In 2000 the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference reaffirmed the original agreement of the treaty: the non-nuclear nations would not attempt to acquire weapons, while the nuclear nations pledged to work for disarmament. For the first time they spelled out 13 Practical Steps to disarmament of the nuclear powers. With the Cold War over, it looked as though the process of nuclear disarmament had begun.
Two years later the Bush administration ¹s Nuclear Posture Review made it clear that nuclear weapons were to remain at the center of our defense posture, that we reserved our right to the first-strike doctrine, and even named seven nations as possible targets. The administration also budgeted for the development of new weapons, the readying of the test site, the creation of a new pit facility and the maintenance of our huge weapons stockpile into the indefinite future. At the 2005 NPT review conference in New York the administration insisted on discussing non-proliferation only and refused to even acknowledge the obligation to work for disarmament. The result was that the month-long conference of 189 nations achieved nothing.
Now Ambassador John Bolton wants to remove all references to disarmament, a moratorium on nuclear testing and nuclear-free zones from the UN reform plan.
The Bush administration is making war on our treaties, our constitution, the rule of law, international obligations and all efforts to protect the human race from the incomprehensible horrors of nuclear war.
Observing U.S. insistence on retaining nuclear weapons in spite of our overwhelming conventional superiority, the rest of the world ¹s nations wonder if they too should go nuclear. The U.S. determination to preserve this threat creates great resentment and reduces international cooperation on preventing proliferation. Without U.S. leadership there will be no nuclear disarmament, little effort to stop proliferation and increased possibility of a nuclear exchange.
What Nukes do for the Bush Administration
Nuclear weapons and the imminent threat of their use are essential to the administration goal of establishing American corporate domination worldwide. They are regarded by the administration as a deterrent to any nation that might consider interference with U.S. aggression, leaving us free to act as we will in Iraq or other nations on the President ¹s list.
At the same time, Bush nuclear policies put our families and people everywhere in danger. The Bush Administration does not listen to world opinion, popular opinion or advice from the State Department (where all critics have been weeded out). Petitions, letters and demonstrations are ignored. The only thing they can ¹t ignore are highly organized issue
organizations that can deliver votes at election time. (For example, few politicians are willing to go against the NRA.) In this rigid situation, only by organizing and developing real political clout can the American people peacefully change our dangerous nuclear policy and get our nation back on the path to nuclear disarmament and the rule of law.
Organizing for elective influence while ending the War in Iraq will require more effort, but it will also add to the strength and respect of the peace movement. We must remember that the issue is not one of politics or national security; it is about human survival. It is our moral duty to organize widely in our communities, influencing, supporting or opposing our representatives where necessary.
This can best be done by peace organizing in Congressional Districts and cooperating with like-minded organizations. By reaching out to the general public we can change the large majority of people who want a nuclear-free world into an effective political force. By working to make all families safer, we will also strengthen the resistance to the War in Iraq.
Community Action for Nuclear Safety
CANS is a campaign of action. We are reaching out to the general public on an issue on which they are already in major agreement: the desire for a nuclear weapons-free world.
We can inform the public about the dangers and the huge human and financial costs of our nuclear policies. We can ask them to join us in supporting representatives who will work for disarmament and not vote our tax dollars for creating more usable ¹ nuclear weapons or the preservation of the nuclear threat. This is a campaign to free the world from the fear of these horrible weapons, to reduce hatred of the United States, to reduce the go-it-alone arrogance of the U.S. and to free the U.S. from spending more money on creating greater horrors, when those tax dollars are urgently needed to solve human problems at home and abroad.
This is not new. Community organization has always been the way to make democracy work for greater social justice. The anti-nuclear campaign will revitalize and expand the peace movement, slow the militarization of our society, improve the national treasury and contribute to the citizen empowerment of all who participate.
By starting this fall we can be an effective force in the midterm elections of many congressional districts by November, 2006. We hope that all concerned organizations will consider this proposal promptly and contact the author for a sample of the Community Action for Nuclear Safety information handout, and with your reactions, questions and suggestions.
Acting together we can do this.
Peter G. Cohen was on a troopship bound for Japan when the bomb was detonated over Hiroshima. In the 50s he prepared materials for SANE in New York for the campaign to stop testing. In 1966 he became the chair of a local peace organization in Pennsylvania and ran as an independent peace candidate for congress in 1968. In 69- ¹70 he was the executive director of the New Democratic Coalition of PA, which went from 14 to 40 clubs during his tenure. He is now an activist in Santa Barbara, where he conceived of the campaign, Community Action for Nuclear Safety.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org