I grew up thinking our country stood on the highest of moral ground. But there it is, the first and only nation in the world to actually use nuclear weapons and do so against civilian targets (Hiroshima and Nagasaki), the same nation that spends more on defense than the next nine countries combined (including Russia and China) — our nation — acknowledging, if not boasting, that it might throw the first nuclear punch in an international fistfight.
From the Independent
Scott Fina (second from right) and others have gathered outside the Vandenberg military base to protest the U.S. nuclear arsenal for many years
by Scott Fina
December 3, 2022
I’m part of a small group of people who protest our nation’s nuclear weapons program at Vandenberg Space Force Base on the Central Coast of California. Monthly, we gather on the shoulder of the Pacific Coast Highway, aka Highway 1, just outside the base’s main gate. We are a collection of grey-haired and wrinkled folks committed to nonviolence.
We protest at Vandenberg because the U.S. tests its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system at the base. It periodically fires unarmed ICBMs 4,200 miles across the Pacific to tiny Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Vandenberg also trains the missileers who are responsible for launching U.S. nuclear armed ICBMs in an actual conflict.
Generally, the base security soldiers have stood by watching us, or ignored us. We have over the years, however, had our troubling interactions with them. Most of us have been arrested at some point, several of us have been imprisoned, and one of us landed before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Objective observers could find the optics of these moments comical. Visualize aged Ewoks holding peace posters, standing up to and then being carted off by stormtroopers armed with semiautomatic weapons (to borrow imagery from George Lucas).
These days we mostly stand quietly, looking into the faces of motorists on Highway 1. It can be monotonous. To pass the time, I survey motorists’ reactions. I compare the number who point a middle finger at us with the number who display the two-fingered peace sign.
Surprisingly, the number of motorists flashing peace signs has been increasing, and these motorists greatly outnumbers middle fingers as the Russian-Ukrainian war continues. They seem to see something our government does not, something strikingly obvious to other governments around the world but our own is blind to: American nuclear aggression.
I came upon a blatant manifestation of this blindness while researching the size and formidableness of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It’s in plain view on the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) website: a content section titled “America’s Nuclear Triad.” Go there to be treated to a glitzy, multimedia, virtual tour of our nation’s capacity to hurl nuclear bombs across the globe from land, sea, and air.
The DoD website strikes me as part video game, part action movie, and part testosterone booster. It boldly acknowledges that our nation deploys 400 nuclear armed ICBMs in underground silos, 14 Trident submarines collectively carrying 240 nuclear “missiles with multiple, independently targeted warheads,” and 60 long-range nuclear-capable bomber jets, forming “the most flexible leg of the [nuclear weapons] triad, capable of providing massive firepower in a short time anywhere on the globe, even through the most advanced defenses.”
I initially questioned the website’s authenticity; its presentation goes well beyond transparency, like strutting exhibitionism. A statement at the top of the website, however, notes it officially belongs to the U.S. government and provides a link to prove it.
I then wondered if some DoD techies got high one night and altered the webpage to see what kind of a rise they could get out of people, such as the leaders of Iran and North Korea.
One statement in the “sea” section of the website astounded me: “Ballistic missile submarines … are on constant patrol with enough firepower to make just one [submarine] … the sixth most powerful nuclear power in the world.”Continue reading