By Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, January 31, 2022
On January 30th, a full-page ad was published in the newspaper of record, the Kitsap Sun, speaking to military personnel at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor as well as the population at large. The ad tells the story of Vasili Arkhipov, a Soviet submarine officer who prevented a Soviet nuclear strike against U.S. surface warships during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
At a time when military tensions between the US and Russia are increasing, and any miscalculation could result in the use of nuclear weapons, the story of “The Man Who Saved The World” is of critical importance.
Although many historians have viewed the Cuban Missile Crisis as a triumph of rational leadership in both the Soviet Union and the United States, it was the leadership in both countries that brought the world to the brink of annihilation in the first place—only to be prevented by a single Soviet naval officer. Had Arkhipov not prevented the launch of the nuclear-armed torpedo against a US destroyer, the result would have certainly been full-scale nuclear war and the end of civilization as we know it.
In a democracy, citizens have a right and a duty to learn the facts and realities of nuclear weapons and why they must never be used. Most citizens are unaware not only of the effects of the use of nuclear weapons, but also of the gravity presented by the nuclear-armed nations’ continued modernization of, and reliance on, nuclear weapons.
We should embrace the 1985 statement by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” The only way to guarantee that a nuclear war is never fought is to abolish nuclear weapons.
There are numerous treaties intended to reduce or eradicate the threat of nuclear war, including the most recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is time for the nuclear-armed nations to come on board with the wishes of the vast majority of nations and work together towards complete and total global nuclear disarmament. This is no pipe dream; it is a necessity for the survival of humanity.
The miraculous event that saved the world from the unthinkable during the Cuban Missile Crisis is not likely to be repeated in a crisis such as the current one surrounding Ukraine in which the US and Russia both have massive nuclear arsenals deployed and ready to use.
It is time for the nuclear-armed nations to pull back from the brink and come to the table in a good-faith effort to achieve complete and total disarmament for the sake of all humanity.