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Redirect spending from weapons to things that ensure our future

New apartment complexes, a regional recreation center, extended stay hotels ... excitement about new jobs and new opportunities abounds in New London. But, what does it say about our community that our new prosperity is being built on threatening the world with annihilation?

Does that sound too provocative? I don't think so. Too few in New London and its surrounding areas think about what exactly is being built with the billions in federal dollars pumped into General Dynamics and its subsidiaries. New nuclear submarines are a technological wonder, but their purpose is to flex kilotons of nuclear firepower and threaten violence. These are not windmills for generating green power.

Submarine construction may be the engine of economic development for our struggling shoreline community, but a broader view forces us to acknowledge that it may also be the final nail in the coffin of humanity.  The 12 new submarines will each have 16 tubes for individually targetable nuclear warheads of 100 or 475 kiloton power. The bomb that leveled Hiroshima and killed 70,000 people in an instant was a mere 15 kiloton weapon.

Our government is investing billions of dollars in this staggeringly complex cutting-edge technology to "give U.S. strategic nuclear forces enough capability to fully perform their deterrent role in the 2030s and beyond," according to Navy promos.

The 2030s and beyond? My fourth-grade son is class of 2030, scheduled to graduate from high school into a world of climate catastrophe where people are numb to and largely unprepared for sea level rise, 100-degree days in April and violent weather.

No matter how high tech they are, nuclear submarines can't protect us against climate change. In fact, they make the world more dangerous by diverting billions from our human needs. Just one of the new Columbia class submarines the Navy has contracted General Dynamics to build is likely to cost more than $9 billion. One boat! The total project of 12 subs is now at $122.3 billion and counting.

I care about public education, public health, and public transportation with creative bike and pedestrian infrastructure; I care about renewable, green, alternative energy; I care about social services; I want to see universal basic income, single-payer universal healthcare, and I want my kids to walk to school along pollinator pathways in a city filled with trees and green space. These things cost money too, but instead of destroying life, these components of the public good add meaning, structure, justice, balance. They are facets of true human security.

Why are we as a nation looking backwards instead of forwards? Why are we still fighting the Cold War, still invested in a hegemonic polarity of "super powers," still pumping billions and trillions into the military industrial complex? Why, in our region, can we not redirect our spending on weapons to good jobs that create products that will protect us from the biggest dangers we face today and into the all-too-near future?

On Jan. 22, 2021 the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force when the 50th nation signed the international compact. The treaty says that no nation should possess, build, use or threaten to use a nuclear weapon. Only 9 of 193 UN member states are in violation of the terms of this international law: the United States and Russia, which have most of the world's nuclear firepower, as well as China, France, United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea.

Since the treaty became law last year, more nations have joined. On Friday, Jan. 21 from 3-4 p.m., in a gathering organized by the CT Committee for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, we will be outside of General Dynamics/Electric Boat New London celebrating the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons.  Please join us at Howard and Walbach Streets. We will be holding signs thanking the nations that have taken the bold step to safeguard the future, and calling on the United States, as the largest nuclear weapons state, to stop planning for the end of the world and give us a chance at a future.

Frida Berrigan is a New London resident, a member of the Green Party and part of the CT Committee for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

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