An important article appeared today in the Washington Post. It lays out the "philosophical shift" from the Bush Administration to the Obama Administration on nuclear weapons policy. Last month in Prague, Barack Obama committed to seek a "world without nuclear weapons" in a historic shift from many previous administrations. In that vision, the new president is now joined by prominent voices from some of those past administrations. A group of prominent former officials -- Republicans George Shultz and Henry A. Kissinger, and Democrats William J. Perry and Sam Nunn -- have written two pieces in the Wall Street Journal urging "setting the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons and working energetically on the action required to achieve that goal... ." Shultz is quoted in the Post as saying, "The subject kind of fell off the table ... Now it's back up in front, because people see the dangers."
There are four upcoming policy decisions where the new Obama commitment could be felt: the U.S.-Russian strategic-arms treaty, an international treaty banning nuclear testing, an agreement on halting production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, and strengthening the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty.
At the same time, a new project was launched last week, led by a new generation of Evangelical Christians, called The Two Futures Project. Its mission is "a movement of American Christians for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. We believe that we face two futures and one choice: a world without nuclear weapons or a world ruined by them. The initiator of this most hopeful effort is Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, who said in the press launch last week, "It's not about conservatives becoming in favor of a liberal issues. It's about evangelicals raising an authentically Christian voice about a nonpartisan issue,"
George Shultz was on the call with the young Evangelicals and said ""What human being thinks that he or she should have that kind of power to unleash that kind of destruction?" I was happy to be one of the early endorsers of this project -- when Tyler first called me about his exciting new idea, I almost wept. The experience of having worked so hard for so many years on the issue of the nuclear arms race, and then having a new generation take up the mantle of that mission is a source of great delight for me, and of thankfulness to God. And having nothing to do with the initiation of it, except just to endorse it, is even a greater delight. The Spirit is indeed at work in this new generation of Christians who refuse to separate their faith from justice and peace.
The juxtaposition of a new president's and a new generation of believer's commitment to freeing the world from the danger, tyranny, and idolatry of nuclear weapons couldn't be more timely. To reverse the habits of the heart, the assumptions, and policies that have dominated U.S. national security policy for more than 60 years will be a monumental achievement. And the pressures against that happening will be enormous. This is indeed a job for faith, and the energetic commitment of the faith community to accomplish this magnificent goal will be absolutely crucial. Perhaps after all the years of struggle on the huge theological and political issues surrounding nuclear weapons, the time for new beginning has finally come to eventually end their threat to our world, our humanity, and our faith.
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