Speech by Bruce Gagnon delivered in Nagasaki at the Mayors for Peace Conference

August 8, 2009

I am very honored to have been invited by Mayor Akiba and Mayors for Peace to share my thoughts about the important subject of nuclear abolition at this solemn time when we remember the nuclear bombings of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 64 years ago.  Nuclear disarmament remains the fundamental issue of our time.

Let me first say a few words about my own personal history and the organization I work for.

I grew up in a military family and lived in various places around the world.

 In 1971, being a young conservative like my father, I too joined the US Air Force and was stationed in California at an airlift base for the Vietnam war.  Soldiers would come from all over the country to board the planes to Vietnam.  When the huge transport jets returned they carried the wounded soldiers and the body bags of those troops who had been killed. As a result, there were frequently anti-war protests outside my base. Although they were often very small, they caused the GI’s on our base to endlessly debate the war.  This is the time that I became a peace activist.

Some of you may remember June 12, 1982, a historic day. On that day almost a million people demonstrated outside the United Nations, calling for nuclear abolition. People came from all over the world for the UN Special Session on Disarmament that was called to deal with the continued use of violence in international affairs and with the growing nuclear arms race.

I did not attend the June 12 march but did watch the rally on public television from my home in Orlando, Florida.  After the rally was over, the TV coverage switched to a conference where Lt. Gen. Daniel Graham was speaking. At the time Gen. Graham was President Ronald Reagan's head of the Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars.

During a question and answer session following Graham's speech a man asked him, "General, they say there are almost a million people in New York City today demonstrating for disarmament. Aren't you worried about that?"  Without missing a beat Gen. Graham responded, "No, I think it's great. They are out there protesting against ICBM's and we're moving into space. They don't have a clue. Let them keep doing what they are doing."

Imagine my surprise at hearing this. What was he talking about?  Moving into space?  I knew very little about this.  It was then that I began working to help prevent the arms race from moving into the heavens.

The following year, just as the nuclear freeze campaign was taking off all over the U.S., I became the state coordinator of the Florida Coalition for Peace and Justice, where I helped to build a statewide movement opposing all nuclear weapons.  I also began working hard to learn about, and to share with the public, as much as I could about Gen. Graham’s Star Wars plans.

In 1984, I made my first trip to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  While in Nagasaki I was asked to speak at a memorial service to commemorate the Koreans in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who were killed on August 6 and 9th.  I was told that only in more recent years have the Koreans who were killed, and the Korean Hibakusha, been honored.   During those days I was to hear the stories of many Hibakusha who further turned my world upside down.

When I returned to Florida I was determined to share the things I had learned with as many people as possible.  I wrote an opinion piece for my local newspaper but it was rejected on the grounds that I could not prove that the stories I shared from the Hibakusha were true.

This only made me more determined, and the following year, in early August, I arranged for several Hibakusha to tour our state.  Their visit ended with a major protest on August 9 at a weapons factory that manufactured the Tomahawk cruise missile.  Thirteen of us were arrested that day for attempting to walk onto the factory grounds carrying a letter calling for the conversion of the facility to peaceful production.

I believed then, and I believe now, that it would dishonor the memory and sacrifices of the Hibakusha if we did not do everything possible to expand their campaign to abolish nuclear weapons and war.

Those of us living in Florida could quickly understand the plans for space warfare, as the Kennedy Space Center and NASA, the space agency, are based in the center of the state, not far from where I was living at the time.  I began organizing people to go to the space center for protests whenever military satellites were launched, when Trident nuclear missiles were test-fired from there, or when NASA launched space missions with highly-toxic plutonium-238 on-board.

It was during this time that I learned that much of what the so-called “civilian” NASA space agency was doing is actually “dual use”, meaning virtually every space mission served two masters. Civilian space missions are routinely used to test space weapons technologies.

By 1992, the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice had become so heavily involved in the space issue in Florida that we began looking around for more allies.  We had earlier discovered an organization, called Citizens for Peace in Space, in the state of Colorado, where the US Space Command was headquartered.  This relationship led to the creation of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space that I coordinate today.

As we organized the Global Network we learned about US space warfare bases in England, Greenland, Norway, Australia, and in other parts of the world.  Local peace groups in those countries quickly became part of our movement, and today we have 150 affiliated organizations around the planet.

In the years that followed, we began collecting and sharing the US Space Command’s detailed plans for space. “Master of Space” is the logo of the 50th Space Wing at the headquarters of the Air Force Space Command in Colorado.

In an important planning document called “Vision for 2020”, published in 1997 during the presidency of Bill Clinton, the Space Command states, “Although unlikely to be challenged by a global peer competitor, the US will continue to be challenged regionally.  The globalization of the world economy will also continue, with a widening between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’…space superiority is emerging as an essential element of battlefield success and future warfare.”

Furthermore, the Space Command calls for US “control and domination” of space, saying: “Control of space is the ability to assure access to space, freedom of operations within the space medium, and an ability to deny others the use of space.”

Each branch of the military, the Army, Navy, and Air Force, now has its own space command.  Another important document, this time written by the Air Force Space Command gives us a better idea of what the Pentagon has in mind for space.  Called the “Strategic Master Plan: Fiscal Year 2006 and Beyond” it states:  “The ability to gain space superiority (the ability to exploit space while selectively disallowing it to adversaries) is critically important….To date, we have enjoyed de facto space superiority, but adversaries have shown that they have taken notice…To fully develop and exploit potential counterspace…some US policies and international treaties may need to be reviewed and modified.”

When the Space Command talks about “exploiting space” it doesn’t only mean using it as a weapons platform.  Scientists have discovered precious mineral resources on the moon, Mars and asteroids.  One of the jobs of the Space Command, in the years ahead, will be to build a military highway to these bodies so that aerospace corporations can control them for mining operations.  One reason so many nations, including Japan, are so interested in establishing bases on the moon is because helium-3 has been discovered there.  Scientists believe the resource could be used to fuel fusion reactors back on Earth, making the profits of the oil corporations pale in comparison.  This new race to the planets could be another source of conflict here on Earth unless the world begins now to insist on peaceful, and cooperative space exploration.

Let us now return to the Space Command and further define some of the terms it uses.

“Full spectrum dominance” means that the US military will control all war fighting at every level of conflict.  The Army will control the ground; the Navy will control the oceans; the Air Force will control the air, and the Space Command will control space.

There is just one problem:  If the US can do this, so can some other country.  Thus, the Space Command says, it must “deny” certain countries access to space.  It must be the “Master of Space.”  To carry out this denial mission, the Space Command has said, it must have weapons in space that would be able to take out a competitor nation’s “space assets” — meaning their satellites.

We now know that military satellites are what controls war on the ground today.  When the Pentagon launched the initial attack in the  “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq in 2003, 70% of the weapons that were used were directed to their targets by space satellites.

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones as they are often called, that are killing many civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan today, are actually flown by pilots sitting at computer terminals at military bases inside the US.  In real time, split second time, the pilots can watch the ground in Afghanistan from cameras mounted on the drones and order them to fire their deadly missiles using satellite technology.

The idea that no competitor nation will be allowed to have access to space during conflict is of course a very provocative one to Russia, China, and even the European Union. The EU has responded to this fact by creating their own military satellite navigation and targeting system, called Galileo.

Another important point that must be mentioned is the cost of Star Wars.  Not only does the militarization of space make life on Earth less secure today, because it fuels a new arms race, but it is also extremely expensive. The aerospace industry has boasted that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet.  No matter how hard the US government tries, it cannot afford to pay for this new arms race in space by itself. This is where the allies come into the equation.  One of the Pentagon’s top jobs today is to persuade Japan, South Korea, Australia, England, Germany, India, and other nations to become a part of the program to put the expensive space warfare system into place. That of course means that many social and environmental needs will be neglected or ignored completely.

So today we see the US expanding PAC-3 and THAAD missile defense programs throughout the world, particularly in the Asian-Pacific region.  We see the Pentagon pushing for “missile defense” deployments in Poland and the Czech Republic against the will of the people in those nations.  We see US Star Wars radar facilities being expanded and upgraded in England, Australia, Germany, Greenland, Norway, and in other places around the world for the purpose of communicating with new generations of military satellites that will help direct this program of “full spectrum dominance.”

In the US, we see space technology weapons programs under development like laser weapon systems, new generations of war-fighting satellites, cyber warfare systems, the military space plane, and hives of miniature robotic Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.  This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Let me talk about just one of these programs to illustrate how space technology “advancements” are a danger to global hopes for nuclear disarmament.

