3 smart books support nonviolent alternatives to nuclear weapons

Today I posted some information to my blog some information related to nuclear weapons.  Here is some information about three books I have not previously mentioned:


My blog post about Gene Sharp’s insights about power and nonviolence — http://parallaxperspectives.org/nonviolence-is-powerful-gene-sharps-theory-of-power-supports-nonviolent-action-and-nonviolent-resistance — made me think about his excellent, short book from 1970 (and 1985) titled, “National Security Through Civilian-Based Defense.”  

In the 1970s and 1980s there was a small, exciting movement for “civilian-based defense,” which was also called “nonviolent national defense” and “transarmament.”  It proposed that instead of using military violence, we could convert to a nonviolent strategies for national defense, changing from militaristic armaments to nonviolent methods (hence the term “transarmament”).

Military violence is counter-productive.  Instead of solving problems, it makes problems worse.  The U.S.’s “war on terror” has not stopped terrorism, but has caused it to escalate and spread to other nations.  The nuclear arms race will lead to global nuclear omnicide unless we abolish nuclear weapons.  See my blog’s categories for “Peace” and “Nuclear Weapons” and “Nonviolence” for more information.

A smart NONVIOLENT ALTERNATIVE would be to organize the American people (or the people of any nation) to NONVIOLENTLY RESIST any invasion — or any homegrown coup or dictator — by training people in methods of nonviolent resistance.  This is what much of Gene Sharp’s research and writings over the decades have sought to do.  See information at the website of the non-profit organization promoting this kind of thinking — www.aeinstein.org — for resources, including resources that you can download and print for free.

Trump is actively destroying treaties that have been reducing the likelihood of nuclear war, and he has been vigorously provoking an unconstrained nuclear arms race.  The Doomsday Clock is closer to midnight than at any time since 1953.  We need to radically reduce the likelihood of nuclear war (whether by accident or by computer error or by reckless decision) nowadays, just like we needed to reduce that danger during the Cold War.

Think back to the Cold War era.  The likelihood of nuclear war was high then.  The U.S. and the Soviet Union were threatening each other with nuclear weapons.  Our mutual provocations were based on the reckless theory of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD).  The very existence of nuclear weapons and each nation’s readiness to use them created the danger of all-out nuclear war that would kill our populations and destroy much life on Planet Earth.  We really needed to reduce the tensions by reducing the threat of nuclear attack.

If the U.S. were to say we will NOT launch a nuclear attack under any circumstances — and, indeed, if the U.S. were to RENOUNCE WAR ALTOGETHER — we would have significantly reduced tensions and dangers during the Cold War and in our present time.  The alternative to MAD is to CONVERT TO A NONVIOLENT STRATEGY FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE.

If the U.S. really wanted to protect our nation from attack, we should UNILATERALLY ABOLISH NUCLEAR WEAPONS so the Soviet Union (or Russia nowadays) would NOT perceive us as a threat to them, so THEY WOULD BE FREE TO REDUCE THEIR READINESS TO ATTACK us with nuclear weapons.  Our renunciation of nuclear weapons would eliminate that danger.

Indeed, the U.S.’s Cold War thinking was worried that the USSR might want to attack the U.S. and conquer us so they could exploit our industrial resources, agricultural resources, etc., for their benefit.  But a nonviolent civilian-based defense would protect us against that, as I explain below.  The USSR would know that attacking the U.S. with nuclear weapons would be utterly stupid because our industrial resources and our farm lands would be destroyed and radioactive so the USSR would not be able to exploit those.

But what if they were to attack us with conventional weapons instead of nukes?  Shiploads of Soviet troops, factory workers and farmers sailing to the U.S. to conquer us and operate our factories and farms for their benefit?  That’s where a nonviolent civilian-based defense is brilliantly smart!

Instead of spending hundreds of billions of dollars every year on a reckless military-based defense, we could spent a tiny fraction of that amount of money to train and organize ordinary Americans to provide a nonviolent civilian-based defense.

We could train ordinary people in the theory and practice of nonviolence (and Gene Sharp’s book National Security Through Civilian-Based Defense is one of many resources on the topic) in order to nonviolently resist any occupation by a foreign power — or, indeed, any homegrown dictatorship or oppression.  People would be trained how to NONVIOLENTLY REFUSE TO OBEY oppressors.  See this article about Gene Sharp’s understanding of power:  Gene Sharp’s Theory of Power

Fifty years ago I worked in a Weyerhaeuser pulp mill in Everett WA, along with 385 other men.  It was a typical American industrial plant with complex machinery, extensive systems of pipes, pressure valves, electric gauges and dials, chemical interactions, and much more.  The employees had been trained to operate these.  When the employees went on strike and managers from Weyerhaeuser’s headquarters office came to operate the plant without the union workers, they screwed up.  They could not operate the mill correctly, even though they worked for the same corporation and they spoke English, and all the equipment, valves, gauges, etc., were present and in good working order.

