Guest Opinion: Countdown to Doomsday

The following guest opinion was written by Michelle Cunha, assistant director of Massachusetts Peace Action for

Addressing the US’s complicitness in maintaining the nuclear status quo

In the sweltering heat of the Japanese summer, I toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Set nearly on top of the epicenter where an atomic bomb was detonated on Aug 6, 1945, I saw statutes of women trying to protect children from the bomb’s devastation, a burial mound with the ashes of at least ten thousand bodies, and monuments to workers whose lives were lost on that shameful day. At the Nagasaki Peace Park I viewed images of infants, teens, and adults burned beyond recognition, lying in the streets.

The next nine days I spent in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki listening to the voices of nuclear abolitionists from around the globe. I met Hibakusha, survivors of the nuclear attack, and listened to their stories of losing their loved ones and community in a moment. They spoke of the deep unabating grief they felt in the days, months, and decades since. Their words made me verklempt when they described the shame of being a survivor, of how many were unable to marry, find jobs, or live any sort of normal life. They spoke about how many Hibakusha chose to live in silence, never speaking of the day, instead choosing to suffer in silence. They spoke of being instantly alone in middle age having lost their parents, spouses, children, and livelihoods.

As I listened to the speeches at the 2018 World Conference against A and H Bombs, two men kept coming to my mind: Congressman Seth Moulton and State Rep. Kenneth Gordon. Why were these two men on my mind as I looked the legacy of the use of nuclear weapons? Both represent Bedford; Moulton believes nuclear deterrence is a viable doctrine and Gordon believes our attention is better spent on elections in other states as a way to change the discourse on nuclear weapons.

The Doctrine of Deterrence is based on the idea that if a nation possesses nuclear weapons it will not be attacked thus it is protected from any foreign aggressors.

Nations do not like unjust imbalances. If one nation has a nuclear weapon then its chief rival must have two. That skewed thinking leads to an arms race in which the two nations must one-up each other. Other nations wanting to be perceived as powerful join in the arms race as they too start to conceptualize and build their own nuclear arsenal.

Rachel Melly said “Of course our government always claims that they [nuclear weapons] are necessary for our security, that they will never be used, and they are designed to deter attack from hostile powers. But increasingly our politicians are required to say that they would press the button, so there is calculated uncertainty about whether it should be used or not.”

Moulton has declined to sign onto Sen. Ed Markey’s bill, co-authored by Congressman Ted Lieu of California (D-Calif.), which is designed to limit presidential first use of nuclear weapons by requiring Congressional approval before launching. A similar resolution is in the Massachusetts State House, authored by State Sen. Barbara L’Italien. Ken Gordon has procrastinated signing the resolution saying via email on July 12, 2018: “While I do support this initiative and will do what I can to help with this Senate resolution, I really think our time is best spent assisting the campaigns of those Senators in contested races in other states, because the real solution to all of this will only start when people who share our values take back the House and Senate, slowing down the current threat, and then work toward a more rational Administration.”

At a town hall in Newburyport on May 20, 2017, I asked Moulton why he has not signed onto the No First Strike bill. The Congressman mansplained that deterrence is a viable option and US treaty obligations to East Asian allies require the US to maintain a nuclear arsenal. Video of the exchange can be found on Massachusetts Peace Action’s website.

The United States is the only country in the world who has used nuclear bombs, not once but twice. An estimated 60,000-80,000 people were killed instantly in Hiroshima and another 75,000 were lost in Nagasaki. Added together, a rough total of 145,000 people were killed instantly. If you add the populations of Bedford, Lexington, Lincoln, Concord, Carlisle, Billerica, and Burlington together, total population is approximately 147,000. Imagine every single man, woman, child in those communities being lost in less than 5 seconds. Image the first responders from surrounding communities attempting to respond to such a completely preventable catastrophe: the blocked roads, the widespread fires, the cancers and radiation diseases police, fire, and EMS would contract. Imagine Emerson and Lahey Hospitals—if they were not instantly destroyed—trying to treat any survivors who are able to make it to their campuses.

The lucky ones in Hiroshima and Nagasaki died instantly. Radiation poisoning killed thousands more in the weeks following the attacks. Still, to this day, thousands of Hibakusha suffer the consequences with cancers throughout their bodies and other radiation diseases. The illnesses do not end with them. Second-generation Hibakusha are also afflicted with radiation diseases all because the United States believed dropping nuclear bombs on human beings—military and civilians alike—was an acceptable war tactic even at a time when the Japanese were attempting to surrender on the terms accepted after the A-bombings.

If I were to point a gun at someone but not to pull the trigger, I would be arrested for assault because to threaten to use a gun is as much a crime as to actually use it. Nuclear weapons are really big guns with the capability of destroying entire communities like Bedford.

