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Opinion: Woe to Hiroshima & Nagasaki - Why Bother Upgrading The Nuclear Arsenal?

By Michael Monasky | 

A letter to: 

Congressmember Ami Bera, Elk Grove, California |
California Senator Barbara Boxer |
California Senator Diane Feinstein |
President Barack Obama |

As things begin to age, it's interesting how we tend to think of replacing them: an old shirt, worn around the sleeves and the collar; a pair of jeans with tattered spots on the knees. We want our things to be useful and make our appearance neat; so our clothing gets laundered, pressed, and repaired as needed. Sometimes we replace items we can no longer fix.

This principle doesn't appear to apply to weapons. Oh, sure, I might want to replace or repair an old stock on a well-worn rifle, or the springs in a trigger mechanism. But when it comes down to nuclear weapons, well, that's a different story.

The advent of atomic weapons production startled modern man uneasily away from creating, then using, fissionable materials in conflict with other men (doesn't it seem that it's men who like to fight?) We should never lose our unsettled feelings towards these weapons. They aren't just dangerous; they're inhumane.

That very concept was raised about sixty years ago by physical chemist Linus Pauling. He proposed that all nuclear testing be stopped, since these fissionable materials play havoc with human health, our atmosphere, oceans, soil, and planetary life in general. Once detonated, the toxins from nuclear bombs reside in our environment for multiple tens of thousands of years.

Radioactive waste from deployment of nuclear weapons cause cancers like leukemias in our blood, and tumors in our digestive tracts. Seventy-one years ago today, one, small nuclear weapon at Hiroshima killed about one hundred thousand people instantly, and untold others later due to radioactive fallout. In three days the United States would drop another bomb on Nagasaki. It's because of the universal, indiscriminate damage done to the environment and people that these weapons should be banned; they are not selective. These devices don't just kill those people who might be deemed by others to be evil or deserving of punishment. Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction, and for that reason alone are inherently evil themselves.

Alan Cranston, 24 years our senator from California, worked tirelessly to end the proliferation of nuclear weapons. In his earlier career as journalist, Cranston annotated Mein Kampf and sought to shed light on the terrible hatred expressed by Adolph Hitler to Jews, intellectuals, artists, gays, and mostly 'the other'.
            
Hitler's xenophobia is being resurrected as Donald Trump's current distaste for immigrants and just about anybody who falls under the shadow of hate cast by his inconstant, capricious opportunism and vacillating opinions. The reason why Trump is unfit to be president is because he suffers from a mental instability, characterized by his demonstrated and well-documented behaviors to cheat, lie, and steal with impunity. My fear is that he'd use nuclear weapons without thought or hesitation.

My ultimate concern is that nuclear weapons should not exist at all, that they were a mistake to have been developed, and that the existing inventory should be retired like an old shirt or worn out pair of shoes. CBS' 60 Minutes featured US missile silos in a May 2014 story, noting that codes are stored on decades-old, oversized floppy disks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJXtEYV16QQ

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