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tv   Panel Discussion on Nuclear War  CSPAN  March 25, 2017 12:00pm-1:22pm EDT

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can look like, because we have been blessed to have this order for the past 70 years, but it's hard for people to today understand what can happen when things really go wrong. the second point is that i echo everything that has been said about the importance of the south china sea and for any administration, whether that was the obama administration in 15 and 16 or the trumped a administration today it's important to have a firm idea what you're trying to accomplish in south china sea and whether you're willing to use the level of coercion necessary to bring that about. so, i'm all for taking a harder line with china. if you take the comment that rex tillerson made any hearing that we are going to deny china access to the artificial island it's built, what is the level of coercion that is necessary to bring that about and are you willing to sign on tot that sniff the answer is, yes, okay, as long as you understand what the consequences are.
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if the answer is know, that's dumb thing to say because it makes you look weak and foolish. ... or. >> we welcome you here on behalf of the virginia foundation for the humanities, and they are the producers of the virginia
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festival of the book. and we really greatly appreciate the hard work they go into to present these gatherings. this is my cell phone. and i am checking it right now -- [laughter] to make sure that it is silenced. and if you will do the same, we will avoid any interruptions. we want to thank our sponsors in addition to the festival of the book, amnesty international, the local group here is one of the sponsors and the charlottesville center for peace and justice is another. amnesty international is a nobel peace prize-winning organization. the local chapter has been in existence for 30 years, and the peace center has been in existence for 33 years, 34 years. the festival is free of charge, all these events, but they're not free of cost. so we urge you to remember to go online and give back or pick up
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a giving envelope from the information desk at the omni and support the festival so that they may sustain it for many years to come. in addition to that, you can support it in another way. someone in washington recently proposed a budget that defunds the national endowment for the arts and the national endowment for the humanities. so you can support the festival with letters, phone calls, signs, common strausss -- demonstrations, whatever it takes because we know from recent evidence that your voice matters in public affairs. you'll see with the ushers who have handed out those green evaluation forms, and we ask you to fill one out. and it helps the festival prepare for next year and fix up what's wrong and emphasize their strengths.
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we also urge you to purchase the books that we have here. each of the authors will be available for signing the books after we have our discussion. and the city of charlottesville, we want to thank them for providing this venue for today's event, and we want to welcome all of our viewers on c-span and charlottesville's own tv-10. during the q&a portion, we ask that you, please, wait for a microphone to be brought to you so that you may be recorded. now, our authors today are susan southard, and she is the author of nagasaki: life after nuclear war with, and she was a nonfiction fellow at the norman may hour center and has -- mailer center or. nagasaki the recent recipient of
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the dayton literary peace prize and the j. anthony lucas book prize. dan zak is the author of "almighty: courage, resistance and existential peril in the nuclear age." he is a reporter for "the washington post" where he has written a wide range of news stories, narratives and profiles while on local, national and foreign assignments. and dan is from buffalo, new york, and lives in washington d.c. and caren stelson is author of "a nagasaki bomb survivor's story," and she traveled to nag sackty, japan -- nagasaki, japan, five times to interview the subject of her book and research her miraculous story of survival and her surprising pathway to peace. and she's a longtime teacher, freelance writer and author, and caren lives in minneapolis, minnesota. we're going to have some questions and discussion, and
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then after we've completed that, we will have questions from the audience. my first question -- and we'll start with you, caren -- what brought you to this subject? how did you get engaged with these stories? >> thank you. thank you, everyone, for coming. and thank you, all who are sponsoring this event. it's such an important topic to talk about. i'm often asked how did i meet her and come to write her book. i met her in my home city of minneapolis in august of 2005 i was out at peace park, and it happened to be august 6th, 2005, which was the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing and the end of world war ii. sachiko had been invited to
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minneapolis by the st. paul/nagasaki sister city committee. the longest sister city relationship between an american city and a nation city. they were sister cities in 1955. so sachiko was there to help us commemorate and tell her story of survival and peace, and i met her there. previous to that, i had gone on a battlefield tour. i was very interested in my father's military experience during world war ii. he never told me much about or anything about his military experience.
