The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age

Book Courage etcNuclear weapons mess: we’re all in it together but don’t know how to get out alive, WP 

 By Richard Rhodes July 15 Shortly after 4 a.m. on July 28, 2012, an 82-year-old Catholic nun, a Vietnam veteran and a housepainter cut holes in several security fences surrounding a government facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where thousands of nuclear bomb cores are stored, walked up to the massive white concrete-and-steel building and splashed its walls with blood. They spray-painted slogans. They hammered concrete chips off the base of a manned guard tower. No one shot them. Six minutes passed before a security van even arrived to investigate.

The story of this shocking peaceful invasion of Oak Ridge, and what followed, anchors Washington Post journalist Dan Zak’s “Almighty,” but the book examines at eloquent length the current state of nuclear security and diplomacy as well. As Zak finds, these appear to be at least as complacent and contradictory as did Oak Ridge security when the nun and her two fellow protesters challenged it in 2012……..

Zak reports not only on the lives of the three Oak Ridge protesters but also on the impact of nuclear weapons testing over the years on the people of the Marshall Islands, where the largest U.S. bombs were tested, and the downwinders of the American Southwest below the continental test site at Yucca Flats, Nev., who believe that their cancers and other serious illnesses resulted from exposure to nuclear fallout. He looks into the lives of the people who live in the city of Oak Ridge and work at the bomb facility in their midst.

He follows the trial of the three protesters from the point of view of the uncomfortable government lawyers who led the prosecution. He profiles Rose Gottemoeller, Obama’s leading U.S. nuclear diplomat, as she tries to untie the nuclear knot incrementally while more than 100 other nations sign an Austrian-initiated humanitarian pledge that commits them to work “to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.”

Zak doesn’t spare what he calls the “nuclear priesthood,” the weapons-makers and suppliers, finding them meeting in Washington during the same 2015 summer when Sister Megan was released from prison. Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman sponsored their annual nuclear-triad conference. On that occasion, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama referred to Obama’s speech in Prague in 2009 on eliminating nuclear weapons, claiming happily, “I think we can safely say the president’s Prague vision is dead,” and a guest speaker warned of a “relatively new threat to our deterrent” — the same humanitarian movement that is promoting Austria’s pledge………

Like it or not, this question of fundamental equity among nations is the paradox and the core of the nuclear dilemma. The report of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons stated it even more succinctly in 1996, calling it the Axiom of Nuclear Proliferation: “As long as any state has nuclear weapons, others will seek to acquire them.” And Obama in Prague added a surely true but terrifying corollary: “If we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.”

With nuns splashing blood, countries making pledges, diplomats working to reduce the size of world-destroying arsenals, suppliers cheering a new Cold War, Zak demonstrates that we’re all in it together. And he’s honest enough to report as well the hard truth that none of us yet knows how to get out of it alive.

Courage, Resistance, and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age  By Dan Zak   Blue Rider.  402 pp. $27

July 16, 2016 - Posted by | resources - print, weapons and war

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: