From 13-15 May, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation held its 2004 International Law Symposium on Charting a New Course for US Nuclear Policy in Santa Barbara, California . The Symposium brought together experts in the fields of nuclear policy, communications and campaign strategy to develop creative ways in which to reverse the current trends of US nuclear policy. Participants included: Dr. Brent Blackwelder, Friends of the Earth; Michele Boyd, Public Citizen; Dr. John Burroughs, Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy; Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation; Dr. Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Policy Research Institute; Dr. Urs A. Cipolat, Middle Powers Initiative; Dr. Daniel Ellsberg, independent international security analyst; Professor Richard Falk, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Dr. Michael Flynn, Center on Violence and Human Survival; Dr. Randall Forsberg, Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies; Dr. David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Professor George Lakoff, The Rockridge Institute; Professor Adil Najam, The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy/Tufts University; Carah Ong, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Professor Thomas G. Plate, UCLA Speech and Communication Studies; Dr. Bennett Ramberg, independent international security analyst; Dr. Tom Reifer, University of California at Riverside; Hon. Douglas Roche, Middle Powers Initiative; Jonathan Schell, The Nation Institute; Alice Slater, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment; and Rob Stuart, AdvocacyInc.
US Nuclear Policy and the Geopolitical Landscape
Richard Falk, Chair of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, delivered opening remarks to set the backdrop for the Symposium. He noted that there are three formidable challenges to charting a new course for US nuclear policy including post-realism, the “Hiroshima Temptation” and bipartisan nuclearism.
The US , as the leading nuclear weapons state, has its first post-realist political leadership. It interprets conflict from the perspective of good versus evil, and illusion, rather than assessing risks and costs. It’s a struggle between good and evil, no rational calculations are appropriate. When it comes to illusions, none is greater than the US claimed mission to bring “democracy” to the beleaguered peoples of the Middle East . The reality is that it is a region that is only remotely compatible with American goals. The current administration is post-realist in the sense that earlier leaders prided themselves, especially in the context of nuclear weapons, on their sense of rationality, their awareness of limits, and their exclusion of moralizing the justification for use of force. The post-realist American world view is reinforced by the suicidal extremism of the al Qaeda engagement with conflict.
When it comes to nuclear weapons, we are witnessing a revival of what Falk labels the “Hiroshima Temptation,” the absence of an inhibiting restraint arising from the prospect of retaliation. This is part of a larger, dangerous condition in which the US is inclined to use force to uphold its position of global dominance, given its decline in economic and diplomatic leverage. The US has dismissed international law – from the failure to observe the Geneva Conventions with respect to prisoners in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib to the defiant attitude of the White House with respect to recourse to wars of choice. President Bush has stated that the US will never seek a “permission slip” when its security is at stake, indicating his disregard for international law.
The nature of the policy and structural issues associated with nuclear weapons are deeper than the Bush administration. Both Bush, Sr. and, even more so, Clinton missed a golden opportunity to advocate nuclear disarmament in the 1990s – after the Soviet Union collapsed – to achieve a regime of total abolition of weapons of mass destruction. Not only was this not done, it was not even seriously considered. Holding open a nuclear option was no longer premised on deterrence, but rather it became associated with dominance. It was during the 1990s that the Pentagon began speaking of “full-spectrum dominance.” And it should not be forgotten that the neo-conservatives were thirsting for a second Pearl Harbor . One of the present dangers is a willed complacency regarding the possibility of a second 9/11.
The only hope for charting a new course for US nuclear policy is to restore realism in the US leadership. US leadership must also make a self-interested repudiation of the “Hiroshima Temptation” and rebuild a cooperative multi-polar world order. US leadership will be greatly enhanced by the rejection of nuclearism, the only clear path to non-proliferation.
The US and the Non-Proliferation Regime
Senator Douglas Roche, O.C., gave a report on the 2004 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) Meeting, which concluded six days prior to the start of the Symposium. It is clear the NPT, the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime, is in crisis. To examine how the crisis came about and what to do about it, we must look at the role of the US . While the other declared Nuclear Weapons States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China are all also in contravention of their responsibilities to the NPT, it is the US that sets the pace. The US is the leading military power in the world by far, the lynchpin of NATO, and the dominant voice at the United Nations. With 31 members, the US delegation was the largest at the recent NPT PrepCom. US views deeply affect the policies of all Western nations and Russia .
