By Andreas Toupadakis, PhD
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
The nuclear age began in great secrecy in 1942. A team of international scientists, supervised by General Leslie Groves of the Army Corps of Engineers, worked to develop the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, brought instant death to more than 200,000 people like you and me, and brought an agonizing death to even more.
Every summer, in Nagasaki, citizens mourn the death of about 5,500 pupils and teachers in the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of their city. But even today, after witnessing the nuclear horror on humans in 1945, scientists still continue to be hostages to the military, the military to the governments, the governments to the corporations – and the individuals who elect their governments to their own fears for survival and greed.
Undoubtedly, the arms race is fueled in a large part by a number of scientists in government laboratories and industries, and not only in the military. For example, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, and TRW, had split more than $2.2 billion in missile defense research and development funding in the two years of 1998-99. Then, in the 2000 election cycle they gave over $2 million in campaign contributions to 25 pro-BMD Senators.
That same year, the US Department of Energy (DOE) published a list of more than 577 sites that may have been involved in nuclear activities. The DOE is examining each site for possible nuclear contamination. The list included more than 40 colleges and universities that may have conducted nuclear weapons research over the last 50 years. At the same time, the US Department of Defense (DOD) planned to award $24 million to 35 academic institutions in the US in science and engineering fields to perform research “important to national defense”. Proposals had been solicited by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the Office of Naval Research, and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization’s Science and Technology Directorate. The average award will be approximately $296,000. (source: DOD Press Release 2/16/00)
The National Academy of Sciences released a report commissioned by the Department, also in 2000, that states that most of the sites where the US federal government built nuclear bombs will never be cleaned up enough to allow public access to the land. The report also noted that the plan for guarding sites that are permanently contaminated is inadequate. Now 15 years later, only 70 years into a million year waste cycle, we are no closer to solving the problem of mounting nuclear waste generated by these continuing programs.
Yet, confronted with the greatest dilemma in human history, to denounce war altogether or to abolish all life on Earth, we still make plans to fight and win wars. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, said, “Given our extensive toolbox and the 40 years of experience of the United States with offensive and defensive weapon systems, we know how to play the countermeasures/countercountermeasures game and we know how to win.” (source: Associated Press by Robert Burns Sep. 10, 2000)
The U.S. government today does have physical power, but after it uses it, what happens? As a result, the other nations are filled with wrath and indignation, and their people are made angrier. And after the other nations find the first opportunity to pay the government back with violence and death, their violence will be delivered against innocent people. Governments are given power by the people to protect the people, not to put them at high risk and eventually destroy them.
The world is waiting for America’s academic youth to zealously address the most important problem of our time, the preservation of peace. The purest kind of political life is always confined to student life. But as soon as the students leave their colleges and cease to be students, they sink into societal oblivion; they seek miserable employment and carry on miserable tasks. They rise no higher in their aspirations. Fresh air and bright light, individual freedom and the empowerment that comes out of obedience to the Truth become more and more distant.
While most of the other nations of the Earth are begging for peace, there are those few that persist in their nuclear hypocrisy and double talk, most notably today, the USA. At the NPT 2000 Review Conference, the U.S. delegation provided the following “double-talk” public relations statement,
“As the United States reduces the numbers of its nuclear weapons, it is also transforming the means to build them. Over the past decade, the United States has dramatically changed the role and mission of its nuclear-weapon complex from weapon research, development, testing, and production to weapon dismantlement, conversion for commercial use, environmental remediation, and stockpile stewardship.”
We cannot disarm while, at the same time, we are arming. How can the US government speak about fulfilling international treaties and disarming its nuclear arsenal while at the same time transforming the complex that builds them? This talk is nothing else but insanity. How can we, the citizens, passively accept such insane statements?
Leaders of “the West”, in their blind arrogance state:
“Although we are not likely to use them in less than matters of the greatest importance, or in less than extreme circumstances, nuclear weapons always cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict in which the U.S. is engaged. Thus, deterrence through the threat of use of nuclear weapons will continue to be our top military strategy.” (source: U.S. Strategic Command, Policy Committee, Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence, 1995, obtained under the Freedom of information act by Hans M. Kristensen.)
Since then, there have been many voices come out against this nonsense but unfortunately, they come out too late to be effective, only after the retirement plan is in place and family security has been accomplished.
Just like a nation or a family, there is only one way this world can ever be in harmony and balance, and that way is that we must share. Unless this self-evident principle for sustainability is embraced and practiced globally, our age will be the last one on Earth.
Today, our world’s attempt at globalization is fueled not by kindness but by greed and power. It was not for peace that the West wished and accomplished the abolition of the Soviet Union, it was about control, exploitation, and world domination. We support the Russian nuclear scientists to withhold their skills but who will support the American nuclear scientists to do the same? It has been said that the cold war was won. Will the hot war be won? Have we won peace?
Do we have any difficulty predicting which nation will really be responsible for the end of the world? It will not be the one who fires first, it is the one that intimidates everyone else and proliferates weapons of mass destruction all over the Earth. We talk about winning and we build more weapons. We do not prepare for peace. Unless our future leaders embrace the ideal of universal brotherhood, and act out of love and sharing – instead of out of the desire to manipulate humanity for profit – we will face the horror of nuclear war and we will face it soon.
Science without Virtue
Should we talk about science before we even think about what our science is for? That is precisely what we are doing.
