ACTION: Peace for Ukraine, Russia and the World!

April 29th, 2023 - by Veterans for Peace & Nuclear Age Working Group: Daniel Ellsberg & Ivana Hughes

ACTION ALERT: Anti-Nuke Ukraine Letter
Veterans for Peace & Nuclear Age Working Group: Daniel Ellsberg & Ivana Hughes

To Secretary of State Anthony Blinken: 

(April 2023) — As individuals working for nuclear disarmament and arms control, we urge the State Department to promote a ceasefire and vigorous diplomacy in Ukraine to prevent a nuclear catastrophe. After a year of combat following the Russian invasion, there is little likelihood of a decisive military victory for either side. The longer the Ukraine War continues, the greater the danger that nuclear weapons will be used, whether on purpose or by accident.

The war in Ukraine has created the greatest danger of nuclear conflagration since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Russia and the United States together possess over 90% of the world’s operational nuclear weapons. Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders have said they would use nuclear weapons if absolutely necessary to defend what they consider Russian territory and announced a plan to deploy nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus.

We should not dismiss as a bluff Putin’s threat of nuclear war to retain Russian control of Crimea, which is home to ethnic Russians, the site of Russia’s naval fleet and part of Russia for nearly 200 years.

On the US side, every president from Harry Truman to Joe Biden has rejected a No First Use of Nuclear Weapons commitment and many have threatened to use nuclear weapons. In I950, during the Korean War, President Truman said launching nuclear weapons was under “active consideration.”

During the Vietnam War, President Nixon secretly ordered B-52 nuclear bombers on high alert to pressure the North Vietnamese to surrender and in 2007, President George W. Bush repeatedly stated “all options are on the table” should Iran pursue a nuclear program.

Another real danger, however, with so many nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert and a serious breakdown in communications and trust between the US and Russia, is an accident, miscalculation, misunderstanding or any number of possible triggers that could lead to an all-out nuclear war without anyone intending it.

There have already been at least 13 known cases where false alarms and close calls almost led to nuclear war, and the probability of a cyber attack, computer malfunction or simple human error increases exponentially under wartime conditions.

Military establishments in both Russia and the United States have been striving to make nuclear weapons more and more “effective” and “usable,” which also increases the risks. So-called tactical nuclear weapons can be as deadly as the bombs that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and yet there is increasing talk of such weapons being used in a combat situation.

And even more ominously, every plausible simulation of nuclear combat indicates that use of tactical nuclear weapons against a nuclear-armed enemy would rapidly devolve into a sequence of devastating retaliations, resulting in billions of human casualties and the onset of protracted nuclear winter.

A nuclear war would be the greatest catastrophe humanity has ever experienced. No cause, no principle, no consideration of maintaining or altering a particular power structure can possibly justify risking the future of human and other animal life on this planet.

That is why ending the Ukraine War quickly is an existential necessity for all of humanity.  Contrary to existing US policy of discouraging or even “blocking” negotiations, as one mediator, the former Israeli prime minister, described it, the Biden administration should employ its full diplomatic resources to promote peace talks without preconditions between Ukraine and Russia and an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower; Author, The Doomsday Machine
Ivana Hughes, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation