From the January/February 2016 PNL #848

Diane and Peter Swords

When George W. Bush first used the phrase “Global War on Terror,” (GWOT) the terror he spoke of was that of “rogue states” or “non-state actors” such as those who brought down the World Trade Center on 9/11. When Barack Obama, as presidential candidate, stated that the “single most serious threat to American national security is nuclear terrorism”, he too was concerned about nuclear materials getting into the hands of these rogue states or non-state terrorists. Though this is important, it obscures the fact that the most threatening weapons of terror are those possessed by the nuclear states, with the US at the forefront.

Nuclear terror, threatened by the US, has been part of the “GWOT” since its inception. In September, 2000, prior to George W. Bush’s election, the plan for “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” was published. Commissioned by future Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and future Vice President Dick Cheney, this plan aimed for US world domination through corporate power and the US military industrial complex.

In the “GWOT”, drones are the visible killers while nuclear weapons back them up behind the scenes. According to Daniel Ellsberg, nuclear weapons are used “in the exact sense in which a gun is used when it is pointed at someone’s head in a confrontation, whether or not the trigger is pulled.” They shield the US from retaliation and provide what Thomas Friedman calls the “invisible fist” behind the “invisible hand” of the market, so US imperial interests can operate with impunity. The main victims, whether from poverty or drone strikes, are people of color, mostly in the Middle East and the global south.

Following the 9/11 attacks, Bush’s 2002 Nuclear Posture Review adopted many aspects of the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Cheney plan as part of the “GWOT”. A number of features involve nuclear weapons:

Justification of first use or “pre-emptive” use of nuclear weapons.

False claims that other countries posed a nuclear threat as pretext for initiating war, as in Iraq in 2003.

Development of “mini-nukes” of less than 5000 tons, claimed to be “usable” in theaters of conventional war.

Huge budget increases for “modernization” – new designs of bombs and delivery systems, and nuclear weapons in space – at the expense of the health of everyone in our nation, especially children and people of color.

Privatization of nuclear war by including weapons contractors in decision-making and agenda-setting regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons.

President Obama’s current approach to the “GWOT” is ambiguous. More than once he claimed it was over, yet many of his actions contradict this. Even while advocating nuclear abolition, his actions only partly match his words. After his 2009 Prague speech calling for a world free of nuclear weapons, he supported expenditures of $1 trillion in the next 30 years to rebuild the entire nuclear infrastructure and “upgrade” nuclear weapons on land, sea and air. Holding him to his anti-nuclear rhetoric will take extensive grassroots action.

Action for a Nuclear Free World

SPC’s Nuclear Free World committee continues a long history of SPC opposition to nuclear terror. Early Peace Newsletters questioned US justifications for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the September 1945 issue noted that Japan had already surrendered before the bomb was dropped. In the 1980s, with the beginning of the local chapter of the national Nuclear Weapons Freeze, SPC put its focus elsewhere. In April 2015, Peace Action, successor to the Freeze, returned to its home within the Peace Council, while retaining its state and national affiliations. It is now the Nuclear Free World committee. S

Events this Spring:

Youth Peace Award – Send nominations to

“The Forgotten Bomb” with filmmaker Bud Ryan on March 22 at Artrage Gallery.

“African Americans Against the Bomb” with author Vincent Intondi – April 14 at Barnes and Noble Bookstore, DeWitt; April 15 at Artrage Gallery

Monthly potlucks and meetings, second Tuesday. Call SPC (472-5478) for location.

Working for a carbon-free nuclear-free future with the Alliance for a Green Economy.

Lobbying to cut nuclear weapons and fund human needs:

Current Alert: urge President Obama to cancel the new nuclear cruise missile program. Ask senators to sign the Senator Ed Markey letter at this link:

Diane teaches dialogue on race, class and gender; works for peace and justice; and fights nukes of all kinds. Peter is a father, a grandfather and a social worker with kids and families. He supports recovery and resiliency in the community.