Have we learned anything from our history as a human race? There is no lesson to be learned from a nuclear war. When there are no students left to learn it, there are no lessons to be learned.
I was taught that “Science without virtue is immoral” (Plato). I entered my role at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory believing that I would be contributing to dismantling nuclear weapons and disposing of their deadly byproducts. That was my desire. Instead, very soon, I found myself expected to work on the maintenance of nuclear weapons. Since deciding to withhold my support and resign my position in 2000, part of my mission as a scientist has been to make people everywhere, especially scientists, aware of the Einstein-Russell Manifesto. It has been kept in the drawer for too long. Mostly, only activists know about it. The general public and scientists, for the most part, have never heard of it.
We have to learn to think in a new way. We have to learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken to give military victory to whatever group we prefer, for there no longer are such steps; the question we have to ask ourselves is: what steps can be taken to prevent a military contest of which the issue must be disastrous to all parties? (source: Einstein-Russell Manifesto, issued in London, 9 July 1955)
We urgently need an international organization to support nuclear scientists and nuclear workers to withhold their skills from weapons and power production, and instead use their knowledge and expertise to work towards ‘clean-up’ and the safe isolation of radioactive materials from the environment. Indeed, we need to educate our youth to prevent them from joining such weapons work in the first place. We must organize public hearings out in the open and ‘nuclear truth commissions’ around nuclear weapons and/or nuclear power facilities in our local areas. We need to stay informed about current nuclear debates and engage in public education to inform citizenry of the effects of the global nuclear trade.
And most important of all, we need to remember that strength does not come from funds and salaries and large memberships and speaking to the governments — it comes from an indomitable will. If the people of the world do not take their voice for abolition on the streets with great passion and suffering, the omnicide is inevitable. Abolition will not take place by just writing reports about how bad things are, getting funds to write more reports, or increasing membership in the peace movement. It will take place after the education of the public and the willingness to trust one another instead of the great number of institutions we have created out of our fears and mistrust.
Most people are paralyzed by the inability to think of anything that could be done. We point out the horrors of nuclear war, but we tend not to suggest a practical way to prevent it. If there is a chance for avoiding the omnicide, then the only forces that can prevent it are wise and compassionate action. Let each one of us decide today what part we can play in the abolition of war and its tools, and act upon it.
Demonstrations on the days of military tests are great, but only being proactive rather than reactive will bring us closer to peace. The aim of the peace movement should be to bring the people of the Earth on the streets for as long as it takes for the governments to realize their duty towards humanity. The aim of the peace movement should be to instill the spirit of sacrifice in the people of the Earth, for the future of the Earth. This can only happen if those that lead the peace movement are willing to lose everything they have, even their own lives, for the sake of the world. And not just after the retirement plan is in place. Let us be courageous and speedily perform the acts of resistance and refusal that must be performed in the spirit of non-violence and suffering, for time is approaching faster than humanity can imagine.
Should we call what is wrong ‘right’ because it is passively accepted by a society that is so busy with everyday life that it has no time to think deeply about anything? Should we call what is wrong ‘right’ because thousands of people make their livelihood from it? Acid rain and atomic radiation do not need passports to travel the world. Nuclear winter will respect no borders. Our world is crying out for compassionate, wise, courageous, and skilful leaders to provide vision and direction. They are you and me. Let us start talking about solutions and enacting them, rather than just describing problems.
We have a moral obligation and duty to think, speak and act, first and foremost, as citizens for a peaceful world.
Previous articles by Andreas Toupadakis:
- Glorifying Peace Instead of War
- Creating Your Future – Arise Great Warrior, Arise!
- Unifying The Global Peace Movement – Challenges and Solutions
- The Real Face of The Empire
- Science, Secrets and Corporate Slavery
- Crisis in Science: Scientists’ Responsibility for the Survival of the Human Species
- Awaken Students! Education is for Self-Awareness and Inner Growth
- Quitting the Nuclear Labs – a Scientist’s Plea for World Peace
- Civilization Is for Making Peace, Not War
- Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action
About the author:
Born on the beautiful island of Crete in Rethymno, Greece, Andreas Toupadakis received his B.S. in Chemistry from the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki. He has lived in the U.S. since 1978, and received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1990. Following a career in industry, academia and two US Government laboratories, in 2001 Dr. Toupadakis resigned from a classified government position maintaining nuclear weaponry at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to actively contribute to the peace movement.
Since 2005, Dr. Toupadakis has been teaching at UC Davis, including courses in General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry for Life Sciences. A proponent of the Socratic dialogue method, he was the winner of the 7th annual ASUCD Excellence in Education Award as UC Davis’ educator of the year in 2009. He is also the author of three chemistry study guides, and teaches two popular freshman seminars at UC Davis every quarter: “From Self-Awareness to Personal Growth for True Success in and After College” and “World Music as a Means to Embrace Diversity and Reach Self-Discovery”.
Besides teaching chemistry at UC Davis, Dr. Toupadakis has taught chemistry at several other colleges and universities in the U.S. and in Greece, and has also given lectures and written articles on life planning through wise career choice, career change and career satisfaction, and sustainable living across campuses in the U.S., Greece, Japan and recently in India.
His personal website, TheLifeCurve.com, is devoted to student success during and after college. Dr. Toupadakis spends a great deal of his free time with his students at his organic garden plot, which is provided by the Experimental College Community Garden of UC Davis. He also encourages his students to have their own garden plots.