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>> they sprinkled human blood on the storage facility, and then they essentially waited to be arrested. that was kind of the only part of their plan that didn't go according to plan. part of the plan was to get arrested and cause a stir and get the public to notice, and they had to kind of wait for that to happen. [laughter] they eventually were arrested. one security guard, who is a character in this story -- the first security guard who responded to the scene -- they were arrested, and they were charged eventually with intending to endanger the national defense which is a very serious charge carrying up to 20
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years in prison, and it's rarely leveled against civilians. but these three people were charged with that, and there's a whole chapter in the book about their trial which, to me, is the most interesting part of the book because the nature of the charge, intent, the intent to endanger the national defense, the trial became about why they did what they did. they admitted to their actions, but they pleaded not guilty because they believed they were acting in the service of preventing a higher crime, the manufacturing and maintenance of weapons of mass destruction. so the trial, for me, was the real interesting part. and, of course, the range of reaction was all over the place, you know? oak ridge is very much a company town with the department of energy and its private contractors. it's been in the business of nuclear weapons since 1942. the town of oak ridge was created out of thin air to enrich uranium during the manhattan project. so the reaction ranged from outrage and indignation and
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these people are reckless and they endangered other people's life lives, and we need these weapons, to congressmen on capitol hill asking sister meghan to stand and saying thank you for exposing weaknesses in our security, ma'am. so the reaction has been all over the place, but they were put on trial, they were convicted and sent to prison. and that's a whole kind of part of the book which i find the most fascinating part, because you watch the american justice system grapple with these very old questions. in fact, and this is the last thing i'll say, one of the u.s. attorneys who was cross-examining one of the activists started the cross-examination by saying, i'm sorry, cross-examining one of the site officials saying what event ended world war ii? they were, in 2013, they were relitigating how world war ii ended, why and how we dropped these bombs on japan, and that was a fascinating thing to watch.
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because still in a court of law, in public court lawyers, u.s. attorneys were bringing up this thing to kind of draw a connection between these weapons and our greater security or, as these activists would say, our greater insecurity. >> caren, you mentioned that sachiko had lost her voice. how did she find her voice, and what did that lead to? >> when is sachiko was asked to speak about her story, she -- in public, she always declined. she stayed away from that invitation until, until her mother died of leukemia. her mother died in 1992. my sense is that even though she
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was very close to her mother, the death of her mother released her from holding back on her story. i think she felt very much of an obligation because she was the survivor, the last surviving member of her family who had witnessed the atomic bomb. so in 1995, this is the 50th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb and end of world war ii, she was again invited to speak to children about her experience, and that time, 1995, she said yes. in -- the 50th anniversary was very controversial, still, the topic is still very controversial. the world was trying to figure out how to commemorate the 50th anniversary. it was, there was a lot of, you know, how do you get at all the stories, how do you tell the stories. the smithsonian was going to have a full exhibition on, in
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retrospect, on the 50th an anniversary with the stories and questions about how and why the u.s. decided to drop the bomb, was it a good thing, was it not. the veterans' story. it was such an uproar and eventually the budget was scrapped and so was the whole exhibition. it was a disaster, and the only thing left in the smithsonian was a fuselage of the refurbished enola gay. that's what we did here. but sachiko, nevertheless, steps out, and she's speaking for the first time to a group of sixth graders and their participants, and she -- parents, and she tells her story. and in the interest of time, she really says how are we going to take care of our peace. how are we going to do that. the last -- when i finished this manuscript and i spoke the her,
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i wrote to her and i said do you have any last words for us before this book goes off to press in 2014? she said, yes. my last advice to the audience, our young adults, our children, ask them what is peace? what kind of person do i want to become? continue to pursue these questions. so she is, she knows that we need to leap to -- we need to go to peace however we rehash the war. what are we going to do now and go forward. and i think about those questions every day. sachiko, and her story, has completely changed my life. >> susan, the five people in your story also make a
