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UFPPC (www.ufppc.

org) Digging Deeper CXLIV December 13,
2010, 7:00 p.m.

Maurine Doerken, One Bomb Away: Citizen Empowerment for Nuclear
Awareness (Los Angeles: A.W.O.L. Ink Productions, 2002).

[Thesis. Citizen activism is essential to "cornerstone" of U.S. national security
overcoming the threat to humanity from (24; 22-24). The Pentagon is prepared to
nuclear weapons and technology.] use nuclear weapons first ("first strike")
(24-25). "[O]ur entire nuclear war-
Introduction. This book is "an fighting machine . . . [is in a] state of
educational tool" dedicated to building "a hair-trigger readiness" (26). There is a
world without nuclear weapons" (xii; xi- risk that preparedness for nuclear war
xii). constitutes "a self-fulfilling prophecy"
(28; 27-28).
Ch. 1: A Call to Action. There is a false
impression current that the danger posed Ch. 3: What to Expect in the Event of
by nuclear weapons has receded (1-5). Nuclear War. Nuclear war could occur
The author's activism dates from seeing in many ways: Significant nuclear
a film ("The War Game," [1965, available accidents occur with disturbing
on YouTube]) that showed what life after frequency (30-31). False alerts of attack
a nuclear blast would be like (5-6; 44). happen and could trigger the use of
Spending on nuclear weapons ($30bn per nuclear weapons (31-34). The risk of
year in the U.S.) (6-7). American unauthorized use of nuclear weapons
devotion to nuclear superiority is (34-35). Insanity in decision makers (35-
grounded in a demonizing psychology 36). Sabotage and terrorism (36-38).
fueled by myths (8-11). We need to Nuclear proliferation to other states (38-
redefine national security to qualitative 39). The effects of a modern nuclear
issues like survival (11-13). Citizens' weapon would be much greater than that
biggest challenge is overcoming their seen in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (39-41).
sense of powerlessness (13-15). Radiation effects (41-42). Survivors
would face social collapse (42-43) and
Ch. 2: Our System of Defense. How trauma (44-45). Medical care would be
nuclear weapons work (17-18). Delivery: unavailable (45). A "nuclear winter" could
missiles, submarines ["One Trident ensue (46-47). U.S. civil defense plans
vessel has the destructive capacity of 8 are "anything but reassuring" (50; 47-
WWIIs" (19)], and bombers (18-19). 51).
Classes of arms that are "near-nuclear"
are being developed (19-20). Though the Ch. 4: Nuclear Power and Waste.
president supposedly controls nuclear The main source of nuclear waste is the
strike decisions, the secretary of defense nuclear power industry (52-54).
and other senior officers "have the Disposing of waste is an increasingly
means, without any involvement from severe problem (55-57). No single U.S.
civilian officials, to issue orders for a agency has jurisdiction over the problem
retaliatory strike. . . . [T]hey possess the (57-58). The unmanageability and
necessary launch codes" (21; 20-21). complexity of nuclear waste issues are
The command-and-control system the vastly underestimated (58-60). Proposed
U.S. has prepared, Winmex, "is expected disposal solutions: ocean burial (60), land
to work badly or not at all" (22; 21-22). burial (61-62). These approaches would
The U.S. "Defense Guidance Plan" have unpredictable results (62-63).
considers nuclear weapons the Inevitably, there will be mismanagement
and accidents (63-64). Power plant needed to ensure arms control
accident could be catastrophic (64-66). agreements are respected exists (98-99).
Three Mile Island (66-67). Chernobyl Weapons labs continue to advocate
(67). Nuclear plan accidents occur testing of nuclear weapons (99-101).
frequently (67-68). There is no safe level The U.S. Senate had not ratified the
of radiation exposure (69-71). Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (101).
Aneutronic nuclear energy would be The Nuclear Weapons Convention is a
safer (71-72). Nuclear power creates proposed international treaty to ban
proliferation risks (72-73). Waste nuclear weapons (102-03). "De-alerting"
disposal needs more attention and refers to proposals to take nuclear forces
citizens, who are subject to off hair-trigger alert (103-04). Public
contamination, need to play an active education campaigns (104-05). Plans for
role (73-75). economic conversion of the nuclear
weapons industry (105-108). There are
Ch. 5: Growing Up in the Nuclear many opportunities and possibilities for
Age. Citizens experience "psychic civilian action (108-110). John F.
numbing" with respect to nuclear issues, Kennedy's June 10, 1963, American
because of 1) their awesomeness; 2) the University speech on peace invoked as a
specter of unpredictability; 3) their sign that we live in a time of transition
tendency to make the world appear to be (110-12). Vision as "a daily plan guided
insane; 4) the comfortingly bland by a future perspective" is necessary
vocabulary used to discuss them (76-78). (112; 112-14). It is essential that we
They induce hopelessness in young redefine security as not based in
people (78-79). Children note parental destructive capacity and power as
denial with respect to nuclear issues (79- something within us, not outside us (114-
80). Young people are psychically 17).
affected (80-82). Doubts about the
future make development of a "strong Appendix A: Terms, Acronyms, and
ego ideal" difficult (82-83). More studies Abbreviations. 153 terms (118-25).
are needed (83-85). Young people
internalized war rhetoric (85-87). Refusal Appendix B: Treaties Pertaining to
to address nuclear issues hobbles the Nuclear Weapons. 19 treaties (126-
development of critical thinking skills 27).
generally (87-90). Nuclear weapons
foster a culture of lies and Appendix C: Threats to Use Nuclear
disinformation, and helplessness (90-92). Weapons. 21 occasions the U.S. has
"[W]e must foster a culture of hope" (92- threatened to use nuclear weapons,
93). 1946-2002 (128).

