The following was an appeal recently distributed to navy personnel at Bangor Naval Base in Washington State and is reprinted with permission of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Seattle, Washington.
Brothers and Sisters in the Navy: “Refuse to Engage in Nuclear Annihilation!”
Peace activists in the Puget Sound region have worked to stop the threat of nuclear weapons since the 1970s. We have learned that we share a common concern with members of the armed forces—that the use of nuclear weapons would lead to unimaginable destruction to innocent populations and to our planet.
While the danger of nuclear war is as great as ever, little is being done to curb this threat. One person in our country, our President acting as Commander in Chief, may alone order the launch of nuclear weapons. No single person should have the power to end life on the planet.
We, the undersigned, are convinced that nuclear weapons are the greatest evil on Earth. We believe that humankind created these weapons, and that only humankind can prevent their use.
We bring our plea to you, sisters and brothers, in the armed forces:
Resist illegal orders.
Refuse to kill innocent civilians.
Refuse the order to use nuclear weapons.
We know your resistance will be difficult and require great courage. But please reflect on what it means to violate your conscience and to destroy all hope for future generations.
International decisions have ruled that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal, including decisions at the International Court of Justice in 1996; the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the 1949 Geneva Convention; and the 1977 Geneva Convention protocol. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will soon enter into legal force when 50 nations have signed and ratified it.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) makes it clear that military personnel have an obligation and a duty to only obey lawful orders and indeed have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders, including orders by the president that do not comply with the UCMJ. The moral and legal obligation is to the U.S. Constitution and not to those who might issue unlawful orders, especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution and the UCMJ.
Knowing that submarines from Bangor are ready to immediately launch as many as 270 nuclear warheads, an order to launch nuclear weapons would signify the final failure of nuclear deterrence and bring about unprecedented destruction. Do not obey an illegal order. Instead, choose to protect all of creation.
We make this plea to you knowing that federal agencies may see this appeal as a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 2387 and possibly other federal statutes. If you choose to oppose nuclear war please know that our hearts and homes are open to you. We will do what we can to support your decision.
- Robert C. Aldridge, Santa Clara, CA; World War II combat veteran
- David P. Barash, Professor of Psychology Emeritus University of Washington
- Dick Burkhart
- Dr. Helen Caldicott, Founding President Physicians for Social Responsibility – 1985 Nobel Peace Prize
- Felice Cohen-Joppa, Co-coordinator, The Nuclear Resister
- Jack Cohen-Joppa, Co-coordinator, The Nuclear Resister
- Betsy Collins, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
- Susan Crane, Redwood City, CA, Redwood City Catholic Worker
- Rev. John Dear
- Jim Douglass, Mary’s House Catholic Worker, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action co-founders
- Shelley Douglass, Mary’s House Catholic Worker, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action co-founders
- Deacon Denny Duffell, Coordinator for Pax Christi Pacific Northwest
- Leonard Eiger, North Bend, WA, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
- Bruce K. Gagnon, Brunswick, ME, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
- Sr. Carol Gilbert, O.P.Dan Gilman, Veterans for Peace
- Mary Gleysteen
- Sr. Iva Gregory, O.P., Pax Christi
- Carl Hakaiman
- Mary Hanson, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
- Lorraine Hartmann, Pax Christi
- Helen Jaccard, Veterans for Peace Golden Rule Project
- Kathy Kelly Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
- Larry Kerschner
- Mona Lee
- Steve Leigh
- Judith Eve Lipton
- Ray McGovern
- Glen Milner, Seattle, WA, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
- Elizabeth Murray, Poulsbo, WA, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
- Rev. Gilberto Zamora Perez, Bainbridge Island, WA
- Sr. Ardeth Platte, O.P.
- Larry Purcell, Redwood City, CA, Redwood City Catholic Worker
- William Quigley, Professor of Law, Loyola University New Orleans
- John M Repp, Seattle, WA, West Seattle Neighbors for Peace and Justice
- Lou Reuakoff
- Sr. Megan Rice, SHCJ, Transform Now Plowshares
- Mason Rhoads, Veterans for Peace
- Randy Rowland
- Coleen Rowley, retired FBI Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel
- Sallie Shawl
- Michael “Firefly” Siptroth, Belfair, WA, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
- David Swanson, Charlottesville, VA, RootsAction.org
- Ellen Thomas, Proposition One Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Future
Call to Action
The National Defense Authorization Act would provide authorization to spend the $10 million dollars to send and attach Low Yield Nuclear Explosives to the Trident submarines housed in Bangor Naval Base. The "Hold the LYNE" amendment is a call for refusal to authorize and appropriate this money.
The above appeal to navy personnel cites international and national laws stating that an order to discharge such a weapon would be illegal (the U.S. is bound by the Geneva Convention), and therefore personnel on active duty should not obey an illegal order.
Call your Member of Congress and ask them to support amendments in the National Defense Authorization Act that cut money for new nuclear weapons and to oppose funding for Long Range Stand Off Missiles and Low Yield Nuclear Weapons (W76-2).