone. We need to identify where our agendas overlap and find new ways to work together.  To build the broad social movement we need to be effective we'll have to break out of our issue silos. A special challenge for those of us focused on abolishing nuclear weapons is to show other issue constituencies and younger generations how these true weapons of mass destruction continue to threaten our peace and security, our economy and our environment. 

    With the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab in our backyards as well as its manager, the University of California, numerous corporate headquarters, and Vandernberg Air Force Base not too far away, we have many local manifestations of the nuclear weapons complex.  In the Bay Area, in this new moment of opportunity, we have the option of joining and strengthening existing efforts and developing new partnerships. Here are a few ideas. Bay Area United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), a multi-issue coalition affiliated with the national UFPJ network, has already embraced nuclear abolition as one of its priorities. Bay Area UFPJ currently meets monthly, alternating between San Francisco and Oakland.  An emerging new initiative is a national "move the money" campaign of local resolutions for civic organizations, school boards, grassroots groups and city councils initiated by U.S. Labor Against the War and being developed in the Bay Area (next meeting in Oakland Nov. 13). The draft resolution includes abolishing nuclear weapons. Mayors for Peace, with 4,207 member cities in 144 countries including 161 U.S. members, is campaigning for the global abolition of nuclear weapons by 2020. We could launch a local campaign to enroll every Bay Area mayor (and then figure out something meaningful they could do). Finally, the International Committee of the Red Cross has taken the lead in advocating for the abolition of nuclear weapons based on International Humanitarian Law. Here in the Bay Area we have begun exploring a collaborative public education project. 

    Q: What is your take on the wider issues of nuclear disarmament? 

    Some commentators have characterized President Obama's pledge to "to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," as unprecedented. Yet in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970, the U.S. and the other original nuclear weapon states pledged to negotiate in good faith the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. So, 40 years later, and 20 years after the end of the Cold War, why are nuclear weapons still with us? Who benefits from them? Can we realistically expect to get rid of nuclear weapons without addressing "strategic stability," the relationship between nuclear weapons and conventional weapons, nuclear energy, and the requirements for genuine human security and environmental sustainability?  If the most powerful military force in history insists that it still needs nuclear weapons to defend itself, how can we realistically expect less powerful states to forgo them? These are some of the difficult questions we must ask in order to figure out what it will take to get rid of the ultimate weapons of mass destruction.  I don't pretend to have all the answers, but I feel strongly that we have to face the questions if we're going to make any real progress.  We have to engage in a lot more critical thinking. 

    Organizing for nuclear abolition in the Obama era has presented unique challenges.  In addition to the economic and environmental crises' competing for public attention -- not to mention the ongoing wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama's soaring nuclear disarmament rhetoric has led to public confusion and unfounded expectations. While public fears of nuclear terrorism are fanned by misguided films like "Countdown to Zero," the April 2010 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review revealed no substantial changes in U.S. nuclear force structure, retaining all three legs of the strategic triad -- heavy bombers, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) and strategic submarines -- and declaring: "These nuclear forces will continue to play an essential role in deterring potential adversaries and reassuring allies and partners around the world."

    Unfortunately, these are not empty words.  Just last month: ground was broken on a new nuclear weapons manufacturing plant in Kansas City, Missouri -- the first entirely privatized nuclear weapons facility (Sept. 8); a "subcritical" nuclear test was conducted deep underground at the Nevada Test Site -- the first such test since 2006 (Sept. 15); and an unarmed operational ICBM was test-launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to Guam -- 5,300 miles away, demonstrating U.S. nuclear missile "combat readiness" (Sept. 17).  Further, the "pricetag" for prospective Senate ratification of the new START treaty -- including $180 Billion by 2020 to modernize nuclear warheads, the nuclear weapons complex, and nuclear weapons delivery systems -- calls into serious question prospects for further progress towards disarmament "in our lifetimes."

    As I said at the beginning, we can no longer approach the abolition of nuclear weapons as a single issue.  Nuclear disarmament should serve as the leading edge of a global trend towards demilitarization and redirection of resources to meet human needs and restore the environment. 

    Q: How has your involvement in nuclear disarmament work affected your life on the personal level? 

    Nuclear disarmament advocacy has fundamentally defined my life for more than 30 years. While being a nearly constant source of stress (and distress) on many levels, my work has also afforded me a vast array of organizing experiences at the local, national and international levels, and extraordinary opportunities to travel to many parts of the world.  Meeting people from every walk of life has shown me that ordinary people everywhere have the same basic needs, and have more in common with each other than with the corrupt institutions and elites that benefit from the "national security" war system. I truly believe that "we" are the global majority, and that's what keeps me going.


