“Senate ratification of New START was a small but valuable Christmas present for the world. Its principal value is in helping to stabilise the US-Russia nuclear relationship. However, it does nothing to reduce the threat of nuclear war. For the next ten years, over 1,500 strategic nuclear warheads on each side will remain ready for launch within half an hour, vulnerable to computer malfunction or false warning of attack. As evidence of cyberwarfare grows, this is an unacceptable perpetuation of the Cold War nuclear stand-off, sustained by complacent acceptance of the fallacies of nuclear deterrence. My focus this year, therefore, is to continue to raise awareness of the risks and consequences of nuclear deterrence failure; and to promote safer, more cost-effective strategies to deter aggression and achieve real security for all.”
— Commander Robert Green, Royal Navy (ret’d), author of Security Without Nuclear Deterrence
“Personally I want to focus more on engaging the “persuadable middle.” I thought that the polls that were taken concerning the New START treaty were revealing — the CNN poll said that 73% of Americans favored it. Opinion Research Corp. put the number at 75%. Those are landslide numbers. And if you look at the many, many editorials and op-eds that supported New START in major national publications, they were largely focused on the proposition that the treaty made us safer. The task requires thoughtfulness, dedication, and energy — but I do not think it is daunting. Primarily, I think it requires finding ways to reach people who are not already convinced.
“The problem, of course, is that the “red meat” arguments that energize the progressives (decrying American imperialism, bemoaning the evil military/industrial complex, reasserting the incredible immorality of nuclear weapons …) turn off the persuadable middle, and more temperate arguments that might appeal to the middle are scorned by the militant progressives.
“But the New START treaty did — at the very end — catch the public’s attention, and revealed that people really do want to get rid of the nuclear threat. I think that the goal for 2011 should be to build on that basic public support and to drive home the message that we as a nation are safer and more secure if these weapons can be controlled and ultimately eliminated world wide.”
— Richard Duda, founding member of the NAPF Silicon Valley Chapter
“1. The movement needs to agree on a common theme, and a compelling narrative. The right certainly works that angle, with “death tax”, “death panels”, “nuclear umbrella”, “nuclear deterrent” (see my blog, and your video The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence also hits that point), and more. Maybe something like:
Bloated nuclear arsenals are the greatest cause of our national insecurity.
Nuclear weapons are the greatest cause of our national insecurity.
A newborn child has at least a 10% risk of being killed by nuclear weapons.
A US In the World Report has some thoughts along these lines, especially about the language of risk.
“2. Getting society to reexamine the fallacious assumptions that have led us to the current crazy situation. So long as American policy is based on false premises, arms control, much less nuclear disarmament, will proceed at best in fits and starts. A critical first step is to root out the myths that cause us to take actions that are against our own best interests. I list 11 possible candidates in one of my course handouts, and there are many others. Getting consensus within the movement on which are most important, and then focusing our communal effort on those would be a big plus.
“3. Forming what I am calling pockets of nuclear awareness. Until people are aware, little of real import will happen. (The New START was only important in that rejection would have been a big setback. It is, at best, a baby step forward.) And people are social animals who require others around them to be thinking the same way or they tend to lose interest. This is explained on my web page.”
— Martin Hellman, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University and founding member of the NAPF Silicon Valley Chapter.
“Treaties for the people, for the planet, are hard to come by because the politicians, owned and controlled by the non-people, the corporate glob, must ratify the same. Thus the steps are too painfully slow to save us and the world we live in. It is like nailing the occupant of a burning house to the wall, and then, some passer-by comes along and pulls out one of the hundreds of nails. And they would call that a treaty. The house is still burning.”
— Gerry Spence, trial lawyer and author
“I think that now that the two major possessors of nuclear weapons have taken this step in the right direction, the focus on stopping the acquisition of these weapons by other nations is critical. As you know, not just Iran, but Jordan, the Saudis, etc. want to or are already moving forward in the nuclear area, which is very worrisome for a myriad of reasons.”
— Riane Eisler, author, social scientist and lawyer
“Although most people, if asked directly, will say that they favor the abolition of nuclear weapons, very few have any real idea of the threat which existing nuclear arsenals pose to humans and other complex forms of life. In fact, here in the U.S., most people do not even know that immense nuclear arsenals still exist, that their own nation (and Russia) have 95% of the 22,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and that they keep 2,000 strategic nuclear weapons ready to launch with only a few minutes warning. They have no idea that just one of these weapons can instantly ignite tens or hundreds of square miles of the Earth’s surface into a gigantic nuclear firestorm, and that a hundred such firestorms could produce enough smoke to cause deadly climate change, leading to global nuclear famine.
“An uniformed public cannot make informed decisions. We are still conducting our political discussions about nuclear weapons in Cold War terms, focusing upon how we are “behind” if we don’t “modernize” our nuclear arsenal, that we are “locked into a position of permanent inferiority” by agreements with the Russians to limit our nuclear weapons. There is absolutely no discussion of the consequences of the use of existing arsenals, particularly those maintained by the US and Russia, the dialogue is dangerously out of touch with the peer-reviewed scientific predictions that *any* nuclear conflict which detonates as little as 1% of existing nuclear arsenals in cities will likely kill at least 1 billion people through nuclear famine. We must bring current scientific understandings of what nuclear war would do to the biosphere, agriculture, ecosystems and global climate into the active debate about the need for nuclear weaponry.
“Furthermore, In a time when we cannot find enough money to maintain our schools, highways, hospitals and basic infrastructure, do we need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild our nuclear weapons manufacturing complex and “upgrade” nuclear weapons systems? No, just the opposite, we need stop or prevent funding for such projects, which guarantee that there will be no “world without nuclear weapons.” I am going to start ending my presentations with a chart which shows what we could do with the endless billions we spend on nuclear weaponry, something like what Eisenhower did with his “Cross of Iron” speech. We have to give concrete examples of what could be immediately gained through the elimination of insane spending for nuclear doomsday machines. We can combat the idea that nuclear spending creates jobs by giving examples of what could be done to construct, for example, needed alternative energy systems (wind, solar, tidal, etc.) that can begin rebuilding our own industrial infrastructure, which has been dismantled and shipped overseas.
“If we are going to get into a race with other nations, let it be a race towards a better human future. Building nuclear weapons does just the opposite, it paves the way for mass extinction of complex forms of life, including human life.”
— Steven Starr, senior scientist with Physicians for Social Responsibility