Maybe people worldwide can finally begin to shake off some of the dark burdens of the year we have all just lived through — with its pandemic, economic decline and chaotic election — and come into the hopeful sunlight of a new day, and maybe even take a breath of hope and renewed determination.
However, while the country has been preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, the President Trump Administration quietly and steadily steered America’s nuclear weapons industry to its largest expansion since the end of the Cold War, increasing spending on these lethal arms by billions of dollars with bipartisan congressional support. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times by R. Jeffrey Smith on Dec. 23, 2020, overall, the budget for making and maintaining nuclear warheads has risen more than 50% since Trump was elected in 2016.
President-elect Joe Biden may embrace other priorities as he confronts the pandemic, tries to steer the country out of a recession and is pressured to address social programs neglected under the Trump Administration — all alongside a ballooning deficit created by the 2017 Trump tax cuts and COVID-19 stimulus spending.
At least we have the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or “Ban Treaty” which will enter into legal force on Jan. 22, two days after the probable inauguration of a new U.S. administration. Although none of the nuclear-weapon states (U.S., Russia, England, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea) were present for the negotiating and drafting of the treaty which bans the use, threatened use, possession, development, production, testing, deployment, or transfer of nuclear weapons under international law, nor have they signed and ratified the treaty as 51 other countries have. As of Jan. 22, nuclear weapons will be illegal by international law.
Then we have the New Start, or Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which is up for renewal on Feb. 5. When President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office, he will immediately be faced with the task of saving this last arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, which Russia is willing to renew for another five years. The treaty was negotiated when Biden was vice president and caps the number of strategic nuclear arms, the weapons designed to destroy distant targets such as cities, factories and military bases for both countries.
LeRoy Moore, one of the founders of Boulder’s Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and an indefatigable anti-nuclear activist, said that he “awoke recently trying to decide what 10 things must we pay attention to?”
Here are his answers:
- The U.S. must abolish nuclear weapons and join others to outlaw them and make it illegal internationally to have them. As the only country to use them against another country, we have done enough egregious harm at home and abroad.
- Protect humans worldwide from climate change.
- Practice nonviolence as taught by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
- Reduce the human population worldwide.
- Care for nature rather than using it as a source for technology.
- Balance the economy rather than dividing it between the haves and have-nots.
- Care for all non-human creatures.
- Free quality education for everyone.
- Racial equality.
- Replace the military with what Gene Sharp called human-based defense.
Let’s work on them all!