Joe Cirincione has worked on nuclear weapons policy in Washington for over 35 years and is considered one of the top experts in the field.
Mr. Cirincione is currently serving as the President of the Ploughshares Fund, an organization which has for over 37 years financially supported the most effective people and organizations in the world to reduce and eventually eliminate the dangers posed by nuclear weapons.
However, Joe has recently announced his retirement from the Ploughshares Fund, so now is the time to send him to Congress where he can grab the media’s attention by talking about the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons every single day.
No elected official in Washington has such a single minded focus on the biggest threat to America, which is clearly insane. Joe could fix this!
Ok, so in full disclosure, so there are a few little problems with the campaign to elect Joe so far. For one thing, Joe hasn’t agreed to run for Congress because, um, he doesn’t yet know about this campaign. But hey, we can fix that!
Imagine Joe going to Congress, grabbing the nation’s attention, becoming President, and then saving the world from nuclear horror. And it all started right here on this one little page. I want an invitation to the Inaugural Ball!
So friends, if you don’t want to die in a nuclear holocaust, Vote Joe Cirincione for Congress!
Yes my fellow Americans, the moment you’ve long dreamed of is finally here. Today I announce my candidacy for the Presidency of the United States.
As you know, I didn’t want to run, but have been forced to by unfortunate events in the Democratic primaries.
The first thing that happened was that Senator Elizabeth Warren mentioned nuclear weapons one day in response to a question from a nosy reporter. As you’ll recall, I didn’t get upset, and let that one go. It was just one mention after all, which is I suppose an excusable mistake. And you know those gals, they say the darnest things sometimes, don’t they? And they’re so cute with their little “me too” parties and such.
But just when I thought the crisis had passed, Senator Bernie Sanders got sucked in by another one of those fakey news nosy reporter people and he mentioned the words “nuclear weapons” twice. Twice!
Look! See? There he is! Mentioning! Proof!
It then became clear that this was going to be a naughty words arms race that had to be stopped dead in it’s tracks before voters start focusing on the most awesome power of the Presidency.
So I took action, and publicly rebuked Senator Sanders for his loose tongue!
“Look Sanders”, I said, “WWII is over, and we won. The Japanese have stopped fighting and are now, um, making cars or something. So cut out all this talk about nuclear weapons! Two mentions! Enough already!”
He didn’t seem to get it, so I kept going. “The Cuban Missile Crisis is over too Sanders, and Kennedy fixed all that, so we can stop worrying about it.”
Now I’m worked up in to rage and I yelled at Sanders, “The cold war is over! The Russians gave up and went back to Russia or something! Get over it!!”
And no sooner do I launch my own campaign for the Presidency than yet another pesky little nosy reporter asked me this…
“If you are elected you may be called upon to incinerate millions of innocent people based on limited information and almost no warning. Are you prepared to do that?”
What is wrong with all these people??? So we have thousands of hydrogen bombs aimed down our own throats, and a single human being can end modern civilization with the press of a button.
So what? It’s been this way for awhile and nothing bad has happened, so nothing ever will. If we just forget about nuclear weapons they’ll go away, and everything will be fine.
So my fellow Americans, this is my pledge to you. From this moment forward I will no longer be mentioning nuclear weapons or the most awesome power of the Presidency like all those other candidates have done a time or two.
Vote for me so we can finally focus on Donald Trump’s orange hair and all those other silly little issues that don’t matter a single bit!!
Well, ok, ok, so I suppose there’s at least some small chance that the claim made in the title of this article could just possibly, maybe, not be totally fully accurate. In fact, actually, the claim is beyond absurd, a total lie, a ridiculous notion, and fake news too.
But I’m going to keep bellowing such arrogant nonsense, until one of you expert people inform me of where I can find commentary on the question that’s been chasing me around my mind for weeks now.
Won’t the major nuclear powers all have to disarm together, at the same time?
I’ve been asking this question on every expert nuke site I visit, and waiting for one of the many experts on Twitter to at least mention this issue.
Nada. Nothing. Nobody home. Total silence. I can’t seem to find any expert or activist who is wondering aloud how we will get all the nuclear weapons states to disarm together, in unison, as one, at the same time.
What nuclear weapons state is going to disarm while it’s rivals retain an arsenal???
I’m sure somebody somewhere must have addressed this question in some detail. So if someone could please just tell me where I can find such an analysis I’ll be grateful and appreciative for your assistance.
I might even stop bellowing. Well, for a few minutes anyway.
Look, seriously, no kidding, I am indeed a nuclear weapons newbie. But I’m not a newbie when it comes to the Net and I know, from an embarrassing amount of experience, how this game works.
In order to get the attention of the male egos which tend to dominate such topics, I need to stand on a chair and yell something like, “My thingie is bigger than your thingie, nana nana na na!”
And then some other male ego will stop what they’re doing long enough to smack me down and put me back in my place where I belong, below them on the penis pecking order totem pole.
Ok, good plan, I’m ready, let’s do it!
