By Andreas Toupadakis, Ph.D
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
Glorifying Peace Instead of War: Challenges and Solutions
Despite the fact that we live in a world of increasing violence in every walk of life, humans still have not lost hope; they talk about peace as they have done since the beginning of time. Some advocate peace by preparing for war; others advocate peace by preparing for peace.
I thought I could do peaceful work inside the United States’ nuclear labs, but I learned I was wrong. I realized that environmental and nuclear non-proliferation work was an illusion, and that purely academic projects are sustained to lure well-intentioned young scientists into weapons development programs. I also realized that if scientists stop developing the instruments of mass destruction, the government will be powerless to continue developing them. So I resigned from the nuclear labs, and chose instead to work for peace — and now I urge others to do the same.
We cannot deny the fact that the magnitude of death and sorrow from a violent act is proportional to the degree of technological sophistication employed in the act: Wars with spears in the past cannot compare with the electronic, atomic wars of today. In past wars, mostly soldiers would die, but today mostly civilians die. The technology separates and dehumanizes us from the actual act of killing. In the past, a soldier saw the expression on the face of his opponent as he died. Today, however, thousands of people can be vaporized instantly, while others can languish in pain for years, and future generations can be affected. But the person who launched the initial weapon will have seen nothing of this but some data on a computer screen.
Scientists and engineers have always served society for the good, but we can not deny that scientists and engineers have also played the greatest role in violence committed against life, and this is true throughout history. It was science and technology that contributed to the human tragedy of the past two world wars. It is science and technology that has prepared such an unthinkable war machine today, which, if used, will abolish us all. Scientists have penetrated the microcosm and the macrocosm to a great degree, but they have failed to penetrate the self.
As Gandhi said, “Science without humanity is a blunder that leads to violence.”
Making weapons of mass destruction in the name of peace and possessing nuclear weapons is nothing but an act of murder waiting to happen. Humanity still thinks of war as a fight of many people against many people, but our times show that sooner or later it could be one man against the whole world. No nation is better than another. There are no rogue nations and nations of concern here and perfect nations there. There are people here and people there and they are expecting their leaders, who control the instruments of indiscriminate destruction, to renounce their use in favor of permanent, worldwide peace.
Today, more than ever, the scientists and engineers working at the world’s research and manufacturing centers for weapons of mass destruction are being called upon to re-evaluate their positions and beliefs. These laboratories have prepared for war, and still are developing more nuclear weapons of indiscriminate death and suffering to all life. These weapons are so catastrophically potent that the only name appropriate for them should be “satanic weapons”.
Yet, the true natures and roles of these laboratories is well hidden behind the names of the operators: the University of California and Lockheed Martin. The labs also hide their true natures behind an insignificantly small number of non-weapons research programs that are heavily promoted. Almost everyone in these laboratories tries to put such facts in a dark corner of their consciences, as denial is the only way to live comfortably with this knowledge.
I ask the scientists working on them to lift up their eyes from their books and take their hands away from their computers for awhile and look at the big picture – the BIG picture, which most of them have learned to ignore. In this time of crisis, scientists have a responsibility to the human species to help ensure its very survival.
The fact is these scientists work for a government that increasingly has isolated itself from the rest of the world, through a foreign policy that is despised by many other nations and that is destabilizing the world. It is a policy that aims to accomplish world domination, even if it is necessary to use weapons of mass destruction to achieve this goal. We comfortably judge Hitler and his army of scientists and engineers who brought blood and tragedy to the world, but we feel uncomfortable in judging our own leaders and scientists. Yet a miscalculation today by them would be the end of civilization, and, deep down, we know that.
A Selfish Foreign Policy
Let us look at some of the U.S. government’s actions for which no American citizen, and especially no scientist, can be proud of.
In 2001 the United States rejected the germ-warfare accord, putting the entire agreement in peril. Negotiations had been ongoing for almost seven years to find a way to ban biological weapons, but the United States sent the effort into a tailspin because of “longstanding concerns.” The U.S. position has put the fate of future talks in doubt.
