Advocating for New START
Eline van Schaik
November 11, 2010
Fair Game Summit: Women & Nuclear Security
On Oct. 17th & 18th, the White
House Project, an organization that aims to advance women’s leadership in all
communities and sectors up to the U.S
presidency, organized a 2-day summit on Women & Nuclear Security. I attended on behalf of our security program
at PSR. Valerie Plame-Wilson, the ex-CIA
agent played by Naomi Watts in the new movie Fair Game, opened the conference
with an inspiring keynote speech, making many points relevant to PSR’s work.
With ratifying New START, the Senate makes an important step
towards abolition, according to Plame.
Some abolition advocates worry that New START is too modest,
and there is no doubt that the ideal of a nuclear weapons free world is still
far away. But New START is not just about reducing the stockpiles of the US and
Russia. Ratifying the treaty will help build an international consensus about non-proliferation. ‘Pariah states’ will
develop, states that will not be able to participate in the community of
nations due to their commitment to nuclear weapons. This treaty is an
opportunity for the United States and Russia to lead by good example, Plame
Many readers of this blog will agree with this message. But how can we, as a community and as advocates
for non-proliferation and abolition convey this message to the broader public? According to many speakers at the Women &
Nuclear Security Summit, the key is leadership and inspiration. For advocates,
organizing is important, but in this case mobilizing is even more so. A simple
phone call to a Senator or a letter to the Editor of your local or state
newspaper can make a difference.
That is why now is the time to get your colleagues, friends
and family, whether in the medical profession or not, out to support this
Treaty and call their Senators to make their position known. In one of the very
interesting panel discussions at the Summit, the fact came up that some
Senators are known to have swayed on a vote after less than 35 phone calls.
The truth is, however, that this is far from the only
pressing issue in our society today. And how to engage the people around us
when paying the water bill at the end of the month and getting food on the table
have become of increasing importance in our daily lives? New START and
nonproliferation in general are not always easy to direct focus to when we need
to deal with these other issues every day.
We shouldn’t give up. There is a precedent. The prohibition
of the use of chemical and biological weapons once faced stiff resistance from
people saying that “now is not the time” and we need it for our national
security. Now, conventions have led to world-wide bans of both weapons. Also,
the argument that nothing has happened since Hiroshima is no longer valid, if
it ever was. The world has profoundly changed. Nuclear material getting in the
hands of terrorists is a serious threat. There is no longer a need for a
nuclear stockpile for the sole purpose of deterrence.
And as Valerie Plame Wilson said at the end of her keynote
speech, the best argument is still the devastating destructional power of
nuclear weapons: “If we don’t get this one right, nothing else matters anymore.
It’s that simple.”