THE BLOG
09/30/2012 07:26 pm ET | Updated Nov 30, 2012

Ronald Reagan, Republicans, and Nuclear Weapons

Listening to today's candidates --at any level -- one would not know that, historically, Republicans have been instrumental in advancing arms control, nonproliferation, and nuclear disarmament. That is, until the recent Bush administration. In fact, active Republican leadership was essential in obtaining the Biological Weapons Convention, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, and the Chemical Weapons Convention, to name but a few. However, the current Republicans running for offices, both high and low, have forgotten this legacy of success in making America and the world safer based on the US value of the rule of law.

Of serious concern is that the men who brought us the eight-year anomaly of consistent failure now comprise Romney's foreign policy team. Out of 24 advisers, 17 played significant roles in the Bush administration and contributed to an unmatched history of unprecedented catastrophes. These guys include Max Boot, John Bolton, Elliot Cohen, and Cofer Black. They constructed an era defined by lies to justify a war in Iraq, a distortion of American values that rationalized torture, the execution of an aggressive war of choice rather than necessity, degradation of the international legal order which the United States had spent decades to establish, and the execution of costly military ventures based on money borrowed from China.

Perhaps the most audacious whopper is that of many Republican candidates who claim the legacy of President Ronald Reagan and do not espouse his policies. In order to set the record straight, and in the hopes that some Republicans will indeed take up the Reagan mantle, or that some "mainstream" media will challenge candidates who claim Reagan as their model, I have gathered some quotes of his on the abolition of nuclear weapons. It should be clear that he was not just concerned that bad people or countries should have the weapon, but that the weapon itself is bad.

"We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth." -- Ronald Reagan, Inaugural Address, 1985

"Our moral imperative is to work with all our powers for that day when the children of the world grow up without the fear of nuclear war." -- Ronald Reagan, from "Reagan's Secret War" by Martin and Annelise Anderson

"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?" -- Ronald Reagan, 1984 State of the Union

"I know that there are a great many people who are pointing to the unimaginable horror of nuclear war... To those who protest against nuclear war, I can only say, 'I'm with you.'" Lettow also quotes Reagan as stating, "My dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth." -- Ronald Reagan, from "Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Weapons," by Paul Lettow

"I can't believe that this world can go on beyond our generation and on down to succeeding generations with this kind of weapon on both sides poised at each other without someday, some fool, or some maniac, or some accident triggering the kind of war that is the end of the line for all of us. And I just think of what a sigh of relief would go up from everyone on this Earth if someday-- and this is what I have-- my hope, way in the back of my head-- is that if we start down the road to reduction, maybe one day in doing that, somebody will say, 'Why not all the way? Let's get rid of all these things'." -- Ronald Reagan, May 16, 1983

"My central arms control objective has been to reduce substantially and ultimately to eliminate nuclear weapons and rid the world of the nuclear threat. The prevention of the spread of nuclear explosives is to additional countries is an indispensable part of our efforts to meet this objective. I intend to continue my pursuit of this goal with untiring determination and a profound sense of personal commitment." -- Ronald Reagan, March 25, 1988, Message to Congress on the NPT

"It is my fervent goal and hope... that we will someday no longer have to rely on nuclear weapons to deter aggression and assure world peace. To that end the United States is now engaged in a serious and sustained effort to negotiate major reductions in levels of offensive nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of eliminating these weapons from the face of the earth." -- Ronald Reagan, Oct. 20, 1986

Ronald Reagan once said that nuclear weapons were "totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization." -- Ronald Reagan as quoted by "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons," By George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn

"Most of the people have been hearing in political dialog from one side, since we've been here in the three-and-a-half years, that I somehow have an itchy finger and am going to blow up the world. And that has all been duly reported by so many of you that that is the tone that the people have been getting. And it doesn't do me any good to tell you that, having seen four wars in my lifetime, I don't know of anyone, in or out of government, that is more determinedly seeking peace than I am. And my goal is the total elimination of nuclear weapons. If we can get those fellows back to the table and get them to start down that road of mutual reduction, then they might find out what common sense it would mean to eliminate them." -- Ronald Reagan, Press Conference, May 22, 1984

"As I have indicated in previous statements to the Congress, my central arms control objective has been to reduce substantially and ultimately to eliminate nuclear weapons and rid the world of the nuclear threat. The prevention of the spread of nuclear explosives to additional countries is an indispensable part of our efforts to meet this objective. I intend to continue my pursuit of this goal with untiring determination and a profound sense of personal commitment." -- Ronald Reagan, March 25, 1988

"For the eight years I was president I never let my dream of a nuclear-free world fade from my mind." -- Ronald Reagan's memoirs, "An American Life"

As these quotations make abundantly clear, President Ronald Reagan was for the total global elimination of nuclear weapons and not for their improvement and indefinite retention by any country. He saw this as a moral imperative and a U.S. and international security necessity. Those who claim otherwise are misrepresenting him and what he passionately advocated.