However, until one of you expert folks can direct me to your article where you address this question…
Won’t the major powers all have to disarm together, at the same time?
… By the powers vested in me by myself, I hereby formally retain my glorious self installed title as the indisputable leading nuclear disarmament expert in the world, by far, bar none, nobody else even comes close, including especially you.
Ok real experts, it’s your turn. Do your thing! Smack me down and shut me up! Show us your article!
After spending some time intently focused on nuclear weapons, my ground breaking research has made an amazing discovery.
Nuclear weapons are depressing!
Seriously though, is this really true? Is it nuclear weapons that are depressing, or something else?
Nukes Are Wonderful!
As example, imagine that a giant asteroid was headed for Earth and we succeeded in diverting it with nuclear weapons launched in to space. In such a case, nuclear weapons wouldn’t be depressing, they’d be a very much appreciated civilization saving tool, right?
As example, imagine that a fleet of alien spaceships were about to invade and eat us and we turned them back with nuclear weapons. In such a case, nuclear weapons wouldn’t be depressing, they’d be our savior!
So, it seems nuclear weapons are not automatically depressing in and of themselves. I suppose they may conceivably have some constructive use in some situation. They are after all just mechanical objects with no evil intent.
We Have Met The Enemy And He Is…. Uh oh!
It seems that what’s depressing is not so much nuclear weapons, but their creators. You know, the human condition.
What kind of creature creates a huge gun, sticks that gun in it’s own mouth, and then becomes bored with the gun and largely forgets about it? Only the human creature can accomplish such a remarkable feat of self defeating absurdity.
I read recently that over 99% of all species ever to live on Earth have gone extinct. When any species fails to successfully adapt to it’s environment Mother Nature says, “Ok, time’s up, you’re outta here.”
What must Mother Nature be thinking about us these days? Is our time about up? Are we soon to be outta here?
From the perspective of a humanist and activist, it’s hard not to be depressed by the possibility that we may fail to control nuclear weapons before they destroy us. It seems almost essential to the activist experience that we feel at least some of this pain.
From a broader more philosophical perspective, should I be depressed that everything that has a beginning also has an end, and that there’s really no chance that human beings will escape this formula? Wouldn’t it be rational to make peace with that which can not be changed?
Finding The Right Balance
Perhaps sustaining nuclear weapons activism in one’s life requires a careful blend of both humanist attachment and philosophical detachment.
If we are to be activists we have to have some level of attachment to the notion that the human species should continue to survive.
And if we are to be activists we may also need to preserve a degree of philosophical detachment, so that we don’t become emotionally exhausted and depressed, and then give up to escape that pain.
As is so often true in life, it’s probably not attachment or detachment that is the issue, but rather the balance between the two.
A handful of activists are of course not going to be able to close down a submarine base, so the point of their protest was to draw public attention to the base and the threat posed by nuclear weapons. As example, it was by their action that I learned the world’s largest nuclear submarine base is just a couple hours from our house, not good news for my wife and I in the event of war.
So, how can we support these brave Catholic activists in their mission to bring attention to nuclear weapons? One answer is that we can organize an ambitious effort within the Catholic community to bring a LOT more attention to nuclear weapons. We could take the process that they’ve started, and make it larger, much larger.
I’ve been pushing the idea of a billion dollar a year marketing campaign to amplify Catholic teachings on nuclear weapons. So far at least, my outreach efforts have been ignored by every Catholic site I’ve contacted, with the exception of one good fellow who is sure this plan must be some kind of a scam. Sigh…
Ok, so Rome wasn’t built in a day. One blog post is not going to change the world. Activism requires patience. I get it.
I never expected instant success, but I am hoping for feedback that will educate me on what I need to do to engage Catholics on the subject of ambitious marketing campaigns.
Talk to me please. Why is an ambitious marketing campaign for spreading Catholic teachings on nuclear weapons not interesting? Why is something like that not already happening? How should I edit this page so that at least a few Catholics will contact me with their own suggestions for how such an idea can be improved upon?
Twiter just isn’t that useful medium for such conversations so I’m hoping we can establish an online discussion forum for nuclear weapons activism where all nuclear weapons activists could bounce their ideas off each other. Working on this, more on this subject later…
The Plowshare 7 are willing to go to prison to highlight the existential threat presented by nuclear weapons. We could support their brave work by buying some ads. Lots and lots and lots of ads. That’s how the real world works folks. If one is serious about selling anything, one funds an ambitious marketing campaign.
So I scrolled upon a photo of Martin Luther King in a Twitter feed and it came to me…
As nuclear weapons activists we need heroes to celebrate too.
While Martin Luther King was just one man who could have never led a successful civil rights movement without the help of very many other people, having a readily identified hero at the center of any movement is a powerful tool for generating inspiration and action among the many.
As you gaze upon the photo of Martin Luther King observe how it’s iconic nature immediately and instinctively reminds us of the justness of the cause that King led.
