Nuclear First Strike: Is It Constitutional, Is It Lawful, Is It Just?

Your correspondent attended the November 4 Harvard University colloquium on the topic: Is Nuclear First Strike Legal or Just? The intellectual firepower contained in the panels convened by Elaine Scarry and Jonathon King was impressive: William Perry, former US Secretary of War; Zia Mian, Princeton physicist and a leading expert on the nuclear conundrum of Pakistan and India; Bruce Blair former US Missile launch officer, Princeton Professor and co-founder of Global Zero among others.

The facts adduced justified the convening by the appropriately named Professor Scarry: if one was not scared witless within the first hour (the colloquium ran 9 to 5) then one was simply beyond scar(r)y.

After four hours of unremitting presentations on the horrors, the horrors, the horrors of extant policy and practice of nuclear Armageddon, a voice rang out from the audience: "What are we to do!?" Cutting through the cerebral and clinical, though tinged with desperation presentations, Sister Megan Rice challenged the colloquium: "What are we to do?" Talking and thinking and pontificating are needed, but doing something was the primal call emanating from the audience like fear sweat. Sister Rice, her history of doing, not simply talking, sent a clarion call to action.

Taking the stage about an hour later, Zia Mian, looking and sounding like he was channeling Gandhi, demanded a moral uprising: it is time he said for the peoples of the world to rise up and declare nuclear first strike to be a war crime, a crime against peace and a crime against humanity. Of course, we know it is. Now we must move forward to prove it in the new Peoples War Crime Tribunal, which will examine the US-NK threats to use nuclear weapons, before an august tribunal of citizens of the world, so that the judgment of the conscience of the community is clearly on record against Armageddon.

Every soldier, every airman, every missile officer, every President or Prime Minister or Supreme Leader shall be put on notice: participation in nuclear war makes you an enemy of all humankind, lay down your weapons of omnicide, refuse illegal orders to commit mass murder, or join the rogues’ gallery of pirates, tyrants and miscreants who gained power only to lose their souls.

As usual, I, Kary Love, am solely responsible for the foregoing. Peace. Love. Hope.

Kary Love is a Michigan attorney who has defended nuclear resisters in court for decades.

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