Jesus of Nazareth taught, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9) Forty-seven Republican Senators, however, apparently just decided not to try to be peacemakers, but to become a peace wrecking crew instead.
These Senators took it upon themselves to write a letter to Iran undermining the President's authority in delicate negotiations to curtail Iran's nuclear program, suggesting that "the next president could revoke" any agreement made by President Obama.
Ironically enough, one of the great successes of the world in the nuclear age has been painstaking and difficult work to reduce the number of nuclear armed states and reduce the number of nuclear arms.
Peace does not just happen, it is made, and it has, in large part, been made by faith witness to God's will that human beings live in peace with one another and respect the creation.
This is one of the themes of the great pastoral letter by the American Catholic Bishops against a nuclear-armed world, The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response. The Bishops pastoral starts with the words of John Paul II at Coventry Cathedral in 1982. "Peace is not just the absence of war... Like a cathedral, peace must be constructed patiently and with unshakeable faith."
Peace is built, step by laborious step, through trust-building, processes of verification, and a promise of sustainability over the long term. As we 30 Christians who worked together for six years to define the concrete steps that make for peace agreed in our book Just Peacemaking: The New Paradigm for the Ethics of Peace and War, peace is not wishful thinking, but concrete, verifiable actions that over time reduce tension, increase trust, and build a climate for a safer world.
The world has not seen a nuclear weapon used in war since World War II because of crucial negotiations to reduce the threat of nuclear war.
One example occurred in 1958 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower took the initiative of announcing a one-year halt to test-exploding nuclear weapons, and said that if the Soviet Union would also halt, the U.S. would continue the halt in testing year by year. The Soviet Union reciprocated. President John F. Kennedy resumed the halt in testing, the Soviet Union again reciprocated, and it led to the treaty that halted nuclear testing above ground, under water, and in outer space. That halted the nuclear radiation from the tests that had been quietly causing deaths of babies downwind. And eventually it led to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- a major breakthrough for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to other nations.
Instead, the Republican Senators, by sending this letter, have shown a marked preference not only for military confrontation, but military confrontation with the risk of gravely accelerating the nuclear arms race. It imperils a whole region in the Middle East already reeling from violent extremism.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was a Republican.
So was Ronald Reagan, who sent this message to Congress regarding the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:
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.
There has been a principled witness in the past from key Republican leaders on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons through negotiation and long term commitment.
These 47 Republican Senators do not stand in that tradition. Instead, lamentably, they stand for the opposite.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem. "Would that you knew the things that make for peace." (Luke 19:42)