So I was perusing the website of Air Force Global Strike Command earlier today and came across the following feature story: “Dr. King’s Dream for the Global Strike Team”. (For those of you who don’t know, the mission of Global Strike Command is to “develop and provide combat-ready forces for nuclear deterrence and global strike operations.”)
Gobsmacked by the title, I followed the link. The text didn’t lessen my shock.
Commentary by Warren Ward
Air Force Global Strike Command Programming Division
1/21/2013 – BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 83rd birthday was Jan. 15. . . His courageous crusade for equality was first nationally recognized on Jan. 20, 1986, when President Reagan established the third Monday in January as an official federal government holiday.
Our country, our Air Force and Air Force Global Strike Command can learn much from Dr. King’s drive for America to be a nation of equals. . . During his “I Have a Dream” speech given at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28, 1963, King told a gathering of more than 200,000 Americans, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.'”
Dr. King completed his moving presentation with an emphasis on the freedom that equality brings, “…from every mountainside, let freedom ring. . . And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men, white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty we are free at last!”
The Department of Defense is a leader in equal opportunity for all patriots seeking to serve this great nation. . . The vigilant warriors in AFGSC understand they are all equal and unified in purpose to provide a safe, secure and effective deterrent force for the United States. . .
Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team – comprised of Airmen, civilians and contractors from every race, creed, background and religion – standing side-by-side ensuring the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense. . . Our team must overlook our differences to ensure perfection as we maintain and operate our weapon systems. . . Maintaining our commitment to our Global Strike team, our families and our nation is a fitting tribute to Dr. King as we celebrate his legacy.
I get that the author is trying to tout the importance of diversity in the Air Force ranks, and I’m all for that. But suggesting “Dr. King would be proud to see our Global Strike team – …standing side-by-side ensuring the most powerful weapons in the U.S. arsenal remain the credible bedrock of our national defense”!?!. Talk about out of touch!
For a small taste of how Dr. King actually viewed nuclear weapons, below is a short excerpt from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance lecture in 1964:
So man’s proneness to engage in war is still a fact. But wisdom born of experience should tell us that war is obsolete. There may have been a time when war served as a negative good by preventing the spread and growth of an evil force, but the destructive power of modern weapons eliminated even the possibility that war may serve as a negative good. If we assume that life is worth living and that man has a right to survive, then we must find an alternative to war. In a day when vehicles hurtle through outer space and guided ballistic missiles carve highways of death through the stratosphere, no nation can claim victory in war. A so-called limited war will leave little more than a calamitous legacy of human suffering, political turmoil, and spiritual disillusionment. A world war – God forbid! – will leave only smoldering ashes as a mute testimony of a human race whose folly led inexorably to ultimate death. So if modern man continues to flirt unhesitatingly with war, he will transform his earthly habitat into an inferno such as even the mind of Dante could not imagine.
Therefore, I venture to suggest to all of you and all who hear and may eventually read these words, that the philosophy and strategy of nonviolence become immediately a subject for study and for serious experimentation in every field of human conflict, by no means excluding the relations between nations. It is, after all, nation-states which make war, which have produced the weapons which threaten the survival of mankind, and which are both genocidal and suicidal in character.