The US astounded many delegates at the 2004 PrepCom by disowning its own participation in the 2000 consensus that produced the “unequivocal undertaking.” It refused to allow the 2000 Review Conference to be used as a reference point for the 2005 Review. The result was turmoil and a collapse of the PrepCom.
What delegates from around the world are deeply concerned about is the US attempt to change the rules of the game. At least before, there was a recognition that the NPT was obtained in 1970 through a bargain, with the nuclear weapons states agreeing to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear weapons in return for the non-nuclear states shunning the acquisition of nuclear weapons. Adherence to that bargain enabled the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995 and the 13 Practical Steps of 2000. Now the US is rejecting the commitments of 2000 and premising its aggressive diplomacy on the assertion that the problem of the NPT lies not in the actions of the nuclear weapons states but in the lack of compliance by states such as North Korea and Iran .
The whole international community, nuclear and non-nuclear alike, is concerned about proliferation, but the new attempt by the nuclear weapon states to gloss over the discriminatory aspects of the NPT, which are now becoming permanent, has caused the patience of the members of the Non-Aligned Movement to snap. They see a two-class world of nuclear “haves” and “have-nots” becoming a permanent feature of the global landscape. In such chaos, the NPT is eroding and the prospect of multiple nuclear weapons states, a fear that caused nations to produce the NPT in the first place, is looming once more.
But the US vigorously defended its policies, giving no ground to its critics. From the opening speech by John R. Bolton, Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, US representatives insisted that attention not be diverted from the violations of the NPT by would-be nuclear powers “by focusing on Article VI issues that do not exist.”
A March 2004 report to Congress reveals that the US is employing a double standard concerning compliance with the NPT. Whereas the US wants to move forward with a new generation of nuclear weaponry, it adamantly rejects the attempt by any other state to acquire any sort of nuclear weapon. The US clearly wants to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; of that there can be no doubt. But it does not want to be questioned on what it regards as its right to maintain enormous stocks (despite numerical reductions) and to keep nuclear weapons as a cornerstone of its military doctrine. The US is widely criticized around the world for this double standard.
There is no way to reconcile this resurgence of nuclear weapons development ( Germany called it a nuclear “renaissance”) with disarmament. Even as it says it is adhering to the NPT, the US is flouting it. Only a change in attitude by the US administration can now save the Treaty.
Responding to US Nuclear Policy in a Climate of Violence
Daniel Ellsberg noted in his presentation that humans are not a species to be trusted with nuclear weapons. We need to understand ourselves as humans in relation to this deadly technology. The US has always had as its plan to act first or preemptively. Ellsberg noted that nuclear weapons have been used many times as a threat like a gun pointed at someone’s head.
Tom Reifer observed that the Bush administration reserves the right to invade countries on the basis of the threat of weapons of mass destruction. There is a need to reframe the message to talk about the real dangers. While some are afraid that nuclear weapons may fall into the wrong hands, we must realize that there are no right hands for nuclear weapons. We need to connect to the global economic movement and connect nuclear weapons issues to militarism issues.
Bennett Ramberg began his presentation noting that Libya is no longer a nuclear aspirant and Iraq is no longer a nuclear threat. Iran is now a nuclear threat and it is likely that the US or Israel may preemptively strike Iran . Ramberg proposed that Israel should be encouraged to give up its nuclear weapons and in exchange be brought under the NATO nuclear umbrella. We must also work for a Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, and create a nuclear taboo around the world.