Gen. James Cartwright, the Vice-Chairman of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff recently concluded that conventionally-armed bombers are “too slow and too intrusive” for many “global strike missions.”  Gen. Cartwright pushes for a “prompt global strike” weapon, which would be ultra-fast and fitted with a conventional warhead.  The general says that the military needs ”hypersonic” weapons that would travel through space to take out targets on the other side of the planet.

For the past several years the US Space Command has been annually computer war-gaming such an attack.  Set in the year 2016 the Pentagon launches the military space plane that takes off like an airplane, flies through space, and then unleashes a devastating first-strike attack on China’s nuclear forces all within one hour.  China then attempts to launch a retaliatory strike with its tens of nuclear missiles capable of hitting the west coast of the continental US.  But US “missile defense” systems, like those parked nearby on Naval Aegis destroyers, in Japan, South Korea, and possibly even Taiwan, help take out China’s crippled nuclear response.  Missile defense, sold to the public as a defensive system, is really designed by the Pentagon to be the shield after the first-strike sword has lunged into the heart of China’s nuclear arsenal.

Imagine, if you would, how the leaders inside China view this war game.  The technologies are now being developed to destroy the firewall between conventional and nuclear weapons.  Space technology thus becomes the enabler of first-strike military doctrine.  Any hopes for serious nuclear abolition negotiations with China are irreparably harmed by the militarization and weaponization of space.

Some, when they hear about the Space Command plans like Vision for 2020 or the 2016 computer war games against China, say that these developments are just theoretical, that the Global Network makes too much out of nothing.  But there is much more to consider.

Just after the 9-11 attacks in New York, the Strategic Command, at Omaha, Nebraska in the mid-western US, began undergoing a complete overhaul in its role and mission.  For years the famous Strategic Air Command (SAC) was the bomber and nuclear missile command for the Pentagon, charged with providing “nuclear deterrence.”   Now though the Strategic Command (or StratCom as it is popularly called) has been charged with new, more aggressive missions.

Tim Rinne, the State Coordinator of Nebraskans for Peace has watched the quick evolution of StratCom and describes it this way:  “Those so-called ‘Missile Defense’ installations proposed for Poland and the Czech Republic - that’s StratCom.  StratCom coordinated the shoot-down in February 2008 of a falling US spy satellite with a ‘missile defense’ interceptor launched from an Aegis cruiser in the Pacific Ocean.  Those CIA Predator drones flying over Pakistani airspace are flown with the aid of StratCom’s space assets, with intelligence supplied by StratCom spy satellites.  Those Echelon National Security Agency listening stations in Misawa, Japan; Pine Gap, Australia and Waihopai, New Zealand — that are eavesdropping on your phone calls and emails — are all part of StratCom’s network.  The recent clash between a US spy ship and Chinese naval defenses in the South China Sea is linked to StratCom’s mission as well.  And StratCom’s presence is also felt in the Asian-Pacific where it is responsible for preparing to launch preemptive nuclear or conventional strikes against North Korea and the military encirclement of China.”

The entire US military is now tied together using space technology.  StratCom maintains that all warfare on the Earth today is “net-centric.”  With military satellites in space the US can see virtually everything on the planet and can target virtually any place on the Earth.

One finds oneself asking the question, why?  Why, when we already have a maddening nuclear arms race, is the US pushing the militarization and weaponization of space?

President Obama’s new National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones was the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.  In 2006, Gen. Jones told the media, “NATO is developing a special plan to safeguard oil and gas fields in the [Caspian sea] region…. Our strategic goal is to expand to Eastern Europe and Africa.”

Who is the competitor of the US in Africa?  The Pentagon maintains that it is China, largely due to the fierce international competition for dwindling supplies of oil, natural gas, coal, uranium, and other resources around the world.

In April of 2009 Army Gen. Walter Sharp, the commander of US forces Korea, told members of the US Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington that the US-South Korean alliance was “a linchpin for stability in Northeast Asia.”

The US now has 30 ground-based interceptor missiles deployed in South Korea.  Many peace activists there, and in Japan, strongly believe that the ultimate target of these systems is not North Korea, but China and Russia.

The current US military transformation underway in South Korea and Japan is indeed a key element in this regional offensive strategy to contain China while justifying the military expansion as containment of a “hostile and aggressive” North Korea.  I believe North Korea’s recent nuclear test and missile tests have been a desperate reaction from an insecure nation worried about the US military strategy of “full spectrum dominance.” While North Korea’s tests were wrong, and only helped to justify “missile defense” deployments in response, it must also be remembered that the US launched a nuclear ICBM from Vandenberg AFB in California toward the Pacific on June 29.  This might be a good time for the peace movement to begin talking about the reductions of all strategic delivery vehicles and a missile test ban.

