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Taxes and Renewal: Biden's First 100 Days

We continue to fund nuclear weapons programs at Cold War levels, blind to the fact that none of them can ever be used and that their very existence threatens our existence.

Members of the New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (NYCAN) gathered outside the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building in Manhattan on the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the city of Hiroshima, to give notice to the New York City Council that it is time to bring Resolution 976 and INT 1621, known as the Nuclear Disarmament Legislation, to the floor for a vote. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Members of the New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (NYCAN) gathered outside the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building in Manhattan on the 75th anniversary of the bombing of the city of Hiroshima, to give notice to the New York City Council that it is time to bring Resolution 976 and INT 1621, known as the Nuclear Disarmament Legislation, to the floor for a vote. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Each Spring in April we fund our national priorities. This year, as the last, we face an altered reality as we continue to grapple with a global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 560,000 Americans and almost three million people worldwide, racing against viral variants and vaccine availability while hoping to avert a fourth surge.

Spring is a season of renewal and awakening. As a nation we are in the first 100 days of a new administration hopeful for change and movement to a more sustainable nation and world. Traditionally this period of time highlights the priorities that will be focused on for the remainder of administrations.

We the people must demand that our elected leaders work to move back from the brink of nuclear war.

While we have faced such tremendous pain and loss during this pandemic and are working to identify the best ways to deal with it, simultaneously dealing with global environmental challenges and the U.S. role in resolving them, we remain silent and oblivious to the greatest existential threat we face, namely the threat of nuclear war. We are operating as if silence or not discussing it somehow protects us from it. In actuality silence promotes ignorance. We remain silent at our own peril.

As the world has dealt with the pandemic with its tremendous health, economic, and political impacts, the impact and challenge of the pandemic is minuscule compared with even a limited nuclear war using a fraction of the global arsenals. As we work to address and recover from the pandemic our resources are limited. Yet this tax season we continue to fund nuclear weapons programs at Cold War levels in the amount of almost $75 billion for fiscal year 2021, blind to the fact that none of them can ever be used and that their very existence threatens our existence. We continue this spending that robs our cities, communities, and nation of precious finite dollars that could be far better expended. This amounts to moral bankruptcy.

Looking across our nation, no community is spared. My home state and that of Vice President Kamala Harris, California, will spend in excess of $9.7 billion while the Navajo Nation, among the hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, will spend almost $18 million, and the poorest county in our country, with only 1,962 residents—Buffalo County, South Dakota, another Indigenous Indian community—will spend $157,341. These stolen dollars fund an arms race that kills us every day even without a single explosion.

This is not a reality that has to be. We the people must demand that our elected leaders work to move back from the brink of nuclear war. We must work to meet our treaty obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which requires us to work in good faith to eliminate our nuclear arsenal and simultaneously endorse the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that went into force January 22 of this year finally declaring nuclear weapons, like all other weapons of mass destruction, illegal under international law.

There exists a growing national movement seeking to fundamentally change U.S. nuclear policy. This Back from the Brink movement has been endorsed by 354 NGO organizations, 50 cities, and six state legislative bodies.

It calls on the U.S. to take a leadership role by:

  • Actively pursuing a verifiable agreement among nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals;
  • Renouncing the option of using nuclear weapons first;
  • Ending the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S. president to launch a nuclear attack;
  • Taking U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert; and
  • Canceling the plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons.

As the central threat to the survival of all of humanity without regard to race, gender, sexual preference, religion, or country of residence, nuclear war must be prevented. The only way to prevent it is by the complete abolition of nuclear weapons.

We must demand the Biden administration adopt that goal in its first 100 days and move our country to take a leadership role in making this a reality.

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge

Robert Dodge, a frequent Common Dreams contributor, writes as a family physician practicing in Ventura, California. He is the Co-Chair of the Security Committee of National Physicians for Social Responsibility and also serves as the President of Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles.

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