Suppose a bunch of Russians tried to occupy Everett WA and operate the pulp mill in order to send the finished products to the Soviet Union.  They would not know how to do it.  And a nonviolent national defense plan could absolutely prevent them from operating the mill.  Just imagine if my co-workers had been trained in nonviolent resistance — trained to take small nonviolent practical steps to prevent any foreigners from occupying and operating the mill.  When we see shiploads of Russians heading our way, we would shut down the mill, but first each of us would take certain steps to render the mill utterly inoperable.  EXAMPLES:

  1. Each employee removes and takes home a few small but vital pieces of equipment (valves, gauges, etc.).
  2. Certain employees “monkey-wrench” a few pieces of equipment that they understand well because they work with it every day.  They rearrange hose connections, electrical wires, pressure valves, etc.  They replace some gauges with phony gauges whose faces show “kilowatt hours” instead of “pounds per square inch,” etc.
  3. The list could continue.  There would be ABSOLUTELY NO WAY for an invading army of Russians — even Russians who had worked in their pulp mills — to operate our mill that had been nonviolently sabotaged in hundreds of small, practical ways.

This same exercise could be repeated in every local industrial plant, and in other segments of American infrastructure (communications media, etc.).

We would NOTIFY THE RUSSIANS IN ADVANCE that we were taking these NONVIOLENT ACTIONS to prevent them from using our industrial, agricultural and other resources for their benefit.  This would ABSOLUTELY PREVENT AN INVASION.  We could PROTECT THE U.S. NONVIOLENTLY without nuclear weapons and without a military!




People have condemned nuclear weapons ever since the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945. A decade ago the Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation organized a local speaking engagement by historian Lawrence Wittner, a professor from New York. He had researched and documented the effectiveness of public opposition to nuclear weapons over the years for his book titled, Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement. His research proved that when people protested in a variety of nonviolent ways, we made progress in limiting nuclear weapons, but when the public failed to speak out and act boldly, nuclear weapons increased.

Now when Congress has approved RECKLESSLY EXPENSIVE AND PROVOCATIVE ESCALATIONS OF THE NUCLEAR ARMS RACE — and when Trump is canceling treaties that have been restraining nuclear weapons (the INF Treaty with Russia, the JCPOA with Iran, and others), we urgently need to VIGOROUSLY STRENGTHEN AND EXPAND THE PEACE MOVEMENT and nonviolent push back against nuclear weapons!

I urge you to find a copy of Wittner’s book — and read his more recent articles — and recognize that “We the People” can indeed take charge of our government for the safety and well-being of all.  Wittner’s book is well researched and highly readable.  It proves his case very well.




Utter stupidity has dominated U.S. policy regarding nuclear weapons!

T.K. Jones was President Reagan’s Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Strategic and Theater Nuclear Forces. This top expert in Reagan’s Pentagon said that if a nuclear war became imminent, each person should:

“Dig a hole, cover it with a couple of doors and then throw three feet of dirt on top…. It’s the dirt that does it…. [i]f there enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.”

The plan was utterly preposterous for so many, many reasons!  This was President Reagan’s top expert on protecting us from imminent nuclear war.

I encourage people to read Robert Scheer’s book titled, With Enough Shovels:  Reagan, Bush & Nuclear War.


Many dozens of other books about nuclear weapons deserve our reading — and re-reading.

These include The Fate of the Earth by Jonathan Schell and To Win a Nuclear War:  The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans by MichioKaku and Daniel Axelrod.  For more titles, search the websites of libraries, bookstores, and peace organizations, or contact me.





About GlenAnderson 1515 Articles
Since the late 1960s Glen Anderson has devoted his life to working as a volunteer for peace, nonviolence, social justice, and progressive political issues. He has worked through many existing organizations and started several. Over the years he has worked especially for such wide-ranging goals as making peace with Vietnam, eliminating nuclear weapons, converting from a military economy to a peacetime economy, abolishing the death penalty, promoting nonviolence at all levels throughout society, and helping people organize and strategize for grassroots movements to solve many kinds of problems. He writes, speaks, and conducts training workshops on a wide variety of topics. Since 1987 he has produced and hosted a one-hour cable TV interview program on many kinds of issues. Since 2017 he has blogged at https://parallaxperspectives.org He lives in Lacey near Olympia WA. You can reach him at (360) 491-9093 glen@parallaxperspectives.org