U.S./Russia Nuclear Disarmament Talks: A Matter for Prayer
Next week, the U.S. and Russia begin our first serious talks about nuclear disarmament since the end of the Cold War. Both sides want to make deep cuts in nuclear arsenals–perhaps getting to under 1,000 warheads each. (Then we’d go from being able to blow up the world several thousand times over to being able to blow it up “only” several hundred times over.) Together, the U.S. and Russia account for over half of all the nuclear weapons worldwide. That’s why nuclear disarmament must begin with us–the nuclear arms race began with us.
This is huge. 1. That’s a lot fewer nuclear weapons that could be stolen or targetted by terrorists. 2. It shows a serious desire to get to a non-nuclear world. It’s MUCH easier to convince, say, India and Pakistan, that their nuclear arsenals threaten the subcontinent and make both LESS safe when it doesn’t just look like the U.S. wants all the nukes for itself. Our moral leverage vs. the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran increases (although, for Iran, it would also help if we forced Israel to declare its nukes–it has about 30–and start giving them up, too). 3.It saves money–not the most important thing from a peace perspective, but it may be that the economic downturn actually helps the forces of peace.
For readers who are persons of faith, I urge that we all pray that more than talk happens. Pray for a strong and binding treaty that makes deep cuts (with promises of more as these are made) and gets quickly ratified. (The GOP will definitely try to filibuster ratification of any meaningful treaty. There used to be anti-nuclear Republicans, including, during his last 3 years of office, Ronald Reagan–persuaded by the Australian medical doctor and anti-nuclear activist Helen Caldicott and by his Secretary of Defense, William Cohen. And the first Pres. Bush took unilateral steps after the end of the Cold War to get us going in this direction, too. But, so far as I can tell, only Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) is left of the anti-nuke Republicans in political office.)
Share your hopes for these talks with your elected officials (of any party) and with the press. We need to show massive public support for the success of these talks. I want to especially urge this for Republican readers who may not like Obama. I was never a Ronald Reagan fan. But when he went to Iceland to meet Gorbachev and try to get disarmament, I prayed for success. It was hard for the Democratic partisan in me because I knew that if those talks were successful, Reagan would get the credit and Republicans would win more public approval. But I had to put the welfare of the planet ahead of my partisan desires. We Christians are always told to pray for public officials–whether we voted for them or not. (And if you think of some politician as your enemy, as I came to think of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, then Jesus gave us specific orders to pray for our enemies.) I have to say that I prayed harder for Reagan–and Gorbachev–during that time than ever before or after.
Readers in other nations, especially if your nation also has nukes (U.K., France, China, India, Pakistan, possibly North Korea, Israel), please do what you can to support this process, too. Tell your officials that you want your nation to support this process by also beginning to disarm your nukes. It would REALLY help if, after the U.S. and Russia agree to this first round of massive cuts, one of the Western powers like France or the UK could simply go for the zero option. Can we have a contest for which nation will be the first since South Africa to completely give up its nuclear weapons program and invite international inspectors to verify this? Imagine the moral leverage that would give the world with Iran and North Korea. The new message, even from generals, is that we are safer the FEWER nukes exist.
We also need you international readers to urge your governments to keep up the pressure on the U.S. and Russia: No matter how deep, a first round of nuclear cuts should not be the last.
We cannot un-invent the technology. So, there will always be the threat of nuclear terrorism. But a nuclear arsenal is no deterrent to terrorists. And if we cannot completely erase the threat of nuclear terrorism, we can erase the threat of nuclear war.
From a global perspective, if these talks are successful and lead to a new nuclear DIS-armament race, they will be the most important initiatives of the Obama presidency (and Medvedev presidency!).
Please pray–and put your prayers into action with letters to editors and phone calls, letters, and emails to elected officials (of any party). Next week’s negotiators need to know that the world has their backs on this one.
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