During the last phase of his presidency, President Obama initiated a $1 trillion nuclear upgrade and 2018 Congress has bumped that number up to about $1.7 trillion. Hanscom AFB, in Moulton’s and Gordon’s districts, will see millions of those dollars to upgrade the Nuclear Command and Control Communications. In the last few weeks the NDAA was passed, which included funding for “low yield” nuclear bombs. These low yield bombs have more destructive capabilities than the two dropped on Japan. Earlier this year the Doomsday Clock was moved to 2 minutes to midnight after Trump’s NPT was released. It was the first time since 1953 that the hands have been so close to nuclear annihilation.

And yet, Moulton and Gordon believe the threat of instant and indiscriminate death brought on by a bright flash of light and a searing heat so hot eyeballs melt is necessary for US security. They believe burdening humans with life-threatening cancers that will affect millions for generations is in the US’ best interest.

It is time to put a stop to outmoded and antiquated thinking. It is time for total nuclear disarmament by all nine of the nuclear states. It is time for the United States to sign onto the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to eliminate every single one of its 4,000+ nuclear weapons.

EBPA Endorses Poor People’s Campaign

Poor Peoples Campaign image

Following a vote at its last board meeting, East Bay Peace Action has joined a grassroots effort to take on systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation with the endorsement of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

When 1 in 2 Americans is poor and the news of the day is climate chaos, police brutality, foreign wars, and tax cuts for the wealthy, we need Dr. King’s “revolution of values” and a moral revival in America more urgently than ever. It’s time not to commemorate Dr. King’s work, but to complete it.

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is uniting tens of thousands of people across America to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation and the nation’s distorted morality. We need you to step up and join our efforts.

Add your name now if you’re ready to help unite all Americans in our movement to transform the political, economic and moral structures of the country.


EBPA Endorses Olympic Truce

East Bay Peace Action today joined with other organizations across the United States to endorse the Olympic Truce, an initiative calling for a cessation of hostilities on the Korean Peninsula during the Winter Olympics in South Korea.Olympic Truce image.

As supporters of the truce state:

The Winter Olympics and Paralympics, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, offer a unique moment to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. On a very encouraging note, in November 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an Olympic Truce, or a cessation of hostilities during the Winter Games, which gained the support of 157 Member States including both Koreas and future hosts of the Olympic Games: Japan, China, France and the United States.

The Olympic Truce represents an important opportunity to defuse tensions and begin the work of reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. The United States should fully support both Korean governments’ current efforts to restore a peace process.

You can read more of the details and view a list of endorsing organizations by following this link.

Jon Rainwater op-ed in U.S. News & World Report: Trump needs real diplomacy with North Korea.

Time for Real Talk

The North Korean situation demands an unbridled pursuit of negotiations.

By Jon Rainwater, Executive Director of Peace Action and the Peace Action Education Fund, and Opinion Contributor | Dec. 1, 2017, at 11:10 a.m.

Op-ed U.S. News and World Report

North Korea’s latest apparent intercontinental ballistic missile test after a two-month lull raises a troubling question: Is this the end of “the calm before the storm” the president referred to in October after a meeting with top military brass? One way or another, a storm is coming. Only time will tell whether it heralds a surge of diplomacy or bloodshed. As the president ominously put it, “you’ll find out.”

The storm’s first rains picked up after President Donald Trump decided to add North Korea to a list of state sponsors of terrorism last week. Announcing the decision, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reassured the press pool that “we still hope for diplomacy.” Tillerson argued that the designation “continues to tighten the pressure on the Kim regime all with an intention to have him understand, this is only going to get worse until you’re ready to come and talk.”

This latest missile test demonstrates the folly of that thinking. Tightening the screws on Pyongyang has not advanced prospects for diplomacy, nor has it slowed North Korea’s progress on a more advanced nuclear weapons program. On the contrary, the administration’s hyperfocus on the “pressure campaign” has squandered yet another opening for negotiations.

Some have argued North Korea’s pause in missile testing was not a sign that the North was ready to talk, but was rather a pause driven by preparations for more launches during the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea, by poor weather conditions and by resources being diverted for the harvest season. These factors may have contributed to the pause, but numerous signs indicate that the assumption that North Korea has not been ready to talk is flawed.

In June, North Korea’s ambassador to India Kye Chun Yong told reporters that North Korea was willing to consider a “freeze for freeze” agreement, under which the U.S. and South Korea would pause their joint military exercises in exchange for North Korea pausing its nuclear and ballistic missile testing. Such an agreement would drastically reduce tensions and decrease the risk of a miscalculation leading to war. It could also pave the way for further negotiations to roll back North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for economic incentives and security assurances from the U.S.

Nuclear and foreign policy experts around the world including former Secretary of Defense William Perry support the “freeze for freeze” approach. The South Korean government also recently voiced tacit support for it, suggesting a delay in upcoming U.S.-South Korean military exercises. The U.S. has repeatedly rejected the approach.

Of course, North Korea’s actions have not been conducive to the diplomatic process either, this most recent ICBM test serving as the latest example of its counterproductive behavior. But meeting North Korea’s missile test with another round of threats, insults and provocative military exercises would be a mistake. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and in this case, they would bring us one step closer to a catastrophic war.

