Seventy-six years ago, an act of international criminality and infamy took place, the consequences of which have posed an existential threat to humanity ever since. For the first time, a species had created the capacity to not only bring about its own extinction, but also to threaten virtually all life on our planet.
On August 6 and 9, 1945, the U.S. military bombed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear weapons. Over 200,000 people, mostly civilians, died instantly or later succumbed from burns, malnutrition, and radiation-related illnesses, and their cities levelled to the ground. Many of their descendants carry the affected genes and pass them onto their children. Those notorious acts will forever be remembered as the first time the devastating impact of nuclear warfare was unleashed.
For the last three-quarters of a century, humanity has teetered on the precipice of nuclear devastation. And yet, despite countless international efforts and UN resolutions, the world is no closer to removing the threat of nuclear annihilation once and for all. Indeed, in many respects the dangers are growing and the outlook more ominous. According to the latest assessment of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, this is because “nuclear nations… have ignored or undermined practical and available diplomatic and security tools for managing nuclear risks. By our estimation, the potential for the world to stumble into nuclear war – an ever-present danger over the last 75 years – increased in 2020.” Accordingly, the Bulletin has moved its “doomsday clock” to less than two minutes to midnight.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the first legally binding agreement to comprehensively eliminate nuclear weapons, was adopted on July 7, 2017, and officially came into force this past January. But the nuclear powers, led by the U.S. and its NATO allies including Canada, have steadfastly refused to adopt or even recognize this Treaty. Instead, they are pressing ahead with further modernization of their nuclear arsenals.
The US/NATO alliance is the main culprit driving increased militarization. It is pressing ahead with plans to weaponize outer space, to increase its belligerent operations, particularly on the borders of the Russian Federation and the PR of China, and to spread its web of foreign military bases. The NATO Summit in June reaffirmed its demand that all member-states increase their annual military expenditures to 2% of their respective GDPs (by 2024). For Canada, this would require another massive increase in military spending, and procurements of military hardware including 88 new fighter jets, new naval frigates, attack drones and tanks.
Especially worrisome have been the recent military provocations by the U.S. and its NATO allies aimed at heightening tensions with both Russia and China that have followed in the wake of the NATO meeting. On June 23, the UK frigate HMS Defender intentionally sailed into Russia’s territorial waters in the Black Sea, evoking a Russian air response, before returning to international waters. Then on July 15, a U.S. Air Force aircraft made an unannounced stop at an airport in central Taiwan, in direct violation of US commitments to respect the “One China” policy. At the time, China urged the United States “not to play with fire” and “immediately stop its risky and provocative actions.” These dangerous acts were followed by the “Talisman Sabre 21” military exercises in Australia during the latter half of July. This ‘showcase’ operation – involving U.S., Australian, British, Canadian, Japanese and South Korean naval and air forces (17,000 military personnel in total) – was the largest exercise ever held in the South Pacific region, and widely seen as directed against the People’s Republic of China.
In a related development, U.S. intelligence covertly orchestrated a number of coordinated “street protests” in Cuba, attempting to take advantage of Cuba’s current economic difficulties and shortages in food, fuel and medical supplies – conditions which U.S. imperialism itself has created through its longstanding economic blockade, made even more painful by the 243 new sanctions by the Trump Administration against Cuba and its people.
People understandably wonder where all these ‘incidents’ are taking us, if not into new ‘cold wars’ and potentially ‘hot wars’ against Russia and China, both of which have nuclear arsenals of their own. This is brinksmanship of the worst kind!
What can we do here in Canada?
Peace-loving organizations and individuals may not be able to influence or avert this dangerous march towards war internationally, but we certainly must demand that Canada refuse to be a part of these war preparations, and instead adopt a truly independent Canadian foreign policy based on peace and disarmament, not aggression, militarism and war. More specifically, we should demand that:
Canada sign and adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons(TPNW);
Cancel the purchase of new fighter jets and naval frigates, and instead cut the arms budget, redirecting those billions to healthcare, education, housing, environmental and climate change initiatives, and support for indigenous communities across Canada;
Immediately release Huawei Executive Meng Wanzhou, detained for over two and one-half years in Vancouver as a ‘political pawn’ in Washington’s “cold war” with China; and
Refuse to collude with the “regime change” agenda of the U.S., directed against Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Syria, and the DPRK (North Korea), as well as other countries victimized by punitive and illegal economic sanctions.
We must use the coming federal elections to press all parties and candidates on these issues.
And most important, we must strengthen the peace movement across the country! Visit our website at www.canadianpeacecongress.ca, read our “Peace Alternative for Canada”, and get involved with the Canadian Peace Congress and our local peace councils and affiliates. Write us at – [email protected].
NO to a new “Cold War”!
YES to the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons!
YES to a new Foreign Policy based on Peace and Disarmament!