Earlier this week, when announcing his latest budget, President Donald Trump called for $28.9 billion to upgrade the missiles that deliver US nuclear weapons, as well as $19.8 billion for modernising the nuclear weapons stockpile. This reinforces the central role of America’s 6,185 nuclear weapons in US military strategy. This is a nearly 20% increase compared to his previous budget request and comes at a time when up to 13 million US children are living in poverty, a problem which, according to figures from the Children’s Defense Fund, could be solved by investment of only $52bn in welfare and children’s services. A similar story is found in Britain where the government is replacing its current nuclear weapons system, Trident, at a cost of at least £205 billion, while over 4 million children in the UK live in poverty.
In addition to the fact vast amounts of money is being used to serve an imperial and militaristic agenda instead of solving problems which effect ordinary working people, the US and UK increasing their nuclear weapons capability will escalate a nuclear arms race with nuclear-armed states such as China and Russia. It may also encourage other states to further, or embark on, their nuclear weapon development.
We also have to ask ourselves, do we really trust leaders such as Trump and Johnson with the responsibility of controlling these weapons? During his own impeachment trial back in the 1970s, President Richard Nixon remarked ‘I can go into my office and pick up the telephone and in 25 minutes, 70 million people will be dead’. This was, and remains, undoubtedly true and should be enough to make us reconsider whether our current leaders should be endowed with such power. Particularly when, only earlier this year, we witnessed the unpredictability of Trump’s military strategy when he ordered the assassination of an Iranian general without informing his allies.
Within this context, it is vital that young people in favour of building a nuclear free world come together and have our voices heard. Young people in Britain and elsewhere have a proud history of campaigning against nuclear weapons and against wars. In the past year we have seen an explosion of youth activism to ensure our futures in the face of the existential threat posed by climate change. This development is hugely inspiring and important, but as young people we must also work to counter the other existential threat of nuclear war.
Join the movement today to help build a nuclear-free world and a future for young people free from the horrors of nuclear war.