A New START Toward Nuclear Disarmament

By Tyler Wigg-Stevenson 03-30-2010

When word came down last Friday that the U.S. and Russia would sign a new strategic arms reduction treaty (START), Ana Marie Cox posted this message to her 1.5 million twitter followers:

RT @daveweigel: Russia and the US signing a nuke treaty? HAS THE HOT TUB TIME MACHINE ALREADY SENT US INTO THE 1980S???!!?

I get it. Nuclear weapons seem like a threat from a bygone era of pastels, shoulder pads, and feathered bangs. But the reality is that 23,000 nuclear weapons still exist worldwide, 95% of them in U.S. and Russian hands. Worse, a growing legion of former Cold Warriors and international security experts is saying that unless we take urgent steps to reduce the nuclear threat and work toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide, we won't be able to check the spread of nuclear materials and prevent an undeterrable nuclear terrorist group.

Fortunately, it looks like we're beginning to turn away from that "nuclear tipping point." The new START is a welcome step in the right direction, as it will verifiably bring U.S. and Russian deployed weapons down to 1,550 a side, and cut the delivery vehicles (missiles, bombers, and submarines) down to a total of 800 per side.

These numbers are good, but it's worth doing a reality check, too. Atomic wonks are wont to forget that nuclear war planning scenarios exist in the realm of fantasyland. The use of even one nuclear weapon would mean the end of the world as we know it (think atomic 9/11), and a new study shows that if India and Pakistan exchanged 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs, the resulting smoke would cause a global famine affecting one billion people (in addition to the 20 million immediate fatalities).

In terms of a cost-benefit analysis, this is crazy: what problem do we think that nuclear weapons would solve that would be worth this unimaginable death and suffering? You don't need a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to be horrified by this prospect, but at the Two Futures Project we believe that our orthodox Christian faith particularly compels us to prevent nuclear disaster.

We can begin by ensuring that the U.S. Senate ratifies START quickly and unanimously. There are already rumors of some senators wanting to turn the treaty into a political football.

Do your elected representatives know that you won't tolerate partisan nonsense when it comes to a treaty that's good for national security and a sound moral choice? To paraphrase Romans 10:14, how can they know unless you tell them? Take two minutes to write to them: we've made it easy at the Two Futures Project Web site.

And please do take a moment, too, to follow the Two Futures Project on Twitter and Facebook. This might seem minor, but it shows your support for an exploding (pardon the metaphor) movement of Christians dedicated to responsible U.S. leadership toward nuclear security, and enables us to speak on your behalf with a common voice of mass conviction.

Tyler Wigg-Stevenson is the founding director of the Two Futures Project and a contributing editor for Sojourners magazine.

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