President Obama has nominated Sen. Chuck Hagel to head the Pentagon; hearings are scheduled for Thursday. Some Senators have attacked Hagel for supporting the group Global Zero. The group has released a statement: “Setting the Record Straight on Chuck Hagel’s Global Zero Position on Nuclear Weapons.”
ALICE SLATER, [email]
Slater is the New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and is on the coordinating committee of Abolition 2000, a nuclear disarmament network. She said today: “By signing the Global Zero declaration calling for a verified approach to the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2030, Chuck Hagel opened up a space to begin the heretofore taboo conversation about abolishing nuclear weapons. He is following in the footsteps of four rusty cold warriors, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, William Perry and George Shultz who raised the issue in a stunning 2009 Wall Street Journal op-ed and have been back-tracking ever since in a series of subsequent articles.
“Nevertheless, the unspoken agreement not to discuss banning the bomb has been breached and the abolition word has been mentioned. In his Prague speech, Obama followed up on Kissinger and company, calling for a nuclear free world which ‘may not happen in my lifetime.’ Hillary Clinton misquoted him by stating he had said it may not happen ‘in our lifetime or successive lifetimes.’ Not to be outdone, Kerry, in his confirmation hearing, has reduced the call for nuclear abolition as a goal ‘worth aspiring to’ which might take ‘many centuries to achieve.’
“Despite these disclaimers, the military-industrial-academic-congressional complex is fighting back to preserve their crumbling nuclear ‘deterrent’ as more countries join the nuclear club or aspire to keep a bomb in the basement through the use of so-called ‘peaceful’ nuclear power. The best thing about the Hagel controversy, is that nuclear abolition is finally being discussed. Numerous Commissions and studies have found that the longer we hang on to our nuclear bombs, in violation of our treaty obligations in the Non-Proliferation Treaty to get rid of them, the more countries will acquire them, creating ever greater national insecurity. Next month Norway will convene a meeting of nations to discuss the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war, which will add more heft to this conversation.
“The world has banned mustard gas, chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster bombs. There is no good reason to cling to our nuclear ‘deterrent’ which is incapable of protecting us against the real threats we face in the world from non-state actors and ‘suicide bombers’ who cannot be deterred. We know how to verify and monitor nuclear disarmament. We would be much less vulnerable if we proceeded to do so with the cooperation of other nuclear weapons states. Since there are 20,000 nuclear weapons on the planet and 19,000 of them are in the U.S. and Russia, it’s up to our two nations to begin. And Russia won’t discuss this until the U.S. is ready to give up its plans to plant missiles on Russia’s borders and to dominate the earth from space. I don’t think Hagel’s Global Zero position addresses this provocative U.S. policy which is essential if we are to have the cooperation we need from Russia and China to finally ban the bomb.”