***Correction: This story originally misstated the amount of money spent on defense, as cited by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.
The Washington Post this week noted that a Russian TV anchor commented recently that "Russia is the only country in the world capable of turning the U.S. into radioactive dust."
This is a time for restraint, balance and a willingness to compromise. The complex situation in Ukraine, Russia and the Crimean Peninsula demands that all people in the world take a deep breath, learn the different positions and perspectives of this conflict and remember that a nuclear exchange would be cinders for everyone. We need to demand of our public media all the facts that will create understanding of the different points of view.
It's deeply frustrating that the cycles of threats to peace seem to be tied to the rivers of money spent by the military industrial complex all of the large nations of the world are part of. Every year about $1.7 trillion is spent staying armed, according to John Scales Avery of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Is it this vast amount of money that pours into the pockets of weapons manufacturers that drives ongoing threats to peace and takes money from the slim pockets of the people? Do our war economies drive this? And, if so, let's roll up our sleeves and push back — across the planet.
The National Academy of Sciences estimates that in even a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan, with 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear weapons detonated, would result in 7 to 10 percent less sunlight reaching the earth, creating cold weather, shortened growing seasons and starvation for billions.
To help get a perspective in this current crisis, Russia has 8,500 nuclear weapons and the United States has about 7,700.
They are unusable if we want life to continue. According to Global Zero interviews with members of Congress, most don't know the number you just learned and most have no clear understanding of the results of using these weapons. Yet they are the people who may determine the path we follow.
"We must not allow the military-industrial complex to continually bring us to the brink of a catastrophic nuclear war, from which our civilization would never recover," said John Scales Avery at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. "The peoples of the earth must instead realize that it is in their common interest to join hands and cooperate for the preservation and improvement of our beautiful world."
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" column runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.