Resolution focusing on preventing nuclear war is worthy of support
If there is one thing in Maine we can all agree about, it is protecting children, no matter where they live.
Here in Lewiston, I see examples of that every day — from laws to protect our kids from secondhand smoke to keeping them safe in car seats.
Today, our children are holding active shooter drills in school, while many of us still remember practicing “duck and cover” drills in school to protect us from a nuclear detonation. As someone who has devoted his career to health, I know that prevention is the best way to save lives.
Today, we find ourselves on the brink of another Cold War, but we can do something to help prevent it right here in Maine. The Legislature has an opportunity to help reduce the threats posed by nuclear weapons by passing LR 887 “Joint Resolution Memorializing the President of the United States to and the United States Congress to Lead a Global Effort to Prevent Nuclear War.” This resolution urges the federal government to support five policies that could greatly reduce the public health threat posed by nuclear weapons.
The recently introduced No First Use bill (HR 921 and S 272) is one such policy. The bill’s action is similar in function to U.S. policy for no-firstuse when it comes to biological and chemical weapons. It means that the U.S. could not launch nuclear weapons unless the nation was under attack. A poll released last month from ReThink Media found that more than 70 percent of U.S. citizens support a no-first-use policy, and nearly 80 percent are concerned that a U.S. president has the power to launch nuclear weapons without consulting Congress or the joint chiefs of staff.
Nuclear weapons can be launched within minutes with no turning back and, once launched, either deliberately or even accidentally, there is no way to stop the consequences that could lead to a nuclear war. Medical help would be impossible and there would be no possibility for humanitarian assistance. With more than 4,000 nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile, including the 1,400 that are deployed, there are already far more than is need to keep this country safe.
Adding more to an already bloated arsenal swells costs for taxpayers.
Building more Cold War technology is a waste of taxpayer money that could be used in much better ways, including increased health protections and education.
There is an old saying — “If you buy what you don’t need, you steal from yourself” and, in this case, from our children.
The costs to taxpayers are shocking. The U.S. currently spends more than $4 million every hour of every day on U.S. nuclear weapons. The planned expenditure of more than $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years to operate and enhance the arsenal will aggravate nuclear dangers by fueling a global arms race and diverting vital resources needed to assure the wellbeing of Maine children.
In 2017, Maine taxpayers collectively paid an estimated $257 million in 2017 federal taxes toward the cost of producing, deploying and maintaining nuclear weapons.
Historically, both parties have worked to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals, and Republican presidents have reduced the stockpile more than Democrats. U.S. involvement in treaties that reduce the numbers of weapons and nuclear testing are important and necessary diplomatic tools.
Withdrawing from the Intermediate- Range Nuclear Forces treaty is a dangerous mistake. Treaty differences should be negotiated through diplomacy. Joining new treaties, such as the treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, makes the world a much safer place for all children.
LR 887 calls on the U.S. government to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war by renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first; ending the sole, unchecked authority of any president to launch a nuclear attack; taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; canceling the plan to replace the entire arsenal with enhanced weapons; and actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear- armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
I strongly urge Rep. Jared Golden to support HR 669 and Sen. Nate Libby and Rep. Margaret Craven to support LR 887 to make the world safe for all children no matter where they live.
Edward Walworth, MD, is a resident of Lewiston.