News & Stories

War and Taxes In Our Nuclear Age

It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they’re used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behavior. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meat hooks deep in the base of our brains. They are purveyors of madness. They are the ultimate colonizer. Whiter than any white man that ever lived. The very heart of whiteness.

—Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living

Those of us who are opposed to warfare in all its forms believe that it is unacceptable that our tax money is used for violence, death and destruc­tion.

For Americans, war is something the U.S. Congress votes on using its constitutional war powers. The U.S. has declared war only five times. The last war declared by Congress was World War II. It gave birth to the nuclear arms race. If an officially declared war by Congress is the only measure of what is defined as a war, the U.S. has been at peace since World War II 71 years ago. However, we know this is not the case.

Since the founding of the American republic, the U.S. Congress has authorized numerous military engagements, waged battle against Native Americans, funded NATO and voted to support the United Nations’ authorized military endeavors. Under the present Authorization for Use of Military Force, the U.S. has been engaged militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Furthermore, U.S. presidents have ordered military force prior to congressional approval. The U.S. has used its military power to occupy other countries and additionally supports proxy wars and occupations of other nations.

War could be further defined as manufacturing and stockpiling weapons, studying war, planning for war and rehearsing for war, such as last month’s NATO exercises in northern Europe. A few years ago, a blogger observed (new window) that the U.S., since its founding, has been in a state of war for all but 7 years. A recent taxpayer-funded RAND Corporation publication, “Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank: Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics” (new window), speaks to the way the U.S. can wage and win a war against Russia in the near future. Even local communities are impacted by this system of violence through the military recruitment efforts directed at our children in our schools and the militarization of our local police (new window). War impacts our planet’s habitat and climate as reported by Joseph Nevins in “Greenwashing the Pentagon” (new window).

World War II, the last congressionally declared war, ushered in the Cold War and the nuclear arms race after the U.S. used atomic weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. Instantly, tens of thousands were incinerated in both cities. Over the following months, years and decades, these weapons of nuclear mass destruction killed hundreds of thousands and left an untold number of other victims to suffer the effects of radiation. Planning and preparing for nuclear war has also claimed the lives of countless tens of thousands around the world, as the U.S. mined uranium and tested nuclear weapons.

The U.S. is now preparing to upgrade its nuclear arsenal (new window) to the tune of over a trillion dollars. It is unconscionable that our taxes are used in this manner, when great human needs exist in our world. We are reminded of the words of President Eisenhower: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

Studying, planning for, preparing for, and waging of war, are wrong and contrary to our deeply held beliefs. This is why we seek your support for the Peace Tax Fund Bill, which will be introduced in the new Congress after the November elections. As we move forward with our work together, we ask you to consider becoming a Peace Tax Advocate. Peace Tax Advocates will actively engage their members of Congress to become co-sponsors of the Peace Tax Fund Bill which will be introduced again by Representative John Lewis in early 2017. For more information about being a Peace Tax Advocate please contact us at or call us at 888-PEACETAX or 202-483-3751.

As we mark the anniversary of the horrific tragedy of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we leave you with the words of priest, poet and peace activist Daniel Berrigan, who passed away a few months ago:

Shadow on the Rock
by Daniel Berrigan, S.J.

At Hiroshima there’s a museum
and outside that museum there’s a rock,
and on that rock there’s a shadow.
That shadow is all that remains
of the human being who stood there on August 6, 1945
when the nuclear age began.
In the most real sense of the word,
that is the choice before us.
We shall either end war and the nuclear arms race in this generation,
or we will become Shadows on the rock.