Author speaks about nuclear disarmament

Krieger advocates for reduction in nuclear weapons.
Author David Krieger speaks to a large crowd about nuclear energy issues Wednesday in Gannett Hall. Krieger, author of "At the Nuclear Precipice: Catastrophe or Transformation?," also discussed several key points mentioned in the book to his audience.

A crowd of nearly 30 people gathered in Gannett Hall on Wednesday to discuss nuclear disarmament and peace in the modern age.

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation President David Krieger has edited and authored more than 20 books on the subject of peace. The Missouri University Nuclear Disarmament Education Team and other organizations brought him to campus.

The main focus of his speech was stressing to the younger generation the importance of campaigning for peace in a nuclear era.

“We wanted students to learn the basics of the illegality, immorality, the dangers and the exorbitant cost of nuclear weapons,” adjunct professor of peace studies Bill Wickersham said.

He said it is important for students to know these dangers because the younger generation is the solution to the problem. “Who is going to fix this?” he said. “It has to be the young people, and the whole idea is to get them to understand that this is their future.”

He explained the problem of nuclear weapons is often overlooked by the younger generation.

“If you ask people on the street what their biggest threats are, very few people cite nuclear threats or war,” he said. “Their future depends on getting rid of these damned things.”

Krieger’s speech included many similar references to the responsibility of our generation to promote peace.

“The U.S. now has a responsibility to act, because we are the only country that has actually used the nuclear bomb,” he said.

Krieger also pointed out America’s hypocrisy in relation to these bombings and its nuclear policy in general.

“Ninety thousand people died on impact in Hiroshima, and 40,000 died on impact two days later in Nagasaki,” he said. “In the day between those two bombings, we signed the Nuremburg treaty to hold people responsible for crimes against humanity in the Holocaust. I think there is just a huge irony in the juxtaposition of those dates.”

He speculated if the Nazis had used an atomic bomb, they surely would have been punished for it in the Nuremburg trials, and yet the U.S. sees itself above the international law. In relation to this, he spoke of the possibility of omnicide — the death of everything in existence.

“Omnicide is a theoretical possibility, but how possible is it?” he said. “Some say the probability of a child born today dying in nuclear warfare is anywhere between 10 to 50 percent. The odds are far greater than we can really understand.”

He paired this ominous statistic with some more promising facts and several solutions. The number of nuclear weapons was 70,000 in 1986 and is now down to 20,000.

“The number has not come down enough, though,” he said, “The appropriate number, our focus and our goal, is zero.”

Sophomore international studies major Patty LaBelle came to the discussion out of interest in nuclear policy.

“Nuclear weapons are a huge deal in American domestic and foreign policy and international law, because they affect everyone,” she said.

She said it is important for MU students to be informed of issues such as this one, no matter what their major or interests are.

“I think no matter what side of the issue you’re on, it’s good to hear some of the facts,” she said. “Most people don’t think about nuclear weapons every day.”

The most important thing is to be well-informed, she said.

“At this point I am just trying to learn all that I can about the subject,” LaBelle said.

Being informed is something Krieger stressed as being fundamental in the fight for disarmament.

“What we need is an awakened and aware citizenry that demands a world that we can pass on to our children,” he said.

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