Ch. 6: On the Brink of Tomorrow. Appendix D: Accidents Using Nuclear
Nuclear weapons continue to play a key Weapons. 14 accidents involving
role in U.S. defense strategy, but citizens nuclear weapons, 1950-1980 (129-30).
protect themselves from the truth by
turning a blind eye (94-95). Because Appendix E: Nuclear Power Plant
deterrence is not and never has been the and Waste Accidents. 36 nuclear
only role for nuclear weapons, "the risk of plant accidents, 1952-2000 (131-33). 16
nuclear war is far greater" than we think nuclear waste accidents, late 1940s-2000
(96). "The Nth country" refers to the (133-35).
unknown point at which international
nuclear proliferation becomes irreversible Appendix F: Organizations and
(97-98). Means for the verification Addresses You Should Know. 28
antinuclear organizations (135-37), 12 taken place. — While acknowledging
agencies or offices of government (137- that there is an "entrenched military
38). bureaucracy" (12), Doerken generally
treats the United States as a single entity
Endnotes. 9 pp. and refers regularly to what "we" have
done and are doing, as if building and
References. 45 books, 31 articles, 26 maintaining nuclear weapons is
audiotapes, 3 videotapes. something that "we" have done and
never acknowledging that the nuclear
About the Author. Maurine Doerken national security state is run by an élite
graduated from UCLA in 1972 (B.A. Eng. class distinctly different from the general
Lit.). She later earned an M.S. Education population. — Doerken's book is brief;
from USC and a Masters in Clinical she covers her ground quickly. Her
Psychology from Antioch University in Los exploration of the psychological effects
Angeles and has worked as a teacher. of nuclear weapons culture is interesting,
She has been an activist on nuclear but the issue of secrecy is neglected.
issues since the early 1980s. She has She chooses not to use the concept of
published books on teaching (Classroom militarism in discussing American culture.
Combat, Teaching, and Television Nor does she address the use of direct
[1983]) and parenting (Stepparenting action by antinuclear activists. — To
without Guilt [2000]), and in 2002 lived judge from Doerken's references, there is
in Santa Monica with her husband and reason to believe that not all of her
four children. descriptive statements about the present
state of U.S. military preparedness were
[Additional information. Maurine current when they were written. — One
Doerken is affiliated with the Los Bomb Away (perhaps a play on the
Angeles Nuclear Disarmament Coalition. expression "Bombs away!") is well-
produced and well-written, but given its
[Critique. Doerken sahs she believes length it is inevitably superficial in its
that antinculear activism needs to stir treatment of the topics it addresses.
emotions to inspire commitment; this (Bizarrely, Doerken identifies "Dr. Daniel
book, though, is fundamentally a rational Ellsberg" as a "psychiatrist." Ellsberg's
appeal to citizens to take up the issue. It Ph.D. is in economics.)]
mostly presumes that emotional
converstion to the cause has already