The United States has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which it and its NATO partners had helped negotiate, to ban all nuclear test explosions and thereby prevent the development of new nuclear weapon types. Despite the rejection, NATO allies are urging the United States to continue to provide its share of financial support for treaty’s International Monitoring System, which is vital to U.S. national test monitoring goals as well. However, the Bush administration continues to project a negative position: It will not seek Senate approval for U.S. ratification in its current session and, at the same time, wants the Nevada Nuclear Test Site readiness pushed up. Yet officially, “It does not see any need for a resumption of test explosions in the foreseeable future.”
Various government documents show that the United States plans to control the world militarily by 2020, specifically through the domination of space. War planners anticipate “conflict involving employment of strategic forces and weapons of mass destruction, major theatre wars, regional conflicts and smaller-scale contingencies.” U.S. military documents predict that “we will win – but we should not expect war in the future to be either easy or bloodless”.
U.S. policy aims to deceive the world, its adversaries and allies alike, as well as its own citizens. In his commentary in The New York Times, titled “Media are sadly misguided in missile-defense tests”, Thomas A. Halsted writes: “For years, the Pentagon and its Ballistic Missile Defense Organization have engaged in a continuing effort to delude the public and Congress into believing the United States is well on its way to developing a workable defense against ballistic missiles.” He asks, “Who benefits from such a deception?” And he lists the missile-defense system’s principal contractors: Boeing Co., Raytheon Corp., TRW Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. MIT scientist and professor Ted Postol spoke about this fraud in an interview for CBS “60 MINUTES II”, saying:
“When I talk fraud, I’m being careful about the use of the word. I’m not saying there are people who have made a mistake, and I disagree with them… I’m saying that there are people who know that this system will not work and are trying to cover it up. That’s what I’m saying here. So I am making a serious charge; I know that.”
The Scientist-Government Deal
In all of these policies, the U.S. government derives power directly from science. Scientists are the pillars for this deception. It is the scientists and engineers who make it possible for the government to act with such arrogance. Therefore, scientists could and should influence the government against these destabilizing policy choices, if not for the rest of the world, then for this country’s own sake.
Let us not forget Einstein’s words for Americans, which are still valid today. Speaking on his first impressions of the United States in 1921, the famous scientist described a state of affairs that is identical or perhaps even worse today. He said in a news interview for Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant:
“The United States is the most powerful among the technically advanced countries in the world today. Its influence on the shaping of international relations is absolutely incalculable. But America is a large country, and its people have so far not shown much interest in great international problems, among which the problem of disarmament occupies first place today. This must be changed, if only in America’s own interest. The last war has shown that there are no longer any barriers between the continents and that the destinies of all countries are closely interwoven. The people of this country must realize that they have a great responsibility in the sphere of international politics. The part of passive spectator is unworthy of this country and is bound in the end to lead to disaster all round.”
Such is the case for nuclear weapons, because the American public has been totally and deliberately excluded from policy decisions, which are vital if we are to change.
Einstein said in 1947 that:
“Unless Americans come to realize that they are not stronger in the world because they have the bomb but weaker because of their vulnerability to atomic attack, they are not likely to conduct their policy at the United Nations or in their relations with Russia in a spirit that furthers the arrival at an understanding.”
A Way Out
If scientists stop developing the instruments of mass destruction, the government will be powerless. Judging from my own experience working at two U.S. laboratories of weapons of mass destruction, I know that many scientists desire to leave these places of war science. However, they have been trapped by the security of attractive high salaries and benefits.
We Americans are paying high salaries to scientists and engineers to do what? To prepare for the death, even by mistake, of our whole planet? We are running out of time. The atomic clock is always near midnight.
Here is a proposal to help scientists extricate themselves from this dilemma. I call it the “Help Scientists and Engineers for Peace Fund.” It would provide money, here and around the world, to help scientists and engineers give up war science for worthwhile civilian research.
