By Donald Paneth
I attended three events — a United Nations press conference, a church meeting, and an outdoor rally — held in conjunction with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty preparatory conference April 26 – May 7, 2004.
And I’m not sure which was more alarming: the comments of the speakers or the sparse attendance at each of the events.
Less than a handful of correspondents turned out for the press conference; about 250 people were present at the meeting as well as the rally.
“The world is on the verge of local nuclear war,” Alla Yaroshinskaya, president of the Center for Ecological Studies and an adviser to Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, told reporters April 27, “and ’suitcase’ nuclear war,” she added.
Dr. Helen Caldicott, author of The New Nuclear Danger, appeared at All Souls Church on 80th St. and Lexington Ave. “If there is a nuclear war between Russia and the United States, that is it — nuclear winter,” said Caldicott.
“I love this world,” she said. “It’s all at risk.”
Caldicott warned that Russia has targeted New York City with 40 hydrogen bombs. “There is a huge conspiracy, in this country, of silence,” she said.
The speakers at a Bryant Park rally on May 1 were eloquent and persuasive, but the rally was tiny compared to the protest I attended in the same place during the Vietnam War.
I am also asking myself why the past year’s anti-nuclear campaigns have not produced a response comparable to the rally of a million anti-nuke demonstrators in Central Park in June 1982.
People are tired, overworked, distracted, I reply. Many want to believe our leaders (even the current batch) are doing the right thing.
We’re not on a very promising path. But if you start to take this threat seriously, you feel obliged to do something. What?