Anti-Nuclear, Political Activist

Raytheon Missile and Defense contract a bad idea

A recent article in Defense news came to my attention thanks to Carly Brook of WPSR, staff support to Washington Against Nuclear Weapons Coalition. Our work to abolish nuclear weapons is a David vs. Goliath story. Raytheon corporation has been a primary private sector supplier to the Pentagon for decades. I have a personal connection to Raytheon through my uncle Thomas Hope Johnson who served as vice-chairman of research for the company during my college years.

Raytheon has just been named the sole provider of a Long Range Standoff Weapons Program. This story probably won’t make the national news although some Members of Congress are asking questions about this decision.

 Air-Launched Cruise Missile for a Nuclear Weapons System
Airmen from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., prepare an AGM-86B Air-Launched Cruise Missile for a Nuclear Weapons System Evaluation program test flight on April 10, 2013. (Tech. Sgt. Mark Bell/Air Force)

I decided to send a letter to the current head of the Missile and Defense arm of Raytheon. Here is what I had to say:

Dear President Wesley D. Kremer,

In your role as head of Raytheon Missiles & Defense, you have the power to stop the escalation of nuclear weaponry across the globe. The United States already has enough nuclear firepower to destroy the planet. Other countries with nuclear weapon arsenals know this. We have nothing further to prove.

Your words, “LRSO will be a critical contributor to the air-launched portion of America’s nuclear triad,” speak of Raytheon’s ability to manage the risk of arming aircraft with a weapon that could be either nuclear or conventional. This addition to a conventional aircraft could unnecessarily raise the risk of miscalculation, triggering a nuclear war. [I quote the recent article in Defense News by Valerie Insinna. 4-20-2020]

I write to you as the niece of Dr. Thomas Hope Johnson who retired from his position as Vice President of Research at Raytheon in 1965. Uncle Tom began his career at Brookhaven working with the Manhattan Project’s nuclear physicists to split the atom. During the Second World War, he turned to military projects. As chief physicist at the Ballistic Research Laboratories from 1942 to 1947, he measured the blast force of bombs and used microwaves to record movements of bullets and other projectiles.

Two years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he became vice president of research with the Atomic Energy Commission to discover peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Do you and your scientists have that youthful excitement in the power of microwaves and nuclear energy I witnessed in my uncle when I was a freshman at Bryn Mawr College? I visited him and my aunt in Georgetown, DC in 1955. He was working at Raytheon at the time. At breakfast, he emerged from the kitchen with the grin and gleam of a ten-year-old with a new discovery. He opened a mason jar full of freeze-dried strawberries. “Betsy, someday you will open a box of cereal, pour milk on it and these little red flakes will bloom into strawberries.”

He, Leo Szilard and other physicists from the Manhattan Project were horrified that nuclear fission had been used to kill millions of people. They formed the Council for a Livable World in 1962, determined to educate our citizens and our government about the destructive course of nuclear armament buildup. Surely the current mission of Raytheon could be life-giving instead of life-destroying.

Raytheon’s overall mission states that the company can be trusted to do the right thing and act with integrity. How is your division operating in harmony with this larger mission? How is a revenue stream of 60 Billion and a mission to provide the industry’s most advanced end-to-end solutions to detect, track and engage threats a trusted way forward? That 60 billion could be spent in diplomacy and arms reduction rather than producing weapons we never plan to use.

You have the power to change the “Peace Through Strength” model. The world needs Raytheon’s leadership for peace, not war.

Elisabeth Johnson Bell

The Washington Against Nuclear Weapons Coalition needs you, dear Reader, and your organization to join us. We must increase the voices in Washington State that urge, request, demand that our Members of Congress stop spending money on nuclear weapons. Please join www.WANWCoalition.org

If you are curious about how my Uncle Tom influenced my work in the anti-nuclear movement, check out my memoir, Open Borders: a Personal Story of Love, Loss and Anti-war Activism.

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Anti-Nuclear, Political Activist

conventional or nuclear bombs–what’s the difference?

This just came across my desk. You need to know about it. Our planet depends on us for survival.

Anti-nuclear weapons groups of every ilk have written a letter to congress to help our elected officials understand the strategic difference between a nuclear weapons and a conventional weapon. The risk of starting an irreversible conflagration between hostile nations increases exponentially with the deployment of so-called low-yield nuclear war heads. Please read the document and consider expressing your opinion to your Member of Congress (MOC). Make a call; make a difference.