There are thousands of environmental and peace organizations around the world that can help make this happen. With the contribution of an insignificant amount from each of their members and funding foundations, a fund of millions of dollars could be created to help scientists and engineers of conscience abandon the weapons work. At this critical point in history, wisdom and compassion need to become action. The time has arrived for such a fund to support scientists and engineers in disengaging themselves from war research and development.
Please get involved, and help to make such a fund happen. Our hope is that the scientists and engineers will be motivated by such a fund to take the courageous, principled path and to work on behalf of something they feel is meaningful — something that they believe in. Let us support their decision to work for peace and not war.
Organizations, such as the following, have advocated peace since their creation and have the resources and other capabilities to help organize and support this kind of activity. They include:
- Los Alamos Study Group at: www.lasg.org/hmpgfrm_a.html
- Nuclear Watch of New Mexico at: www.nukewatch.org/index.html
- Western States Legal Foundation at: www.wslfweb.org/index.htm
- Abolition 2000: A Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons at: www.abolition2000.org
- Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs at: www.pugwash.org
- International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility at: www.inesglobal.org
- Physicians for Social Responsibility at: www.psr.org
- Union of Concerned Scientists at: www.ucsusa.org
- Tri-Valley CARE (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) at: www.igc.org/tvc
A Hard Path Out
While scientists at the nuclear weapons labs across the United States should be encouraged to reconsider the culture and intent of their own workplace, on the other hand, I feel morally and ethically bound to reveal to my weapons labs colleagues the risks inherent in following their conscience. Many of these scientists did not have full and complete knowledge of the future use and results of their research on humanity and Earth at the time that were they were hired. It is appropriate that they have knowledge of the risks involved and make an informed decision before they take the principled path out of the labs.
Depending on their personal circumstances and their future plans, their economic security could be a challenge. It is possible that the scientist who will stand apart from the crowd could be abandoned and even attacked by friends and foes. So, scientists must examine their consciences, and only if the inner voice assures that they have the required strength to carry them through should they break away from war science, then and only then will their action bear fruit.
In 2000, I resigned from my permanent, highly paid, classified position at Livermore. I went to Livermore believing that I would be useful in helping to dismantle nuclear weapons and in disposing of their deadly byproducts. That was my desire and intent. Instead, I found myself expected to work on the maintenance of nuclear weapons as part of the Stockpile Stewardship program. I had not been informed properly about the nature of my future work because of ‘security’ reasons. When I realized that within the lab, environmental or non-proliferation work are illusions, I decided to resign.
I believe that if a foundation or institution is corrupt, you must wash your hands and withdraw from it. My conscience simply did not allow me to work for the development or maintenance of nuclear weapons. To do so is not an easy matter. But we all know deep in our hearts that the path we were meant to travel is the one that supports us not just financially but also, most importantly, emotionally.
It has not been easy for my family and myself since my resignation. Circumstances led us to virtually give away our house because of the bad housing market at the time, and move to a different, less expensive city. If we did not do this, we would not have been able to make mortgage payments. This was not easy on the lives of my children, who changed schools and had to find new friends. Taking part-time jobs or no jobs, we were without medical insurance, and our income was far less than that needed to make ends meet. But we held on until circumstances improved. I am currently a lecturer for U.C. Davis Department of Chemistry, teaching environmental responsibility and peaceful solutions.
The response of peace-seeking associations to the distresses of the future “breakaway” scientists will be an indication of whether they have a true desire to keep the peace message alive and to supply the logistical support necessary to promote it. I believe it is the hope of most people of the Earth that scientists and engineers will be motivated to abandon their war-enabling ways before a world tragedy strikes. We need to publicize and hold as role models future scientists who will renounce weapons work and stand instead for peace. Students at all levels of education should know about them. Let us start glorifying peace instead of war, to give a chance to our children and our grandchildren to live their lives in peace and harmony. They do not deserve what we have prepared for them. Being ten minutes away from a universal catastrophe at any given moment, we have an obligation not just to abolish weapons of mass destruction but also to abolish war as a national policy.
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.