US Election and Global Nuclear Disarmament
Christ, IPPNW Executive Director
Released November 6, 2008
After eight dark years, the American people voted for hope
and change, backed by global demand for progressive new US leadership.
The election of President Barack Obama brings newfound hope that the United States
will become a champion for peace. During the campaign, President-Elect Obama pledged
to end the Iraq war, to restore the rule of law, to close Guantánamo Bay,
to reaffirm the Geneva Conventions, to pursue diplomacy, and to respect and participate
in the United Nations. Of course, we may not find ourselves in agreement with
everything he proposes. But of special importance to IPPNW is the prospect that
the US under President Obama may finally show real leadership for a global effort
to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely.
On the campaign trail, candidate
Obama said, A world without nuclear weapons is profoundly in Americas
interest and the worlds interest. It is our responsibility to make the commitment,
and to do the hard work to make this vision a reality.
We have before
us an historic opportunity to set in motion the political forces for a nuclear
free world. Indeed, as Ira Helfand has been stressing, Obamas election presents
us with what may be our last best chance to end the nuclear era.
may be our moment. But as Obama himself said during his speech Tuesday night,
This victory alone is not the change we seek it is only the chance
for us to make that change. And that change cannot happen if we go back to the
way things were. It cannot happen without you.
It is you
the doctors, medical students, health workers, and activists who carry the IPPNW
baton today who hold the promise of this moment. Now comes the hard part.
While we now have a US president who is sympathetic to what we have to say, we
will have to work doubly hard over the next weeks and months to make our voices
We all know that what politicians say on the campaign trail does
not always translate into policy once they come to power. The pressure on the
new administration to keep nuclear weapons will be strong and relentless. Just
look at the most recent government plans to rebuild the countrys nuclear
weapons infrastructure, with the goal of ensuring a steady flow of new nuclear
warheads for the next 50 to100 years. In fact, the Pentagon still insists that
the US will need as many as 4,500 nuclear weapons for the rest of the 21st century!
task is to make sure that President Obama makes good on his pledge of US leadership
to rid the world of nuclear weapons. And thanks to MAPW and a core group of stalwarts
we have a running start ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear
We have heard time and time again that nuclear disarmament cannot
happen without US leadership and commitment. Such leadership may now be on the
horizon, but it requires that we boost our own spirit of activism and cooperation,
equal to the historic opportunity at hand. Let us expand our exchange of ideas,
strategies, and actions.
Inauguration day is on January 20th. Between
now and then, the Obama Administration will need to hear from abolitionists in
the US and around the world that the elimination of nuclear weapons is our highest
priority. IPPNW has concrete plans to promote the Nuclear Weapons Conventionour
practical roadmap to a nuclear-weapons-free worldin the United Nations,
in the Rudd Commission, in dialogues with decision-makers, and during the months
leading up to the 2010 NPT Review. PSR-USA will no doubt be redoubling its own
outreach. We must now put the Obama administration at the top of the list of decision
makers who will hear from us directly, and through your governments, that we expect
a nuclear-weapons-free world to become a reality.
Let us recommit ourselves,
now in this moment of historic opportunity, to our own creed: Yes, ICAN!
IPPNW Executive Director