Atale of three cities: Blaine, Pugwash and Bremerton

Published on Thu, Jul 20, 2006 by Elke Siller Macartney

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A tale of three cities: Blaine, Pugwash and Bremerton

By Elke Siller Macartney

On April 10, 2006,  the Blaine town council was approached by fellow citizens to consider Pugwash, Nova Scotia – waterfront town, and fellow peace-oriented town – to be it’s official sister city. Yet, how is it that the nomination did not make it to an actual vote?

According to a Blaine city councilmember, Pugwash was seen as having “…really serious political overtones.” As commented by one of the sponsors of  the proposal, “I guess peace is controversial.”
About  Pugwash: A scenic village on the Atlantic Ocean, it was home to the 1957 International Peace Conference.

Twenty two international scientists attended the conference, representing only themselves – nary a politician in sight.

The conference based much of its work on a 1955 peace-through-nuclear disarmament declaration by famous scientists: the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. Pugwash continues to have peace conferences on the anniversary of the first one, and the conferences have also been held around the world. So why is this kind of peace so controversial?

Perhaps one answer lies in another waterfront town, about 90 miles south of Blaine in Bremerton, home of the Trident Base at Bangor.
The eight Trident submarines carry 1,760 nuclear warheads – more nuclear weaponry than all of Britain, France, China, Israel, India and Pakistan combined, and enough to represent 1000 Hiroshima bombs per submarine. 

The military base employs soldiers, civilians, and surrounding neighborhoods full of people supporting the military complex. Perhaps this contributes to the “political aspect” of the peace equation: housing weapons of horribly massive destruction equals jobs in a fragile economy.

If this sounds a bit crazy, let me remind us: The human race is quite talented in the art of self-deception. We can convince our selves of anything, if we speak the right language and use convincing enough terms.

So we have convinced ourselves that an industry involving a high concentration of WMDs in our neighborhoods is a good thing, both economically and politically.

We have also convinced ourselves that peace can only be waged through harboring the threat of nuclear strikes.

But here is another view: We are self-deceiving ourselves into a worldwide grave that can come with the push of a button.

In Blaine, having a fellow peace city as a sister city seems fitting for a border town of civilized peoples. Politically speaking, it would be an honor to uphold the values of world-wide peace that the conference attendees of Pugwash, and the architects and builders of the Peace Arch were trying to promote.

To the people of Blaine, Pugwash and Bremerton, I wish you peace.

Rev. Elke Siller Macartney is a mother, wife, minister and proud peacenik living in LaConner. She can be reached via