Thirty-one courageous members of Congress, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), are challenging the president’s unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. These representatives deserve our appreciation for taking action to prevent Mr. Bush from trampling on the Constitution in his continuing effort to undermine international law and expand US military domination.
This is a critical challenge to the abuse of presidential authority. A lot is riding on it. If the president can unilaterally voids our laws, which ones will be the next to go? Perhaps the first and fourth amendments? If your congressional representative is not one of the 31 parties to this lawsuit, he or she should be asked why not and urged to join the lawsuit and support it in the Congress.
Not a single US Senator has had the courage to join this lawsuit. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI) initially indicated his intention to join the lawsuit, but then backed off when his request to receive pro bono legal services was not approved by the Senate Ethics Committee. All US Senators should also be urged to join in this challenge.
The ABM Treaty required a two-thirds vote of the Senate in 1972 for ratification to enter into force and to become US law. Now the 100 members of the Senate appear content to sit on the sidelines as the president unilaterally nullifies the law they made.
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), a plaintiff in the lawsuit, recently wrote: “The ABM Treaty is the cornerstone of international arms control. Now that more countries have nuclear weapons, international treaties are even more important. International cooperation is the way to peace and international security; not increased military build-up. Over the past 30 years, the ABM Treaty has been a vital link to working with the international community and it is more important than ever that we not turn our back on it.”
Meanwhile, at Fort Greely, Alaska, the Bush administration has broken ground on six underground missile interceptor silos, is spending more than $7 billion on missile defense this year, and continues to move ahead with its plans to weaponize outer space in order to protect US interests and investments throughout the world.
Meanwhile, the Russians have withdrawn their ratification of the START II Treaty in response to the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty. This opens the door for the Russians to use multiple independently targeted warheads (MIRVs) on their missiles.
Meanwhile, the leaders of India and Pakistan, following the example of US leaders, act as though nuclear deterrence will prevent a nuclear war between them as they confront each other over Kashmir.
Thank you, Representatives Kucinich and Woolsey and your colleagues in this lawsuit for demonstrating unusual courage at a difficult time.
*David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.