Instead of responding in kind, the Trump administration should take South Korea up on its suggestion of a delay in joint military exercises and give the “freeze for freeze” approach a second look. Taking the first step toward de-escalation by delaying or suspending the military exercises would not be a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of true leadership.

With North Korea closing in on an ICBM capable of reliably striking the U.S. mainland, a threshold the administration has said would be “intolerable,” there’s a strong case to be made for accelerating the pursuit of negotiations. For one, the more advanced North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is when negotiations begin, the more leverage it will have at the negotiating table. But more importantly, if we don’t begin negotiations before North Korea crosses that threshold, it’s unclear whether or not the president would be decide to launch a preemptive war.

Thankfully, legislation before Congress would address both of these concerns. The “No Unconstitutional Strike Against North Korea Act of 2017” would prevent funds from being used for any preemptive strike against North Korea without congressional authorization. It would also call on the president to “pursue every feasible opportunity to engage in talks” with North Korea to reduce tensions and advance the goals of denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula. While the administration may “still hope for diplomacy,” hope is not enough. Congress has the power to remind the administration that any preemptive war must be authorized, and that this crisis demands more than hope – it demands an unbridled pursuit of negotiations. It should exercise it.

Continue reading “Jon Rainwater op-ed in U.S. News & World Report: Trump needs real diplomacy with North Korea.”

EBPA endorses the People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea

At the Nov. 11, 2017 board meeting the Executive Committee of East Bay Peace Action by consensus endorsed the People Peace Treaty with North Korea. To learn more about this effort visit the United for Peace and Justice website:  People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea


A message from Jon Rainwater:

The Korean war claimed millions of lives. Yet more than 60 years later, there’s a grave risk that history could repeat itself, only this time nuclear weapons are on the table.

Over the weekend, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster described the risk of war with North Korea as “increasing every day.” He argued that the U.S. could still solve this problem diplomatically, but that time is running out to do so. Since taking office, the Trump administration has made it clear that North Korea becoming a fully fledged nuclear power would be “intolerable,” suggesting they would be willing to go to war to stop it.

Yet despite this rapidly approaching threshold, the administration continues squandering diplomatic openings and antagonizing North Korea with insults, threats and provocative war games. It’s time for the people to intervene.

Please sign the People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea to send a message to the U.S. and North Korean governments that a resumption of the Korean War is unacceptable.

Inspired by the Vietnam-era People’s Peace Treaty, we are joining with a coalition of organizations promoting a People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea, to raise awareness about the past U.S. policy toward North Korea, and to send a clear message that we, the people of the U.S., do not want another war with North Korea. This is not an actual treaty, but rather a declaration of peace from the people of the United States.

Among other provisions, the treaty calls on the U.S. and North Korea to immediately cease their reciprocal threats of nuclear war. It also calls on the U.S. to end its war games with South Korea and Japan that have elevated the risk of accidental war on the peninsula.

I need you to sign the People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea today.

2018 could be the make or break year for diplomacy with North Korea. With the Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea coming up in February, and more U.S.-South Korean war games slated for March, there will likely be more openings for negotiations, and more opportunities for escalation.

A strong showing on the People’s Peace Treaty is an excellent way to put pressure on the administration to seize any diplomatic openings, and to avoid further escalation.

Concerned citizens getting involved in international affairs have the power to change the world. It helped bring an end to apartheid in South Africa, and more recently ensured the Iran nuclear agreement could take effect. We need to put that people power to work now to prevent another war on the Korean Peninsula.

Please add your voice for peace by signing the People’s Peace Treaty with North Korea.

Thank you for standing with us.

Humbly for peace,

Jon Rainwater
Executive Director
Peace Action



Annual Gathering Held – East Bay Peace Action


The East Bay Peace Action annual gathering took place on Oct. 22, 2017  at St. Paul’s Tower, Oakland. Gwyn Kirk with Women for Genuine Security and member of 2015 delegation of Women Crossing the DMZ presented “North Korea and the Nuclear Issue.”

In other business:

  • The EBPA board election was conducted
  • EBPA members voted to endorse and co-sponsor the”Divest from the War Machine” campaign




East Bay Peace Action Programs

East Bay Peace Action programs educate and engage the public.

  •  The Truth in Recruitment Program helps students and parents make informed decisions about joining the military.
  • East Bay Peace Action Penny Poll offers the public an opportunity to show how they would like their tax dollars spent.
  • We endorse partners and projects such as the Peace Pledge project led by United for Peace and Justice.


EBPA Statement of Purpose


The purpose of East Bay Peace Action is to accomplish the following through grassroots organizing within the diverse constituencies of Contra Costa and Alameda counties:

  • Halt and reverse the arms race, nuclear and conventional, with a goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.
  • Promote a peaceful foreign policy with respect for the political, social, and economic self-determination of all people.
  • Reduce military spending, redirecting resources toward human needs and encouraging planned conversion from a military to a peacetime economy.
  • Foster international understanding and an end to the cold war mentality that drives the arms race.