2019 NGO stop W76-2 ltr-1
Anti-Nuclear, Political Activist

Holy Saturday Heartbreaking Grief

News of Death

Last night they came with news of death,
not knowing what I would say.

I wanted to say,
“The green wind is running through the fields,
making the grass lie flat.”

I wanted to say,
“The apple blossom flakes like ash,
covering the orchard wall.” 

I wanted to say,
“The fish floats belly up in the slow stream,
stepping stones to the dead.”  

They asked if I would sleep that night,
I said I did not know.

For this loss I could not speak,
the tongue lay idle in a great darkness,
the heart was strangely open,
the moon had gone,
and it was then
when I said, “He is no longer here,”
that the night put its arm around me
and all the white stars turned bitter with grief.

David Whyte, River Flow (Many Rivers Press: 2007), 313 published today in Richard Rohr’s meditations.

I’ve been asking myself why so few movements, presidential candidates, justice organizations like the Church Council or Faith Action Network or Earth Ministry–to name a few local to Seattle–have put the banning of nuclear weapons first and foremost on their agenda? I think we are in deep denial. We speed past Holy Saturday, that awful presence of death counting on the truth of resurrection.

The Trident submarines proliferated since the first one steamed into Puget Sound in 1981 and scared many of us into action against it. When I tell my Open Borders audiences that there are eight of those submarines over there, just twenty miles away, their eyes open, then glaze over, then drop to their lap or the floor; their shoulders drop. Some may shake it off. Anyone under fifty has lived their whole life under the potential cloud of nuclear winter.

We can not find true resurrection unless we acknowledge the death that is happening to our planet right now and the threat of death hanging over us. 

Can we grieve together? Knash our teeth, beat our breasts, weep harsh, wet, unstopable tears of grief for the state we are all, everyone of us, from here to North Korea, to Pakistan, to Iran, to Russia, to India, all of us? Standing in the darkness, let the night put its arm around us, comfort us, so that through our grief we can open our eyes to the steps we can each take, however small and seemingly insignificant, to bring life back into our future.

Join me with Washington Against Nuclear Weapons. Together we can awake from denial and change the future.

Act II of the Great Tridium of Easter

Betsy

Anti-Nuclear, Political Activist

Preventing First Strike

Dear Anti-nuclear Weapons Warriors,

Things are heating up. In order to prevent a first strike–Preventing First Strike–Rep Adam Smith and Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced the No First Use Act last week. Contact your Federal House Reps and Senators to encourage them to co-sponsor.

 

 

 

Here’s a suggested script:

Sample Script

Hi my name is _________, and I am a constituent
living in _________. I’m calling to urge your office to co-sponsor the No First Use Act introduced last week by Rep. Adam Smith and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, as bicameral bills HR 921 and S 200. This bill would help prevent the possibility of the US initiating a nuclear war, which would cause unthinkable destruction to all people and the earth. A ‘No First Use’ policy would prohibit the conducting of a first-use nuclear strike absent a declaration of war by Congress. This policy decreases the likelihood of launching missiles in a crisis, whether by accident or deliberate action.Will your office co-sponsor the No First Use Act? Thank you!

A lot of people in the Pacific NW and then across the country worked to prevent a first strike back in the 1980s. The USSR collapsed in 1989. The START treaty resulted in the destruction of thousands of nuclear weapons. Here we are in a new Cold War. Today we have the internet. We can create a wave of anti-nuclear weapons voices across the globe. Read what some of us did back then in Open Borders: A Personal Story of Love, Loss and Anti-war Activism. You can get the book from your local independent bookstore or wherever you get your books.
BTW I’ll be reading from Open Borders at the SW Branch of the Seattle Public Library, 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14th. Details under Calendar.
Anti-Nuclear, Political Activist

Arms Control Association

Dear Anti-Nuclear War Warriors,

This organization which has existed since 1971, just landed in my in-box and I want to share it with you. The Arms Control Association is full of good information. The research and articles cover the world theater from US-Russian relations to actions by the French. I suppose it could be depressing to read their reports and analysis, but pretending there is nothing to worry about might be worse. Humans have the capacity to deny and ignore threats too unbearable to imagine. Perhaps full and unflinching knowledge will bring a different kind of calm, one build on showing up to reality. We do have a way of soothing ourselves by creating of bubble on not-knowing.

Let me know what you think of becoming more informed?

In peace and the promise of a Beloved Community embracing the whole world.

Betsy