Civic, Moral and Legal Responses to Nuclear Weapons
John Burroughs said that among the overarching themes under which to place nuclear abolition have been “human security,” the “right to peace,” and the “rule of law”. The Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research pursued the latter theme in the 2003 book, Rule of Power or Rule of Law? An Assessment of U.S. Policies and Actions Regarding Security-Related Treaties . The book places US non-compliance with the NPT disarmament obligation in the broader context of US rejection or undermining of a range of global security treaties concerning global warming, international justice, landmines, and biological and chemical weapons. “Rule of law” clearly is an important element of the message. However, it doesn’t seem to be the best overall theme, rather a sub-theme. It does not wholly persuade the US policy elite, much of which accepts US hegemony and has a highly skeptical attitude about international law and institutions. It has some resonance with the public, because the rule of law is associated with US traditions and constitutionalism. But it is not a galvanizing theme.
The rule of law message can help in the essential work of counteracting ongoing US reliance on threat or execution of preventive war against nuclear proliferation. This may be the shape of years and decades to come if the US does not adopt a policy of relying instead on preventive diplomacy and reciprocal and cooperative action that includes reduction and elimination of the US arsenal. See Peter Weiss’s remarks at http://lcnp.org/disarmament/nuclearweaponspreventivewar.htm
One critical task for nuclear abolition outreach and organizing is to relate seriously to other movements, not only in the use of rhetoric but also through concrete contributions. An example is LCNP’s work on the World Tribunal on Iraq , which held its New York session on May 8, 2004 . For information and presentations, see www.worldtribunal-nyc.org . Organizers included highly motivated and competent graduate students and activists.
Jonathan Schell stated that the Bush Administration is pursuing a path that will lead to a multitude of disasters. We need an alternative path. We have been deceived about the Nuclear Age. The US establishment did not want nuclear weapons discredited after Hiroshima and Nagasaki because they planned to rely upon them. Reagan and Gorbechev understood the danger of nuclear weapons. There was radical neglect of addressing the nuclear threat during the Clinton years. Under the Bush Administration there has been a nuclear “unlearning.” Deep truths have been cast aside. Even President Reagan understood that nuclear weapons cannot win wars and must never be used. The US must make its nuclear arsenal visible to Americans. We are facing layer upon layer of deception. We need to reincorporate the nuclear story.
Helen Caldicott stated that killers throughout history have been put on pedestals. American people are good people. How do we teach the American people? We have to make an emotional appeal and reach their hearts as well as their minds.
Setting Priorities for US Nuclear Policy
Adil Najam stated that if the planet were a country, it would be a poor, divided, degraded, insecure, poorly governed, country of apartheid, as well as a third world country. We need to understand nuclearism in a feudal context. South Asia contains 40% of the world’s poor, ½ of all illiterates in the world. 260 million live without basic health facilities, 337 million do not have safe drinking water, 400 million go hungry and 500 million people live below the poverty line. Alas, South Asia is the most militarized area of the world. Spending money for military purposes has a real cost to the security of people. There is a new politics of nuclearism. Nuclear weapons are the poor man’s weapon. There is no argument one can make to disarm if the US does not take the lead. Najam quoted his grandmother saying, “If you point your finger at someone, three fingers will point back at you.”
Urs Cipolat said that International Law is the most powerful antidote to the acceptance of nuclear weapons. The only tool human society uses to prevent the abuse of power is law. The rule of law is not intended to be the language of elite but rather to restrict the power of the elite. Absent the rule of law, force rules.
Jackie Cabasso said that the US now relies on extended deterrence. The US is now spending $6.5 billion a year on nuclear weapons. “It’s too expensive” or “it won’t work” are fatally flawed arguments.
Alice Slater asked, “What is the difference between the commercial nuclear industry that seeks to sell nuclear materials ‘at reasonable cost’ and the international Mafia that is now trading and profiting from the same materials? It is the delusory vision held by the “legal” nuclear industrialists that proliferation can be controlled. We will never be able to guard all the loose nuclear materials and black market smuggling while we constantly generate ever more lethal nuclear waste. The time for nuclear arms control fixes while continuing business as usual is over. The game is up.
There is only one way to move forward. The nations of the world must call not only for complete nuclear disarmament, but for an end to “peaceful” nuclear power. At this critical moment, with a world mired in poverty and the constant threat of war and terrorism, our survival depends on implementing a plan for sustainable energy abundant in nature-local renewable resources-the sun, the wind, the tides. Urgent action is needed to fund and harness these natural treasures by establishing an International Sustainable Energy Fund.
