Each Spring in April we fund our national priorities. This year, as the last, we face an altered reality as we continue to grapple with a global pandemic that has taken the lives of over 560,000 Americans and almost three million people worldwide, racing against viral variants and vaccine availability while hoping to avert a fourth surge.
Spring is a season of renewal and awakening. As a nation we are in the first 100 days of a new administration hopeful for change and movement to a more sustainable nation and world. Traditionally this period of time highlights the priorities that will be focused on for the remainder of administrations.
While we have faced such tremendous pain and loss during this pandemic and are working to identify the best ways to deal with it, simultaneously dealing with global environmental challenges and the U.S. role in resolving them, we remain silent and oblivious to the greatest existential threat we face, namely the threat of nuclear war. We are operating as if silence or not discussing it somehow protects us from it. In actuality silence promotes ignorance. We remain silent at our own peril.
As the world has dealt with the pandemic with its tremendous health, economic, and political impacts, the impact and challenge of the pandemic is minuscule compared with even a limited nuclear war using a fraction of the global arsenals. As we work to address and recover from the pandemic our resources are limited. Yet this tax season we continue to fund nuclear weapons programs at Cold War levels in the amount of almost $75 billion for fiscal year 2021, blind to the fact that none of them can ever be used and that their very existence threatens our existence. We continue this spending that robs our cities, communities, and nation of precious finite dollars that could be far better expended. This amounts to moral bankruptcy.
Looking across our nation, no community is spared. My home state and that of Vice President Kamala Harris, California, will spend in excess of $9.7 billion while the Navajo Nation, among the hardest hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, will spend almost $18 million, and the poorest county in our country, with only 1,962 residents—Buffalo County, South Dakota, another Indigenous Indian community – will spend $157,341. These stolen dollars fund an arms race that kills us every day even without a single explosion.
This is not a reality that has to be. We the people must demand that our elected leaders work to move back from the brink of nuclear war. We must work to meet our treaty obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which requires us to work in good faith to eliminate our nuclear arsenal and simultaneously endorse the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that went into force January 22 of this year finally declaring nuclear weapons, like all other weapons of mass destruction, illegal under international law.