April 1, 2002
The Bush administration's recent decision to revise this
county's nuclear weapons policy should send a shivering chill
down the spine of every human being living on this planet,
including, and especially, those in our own country. With
a mixture of anger, trepidation, and sadness, I read headlines
stating that Bush plans to revive nuclear weapons testing,
make ready the use of nuclear weapons in the battlefield,
and allow storage of thousands of tons of deadly nuclear waste
My anger starts with seeing this administration plan the
use of tactical nuclear weapons. With our armed forces already
stretched thin (witness, the recent Congressional testimony
from field commanders currently in action), and with Bush
and his draft-dodging advisors (none of whom have actually
seen a nuclear blast, and few who have ever fought in a military
battle) expand our participation in wars around the globe,
it's only a matter of time before they deliver us to the point
of no return.
Militarily, they are leading us up a box canyon, and into
a situation where, in the event we were ever losing a battle
(which happens, even to us), we would be forced to either
surrender or use tactical nuclear weapons. Is this sane planning?
This type of military strategy, as is currently envisioned
by the White House, is a recipe for worldwide death and destruction.
Why? Because it won't stop with just "one" battle. If we were
to use nuclear weapons in the field, what would our argument
then be to prevent Israel, Pakistan, or India, from doing
the same, if they were ever faced with a similar military
situation? Would we hypocritically tell them to restrain themselves,
while we showed no restraint?
My trepidation and sadness comes from the fact that so few
people understand the collateral damage caused by nuclear
weapons use. Though the Bush administration takes a rather
laissez-faire position with regards to collateral damage,
nuclear weapons use will change that attitude quickly. Nuclear
weapons are like a boomerang - they will come back at you,
one way or the other.
Collateral damage? Let's look at this country. The CDC recently
released a report that stated over 15,000 people were killed
as a direct result of downwind radiation from nuclear testing
blasts, with a hundred thousand more contracting cancer. These
numbers lie. I can tell you first hand, after seeing whole
families beset with cancer and death in Nevada and Utah, that
the CDC's numbers are no more accurate than a Republican candidate's
budget numbers at election time. If I extrapolate, using my
own personal knowledge and experience, the actual "collateral
damage" would be more like 100,000 deaths, and a half-milllion
or more cases of cancer! Our own children and babies, sacrificed
And it wasn't just the tests conducted in this country that
killed and maimed our own people. Radiation from testing in
China and Russia, carried by the upper atmosphere, also landed
in the United States. Nuclear weapons advocates just can't
seem to (and/or don't want to) understand, that damage from
blasts will not, and cannot, be confined to the immediate
area. It will kill and cause sickness around the world.
I know these things because I was raised in Nevada. During
my youth I witnessed several above ground nuclear tests, and
experienced a number of underground tests, in very close proximity.
I do not have the words to describe the power, the horror,
or the unmitigated destructive force of these weapons. No-one
does - no-one - and certainly not anyone in this White
Add to the insane "Bush Nuclear Weapons Doctrine" his plans
to store nuclear waste in Nevada. Nevada is not a wasteland.
It is full of families, just like yours. The air and water
move though majestic mountain ranges, and broad valleys. There
are hundreds of thousands of citizens, men, women, and children,
that will be put at risk of exposure, either through the actual
storage, or accidents in transport. And God forbid, that there
would be a terrorist act while the waste was being transported
through your town on the way to Nevada, or one at the
site. Tens of thousands, even millions, could die a slow,
and ugly death.
My passion for this subject, stems from the fact that I am
already a victim of past, and vitiated nuclear policies. I
have suffered from radiation-induced cancer, and have had
a lifetime of health problems because of my exposure, so I
know of what I speak. I don't want one person, anywhere in
this world, to suffer as I have, or to see their friends,
families, their cities, and countries, die from exposure to
Bush must be stopped, as must all those who think like him.
Because in a nuclear war, no-one will win - not the planet,
not our country, not your kids, not you. Please write G.W.
Bush, and his Republican congressional allies, and tell them
to stop this madness, NOW!
While we still have time.
Bassman is a freelance writer, photographer, activist,