President Barack Obama has called for a major change in world policy on nuclear weapons, leading to eventual elimination. His initiative is supported by a powerful group of conservative and military allies led by former Republican Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and Democrats former Secretary of Defense William Perry and Sam Nunn, longtime Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
These leaders recognize that nuclear weapons are the most inhumane and dangerous ever conceived, that kill and maim without discrimination, the only weapons ever invented that could destroy all life on planet Earth. That must not happen. Disarmament is the only answer: If any country has nuclear weapons, others will want them. Then, some day they will be used by accident, mistake, or design - the ultimate catastrophe.
These conservative leaders agree with the Democrats in the US Senate. Both argue for dramatic reforms in the US and world nuclear policy. The problem is political, how to persuade the Republican Senators to adopt these reforms. It won’t happen unless Kissinger et al do some serious lobbying. Obama can not do it alone and GOP support is essential.
While the public argument will advocate the ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons, immediate reduction of all nuclear arsenals, guarding nukes and nuclear materials, enhanced verification and enforcement procedures, their private argument will point out that complete and verifiable elimination of all nukes will enhance world-wide US military hegemony.
During President Clinton’s administration, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was sent to the US Senate for approval. It failed to reach the 67 votes necessary for ratification, but did attain a majority, 51- 49. In 2010, there will be another attempt to reach 67, hopefully by persuading seven Republicans to join 60 Democrats.
Some conservatives and military leaders believe that a worldwide policy of no nukes would be the most advantageous policy for the US, enhancing and protecting its status as the only military superpower with the capability to deploy overwhelming non-nuclear forces anywhere on earth in a matter of hours. It would legitimize US action against alleged rogue states and tighten control over the nuclear black market. It would support the present US hegemony by eliminating the so-called suicide defense prepared by North Korea and Iran. Giving up nuclear weapons and accepting US hegemony may be the price that humanity must pay to avert the threat of total annihilation.
Several countries including Libya, Ukraine, Belarus, have given up their nukes as not worth the high cost of development and maintenance. Some have found the prestige of having nukes to be over-rated. And others have found themselves under an informal US nuclear umbrella: Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Israel, and others. And finally, nations that find US hegemony onerous and oppressive, with or without nuclear weapons, could ally themselves for resistance.
Jerome Grossman is the author of 'Relentless Liberal' and the retired president of the Massachussets Envelope Company. He is a former member of the Democratic National Committee and the Chairman Emeritus of Council for a Livable World.
Related Material on Atlantic Community:
- Memo 19: An End in Itself - Focus on First Steps!
- Greg Randolph Lawson: The Golden Age of Proliferation is Here to Stay
- Robert G. Gard: Zero Nuclear Weapons: A Feasable Goal?