FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Can Sandy be a Savior?

by PETER G. COHEN

The current budget crisis of the United States, amplified by the tremendous human and property losses of killer storm Sandy, may be the opportunity that people everywhere have been hoping for: the chance to eliminate the huge, costly and illegal nuclear weapons stockpiles of the United States and Russia.

As of November, 2012, New York, New Jersey and other states are reeling from the overwhelming property damage done by the storm. At this point we cannot even estimate how many billions of dollars will be required to assist the devastated areas in their rebuilding, or the new and unknown infrastructure needed to reduce the damage of such storms in the future. What we do know is that without very substantial help from the already strained federal budget this highly productive area of the U.S. will be unable to rebuild itself for a long time.

How will the Congress trim the federal budget to provide the urgently needed aid for the coastal areas? Will they cut back on Social Security and Medicare, as some have suggested, or will they prune the excessive, unusable and illegal nuclear weapons complex, which is now planning to spend “between $620 billion and $661 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs over the next decade” according to What Nuclear Weapons Cost Us,  a report from the nonpartisan Ploughshares Fund.

While a large majority of Americans have repeatedly said in polls that they want a nuclear weapons-free world, every attempt to prune the nuclear weapons budget is opposed by the Congress. Many former hawks and military leaders have said that these weapons are a liability that does not keep us safe and should be abolished. Then why does the Congress continue to defend the huge nuclear weapons budget? Because the Nuclear Weapons lobby contributes to Congressional campaigns. A report from the Center for International Policy finds that, “In the 2012 election cycle, the top 14 nuclear weapons contractors gave a total of $2.9 million to key members of Congress with decision making power over nuclear weapons spending. These firms have donated $18.7 million to these same members of Congress over the course of their careers.”

We now know that any exchange of nuclear weapons would threaten the world’s people with a nuclear winter, caused by the huge cloud of radioactive debris that would circle the Earth and reduce food crops to famine levels, as well as weakening the ozone layer, threatening the ocean’s phytoplankton and spreading radioactive fallout over large areas of the Earth. As a result, many nations have repeatedly supported resolutions for abolition at the UN General Assembly, including the latest one by 34 nations stressing the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, which was delivered in October of this year.

We, the American people, have a choice. We can continue the plan for modernizing and replacing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems to last through the end of the century, or we can immediately cancel all such plans and expenses, and sign an agreement with Russia to work jointly to reduce our huge weapons stockpiles. Once we both reach a much smaller stockpile we can demand that other nations with similar stockpiles—several nations, such as China and Israel, have approximately 300 of them—must join with us in A Nuclear Weapons Convention and take the last step to rid the world of these suicidal weapons systems. This would save the U.S. Treasury hundreds of $billions, while reducing the ever-present danger of a nuclear exchange.

Loosening the grip of the Nuclear Weapons lobby on the Congress and their choosing life-sustaining budget priorities will not happen easily or quickly. The American people must leave the armchair of denial and organize now to preserve a livable world for their children and grandchildren. It will take a consolidated peace movement with breadth and determination. But it can be done.

Now, when we so urgently need to help those living in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and to trim the federal budget at the same time, is the window of opportunity. We must seize this moment to act, or the window will close, we will return to business as usual, and at some time in the future these terrible weapons may set the Earth on fire.

Peter G Cohen, Santa Barbara, CA, is the author of www.nukefreeworld.com and other internet writing.

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism:  Transcending the Masters tools
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Chuck Collins
Wall Street Hopes You’ve Forgotten the Crash Already
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Robert Koehler
Costa Rica’s Peace Journey
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
February 23, 2017
Dave Brotherton
Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance
Jonathan Cook
One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About
Bill Quigley
Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigot Boy Business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance, Again
John W. Whitehead
The Illusion of Freedom: the Police State Is Alive and Well
Ralph Nader
Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts
David Macaray
Women As Labor Union Organizers
Kathy Kelly
Friendship in Defiance of War
Doug Weir
Why Did the US Use Depleted Uranium Weapons in Syria?
Steve Horn
Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist
Binoy Kampmark
From Rights to Repentance: Norma McCorvey and Roe v Wade
Thomas Knapp
The Target of the “Border Adjustment Tax” is You
Chris Zinda
Open Letter to Neoliberal Environmentalists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail