Thursday, January 17, 2008

Who Doesn't Love Nuclear Disarmament?

By Cernig

Who doesn't love the idea of ridding the world of nuclear weapons? It used to be that the VSP's didn't, but now only the Bush administration and the current crop of Republican frontrunners - oh, and Hillary - aren't on board with elimination, an article by Joseph Cirincione reveals.
It may take a while to get there, they say, but seven former secretaries of state, seven former national security advisors, and five former secretaries of defense have endorsed freeing the world of nuclear weapons, as well as progressive steps to realize this vision. They represent almost 70 percent of the men and women still living who have served in these top posts and are not currently serving in the administration.

...The growing list of supporters for a nuclear-free world includes 17 former cabinet members, as well as former generals, senior officials, non-proliferation scholars and politicians such as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). "You have a big vision, a vision as big as humanity--to free the world of nuclear weapons," he told the group at their October conference at the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University, "Let me know how I can use my power and influence as governor to further your vision." Nancy Reagan also sent a letter of support.

And the support is bipartisan: 53 percent of the cabinet-level endorsers are Republicans and 47 percent are Democrats. Eighty-eight percent of all the living former secretaries of state have given their general support for the project, as have 70 percent of all former national security advisors and 62 percent of all former secretaries of defense. The only former secretary of state not endorsing is Alexander Haig; the only defense secretary hold-outs are James Schlesinger, Harold Brown and Donald Rumsfeld; and the only former national security advisors not signing up are Brent Scowcroft, William P. Clark and John Poindexter. (Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice are currently in office and are not counted.)

The effect on the presidential campaigns is already apparent. While Republican candidates, campaigning for the support of the party's right-wing, have not yet moved beyond current policies, former Senator John Edwards (D.-NC), Governor Bill Richardson (D.-NM) and Senator Barack Obama (D.-IL) all promised to lead efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons...Senator Hillary Clinton (D.-NY) promised similar presidential attention to preventing nuclear terror and shrinking global arsenals but stops short of endorsing their elimination.
The remarkable constellation of foreign policy A-listers who have backed elimination of nukes has been put together by Secretary of State George Shultz, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn. Last year they published their groundbreaking "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons" and now they've followed up with a new piece at the WSJ entitled "Toward a Nuclear-Free World" They write:
The accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point. We face a very real possibility that the deadliest weapons ever invented could fall into dangerous hands.

The steps we are taking now to address these threats are not adequate to the danger. With nuclear weapons more widely available, deterrence is decreasingly effective and increasingly hazardous.

One year ago, in an essay in this paper, we called for a global effort to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, to prevent their spread into potentially dangerous hands, and ultimately to end them as a threat to the world. The interest, momentum and growing political space that has been created to address these issues over the past year has been extraordinary, with strong positive responses from people all over the world.

Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in January 2007 that, as someone who signed the first treaties on real reductions in nuclear weapons, he thought it his duty to support our call for urgent action: "It is becoming clearer that nuclear weapons are no longer a means of achieving security; in fact, with every passing year they make our security more precarious."
Building on their momentum, they also set out clear and definite steps that the U.S. and other nations could take to hasten the world down the path towards elimination. As someone who argued for complete elimination recently during Cheryl Rofer's "blog-tank" on nuclear policy, I can only urge the prospective future leaders of the U.S. to listen and plan their policy platforms accordingly.

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