|April 8, 2010: Obama and Medvedev sign New START|
Obama had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. The award was about hoped-for results ("Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future . . . "), and some may have thought New START delivered on that promise.
By 2011, however, many of us had come to feel disgust at the number of the ways the Obama administration was perpetuating -- and expanding -- the warmaking of the previous administration. In a ceremony on December 10, 2011, in Chicago, in front of Obama 2012 Campaign Headquarters, we stripped him of his Nobel Prize. (See "Obama Nobel Peace Prize - REVOKED!")
|Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize - stamped "REVOKED"|
(Photo courtesy FJJ)
At an event several days later, antiwar activist Tom Hayden was visiting Chicago. We showed him the oversize facsimile of the Peace Prize certificate with the word REVOKED stenciled in big black letters. "That's good," he said, "but maybe even better would be to mark it SUSPENDED instead. That way he'd have an incentive to clean up his act, so it could be reinstated!"
Politics in command
Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hard Choices
My son had an interesting suggestion: Instead of putting your hopes in Hillary, who, during the election, will be in the weakest imaginable position to take a bold stance, expect a breakthrough from Obama. His logic? Obama's at the end of his term, he's not beholden to anyone, and he will want to do something big for his legacy.
It's taken me a while -- several months -- to get my mind around this suggestion. It's the thick of the election season now, the airwaves are thick with lowest-common-denominator political ads, and I'm now seeing what he was talking about.
What -- if anything -- might it mean for the nuclear disarmament movement?
Here are three possibilities.
Milestone #1: NPT Review, May 2015
The United States, as a party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), has promised to abide by Article VI of the NPT:
Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Every five years, the parties to the NPT meet for a review conference. The next review conference will take place in New York in spring, 2015.
|Trusteeship Council chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York|
Venue for "Prepcom" (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty/NPT
Preparatory Conference) sessions -- May, 2014
A lot of people are saying that the U.S. failure to honor its obligations is going to mean the collapse of the NPT.
Do we really expect Barack Obama to do anything about this? If he is going to, the time to do so is before the parties to the treaty gather in May, 2015.
Obama may be tempted to "run out the clock" on his presidency, and aim for some kind of action before he leaves office in January, 2017.
It's up to us to tell him he's out of time.
Milestone #2: End of legislative session, fall 2015
Many people believe that it is actually Congress that holds the power to bring about nuclear disarmament - just as it is Congress (and not the President) who is the "decider" on matters of war and peace.
|December 22, 2010: New START ratified|
(Source: Citizens for Global Solutions)
It is deeply disturbing the Congress is pouring more money into new forms of nuclear weapons. (See "The Cost of Teaching an Old Nuclear Weapon New Tricks" by Jon Letman, Truthout, August 6, 2014)
Even an outlet as conservative as The New York Times is fed up with the failure of Congress to reverse the buildup in nuclear weapons: "There has been little debate among members of Congress and the public about the decision by Mr. Obama and Congress to pour billions of dollars into new nuclear weapons systems — even as other government programs have been cut significantly." (See "Backsliding on Nuclear Promises" - New York Times editorial, September 22, 2014)
In any event . . . it seems clear to me that if Congress does not take steps to influence the President's behavior with respect to the NPT opportunity, and does not take steps to reduce nuclear weapons on its own in the months immediately thereafter, it will be high time for the people of the United States to recognize that "it's up to us" -- and us alone.
Milestone #3: Primary season 2016
Ultimately, the power to eliminate nuclear weapons resides in the hands of the people of the United States. If our representative democracy worked, we could count on our representatives to act on our behalf to do so.
|"This government does not represent us."|
Protest against NATO in Chicago (May, 2012)
(Source: I AM is at the doors blog)
Some of us have been raising hell already.
One's thing for sure, if primary season 2016 rolls around and we haven't seen steps to eliminate nuclear weapons, then that will be the deadline for us to make the politics-as-usual system grind to a halt.
Politicians don't give a damn about us most of the time -- I get that -- but the one time they are marginally interested in our support is when they gearing up for a victory lap.
Our message needs to be clear: it stops in 2016. No nuclear disarmament? No victory lap.
There are three centers of power that will impact nuclear disarmament: the President, the Congress, and the people. One of them will have to make nuclear disarmament happen.
I know where I'm laying my bets . . . .
China has nuclear weapons, it is true. But their arsenal is minimal. Let the U.S. demonstrate that it is serious about nuclear disarmament -- if not fully living up to its obligations under article 6 of the NPT, at least bringing its stockpile down to just 5 or 10 times the Chinese number -- and China can be counted on follow the U.S. lead.
(See Obama's Tribute Mission to China )
We saw a demonstration that Congress CAN act when Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) called the U.S. on the carpet for dodging the call from the international community to come clean about its drone killings, and then Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) submitted a bill calling for drone transparency. But it's an uphill battle.
(See REAL Progressives Demand that the U.S. Come Clean on Drone Killings)
(See Reviews of "Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom" by Elaine Scarry )
Do we have a way to immerse ourselves in the experience of what the use of those nuclear weapons would really mean -- prospectively -- so that we can truly cause ourselves to confront our own inaction?
(See Stop engaging in risky behavior )