Peace Train: The Earth’s nuclear vest

Why are we complacent with what we can’t see?

Imagine that a man wearing a vest packed with sticks of dynamite were to come into the room and, before you could escape, managed to tell you that he wasn’t a suicide bomber. He didn’t have the button to set off the explosives. Rather, he told you, there were two buttons in very safe hands. One was in Washington with President Biden and the other in Moscow with President Putin, so there was nothing to worry about.

Wouldn’t you still get out of that room as fast as you could?

Just because we can’t see the nuclear weapons controlled by those two buttons, why are we complacent? As if confronted by that dynamite man, we need to be plotting an escape. Instead, we have sat here complacently for over 50 years, trusting that because Earth’s explosive vest hasn’t yet gone off, it never will.

Martin E. Hellman, professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford University, came up with this way of describing nuclear weapon risk a few years ago. I brought the quote up to date. It strikes me as being a simple, yet powerful way to describe the frightening risk of nuclear weapons.

Isn’t it high time that the world renounced these weapons and began to abolish all of them? Instead, the U.S., Russia, and presumably all of the nuclear weapons countries are busy building new weapons, refurbishing old weapons.

“The 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy,” said Alex Carey in “The Public Relations Industry’s Secret War on Activists.”

The companies that make the most from producing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are: Boeing, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, according to

Plus, Alliant Techo systems, Babcock and Wilcox, General Dynamics, Rolls-Royce, Bechtel, plus many more interconnected companies, world wide. Is it possible that we are protecting these companies against democracy? And against common sense?

Now we have the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which is a treaty that was built on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons on the world’s peoples, not on arguing about nuclear policy or military strategy. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opened for signature at the United Nations in New York on Sept. 20, 2017, and entered into force Jan. 22, 2021. There are currently 86 signatories and 54 of those countries have ratified the treaty. Now it is the law of the land in those countries.

As Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance notes: “Thanks to those strong, brave nations and the global movement driven by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, we now have a Ban Treaty. What we make of it is up to us.”