The Russians have expressed interest in these kinds of negotiations.

Japanese self-defense forces are now integrated into the military strategy of the US, which puts Japan into the middle of a growing conflict zone in the region.  Japan is now in a delicate position because if it follows the US space dominance strategy it will become a full partner in the dangerous and provocative plan to contain China and Russia.  The consequences could be harsh, as Japan would economically pay a costly price.  It would be wiser for Japan to remain a neutral, peace-loving nation in the region.

China maintains that deployment of “missile defense” systems in the Asia-Pacific region by the US and its allies is a threat to hopes for nuclear disarmament.

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ comments were quite revealing last April when he said, “We’re converting more ships to have ballistic missile defense that would help against China.”

Living in Bath, Maine I have a special perspective on this US-China naval competition.  In my town, the Navy builds the Aegis destroyer that is outfitted with missile defense systems and is being deployed in the Asian-Pacific region.  The two Republican senators from my state maintain that more Pentagon funds for Aegis shipbuilding are needed because China is undertaking a “massive military buildup” in order to push the US out of the Asian-Pacific.

Last June, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released its annual figures on global military spending for 2008.  Not surprisingly, the US was in first place. It spent $607 billion, accounting for about 42% of the world total.  China, in second place, was far behind at $85 billion a year; Russia was in fifth place at $59 billion, while Japan came in seventh at $46 billion.  In fact, seven of the top ten global spenders on military in 2008 were US allies.

It’s one thing that the US is massively building up its military, but why are so many other countries around the world following the same path?  Why is Japan now talking about ending its commitment to honor Article 9 of its Constitution and change from “forever renouncing war” to the possibility of “preemptive offensive attack”?

Why is virtually every country in the world expanding its military at the very time that everyone agrees that we must put the nuclear genie back into the bottle?

We all know that fossil fuels are a declining natural resource on our fragile Mother Earth.  Many experts now say we’ve reached the peak of oil availability and are now quickly heading down the hill toward scarcity at the very time that global demand for oil is growing.

Renowned author Noam Chomsky says US foreign policy is now all about controlling most of the world’s oil supply as a “lever of world domination.”  One way to keep Europe, China, India and other emerging markets dependent on the US and in sync with its policies is to maintain control of the oil supply they’re reliant on.  Even as the US economy is collapsing, the Pentagon appears to be saying; whoever controls the keys to the world’s economic engine still remains in charge.

China, for example, imports up to 80% of its oil through the Malacca Straits.  If any competitor nation was able to militarily control that transit route and choke off China’s oil supply, its economy could be held hostage.  Many thus wonder if the current doubling of the US military presence in the Asian-Pacific is really due to North Korea’s nuclear program or is actually a part of a larger military strategy to ensure US control?

In his book, The Grand Chess Board, former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote,  "For America, the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia... and America's global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained…. The primary interest is to gain geostrategic depth through political influence in Afghanistan…and to benefit eventually from any pipeline construction linking Central Asia with the Arabian Sea."  It should be remembered that Brzezinski was a chief foreign policy adviser to President Obama during his recent presidential campaign.

Russia has the world’s largest deposits of natural gas and significant supplies of oil.  The US has recently built military bases in Romania and Bulgaria and will soon be adding more in Albania.  NATO has been expanding eastward into Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, right on Russia’s border.  Georgia and the Ukraine are next on the list to become members of what is quickly becoming a global NATO military alliance.

The NATO Treaty’s Article 5 is quite clear that if one NATO member country is attacked, it is the responsibility, the obligation, of all NATO members to join in defense of that country. That   means that if Georgia, which the US is now promoting for full membership in the alliance, got into another hot conflict with neighboring Russia, NATO would be called upon to go to war with Russia.

Much to his credit, President Obama has called for a “reset” of relations between the US and Russia in hopes that there will be an opportunity to negotiate significant reductions in the arsenals of these two leading nuclear powers.

Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev delivered the opening address at the “Overcoming Nuclear Dangers” conference in Rome on April 16, 2009.  He noted, “The world is now going through a global crisis, which is an unprecedented challenge to international politics…. We have to admit that nothing fundamentally new has been achieved in the past decade and a half.  The pace of nuclear arms reductions has slowed.  The quantities of nuclear weapons held by Russia and the US still far exceed the arsenals of all other nuclear powers taken together, thus making it more difficult to bring them into the process of nuclear disarmament.”