    Panel Moderator Dr Bob Gould

    Bio: Robert M. Gould, MD, has been a Pathologist at Kaiser Hospital in San Jose since 1981. Since 1989, he has been President of the SF Bay Area Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), representing over 3,000 local physicians and health providers, and in 2003 was President of National PSR, currently comprised of approximately 25,000 members. As its mission statement indicates: "Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, PSR works to protect human life from the gravest threats to health and survival." PSR's historic efforts to educate the public about the dangers of nuclear war grew into an international movement with the founding of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), with whom PSR shared the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to IPPNW in 1985. Dr. Gould speaks widely to diverse audiences about the public and environmental health impacts of nuclear war/weapons and global climate change, and related issues of environmental toxicants and degradation. He has authored numerous policies on these issues that have been adopted by the California Medical Association (CMA) and American Public Health Association (APHA), and the APHA in 2009 honored him with the Sidel-Levy Peace Award for his contributions. In addition, he is co-author of chapters on Biological Weapons, Nuclear Weapons, and Nuclear Terrorism in various editions of "War and Public Health" and "Terrorism and Public Health" (Oxford University Press), as well as contributions in many other publications on such subjects. 

    Interview

    Q: Our Oct 24th panel is going to discuss "Rejuvenating the San Francisco Bay Area Nuclear Disarmament Movement" with the idea of coming up with a plan of action, nothing that detailed, of course, more like bullet points.  Do you have some preliminary thoughts on the matter?

    A: From my experience of working on issues of nuclear disarmament towards the abolition of nuclear weapons for over a quarter century within the health professional community and larger public, it has become clear to me that the ever-present dangers of nuclear weapons do not capture the attention of most people, and this has been made more difficult in the current severe economic crisis that is most on people's minds. As such, it is especially important to strongly link as best we can the nuclear disarmament issue to the budgetary costs of continued nuclear weapons production (as well as the larger costs of the military budget and endless warfare well described by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes in their "Three Trillion Dollar War"). From the standpoint of the "Movement," it is vital to better link the local disarmament and anti-war movement to the much more vital local environmental movement, given the very profound environmental health threats posed by continued nuclearism and militarism which are unfortunately, in my experience, not often grasped fully by mainstream environmental groups. 

    The "Environmentalists Against the War" movement that was created in the run-up to the 2003 War on Iraq was a good model for organizing within a movement that had been too "siloed" on the issues, but the challenge of building a strong movement beyond the usual and aging activist community remains obvious. United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) obviously tried to meld diverse communities adversely impacted by continued U.S. militarism, but failed to build a sustainable movement when the consumerist bubble reigned. Unfortunately, we now have the extremely difficult challenge of countering the lure of the easy answers of the well-funded "Tea Party" no-nothingism as a classic device to channel wide-ranging populist anger against the "gummint" and the "Other" instead of more appropriate targets. I don't have any good answers, particularly given the failure of the Obama administration to mobilize and build upon the base that won the election in 2008. 

    Q: What is your take on the wider issues of nuclear disarmament?

    A: Much of my "take" is rooted in the aforementioned comments, but nuclear disarmament towards abolition will never happen until the nuclear weapons states (NWS), especially the U.S., move beyond the promising rhetoric of "a world without nuclear weapons" to actually start fulfilling their obligations to disarm under Article VI of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Otherwise, it essentially remains "do what I say, not what I do" to the rest of the world, exemplified by the "lessons" of Iraq apparently learned well by the leaders of North Korea and Iran. The abolition rhetoric of the Obama Administration is further undermined by the pure corporate greed and strategic considerations underscoring the global promotion of nuclear power exemplified by the U.S.-India nuclear deal (and the evolving China-Pakistan deal) and other such deals in the works (United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, etc.). The essential replacement of the USSR enemy of the Cold War, by the transcendent Chinese competitor/enemy of the 21st Century is healthy for the military-industrial complex, but poisonous for the rest of us who depend on an immediate defusing of tensions and real cooperation to deal with the potential human-ending crises of unbridled nuclear proliferation and climate change. 

    Q: How has your involvement in nuclear disarmament work affected your life on the personal level?

    A: Given that I have a full-time "day job" as a physician, my disarmament and various other activities with PSR, etc. take up a great deal of my personal life. But since I became aware of the personal familial, and larger toll of the Holocaust when I was about 4 years old, and later was quite blown away by seeing "Failsafe" and "Dr. Strangelove" when I was 12, all this stuff has been pretty much integrated into my existential core my entire life, and it remains as natural as breathing to do my best to oppose at every opportunity all this immense life-snuffing stupidity. I feel blessd to share this outlook with my partner, and much of my family and close friends, so it has not (I think, or delude myself!) made me "crazy" or depressed -- the black humor that I took away from Dr. Strangelove has probably been life sustaining for me.

    NOTES on how the panel went
     
    Notes from Roger Eaton - from a letter to the panelists

    The meeting went well. It was a comfortable room and a very strong panel.  Every panelist deserves and has my heart felt thanks and appreciation for your presentation.  Our time was much shortened by the overrun of the morning general plenary, so we had presentations and Q&A, but were not able to get to the breakout sessions.  The SGI team was always helpful and gracious.  Many thanks to Soka Gakkai, San Francisco for the venue and to the United Nations Association, San Francisco for making our panel be part of the UN-65 celebration. 