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transition to -- some at different ages -- find their voice, and then they gather together. and nagasaki becomes a center for expressing their stories. >> yes. and it's, it's unusual at any given time from the '70s and '80s on this might be only, like a cadre of 40 -- [speaking japanese] who are speaking out and telling their stories. it's not part of the culture, it's not part of that generation's culture in particular. and they each, each of the five survivors in my book have deep, personal, intimate reasons for making the decision to speak out. i'll tell you one, and it's one of my favorite stories in the book. mr. yoshita, he was the 13-year-old boy who had been hurled back, and his whole face had been severely burned, and he remained really disfigured the rest of his life and faced
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discrimination and a great deal of shame. and it wasn't until he was in his 60s, he was invited also to peek out every so often -- to speak out every so often, and he didn't, he wouldn't. he didn't want to face the stares of the children. but he got asked by a friend who already was a speaker to substitute for him one day, and he got up in front of the group, and some of the children began to cry as they saw his face. and he almost collapsed in tears himself. he forged through his story and made it through, but, you know, kind of retreated into silence for quite a while. but eventually decided to not let his shyness get in the way of speaking out for peace. and now or, excuse me, toward the end of the book when he speaks in front of children, he brags that now 9.5 out of 10 children don't cry when they see
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his face. [laughter] and he, he -- to disarm them at the beginning of his talks, he compares himself to the good looks of a japanese pop star from the '90s name who's no longer relevant to the children today, but they kind of get the reference. and they laugh. and one of the staff with the organization for which he speaks suggested that he update the person he compares himself to, and he never would except once when he was speaking in chicago. he likened his incredible good looks to those of leonardo dicaprio. [laughter] made everybody laugh. he is one of the sweetest human beings i've ever met. so i'll leave it, for those of you who are able to read the
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book, to understand the other stories of how they came to speak publicly about their lives. >> now i'm going to give each of you an impossible task. in a minute or two, what do these stories mean for us now? super, do you want to start? >> i have a long list. [laughter] these stories matter because we live under a high level of nuclear threat today whether it be by intentional use, accidental use or an act of terror. we are at one of the highest levels of risk in human -- i mean, since 1945. the doom cans day clock -- doomsday clock, i don't know if you know about that, but was just moved to two and a half minutes before midnight in january. i think as long as these weapons exist across the world, we still have some 15,000 and 4,000 of them are deployed, e we have to
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be able to imagine what they do. and the survivors of these two bombings are the only people who can tell us that. even though the weapons are far more powerful now. and i'm going to, i'll leave the others in case you all say them, and if there are any others, i'll come back at the end. >> okay. caren? >> yeah, i also have a long list, but i will remind us that the average age of the survivors is about sachiko's age, 78 or 80. we're fast losing our spokespeople for this cataclysmic event. so that is one reason why i wanted to write sachiko's story, particularly for young people, so that we can keep these stories in front of us because we are now so close to nuclear war again.
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we know we have north korea and other obvious issues and incidents that we feel the heat again. i would say sachiko's question, how are we going to keep our peace and for the children, how are we going to teach peace? we do a great job teaching war. we do a great job creating a culture of war. how are we going to create a culture of peace in our, in our country and in the world? >> where with -- i think those are great thoughts, and to avoid repeating them, which i would like to do, i'll just say something a little more cosmic which is something that sister meghan said to me back in, i think, early 2013 when she -- this was before she was on trial. she was still free. she and her two compatriots, michael and greg, were at a college event talking about what
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they did to a small group of christian college students. .. and as soon as she said that, i said, oh. as a writer incident that's a very writerly thing to say. she's right. and that's kind of when i decide that had the story that i would write about this would be about -- would take kind of the scientific principles that make nuclear weapons work, which is
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taking the tinniest building blocks of anything, atoms and create a disproportionately out of them. a single person or three people that styed to act out of proportion to who they are, i think that's something that everyone can and should remember that there are issues in modern life such as nuclear weapon that is seem insurmountable and opaque and i think this type of activism proves that individual actions however small can have greater effects. you never know what you do in the service of something will have an impact on others and who knows at some point that might reach a critical mass where things change.
