Can you imagine a world without human eyes to view its wonder? Nuclear weapons make such a world possible. Our inaction in the face of nuclear dangers may make such a world probable. Despite the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons continue to place human beings on the endangered species list. It is up to us to take ourselves off this list. Before we can do so, however, we must first recognize that we are on it.
Perhaps this recognition is a motivating factor in US plans to develop and deploy a National Missile Defense system. These plans represent a pursuit of invulnerability to nuclear attack for US citizens. The problem is that there can be no invulnerability for one piece of territory or one country ‘s citizens in the Nuclear Age. There are no perfect defenses and, n the case of nuclear weaponry, even small margins of error can spell disaster.
The problem is complicated by the fact that if one country proceeds with a defensive system, other countries will feel threatened. The reason for this is that one country ‘s invulnerability or even imagined invulnerability will give it potential offensive advantages over other countries. If, for example, the US has a missile defense system it believes will make it invulnerable to attack, then China will worry about being bullied by the US and further develop its offensive missile capabilities. Thus, improved defensive capabilities can lead to offensive arms races. Such is the contorted logic of security in the Nuclear Age.
Invulnerability is not an option, but US decision makers are proceeding as though it is. This is a dangerous policy that could rekindle nuclear arms races throughout the world. A far better approach would be to provide leadership toward a nuclear weapons free world. Such an approach would increase global stability and reduce the risks of catastrophe resulting from human fallibility. This approach would be in accord with international law and the precepts of morality basic to all religions. It would also bring nuclear weapons and materials under tighter controls and reduce the risks of the weapons or materials falling into the hands of terrorists or criminals.
For these reasons, individuals from through- out the world are adding their names and voices to the Foundation ‘s Appeal to End the Nuclear Weapons Threat to Humanity. Walter Cronkite, one of the most respected men in America and a signer of the Appeal, wrote: “Facing a holocaust that could take thousands or perhaps billions of lives and render much of the earth uninhabitable, how is it possible for humankind to continue to believe that the way to settle its disputes is by killing each other? Nuclear weapons represent the utmost fantasy in the perpetuation of this savage philosophy.”
If you ‘d like to add your name to this Appeal, you can sign up online. If you are not already a member of the Foundation, we invite you to join us in waging peace by educating yourself, educating others and taking action. We try to make this easy for you by providing up-to-date information and suggestions for action.
There is strength in numbers. When people come together for peace they are a powerful force. Like a mighty ocean, people power can overcome even the dangers of the Nuclear Age. We may not be invulnerable, but we are not without the power to shape our future. I invite you to play a greater role in spreading the Foundation ‘s message of peace, and helping us to grow to fulfill our mission of creating a peaceful, nuclear weapons-free future for humanity and all life.
*David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.