PORTLAND, Maine – The human race and the earth itself remain in “intensive care,” Nobel Prize winner Helen Caldicott told The Global Network against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space 12th annual conference here April 23-25. The conference, titled “Resisting Empire: Understanding the Role of Space in U.S. Global Domination,” drew 225 peace activists from 12 nations and 21 states.

Craig Eisendrath, a fellow at the Center for International Policy, set the stage as he outlined the history of U.S. disengagement from disarmament treaties and treaties for the peaceful use of space.

Washington, in its pursuit of a messianic, self-appointed American mission to “make the world right,” has rejected multilateralism and now seeks “full spectrum dominance,” Eisendrath charged. Megalomania like this aggravates military competition, sets up provocations, inflates the already immense profits of corporations, and places humanity itself at risk, he said.

The emotional and oratorical highpoint of the conference was Caldicott’s keynote presentation. A symbolic figure in the anti-nuclear movement, founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility and Nobel Prize nominee, Caldicott reminded the gathering that Russia and the United States are still aiming thousands of nuclear weapons at each other. A miscalculation or accident could still trigger a thermonuclear holocaust.

On the afternoon of April 23, 125 delegates marched and demonstrated in front of Maine’s Bath Iron Works to protest the manufacture there of Aegis destroyers. Jack Bussell of Maine Veterans for Peace reminded the marchers that since 1992, Bath Iron Works has built 42 such warships at a cost of $1 billion dollars each. Each warship carries 54 Tomahawk cruise missiles. Armed with a nuclear warhead, each missile carries the equivalent of 15 Hiroshimas.

Frances Crowe from Massachusetts delivered a letter on behalf of the demonstrators to the president of the shipyard – a division of General Dynamics. The letter called for converting the yard to the production of “ships of peace,” windmills and railcars, and it castigated U.S. foreign policy for promoting the export of weapons and widening the gap between the world’s rich and poor.

Conference participants reported on anti-nuclear, anti-weapons protests they have been leading all over the world. Lindis Percy, 61, of Otley, England, received the annual “Peace in Space” award. Over the course of three decades of organizing demonstrations at U.S. bases and installations in Britain, this nurse-midwife has been arrested over 150 times and jailed 20 times for her antiwar activities.

Presentations by Jesse Vear, a young advocate for poor people’s rights from Portland, and Edward Appiah-Brafoh, a Global Network board member from Ghana, stressed how military spending results in the neglect of human needs on all continents. Appiah-Brafoh said the people of many African nations are “left out, alone and suffering.”

David Knight, national co-chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the United Kingdom, said weapons in space only serve the security needs of the elite, and that a radical change brought about by non-violent resistance – a revolution – is needed to win true security for all.

The Global Network was founded in 1992 in response to a U.S. turn toward weapons in space to increase its strategic advantage in a unipolar world. According to Network Secretary-Coordinator Bruce Gagnon, the organization gathers and analyzes information, educates and agitates throughout the world. The group calls for the peaceful and common use of outer space, democratic debate about its future, and the use of space technology to solve human needs.

To learn more about the Global Network, visit their website, www.space4peace.org.

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org.