To all those interested in the question of peace, please read this author
who was recently interviewed by Bill Moyers on pbs.
Subject: from the Nation some time ago
Message: Summer Games With Nuclear Bombs by Arundhati Roy, June 4, 2002
When India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests in 1998, even those
of us who condemned them balked at the hypocrisy of Western nuclear
powers. Implicit in their denunciation of the tests was the notion that
blacks cannot be trusted with the Bomb. Now we are presented with the
spectacle of our governments competing to confirm that belief.
As diplomats' families and tourists disappear from the subcontinent,
Western journalists arrive in Delhi in droves. Many call me. "Why haven't
you left the city?" they ask. "Isn't nuclear war a real possibility? Isn't
Delhi a prime target?" If nuclear weapons exist, then nuclear war is a
real possibility. And Delhi is a prime target. It is.
But where shall we go? Is it possible to go out and buy another life
because this one's not panning out?
If I go away, and everything and everyone--every friend, every tree, every
home, every dog, squirrel and bird that I have known and loved--is
incinerated, how shall I live on? Who shall I love? And who will love me
back? Which society will welcome me and allow me to be the hooligan that I
am here, at home?
So we're all staying. We huddle together. We realize how much we love each
other. And we think, what a shame it would be to die now. Life's normal
only because the macabre has become normal. While we wait for rain, for
football, for justice, the old generals and eager boy-anchors on TV talk
of first strike and second-strike capabilities as though they're
discussing a family board game.
My friends and I discuss Prophecy, the documentary about the bombing of
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fireball. The dead bodies choking the river.
The living stripped of skin and hair. The singed, bald children, still
alive, their clothes burned into their bodies. The thick, black, toxic
water. The scorched, burning air. The cancers, implanted genetically, a
malignant letter to the unborn. We remember especially the man who just
melted into the steps of a building. We imagine ourselves like that. As
stains on staircases. I imagine future generations of hushed
schoolchildren pointing at my stain...that was a writer. Not She or He.
I'm sorry if my thoughts are stray and disconnected, not always worthy.
I think of a little mixed-breed dog I know. Each of his toes is a
different color. Will he become a radioactive stain on a staircase too? My
husband's writing a book on trees. He has a section on how figs are
pollinated. Each fig only by its own specialized fig wasp. There are
nearly a thousand different species of fig wasps, each a precise,
exquisite synchrony, the product of millions of years of evolution.
All the fig wasps will be nuked. Zzzz. Ash. And my husband. And his book.
A dear friend, who's an activist in the anti-dam movement in the Narmada
valley, is on indefinite hunger strike. Today is the fourteenth day of her
fast. She and the others fasting with her are weakening quickly. They're
protesting because the MP government is bulldozing schools, clear-felling
forests, uprooting hand-pumps, forcing people from their villages to make
way for the dam. The people have nowhere to go. And so, the hunger strike.
What an act of faith and hope! How brave it is to believe that in today's
world, reasoned, closely argued, nonviolent protest will register, will
matter. But will it? To governments that are comfortable with the notion
of a wasted world, what's a wasted valley?
The threshold of horror has been ratcheted up so high that nothing short
of genocide or the prospect of nuclear war merits mention. Peaceful
resistance is treated with contempt. Terrorism's the real thing. The
underlying principle of the War Against Terror, the very notion that war
is an acceptable solution to terrorism, has insured that terrorists in the
subcontinent now have the power to trigger a nuclear war.
Displacement, dispossession, starvation, poverty, disease--these are now
just the funnies, the comic-strip items. Our home minister says that
Amartya Sen has it all wrong--the key to India's development is not
education and health but defense (and don't forget the kickbacks, O Best
Perhaps what he really meant was that war is the key to distracting the
world's attention from fascism and genocide. To avoid dealing with any
single issue of real governance that urgently needs to be addressed. For
the governments of India and Pakistan, Kashmir is not a problem, it's
their perennial and spectacularly successful solution. Kashmir is the
rabbit they pull out of their hats every time they need a rabbit.
Unfortunately, it's a radioactive rabbit now, and it's careening out of
No doubt there is Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism in Kashmir.
But there's other kids of terror in the valley. There's the inchoate nexus
between jehadi militants, ex-militants, foreign mercenaries, local
mercenaries, underworld Mafiosi, security forces, arms dealers and
criminalized politicians and officials on both sides of the border.
There's also rigged elections, daily humiliation, "disappearances" and
And now the cry has gone up in the heartland: India is a Hindu country.
Muslims can be murdered under the benign gaze of the state. Mass murderers
will not be brought to justice. Indeed, they will stand for elections. Is
India to be a Hindu nation in the heartland and a secular one around the
Meanwhile, the International Coalition Against Terror makes war and
preaches restraint. While India and Pakistan bay for each other's blood
the coalition is quietly laying gas pipelines, selling us weapons and
pushing through their business deals. (Buy now, pay later.) Britain, for
example, is busy arming both sides. Tony Blair's "peace" mission a few
months ago was actually a business trip to discuss a one billion pound
deal (and don't forget the kickbacks, O Best Beloved) to sell Hawk
fighter-bombers to India. Roughly, for the price of a single Hawk bomber,
the government could provide 1.5 million people with clean drinking water
"Why isn't there a peace movement?" Western journalists ask me
ingenuously. How can there be a peace movement when, for most people in
India, peace means a daily battle: for food, for water, for shelter, for
dignity? War, on the other hand, is something professional soldiers fight
far away on the border. And nuclear war--well, that's completely outside
the realm of most people's comprehension. No one knows what a nuclear bomb
is. No one cares to explain. As the home minister said, education is not a
pressing priority. Part of me feels grateful that most people here don't
have any notion of the horrors of nuclear war. Why should they, on top of
everything else they go through, have to suffer the terror of anticipating
a nuclear holocaust? And yet, it is this ignorance that makes nuclear
weapons so much more dangerous here. It is this ignorance that makes
"deterrence" seem like a terrible joke.
The last question every visiting journalist always asks me is: Are you
writing another book? That question mocks me. Another book? Right now?
When it looks as though all the music, the art, the architecture, the
literature--the whole of human civilization--means nothing to the fiends
who run the world? What kind of book should I write?
It's not just the one million soldiers on the border who are living on
hairtrigger alert. It's all of us. That's what nuclear bombs do. Whether
they're used or not, they violate everything that is humane. They alter
the meaning of life itself. Why do we tolerate them? Why do we tolerate
these men who use nuclear weapons to blackmail the entire human race?
© 2002 The Nation Company, L.P.
> i agree, she is a breath of fresh air and gives one hope - i
> guess all we can do is try to pass it on to each person we meet
RE: Arundhati Roy
I saved this from the Nation some time ago