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now, we have a couple of minutes left. are there a couple of questions that any of you would like to raise and make sure you have the mic? >> two brief things. my father -- you talked about this too the exhibit, refusal to talk about our history, but my other question is for mr. zach, at the very beginning of your book i was very depressed when you talked about how the scientists said they worried about these weapons being under the control of people in the military and then when they took it away from the military they worried being it under the control of politicians who maybe didn't know anything about the science and now we have a person in the white house who said -- who was asked if we have nuclear
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weapons, why can't we use them, so what can we do and as a journalist how can you bring this to the forefront of the attention? >> yeah, the only thing that i can do myself is to write a story like this which attempts to put in very human and understandable terms a topic that is abstract in many ways and very technical in other ways, that's all i can think to do. i mean, in terms of what people can do in general, you know, one of the good things i think about this presidential campaign is for the first time that i can remember in the continue text -- context debate americans were talking about the nuclear weapon that is we have do have and not the ones that exist in iran. that was kind of a sea change. what is the foundational authority that we are investing in a president of the united
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states. at the core of all of that power is the power to end the world. the nuclear stockpile is the province of the u.s. president. he or she has the ultimate final authority when and if to use them and i think it was good that we all kind of reminded ourselves about that because of the nature of one of the candidates who was running. as far as what -- what a citizen could do, i mean, if i had a plan or if i knew exactly what could be done -- i don't know one can do other than become educated and to keep this topic in the forefront of one's mind because it's easy to ignore for several reasons, one is -- and this is why it's so important that people like susan and karen are talking and telling their
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stories, there hasn't been mushroom clouds since 1962 and all testing underground and there hasn't been a combat use and we are forgetting real impact on what these things can do and so to become, to always keep that in the front of your mind that beyond the strategy jargon, debate in congress, budgetary stuff, there's so many ways that nuclear weapons can be buried under the opaque nature of talking about budgets and treaties. these two books here really remind you of what's at stake and so becoming educated and vocal about your elected official that's the person who deals with budgets. it's all about money, you know, life is about money. nuclear weapons are no different and, you know, as bob was saying, we have seen what vocal constituents can do at this time
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to congress. i know there's a lot to think about for a variety of things, education and awareness is really kind of the only answer, i think. >> hello. this is not a question but just an expression of gratitude to you. my mother nagata and myself were born in japan. my mother is 93, she is a world war ii survivor. she was in kagoshima. and -- but as japanese and, of course, we are american citizens now, this is a subject we don't talk about amongst ourselves so much. it is a very painful subject and
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i decided to bring her today and i really want -- remind her of the pain and so on, but i'm very happy that i came and wanted to thank you and i wanted to just share that she was 18 when the war started and 22 when it finished and she wrote -- he holds a ph.d from state university in oregon and it's really about what you were talking about, about peace and how do we find peace, i just want to read, is it okay if i read just a paragraph and i certainly wanted to honor her and just to how even a most devastated in the soul a human being's resilience can come back and live a joyceful and peaceful life and in a way that's a testimony to how entire human
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nation with all the other groups of people who suffered in so many different ways we continue on and do find peace. so she said, i cannot forget my shock when i heard that my country, japan, had attacked pearl harbor. it was 1941 and i was 18 at the time. four years later, the united states dropped atomic drops in hiroshima and nagasaki, to me it was nations fighting with each other. i felt deep shame to be a part of the human race. lord has brought an imaginable devastation and atrocities around the world. in my young heart i rose a question, how can we human beings be so violent toward each other and bring such horrific distraction upon ourselves. from now on, for the rest of my life, i must live and work for
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peace and at 22, she wanted to doctor a, but do to war she couldn't, she lived her life, she found beauty in life through painting and so she deviled into painting and worked with mentally challenged people in america, she married an american, by the way and came to america to live and so she has found her peace individually within and through that so many people come to her and enjoy the vibration of peace and get the encouragement and hope to move on. thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you. >> we have time for one more question.
