Not all interns who work for activist organizations are young college students. A couple of years ago, at age 52, I got tired of the rat race and went back to school. Looking to do something fun and enjoyable for my waning years, I elected to pursue a political science degree (with a little legal study on the side). Little did I know, this path would lead me back to an area I once thrived in and later came to loathe; the national nuclear policy, nuclear war planning, and its products such as warheads and waste, are once again at the forefront of my thoughts.
Previously being a member of the JSTPS (Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff) who proudly builds the nation’s nuclear war plan, I was quite comfortable seeing targets identified, weapons assigned, and analysts assiduously moving aim points back and forth ever looking for the level of damage required by JSCP (Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan). Sometimes they would giggle which could only mean one thing; that target was toast, well, atomized toast. I finally started asking the obvious question, what the hell wasn’t? At the time, I felt as though there was nothing I could do, so like most Americans, I stuck my head in the sand.
Twenty-seven years later, enter Nuclear Watch New Mexico. When looking for an organization to intern with as required by my degree program, NWNM (Nuclear Watch New Mexico) popped onto my radar. I found their mission statement raising the hair on the back of my neck; “through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, … promote safety and environmental protection … mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs … greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex … consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons”. Seeing this brought back old memories; for a moment I was back in Omaha under the front lawn of Bldg. 500, but this time I could fight back.
How could I not apply? How could I have kept my head buried all these years? Finally, here was a chance to give others the opportunity I had not found earlier in my life. For me, NMNW (Nuclear Watch New Mexico) offers the potential to educate others on issues such as:
- The very real threat of a national policy belief the U.S. can win a nuclear exchange employing a counter-force strategy
- Nuclear waste is created, not only with the decommissioning of nuclear weapons, but even with maintenance, refurbishment and upgrades to the existing stockpile
- There is an imminent, pervasive and measurable threat of environmental damage from these nuclear waste products
- The discussion the U.S. has abandoned provisions of the NPT (non-proliferation of nuclear weapons)
So, I applied. And here I am, an intern for Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Over the period of my internship, I plan on posting a personal blog of my experiences. I would like to share what I learn as well as the potential impact we can muster upon the community at large, armed with nuclear knowledge and nuclear persistence. My head is no longer in the sand.