I want to thank each of you who supported our idea on Change.org for “US Leadership to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Globally.” Our idea was one of nearly 8,000 ideas submitted to Change.org. With your help, we finished in the top 35 ideas to change America (number 23, I believe). We also had 76 institutional endorsers of our idea from throughout the world, and hundreds of individual comments on the need for abolition. In addition, many tens of thousands of people were alerted to the idea and received some education on the need for action on nuclear disarmament, even if they did not choose to vote.
My thanks to you is even greater knowing that Change.org did not make it easy to vote. It required a fairly lengthy process by internet standards to get registered at Change.org and cast your vote. So, to those who participated, thank you for sticking with it, and spreading the message to friends, family and colleagues. This is the way that change occurs, often from person to person.
Just before voting concluded on Change.org, we discovered that the official site of the Obama transition team, Change.gov, was also soliciting ideas for a Citizen’s Briefing Book. We also added our idea of “US Leadership to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Globally” to that site, and we trust that it will be conveyed to President Obama along with the other ideas that were submitted.
Here is what we said in describing our idea: “It is far too dangerous to keep global nuclear disarmament on the back burner. Nuclear weapons pose the most immediate, overwhelming and devastating threat imaginable to our country and to civilization. The only way to assure that these weapons are never used again is to abolish them forever. Only the United States has the leadership capacity to bring the countries of the world together to achieve this goal. It is time for the US to assert that leadership, and President-elect Obama has shown by his statements that he is prepared to lead on this issue. We call upon him to make a strong public commitment to the abolition of nuclear weapons globally; to initiate bilateral negotiations with the Russians to take nuclear weapons off high alert status and to dramatically and verifiably reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of our two nations; and to convene a meeting of the nuclear weapons states to initiate negotiations on a global treaty for the phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of all nuclear weapons by the year 2020. This would make the United States more secure, restore its credibility throughout the world, and be a gift to all humanity and all future generations.”
Of course, we understand that the US is not the only country that can lead on this critical issue. But we also believe that without US leadership, the Russians won’t take serious steps, and without the Russians, the UK, France and China will not take the necessary steps, and so on. We are not asking for the US to disarm its nuclear arsenal unilaterally, but to use its status in the world to lead other nations to a common goal, a goal that will benefit all nations and all peoples, now and in the future.
We are asking for serious and far-reaching change in US nuclear policy, and we are encouraged by President Obama’s own statements on the issue. Most recently, in his Inaugural Address, he stated, “With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.” This one sentence tells us that President Obama recognizes the seriousness of the nuclear threat, places it on a level with global warming, and understands that it is an issue that will require global cooperation and tireless commitment.
With so many pressing issues before the new president, it is essential that he be given the support of the American people and people throughout the world in fulfilling his goals. Since he seeks to lessen the nuclear threat, we must give him encouragement and support to achieve this end. Changing the world does not end with a vote on Change.org or an entry in the Citizen’s Briefing Book on Change.gov. It requires persistence, which means a long-term commitment to the goal. At the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, we will continue to provide you with information and ideas for action, and we ask you to join us in assuring that these ideas get through to President Obama and his team.