As military veterans who have experienced the deadly threat of nuclear weapons from the Cuban Missile Crisis onward, as well as being distraught and outraged by what is now going on in Gaza, we must warn against the potential of a wider war in the Middle East, one that could even lead to nuclear war.
The massive and relentless Israeli bombing of Gaza has been indiscriminate – if not actually targeting civilians. Over 10,000 Gazan residents have been killed to date, including at least 4,000 children. Many victims remain beneath the rubble. It is almost as if a nuclear bomb had been dropped.
A member of the Israeli Knesset has actually called for dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza– or as she calls it a “doomsday weapon.” It is an open secret that Israel has possessed nuclear weapons since the 1960’s. Israeli leaders have smugly refused to acknowledge the possession of nuclear weapons, and have signed no nuclear treaties. However, they have implicitly threatened Iran with a nuclear attack. As Daniel Ellsberg pointed out, the US and other nuclear powers use nuclear weapons all the time – it’s like pointing “a gun at someone’s head without pulling the trigger.”
The US has recently deployed massive naval forces and thousands of troops to the eastern Mediterranean, covering Israel’s back while it carries out its genocidal slaughter in Gaza. The implicit US threat against Iran and Hezbollah, an Islamic militia and major political party in the government of Lebanon, has raised tensions in the region.
US and Israeli threats against Iran – coupled with the US withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) – could actually spur Iran to develop its own nuclear weapons. Pakistan, the only Muslim-majority country with nuclear weapons, has called on Israel to end its massacre in Israel.
While nuclear war is not considered a “likely” result of Israel’s assault on Gaza, it is an all too real possibility. The US and Israel are playing with fire. This is another reason why we in Veterans For Peace join with people all over the world who are calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, as well as for an end to Israeli settler and soldier violence against Palestinians in the West Bank. We support Palestinian human rights, including the rights to dignity and self-determination.
As veterans of too many wars, we want to see an end to militarism, which if unchecked, will inevitably lead to nuclear war. We repeat our calls for a ceasefire and negotiations to end the war in Ukraine, and for an end to US war preparations against China. We want a peaceful world – free of racism, colonialism and imperialism – where the sovereign rights of all peoples are respected.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has brought the world to a critical juncture. As Martin Luther King warned, we must choose between “nonviolence and nonexistence.” We call on the US and all nuclear-armed nations to begin urgent diplomacy to rid the world of nuclear weapons. We call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, for massive humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, and for an end to Israel’s inhumane occupation of the Palestinian people.