What do U.S. nuclear abolitionists do when the administration has no plans other than vaguely stated goals of “modernizing the nuclear complex” and spending money on a missile defense system that has never been proven to work?
Focus on a long term strategy toward the goal of nuclear abolition, using the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a hook and the consequences of nuclear war as the message.
It’s a tough row to hoe because the United States and other nuclear states stand in opposition to the ban treaty promulgated at the U.N., now open to signature.
A colleague in the nuclear abolition movement reported July 14 from New York:
The emotional electricity in the room was palpable. Everyone could feel that history was being made in Conference Room 1 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. And when the vote tally came in, it was followed with a roar of approval in the room. Bucking intimidation from the nuclear-armed superpowers, 122 nations voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with one vote “no” and one abstention. It’s official: nuclear weapons are illegal!
I’ve never felt hopeful about the ban treaty because President Obama and his successor both indicated they would modernize our nuclear complex, investing more than a trillion dollars. President Trump’s recent statement while taking questions at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey is disappointing on multiple levels.
“We are going to be increasing our budget by many billions of dollars because of North Korea and other reasons having to do with the anti-missile,” Trump said. “As you know, we reduced it by five percent, but I’ve decided I don’t want that. We are going to be increasing the anti-missiles by a substantial amount of billions of dollars.”
Modernization is not really his decision because the Congress must appropriate funds for it. It’s the normal checks and balances designed into our government by the framers of the constitution. However, what is in President Trump’s control is launching a nuclear war within a few minutes at his sole discretion. That can and should change.
Once accepted without vocal opposition, the president having his hand on the nuclear button should be challenged. No president should have sole discretion to unleash a human Armageddon that could end civilization as we know it.
There is chatter in the news media that President Trump won’t complete his full, four-year term. The better bet is he will and will mount a formidable campaign for re-election. Republicans in the Congress won’t impeach, and the 45th president won’t resign.
We shouldn’t be distracted by the hope this presidential term will soon be over. Regardless of who’s president, if the U.S. doesn’t sign on to the nuclear weapons ban, as it currently appears we won’t; if we won’t fulfill our obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to which we are a party; others should be included in any decision to use nuclear weapons.
That change is something nuclear abolitionists can and should work on now.
To learn more, click on Martin Fleck’s report from the UN here.