It’s true of any movement, we need our heroes, they provide a great service to us, as heroes address a deep human need which transcends all causes.
We need someone to look up to, someone to follow, someone to model our behavior on, someone who can give us hope, and inspire us with their brave selfless actions. We need icons, a visible image which at a glance reminds us of what we should be doing with our lives.
It’s NOT my intent to start a divisive contest over who would make the best hero for the nuclear weapons activist community. Each of us can and should draw our inspiration from where ever we can find it. Just as was and is true in the civil rights movement, there are many wonderful people we can celebrate.
That said, here’s my personal favorite pick for some heroes to place on a pedestal in the nuclear weapons cause…..
The Kings Bay Plowshares 7
As you may know, on April 4, 2018 seven Catholic nuclear weapons activists entered the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in South Eastern Georgia, home port for the U.S. Navy Fleet of ballistic missile nuclear submarines, the largest nuclear submarine base in the world.
Please join me and many other citizens in supporting these heroes via the GoFundMe page set up on their behalf. Over $96,000 has been raised so far.
Here’s a quote from the GoFundMe page describing the purpose of the fund.
Our friends, the Kings Bay Plowshares, have undertaken a courageous action for a nuclear weapons free world. We are raising money to support them and work for nuclear disarmament. We want to be able to support family and supporter travel expenses, provide commissary, and plan public events to support nuclear disarmament. Those of us organizing this fundraising effort are Jessica Stewart, Bass Harbor Maine, Paul Magno, Washington DC, and Beth Brockman, Durham, NC. All money will be used to support organizing for nuclear disarmament and support of the Kings Bay plowshares.
Heroes are heroes because they rise above what the rest of us mere mortals are able, or perhaps willing, to do.
Personally, I’m a husband, not a hero. Ok, I’d go to prison for my wife, I really would. But I’m sorry to say, and no offense intended, there’s just no way I’m risking prison for anybody else.
That’s probably true for you too, and also probably true for almost all nuclear weapons activists.
The Plowshares 7 have done what very few of us would be willing to do. If we are smart, if we really care about the cause, we will take the heroic gift that they have handed us and put it to good use.
Even More Heroes
If you’d like to celebrate and support even more nuclear weapons activist heroes, check out The Nuclear Resister website, which describes itself in this way…
Since 1980, the Nuclear Resister has provided comprehensive reporting on arrests for anti-nuclear civil resistance in the United States, with an emphasis on providing support for the women and men jailed for these actions. In 1990, we expanded our work to include reporting on anti-war arrests in North America, plus overseas anti-nuclear and anti-war resistance with the same emphasis on prisoner support.
What is the relationship between Catholic belief and action in regards to nuclear weapons?
First, please understand that I am not a theologian, priest, spokesman for the Catholic Church, or any kind of expert on anything. To some definitions, I may not even be Catholic. This article does not seek to define Catholicism for anybody else, it only shares my own view.
The Apostle John may have expressed the Catholic perspective most concisely when he said….
God is love.
Three simple words, which could perhaps be all any serious person really needs?
God is love.
Love is an act of surrender.
Love is an action.
God is love. And love is action. Therefore God is an action.
To put it another way…
The most credible expression of our beliefs is not what we think or say, but what we do.
From this perspective, the implications for our relationship with nuclear weapons seems clear.
The real question is, what are we going to do about it? How will we make our beliefs credible by taking the leap from the talking of the talk to the walking of the walk?
If God is love, and love is action…
What action will we take?
I believe the Pope’s recent speech on nuclear weapons illustrates a challenge facing the Catholic community at large on this subject, including this typist.
As you read his speech, note how the Pope’s moral clarity is sharp and right on target, but there is no call to any specific bold practical real world action. We are not asked to do anything but pray.
I’m not dismissing the power of prayer, but doesn’t it seem likely that God is most likely to help those who are already attempting to help themselves? Isn’t God’s first response to our prayer likely to be…
“Ok, but what are you already doing about this? What action have you taken?”
From the perspective of this article, Catholic doctrine on nuclear weapons becomes most credible and powerful when it is connected directly to practical real world action.
A great example of this is Catholic Charities, the 2nd leading provider of social services to the needy in the United States, topped only by the federal government. What an impressive and entirely credible statement of Catholic philosophy!
Catholic Charities is a great example of moral theory being translated in to big bold practical real world action.
I believe that a similar powerful connection between Catholic theory and action can be accomplished on a large scale in the nuclear weapons arena.
Catholics could save the world by connecting their theory to action in the form of a billion dollar a year marketing fund for amplifying the Pope’s teachings on nuclear weapons.
If we are going to do the talking of the talk on nuclear weapons, let us do so on the very largest scale that we are capable of.
The philosophy is there. A Church structure which ties a billion Catholics together is there. A billion Catholics can clearly raise a billion dollars, so the money is there too.
All that’s left is establishing a connection between the philosophy, the structure and the money. All that’s left is the conversion of the talking of the talk in to the walking of the walk.