For most of my professional life going back to the late 1980’s, I have been a nuclear weapons organizer/campaigner. It’s my life’s work. Over all these years, no group of campaigners has impressed me more than the good folks with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Their skill, passion, energy, professionalism and unrelenting doggedness is truly inspiring in our mutual pursuit of a safer world free of nuclear weapons.
I am not the only one who feels this way and today I am so pleased to join a global chorus of folks honoring and congratulating ICAN for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their “work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”
It is hard to overstate how significant an achievement it was to get 122 nations to join together and adopt this treaty –one vigorously opposed by all of the nuclear weapons states and those under their nuclear protection.
To this day, the many supporters of the US nuclear status quo—both within and outside of the government—are full of excuses for not acting and not aggressively pursuing disarmament. Even worse, the United States seems to be going in the wrong direction with all of the talk of, and plans for, new more usable nuclear weapons and the rebuilding of the entire US nuclear arsenal at a cost that is sure to exceed $1 trillion of our tax dollars. The international discussion that ICAN has been leading about nuclear weapons and humanitarian consequences is even more important in that context.
Similarly, it’s well past time for a debate on the morality of threatening millions of innocent civilians in the name of national security. And who thinks it’s OK that one person has the power and authority to effectively end humanity?
What ICAN and many of us are saying is: let’s get serious folks (we are looking at you. nuclear weapons states) about nuclear disarmament before our luck runs out.
But for now, let’s raise our glasses and congratulate and honor everyone at ICAN and elsewhere who wake up every day and work so hard—against such incredible odds—to prevent nuclear war and make the world a safer, better place. I thank you. My children thank you.