Gorbachev continued, “In the final analysis, the nuclear danger can only be removed by abolishing nuclear weapons.  But could one regard as realistic the prospect of one country retaining the quantities of conventional weapons that exceed the combined arsenals of practically all other nations — the prospect of one country achieving absolute global superiority?  Unless we address the need to demilitarize international relations, reduce military budgets, put an end to the creation of new kinds of weapons and prevent weaponization of outer space, all talk about a nuclear-weapon-free world will be just inconsequential rhetoric.”

I must turn to Mr. Gorbachev for one more important point here.  In a very recent interview with a German newspaper, he commented that Western Germany, the US and other powers had pledged after Germany’s reunification in 1990 that, “NATO would not move a centimeter to the east.”  This broken promise had led to Russia’s disillusionment with relations with the West, Gorbachev said.

China is not sitting still as these US military moves are made on the grand chessboard.  In 2007, they destroyed one of their own defunct satellites with a ballistic missile as a way to show the world that they had “anti-satellite” weapons capability.  This contributed to the growing problem of space debris that is now dangerously orbiting the Earth and, if worsened, could one day make it virtually impossible for any nation to launch a rocket into space, due to the minefield of space junk surrounding the planet.

Russia and China have created the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that is gathering neighbors in the region into an economic and military alliance to counter NATO’s expanding presence in their “back yard.”  They are increasing their military spending and each putting more emphasis on their own space technology developments.  But much to their credit they have also been calling for negotiations.  In the middle of June, following another meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that was held in Russia, the two nuclear powers issued a statement saying they will once again attempt to draft a treaty on the prevention of the deployment of weapons in outer space.  For many years Russia and China have introduced resolutions at the UN calling for negotiations on a new treaty that would ban weapons in space.  All countries of the world have supported the resolution with the exception of the US, Israel, and Micronesia.  This was true during the Clinton presidency as well as during the reign of George W. Bush.  It will be crucial for President Obama, if he truly hopes to reset relations with Moscow, to seriously enter into negotiations for a global ban on weapons in space.

Just prior to the recent Moscow nuclear weapons negotiations between the US and Russia, President Obama’s senior director for Russian affairs on the National Security Council told the media,  “We don’t need the Russians…We’re not going to reassure or give or trade anything with the Russians regarding NATO expansion or missile defense.”

Based on the tentative agreement that has come out of the US-Russia summit on July 6 it appears that “very modest” changes at best can be expected in the near term when it comes to the nuclear arsenals of the two powers.

Global Network’s New York City board member Alice Slater, long a tireless worker for nuclear abolition, has written, “It would be tragic if cooperation once again failed because of the hegemonic US drive to dominate and control the earth from space.  In a sense, we have now come full circle to the time of the Reagan-Gorbachev 1986 summit in Reykjavik, when negotiations for the total abolition of nuclear weapons collapsed because Reagan wouldn’t give up US plans for a Strategic Defense Initiative to dominate space.”

Slater continues, “Clinton similarly rejected opportunities to take up Putin’s proposal to cut our nuclear arsenals to 1,000 warheads.  After Russia’s ratification of START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 2000, Putin called for new talks to reduce long-range missiles from 3,500 to 1,500 or even 1,000. This forward-looking proposal was accompanied by Putin’s stern caveat that all Russian offers would be off the table if the US proceeded to build a National Missile Defense (NMD) in violation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.  Astoundingly, US diplomatic ‘talking points’ leaked by Russia to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists revealed that Clinton was telling Russia that it had nothing to fear from NMD as long as Russia kept 2,500 weapons at launch-on-warning, hair-trigger alert.  Rejecting Putin’s offer to cut to 1,000 warheads, the US assured Russia that with 2,500 warheads it could overcome a NMD shield and deliver an ‘annihilating counterattack!’  If the Clinton administration had instead embraced Putin’s plan, the US and Russia would have been able to call all nuclear weapons states to the table — even those with arsenals in the hundreds or fewer — to negotiate a treaty to ban the bomb.”

