On his Facebook page shortly before the presidential election, Dan Rather (former news anchor for CBS evening news) wrote, "Nuclear weapons are not a game. They are not a toy for the petulant and ill-informed to boast about on off-handed tweets. They are not gaudy hotels and apartment buildings to line up to make yourself feel stronger and more important. They are a direct shortcut to the very end of life on earth as we know it."
In his book, "Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940," Stephen Schwartz, a professor at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, calculated how much the U.S. government has spent on nuclear weapons through 1996. His conservative estimate is that the country spent, at minimum, $8.9 trillion on nuclear weapons in 2016 dollars — all, in my opinion, to maintain U.S. hegemony.
President Donald Trump has proposed boosting federal spending on the production of nuclear weapons by more than $1 billion in 2018 while slashing or eliminating spending on many federal programs related to diplomacy, foreign aid, and social needs in a budget proposal that reflects the first tangible expression of his defense priorities, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Meanwhile, leading proponents of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons include Austria, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand. All 54 nations of Africa, all 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean and all 10 nations of Southeast Asia support the start of negotiations on a ban treaty. Many Pacific island nations are also supportive. It is happening right now!
They have begun to negotiate a legal, binding treaty to abolish all nuclear weapons. According to Reaching Critical Will, it is being negotiated on the basis of courage and hope, rather than fear and inequality. It is an act of countries and civil society coming together to stand up to power and violence and say, "Enough. We are going to craft a different world, whether you like it or not."
None of the nine nuclear-armed countries are there at the U.N. working shoulder to shoulder with two-thirds of the world's nations to get rid of these deadly bombs. In fact, Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., was there Monday morning with representatives of many of the other nuclear-armed countries outside the U.N. General Assembly boycotting the endeavor. But change is coming.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center's "Peace Train" runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.