Developing a Blueprint for US Nuclear Policy
David Krieger answered the question, “What would be the basic contours of a new course for US nuclear policy?” There are many forms and timeframes that a new US nuclear policy could take. Most important, however, must be a commitment to achieve the multilateral phased elimination of nuclear weapons within a reasonable timeframe and the further commitment to provide leadership toward that goal. The US will have to demonstrate by its actions, not only its words, that it is committed to this goal.
The US must use its convening power to bring all nuclear weapons states together to the negotiating table to negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Convention. This would be consistent with the unanimous conclusion of the International Court of Justice in its 1996 Advisory Opinion on the Illegality of Nuclear Weapons: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”
In terms of a timeframe, one proposal, put forward by the Mayors for Peace Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons, calls for starting negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons in 2005, the completion of negotiations by 2010, and the elimination of all nuclear weapons by the year 2020. The exact date of completing the process of nuclear disarmament may be less important than the demonstration of political will to achieve the goal combined with substantial steps toward the goal. It is clear that the world will become far safer from nuclear catastrophe when there are a few tens of nuclear weapons rather than tens of thousands.
The US must forego provocative policies in nuclear weapons research and development leading to new and more usable nuclear weapons (“bunker busters” and “mini-nukes”). It must also stop working toward reducing the time needed to resume nuclear testing; and cease planning to create a facility to produce plutonium pits for large numbers of new or refurbished nuclear warheads.
The US will need to reevaluate building defensive missile systems and weaponizing outer space, both projects that stimulate offensive nuclear responses.
The US will have to make its nuclear reduction commitments irreversible by dismantling the weapons taken off active deployment.
Finally, the US must give assurances to other countries that it is not relying upon its nuclear weapons for use in warfare. Such assurances could take the form of legally binding negative security assurances (the US will not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear weapons state) and an agreement to No First Use against other nuclear weapons states, as well as taking its arsenal off hair-trigger alert.
Krieger also answered the question, “What would be needed to achieve this change in course in US nuclear policy?” It is unlikely that US leaders will come to the conclusion of their own accord that it is necessary to chart a new course in US nuclear policy. They need serious prompting, both from American citizens and from the rest of the world. Other countries have been trying to influence the US government on this issue throughout the post-Cold War period to little avail. While other countries should certainly continue in this pursuit, the burden of responsibility for changing the course of US nuclear policy remains primarily with US citizens. It is an awesome responsibility, one on which the future of the world depends.
A massive education and advocacy program is needed in the United States to mobilize widespread support for a new course in US nuclear policy. It will require resources, professionalism and persistence. The issue must be framed in a way that US citizens can grasp its importance and raise it to a high level in their hierarchy of policy priorities. The messages must be simple, clear and compelling. It is a challenge that demands our best thinking and organized action. It will require the wedding of old fashioned policy promotion with new technologies such as the internet. It will also require greater cooperation among advocacy groups and creativity in expanding the base of involvement by individuals and civil society groups that care not only about peace and disarmament, but also about the environment, human rights, health care and many other issue areas.
Michael Flynn stated that the possible use of nuclear weapons will remain as long as states maintain dominance. 9/11 was a low tech affair. Since then, we have just been waiting for the next attack, and we are expecting that it will be a more sophisticated affair. Most claims by the current administration are stated in such a matter-of-fact way that journalists do not source facts and they take what is said at face value.
War has always shown men what they are capable of under stress, and war always brings out the best in technology. Many theorists write about the salvational power of nuclear weapons. People have been led to believe that our security depends on them, and many who believe in them know little about them.
Randy Forsberg said we need a campaign to reverse US nuclear policy. She said we should not limit the campaign to just the nuclear issue. We need to recapture the American dream. We need to coalesce the efforts of all nuclear disarmament and arms control organizations. We also need to allow those organizations buy-in to a US campaign for a new direction in US nuclear policy.
