Reading Room

Walk the Talk, Mr. President

This week the White House formally announced that Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. President to visit Hiroshima, Japan on May 27, 2016.

Secretary of State John Kerry went to Hiroshima last month. His visit was widely seen as a “trial balloon,” presaging the just-announced Presidential journey. Marylia Kelley told Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, “Kerry went empty-handed. The United States needs to go with a concrete plan to roll back its own nuclear weapons program. You cannot preach abstinence, in terms of nuclear weapons, from the biggest bar stool in the room.”

The U.S. continues to rely heavily on nuclear weapons and is embarking on a $1 trillion program over 30 years to upgrade every aspect of its nuclear arsenal, including with new warheads, missiles, subs, bombers and nuclear weapons production facilities.

Herein coexist a fundamental policy contradiction, a huge challenge for peace activists and, quite possibly, an unparalleled opportunity to influence the future.

Tri-Valley CAREs and colleague organizations are urging President Obama not to go to Hiroshima empty-handed. We are not asking Obama for a big speech full of lofty rhetoric and fancy words. Our message is: “Actions speak louder than words, Mr. President.”

We are calling on President Obama to take concrete action to roll back aggressive U.S. nuclear weapons programs. The President should use the visit to announce:

• Curtailment of U.S. nuclear weapons “modernization” efforts, including cancellation of a new stealth-attack Long-Range Stand Off warhead and cruise missile (for reference, see "Trillion Dollar Trainwreck");

• Removal of U.S. nuclear warheads from their current “hair trigger” high-alert status that could lead to nuclear war at a moment’s notice, including by accident;

• Further reductions in U.S. deployed and so-called “reserve” nuclear weapons stockpiles; and

• Initiation of negotiations for the global abolition of nuclear weapons as required by Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and to accomplish their elimination within a time-bound framework.

Now is the time for genuine action for nuclear disarmament, and what better place for the U.S. President to announce it than in Hiroshima, where on August 6, 1945 the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb used in war. Three days later, the U.S. dropped a second bomb on Nagasaki. More than 200,000 perished in the two cities, mostly civilians. Today, the remaining Hibakusha (survivors) still carry the scars, suffer longstanding health effects and are dying because of their exposure.

President Obama created high expectations in 2009 in Prague when he announced “America’s commitment to the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” On Tuesday, Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security advisor, wrote that Obama's trip to Hiroshima would reaffirm that commitment.

Our challenge as peace activists: Make the first sitting U.S. President’s visit to Hiroshima mean more than the symbolism and a “photo op” and some pretty words. Make it count, Mr. President!


Write a letter to the editor of your favorite newspaper or media outlet. The White House is gauging public reaction to its announcement, and your letter will likely be seen! Here are some tips:

• Once you choose a publication, look up the paper’s requirements and word limit - or call their office. Requirements vary from publication to publication.

• Use any of the information in this electronic notice to craft a letter, or check our website at for additional facts. You may also want to visit our website press room (see TVC in the news) and read letters that other members have had published for inspiration.

• Keep your letter to the editor simple, clear and tightly focused on a single idea or thought. Think of your letter as a very short statement to your neighbors and the President in an elevator that will go only a few floors! Truly, the shorter and better focused a letter is, the more likely it is to be published and read.

• Add a personal statement, albeit a short one (see above).

• Timeliness matters; Obama will visit Hiroshima on May 27th. To have maximum impact, your letter should be submitted as soon as possible.

Call us if you need additional help. Send us your letter when it is published, and we will post it on our website. Good luck and Good-speed!