For much of the Bush administration’s tenure, the nuclear disarmament movement has been on the defensive, reacting to the administration’s dangerous plans to pursue a new generation of nuclear weapons. Despite the unfriendly political climate, we have had several victories in defeating every one of these proposals. As we see the end of the Bush administration on the horizon, there are reasons for hope and indications that we can be more proactive in pushing for our ultimate goal: a nuclear weapons free world.
Throughout the presidential campaign, several Democratic candidates, including Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich, have embraced the idea of nuclear abolition. There are no indications at this point that the Republican candidates will follow in the footsteps of their role model Ronald Reagan, who called nuclear weapons “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization.”
The series of Op Eds by Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn and William Perry added more credence to the idea of working toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Center for American Progress built on this concept with a recent article showing that seventy percent of living former National Security officials support nuclear disarmament:
Every one of these officials favored building and deploying thousands of nuclear weapons while in office. But they say today’s global situation has radically changed. There is no longer a military justification for the almost 10,000 nuclear weapons that the United States fields and the estimated 15,000 held by Russia, many of them on hair-trigger alert ready to launch within 15 minutes. Together these two powers hold 95 percent of all the world’s nuclear weapons, with the other seven nuclear weapon states dividing up the remaining 1,000.
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.