George Lakoff spoke about issue framing. The right wing has created a self-sustaining system. They train all legislators, candidates for office, judges, lawyers and kids down to the age of 15. There is a reason they have invested this way. If you look at their moral system – they defend and extend their moral system itself. They look and plan ahead. The highest value on the right is to defend the moral structure and build infrastructure for it. The highest value on the left is to help individuals. The right has state-of-the-art facilities. 80% of talking heads are from right-wing think tanks. Their message of discipline is enforced across the entire spectrum.
The right wing understands the nature of thought and the relationship between thought and language. If someone tells you not to think of an elephant, that is the only thing you will be able to think about. A word is defined relative to a frame. If you negate it, you still have the same frame.
Rule # 1: don’t negate their frame. Find your own.
Rule # 2: In most cases, it takes a long time to get a frame into most peoples’ brains. If a fact contradicts a frame, the frame remains. Frames do not occur alone. They are in systems that support each other. You can’t just negate one frame because other frames support it.
Deep-framing is about largely unconscious world views. The metaphorical thought for morality is different between liberals and conservatives. We all have a metaphor for the nation’s founding.
There are two different understandings of the nation and two different understandings of the family. We can therefore look at the metaphor of the nation as a family. There are two models. For the right, James Dobson is in the forefront for setting family values. He is heard on 3,000 radio stations across the country every day. He is also the author of Dare to Discipline . The right believes that the world is a dangerous place and that there will always be competition. They also believe kids are born bad and they will do what they want. Thus, kids need a strict father – who will give painful punishment. In order for kids to be made moral, they must be physically disciplined. This physical discipline will lead to mental discipline and this leads to a belief in the link between morality and prosperity.
The right believes that there are winners and losers and the losers deserve to lose. Thus, it is moral to pursue self-interests. For the right, retribution is the main model. If you do something bad, there must be a consequence. Power and morality should go together. For the right, there is also a moral hierarchy: God over man, man over nature, parents over children, straights over gays, whites over non-whites. And, the strict father is the moral authority. For the right, giving up nuclear weapons would be giving up a means of discipline.
The other model is the progressive model. They believe in having two nurturing parents and they raise their children to be nurturers. Progressives empathize with their children and if you empathize with your child, you will want them to be protected. PROTECTION, then, is a value for progressives. Progressives want their children to be treated FAIRLY, they want their child to be FULFILLED, to have OPPORTUNITY . Progressives are also interested in maintaining COMMUNITY, COOPERATION, TRUST, HONESTY and OPEN, TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION.
Every person has both these models in their lives and we live and vote by these models. At least 38 to 40 percent percent of people have chosen one of these models. A swing voter is someone in the middle; i.e. they have both models in different parts of their life.
Centrism is doubly mistaken. Both family models are in your brain. When one side uses your language, they are activating their models. We must therefore approach the issue from the level of shared morality and use our own language and rename theirs.
Rob Stuart spoke about communications strategies and also network-centric versus ego-centric models. BURST! Media surveyed 12,000 Web users. Of those surveyed, 53.4% were definite voters and 70% of the definite voters between the ages of 18 – 24 plan to use the Internet for information on the 2004 election. The survey also found that 61% of senior voters plan to use the Internet as a source for political information. This is a big increase over Internet usage during the mid-term 2002 elections. The number of women who will use the Internet for political information for the upcoming 2004 election will also dramatically increase from the mid-term 2002 elections, making the numbers of likely women almost equal to the numbers of likely men to use the Internet for political information.
Stuart also offered some statistics related to current Internet users. According to AOL, 43% of broadband subscribers have multiple Internet sessions per day, in contrast to only 19% of narrow band users. 73% of broadband users call the Internet a better source of information than newspapers or television. The Internet is their preferred source for getting information. Broadband users do much more blogging and content offering. 60% have created online content or shared files. Broadband users spend 5 times as much time online vs. dial-up users. On AOL, broadband users have 80% more community sessions and share 40% more files.
While the Internet is changing everything, natural forces are all around us. People share a deep connection to the Earth, their community and to each other. The goal then is to use the Internet’s infrastructure to tap into these connections and foster growing networks of effective supporters for coordinated campaigns and actions.