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we have time for one more question. >> the gentleman here has been raising his hand. >> i have a question for dan. as you got to know the three protesters, can you describe what effect they thought that act would have, would it create more awareness in the united states, would it trigger similar activism around the world because done in isolation, i mean, it happened on a building with a hammer and throwing some blood in isolation it's not going to get some done. what was the bigger expectation, plan, hope for within the united states and around the world given that the united states is not a nuclear nation in isolation as other people have mentioned there's a world situation? >> yeah, i mean, their main goal was always awareness, to do something -- they would never characterize it like this. it's me as a journalist assessing and articulating why they did it.
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it's always to do something apart from stating for the record that they as individuals are not on board as citizens with this type of work. to do something that would get headlines essentially, that would wake people up from kind of a normal day-to-day life and awareness and take note, which is what happened to me. and i admit in the after ward, their plan, i'm part of their plan. they did something that was strange enough and outrageous enough to got me to stand up and say, what did these people do and take a step further and look into that. if you were to ask them what they were hoping for, they are hoping the u.s. to irrespective of the rest of the world disarm, it's not realistic, but there's a reason why i called the original story for the post that this book is based on the
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prophets of oakridge. these types of activists to me, you can call them crazy and misguided, true, you can also say that there's an element to them because there are doing some things that profits have always done which is speak the language and rationale of a world that doesn't exist yet, right, which to all of us sounds crazy. so if you were to ask them, that's what they would say, a war without nuclear weapons. u.s. should get rid of them starting tomorrow and devote all the money and treasure to life sustaining and life-giving enterprises. but my interpretation has always been awareness. that's the reason that makes sense to me. this action apart from being a moral one in their mind is also an attention-grabbing one and it may not change the world overnight but as i said before, it got me to write a book and i'm talking to all of you about
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the book and some of you might read it. i don't know. so i think that they would be satisfied even with that, but they were acting very much as individuals too, as individuals speaking, we cannot -- cannot not do this. >> we want to leave some time so that you can meet the authors and have them sign your copies of the book. as i read the three books, one of the things that struck me most profoundly was that these people that they're describing, the stories are telling are people with names and every human being has a name. they have parents, they have simblings and friends and when we begin to see each other as a named person, then our revulsion of the thought of imposing on
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anyone the dye instruction that was brought on that day backs more profound. i want to thank you our three authors with outstanding books and for their presentation today. [applause] >> i want to thank you for coming today and there will be books for sale and you can get them signed by the authors. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] >> thank you for coming. [inaudible conversations] >> yeah. >> officers locked -- >> yeah. [inaudible conversations] >> i have always felt as i watched it, i saw some of the documents.
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but there was key interaction and motivation what was on there and the way the men in the military responded. [inaudible conversations] >> and i read his book. >> oh, yeah. >> the modernization plans. $1trillion. >> more in the united states and soviet union there was much an awareness with a peace act. >> yeah. >> which kind of -- [inaudible conversations] >> yeah, right. the big march of '82, a million people on the streets. >> anyway, thank you. >> thank you for coming. >> i read your book and i really
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like it. i wrote a poem. >> did you? >> that i read. [inaudible conversations] >> i gave you credit when i got up to read the poem that it was great inspiration about your work. >> poem about the action or nuclear weapons? >> nuclear -- nuclear and nonproliferation was the poem, i i think, and the idea to get poems and writers to get the work out there. >> sure. >> to be prolific in their work. >> i like that. that's a great notion. thank you very much. >> thank you for your work. >> thank you. >> hi, there. sure. >> i'm a history teacher and i'm trying to contextualize this for
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teenagers. [inaudible conversations] [laughter] >> thank you so much. >> thank you for being here. >> and you've been watching a live author discussion on nuclear war. now c-span and book tv have attended the virginia festival of the book since its beginning covering panels on history, pub lib policy, publishing, economics and more throughout the years. you can watch all of those programs on our website at now, in about hon hour we will be back for more live coverage, that will be an author discussion on civil protest. [inaudible conversations] >> hold your hand on the family bible and repeat after me, i


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