This is what the world wants today.  It wants an end to the nuclear nightmare, it wants a halt to endless war for control of the world’s finite resources, it wants the cities of the planet removed from nuclear targeting lists, it wants its hard-earned tax monies to be used for health care, education, green jobs, and dealing with the coming harsh realities of global climate change.  Most of all, the people of the world want an end to the enormous hypocrisy that exists today.

The world clearly hears the US and its allies lecturing Iran and North Korea about the evils of nuclear weapons, and cringes when it listens to the threats of preemptive attack against those two nations if they do not halt their nuclear weapons development programs.  But in fairness, one must reflect on the American Congressional decision to go forward with the US-India nuclear program that will assist that nation in ultimately building more nuclear weapons — even as India refuses to sign the NPT.

In a recent college graduation ceremony speech, environmentalist and author Paul Hawken told the students, “You join a multitude of caring people.  No one knows how many groups and organizations are working on the most salient issues of our day: climate change, poverty, deforestation, peace, water, hunger, conservation, human rights, and more.  This is the largest movement the world has ever seen.”

This Hawken-described reality should give us all hope and courage.  Nuclear disarmament must be attained in our lifetimes or human life might not continue on our planet.  The people of Japan have valiantly taken the leadership to keep the issue of nuclear abolition before the world’s eyes and hearts for the past 64 years.  Mayor Akiba and the Mayors for Peace have come forward with the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol that offers a positive direction to the international community at the very time that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is on the verge of collapse.  Mayor Akiba asks this central question:  “Do we abolish nuclear weapons or allow them to spread uncontrolled?”

How then do we proceed at this historic juncture?  How can we ensure success at the UN’s 2010 NPT Review Conference in New York?

Nuclear weapons, the world’s deadliest scourge, must be the leading edge of a global demilitarization.  In order to capture the hearts and minds of the people of the planet we must show the deadly connections between nuclear abolition and their important concerns.  We must put human security and environmental sustainability at the center of global conflict resolution.

Our call for general and complete disarmament must include a universal call to end not only nuclear weapons but also nuclear power.  We must call for the conversion of the global military machine to peaceful production. This would give us the ability to energize the sinking global economy with green jobs.

We must call for an end to corporate domination of our political systems all across the planet.  We must support real democracy by returning power and economic control to our local communities.

In my country, we once had another economic and political institution that had a lock on the government and our people. We eventually had a civil war, where brother fought against brother, to end the overwhelming power of slavery.  Many people felt then, like many people feel today about nuclear weapons, that change was not possible.

One of the great leaders of the movement to abolish slavery was a black man and escaped slave by the name of Frederick Douglass.  Douglass was known for his great speaking skills. He once declared that, “I would unite with anybody to do right.”  As we attempt to build a successful movement to demilitarize our planet we must extend ourselves and be willing to work with people and groups we’ve never worked with before.  And we can only do that by making the important connections and links between issues that we all care about.

Sadly, we are back in a period of great power maneuvering where disarmament negotiations are one more tactic used by countries to stay in control.  Let’s face the facts: No one has so far been able to sucessfully manage the problem of nuclear weapons and the current global military buildup. The public is losing confidence in leaders and government.  It is as if the people of the world are captives on a sinking ship and they are stuck in the lower decks with no way out.  They feel powerless about the things that they most care about.

We must make a unified global demand.  We should urge the people all over the world to take to the streets in protest against nuclear weapons and for conversion of the global war system prior to the 2010 NPT review conference in New York.  It would seem that our local governments and local elected officials are closest to the people and could play a crucial role in helping to bring people together at this critical time.  Who knows better than the mayors of the world what a waste it is to build and sustain the nuclear arms race?  Who can more effectively describe the urgent needs of our local communities better than the mayors of the world?  Why couldn’t Mayors for Peace call for such a weekend of events that would unite the planet in opposition to nuclear weapons and speak out for human development and environmental sustainability?

We must also talk about the connections between nuclear weapons and the offensive nature of so-called “missile defense”. 

Until we overcome the legacy of past wars, like the Korean War that still continues after 58 years, misunderstanding and miscalculations will continue.  We must recognize that growing military alliances and expansion of conventional forces will negate our wishes for nuclear abolition.  We must respect and keep the UN Charter that outlaws preemptive war and calls for peaceful resolution of conflicts. 

The membership of the Global Network is ready to work with each of you on this important agenda.

Maybe if we do these things, change will come at last to the world.

We have no other choice.

So let us say together – No More Hiroshima, No More Nagasaki, No More Hibakusha.

Never again.

Thank you very much.

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