    There were about 25 people in the audience, and a definite sense of enthusiasm.  Jackie Cabasso did an outstanding job as moderator. Cara gave us a good picture of what we are up against in involving young students. Christina and Martin showed us that within a defined context, such as SGI San Francisco, or Stanford, an appeal to youth does produce results.  Scott, David and Jackie provided highly informed views from their own organizational perspectives. 

    Overall the consensus was, and please contradict me anyone, that we are up against a hard problem of complacency and ignorance concerning nuclear weapons in the larger public and very much including the youth. 

    A way forward in general, not just for increasing youth involvement, was suggested by Jackie, and that is to join together with values based multiple issue groups and persuade them to put nuclear disarmament on the agenda along with sustainability, social justice, peace, human rights and so forth.  It is clear that all these global issues are going to have to be solved as a package, and nuclear disarmament has some advantages as a leading edge issue towards the package solution, so a concerted effort in this direction seems well indicated.  We need to realize that joining such a values based coalition means that we have to support the other issues, too.  It can't be a one-way street. 

    We all agree that the drive for the survival of humanity and the earth is an irresistable force.  Nevermind that we are up against an immovable object.  Thank you, Martin, for this observation, and also for reminding us that it is the nature of human nature to change, so it is not really an immovable object we are up against.

    Scott and I, in a discussion after the meeting, thought we would attend Bay Area United for Peace and Justice meetings, UPJ was the organization Jackie used as her example when speaking of joining values based coalitions.  Anyone else?

    I am going to put my notes up at http://ii4nd.net/UN65.htm, where we already have our panelists' bios and pre-meeting interviews.  If you would like to add your description of our meeting, please email us all, and I'll add your description of the meeting to that page as well.

    -- Roger Eaton
     

    Notes from MacGregor Eddy

    The panel discussion was both inspiring and concrete in nature.  We cannot isolate the nuclear weapons question from the larger question of peace.  Most US citizens are not aware that we are still building nuclear weapons and the missile delivery systems.
    By making it concrete and visible, people will become more aware.

    Fr. Louie Vitale of Pacific Life Community and Sr. Megan Rice of the Nevada Desert Experience were both arrested at Vandenberg AFB in Santa Barbara county in August 2009.  They were protesting the test launch of a nuclear weapons delivery system (ICBM) from Vandenberg to the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands.   There will be a Peace Train from Northern CA to Santa Barbara to provide court support for these federal defendants.  The train will go through the back country of Vandenberg and the supporters can see the missile silos, rocket gantries and even a huge shuttle launch (never used because of the Challenger explosion) facility that are there. 

    https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dfpxc5ff_990cf9sfzfg&interval=5&autoStart=true&loop=true

    If you wish to come to the trial and take the train go to www.macgregoreddy.com, or call 831 206 5043 

    MacGregor Eddy

    Notes from UN-65 Disarmament Panel - these will make more sense to those who were there
    -1980's: Major focus on nuclear weapons
    -1989: Cold war ends & so does activisim
    -Can we use the anti-nuclear movement to jumpstart the environmental & peace movements?
    -There has been a major increase in development of NW in recent times
    Lawrence Livermore Labs
    -SF is considered extremely important in terms of potential activism
    -LL is managed by UC, URS + other major corps
    -$1.2 Billion Budget
    -Designated Superfund site
    -6X # of cancer rate
    -Major security risks -- causing a movement of nuclear material away from Bay Area -- to where??
    Bringing in Youth
    -What do we want from the youth?
    -Making the issue REAL
    -Compensation keeping in mind their debt & lack of free time
    -Inspire them
    Using Risk Analysis
    - www.nuclearrisk.org * Cuban crisis
    - Risk analysis: Child born today has a minimum 10% risk of death by nuclear weapons
    We have failed...
    - Marketing techniques
    - We need to broaden our path www.tinyurl.com/yjjqbdg
    - Emphasize risk
    - Build awareness -- pockets of interest
    - Importance of a consistent message
    SGI peace commission for youth
    - Education of history of peace & nuclear weapons disarmament through the eyes of Ikeda
    - Using education to inspire activism locally & globally
    - Provided > 2 million signatures at the NPT conference from youth
    NAPF
    - Abolition 2000 statement
    -We need 1 or more countries to initiate disarmament ? Russia is not motivated if US is then going to be dominant with conventional weapons
    -Institution building
    - Supporting them so they can compensate activists www.wagingpeace.org
    - Sunflower newsletter
    - Action alert network
    - Myth of Nuclear Deterrents DVD
    - Peace leadership program
    - Internships
    Q&A
    Why so much complacency?
    How can we gain awareness in US if NPT is only applicable to certain countries? Eg. Iran/Israel, Pakistan/India
    Earth Federation Movement
    How can we become more effective in coalition to create a catalyst effect & reach out to broader groups?
    Televise talks? (youtube, public access)
    Is "rejuvenation" the right question?
    What is the status of local & DC lobbying?
    Communicating facts & emotions ? focus on NW

     
    left footer doodad
    peace symbol
    right footer doodad