The ego-centric model focuses on building organizational morale and internal team cohesion. Key staff are evaluated on internal organizational goals and value is placed on raising organizational profile, development and centralizing organizational resources. In the ego-centric model, leadership focuses on goals and managing staff to achieve specific goals. Ego-centric organizations are generally resistant to information sharing. In the ego-centric model, there is a hierarchal decision making structure, members contribute money but not ideas and the organization defines programs as unique or original.
The network-centric model is focused on expanding the number of people and organizations reached. It is also focused on expanding capacity of the network to perform. In the network-centric model, more attention is paid to information sharing. A network-centric organization values social contact between staffs of partner organizations and facilitates the rise of multiple leaders by enabling coordinated action. A network-centric model has a distributed power structure, and leverages and shares resources with partners. The leadership of a network-centric organization provides vision and energy to the network.
For a campaign or organization to be successful, it must provide tools that connect and inform people as well as tools that model best practices and establish a “code.” A successful campaign or organization also needs strategies that facilitate individual and community “bottom up” action as well as strategies that will facilitate messages that aggregate power and stimulate new learning.
Shaping the Message: Influencing the Public and Policy Makers
Tom Plate said there is no such thing as free press. He noted that editors are interested in stories, not ideas. In general, the media is not interested in foreign issues because it is hard to get the US public to focus on it. It is more important to be seen on web pages than in hard copy because that is where most people are getting their information.
Brent Blackwelder stated that the most important thing that the disarmament community can do is to be part of a larger framework. The progressive community has to get its hands dirty and mobilize the electorate. We also need to participate in broader issues as part of our long-term goals.
Michele Boyd stated that members of Congress are always looking for political cover. Nothing will happen in Congress unless an outside force pushes it. If we want something done in Congress, there needs to be prior public discourse. We need to get Rotary clubs and businesses interested in our campaigns. Editorials in the press are not democratic, but they are powerful in moving congress and can influence votes.
Carah Ong said that the Bush Administration has afforded us an opportunity to reinvigorate a movement for human and environmental security. A movement to chart a new course for US nuclear policy must re-frame the message in the current geopolitical context. A new movement must also include age, race and gender diversity, and it must re-empower citizens everywhere. A new movement must address the sanitization of violence that prevails in our society and delegitimize excuses for violent behavior.
Carah also said that we should spend time finding out what resonates with young people today. We need to link with the music culture and use it as a means to disseminate our message. We also need to link university involvement in nuclear weapons issues to broader issues of militarization. We must also actively register young people to vote.
Young people need mentors to be more involved in the movement. There is also a need for sustainable jobs and living wages within the nuclear disarmament movement. The movement must also do a better job of empowering and providing organizing tools and networking opportunities for youth and encourage networking with other issue areas. The campaign needs to develop curricula and distribute it to university professors, particularly in Global Security, International Studies and International Relations fields.
The media is not the enemy, it is a tool. We have to remember that members of the media are not experts in the nuclear disarmament field. Today, we are not only in the “Age of image over content,” as Tom Plate stated, but we are also in the age of short attention span. As such, we must have an attractive and sexy message. We also need to focus on Internet media, including OneWorld, Alternet, and Common Dreams, because they service millions of Internet users and rapidly distribute information. We need to have a constant coordinated response to world events and link those issues/events to the nuclear issue. We need a spokesperson who is credible and well-known to speak on behalf of the campaign.
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and the participants of the 2004 Symposium will continue to work together to develop a campaign to Chart a New Course for US Nuclear Policy this year. The participants have set up an email listserve to continue discussion and planning. At the end of the Symposium, a working group was established to develop a set of Talk ing Points on Charting a New Course for US Nuclear Policy based on progressive core values. The campaign will support existing nuclear disarmament campaigns, but also bring the “New Course” nuclear issues into larger fora connected with peace and disarmament, social justice, nuclear power, the environment, and human rights issues. Members of the campaign will also pitch stories about US nuclear policy and nuclear issues to editorial boards and other members of the media. The campaign seeks to mentor and involve more youth in the effort.