Play your part to help realize the first four steps of The Nuclear Playbook. At the same time, call on your elected representatives to urge the U.S. to sign the TPNW and encourage all other countries to join this effort to move toward a safer world.
Many think nuclear weapons are a necessary evil and feel the aim of eliminating them is misguided not to mention hopeless and futile. Many argue that nuclear deterrence works and has worked: since their creation seven decades ago, and use in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, no two nuclear countries have gone to war with one another and none have used a nuclear weapon anywhere.
The International Coalition to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) may have won the Nobel Peace Prize, they say, and there are now over 50 state signatories to, and about 20 states that have ratified, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). But no state with nuclear weapons has signed the ban.
Today, on the nuclear question, we are in a highly-polarized world. We have two main camps—nuclear abolitionists vs. supporters of nuclear deterrence—apparently at complete odds with one another. They largely don’t talk to each other.
We need what mediation expert William Ury calls the “Third Side,” a way of looking at the conflict not just from one side or the other but from the larger perspective of the surrounding community whose lives are affected by the conflict— people, whose lives, in the case of the escalating nuclear danger, are in real jeopardy.
A “Third Side” coalition formed in the 1980s and turned the tide of the arms race. Millions of people around the world unified into a global movement of men and women, youth and children that transcended gender, racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, socio-economic and partisan divides. They formed a “Third Side,” serving one overarching common goal – preventing nuclear war.
A great coalition is forming again today. There is a movement not just to manage, but to transform the way we achieve our security. The United States — like Britain, China, France and Russia — is already obligated under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to take concrete steps toward eliminating its nuclear arsenal. Nations that joined the NPT as non-nuclear-weapons states, pledging that they would not develop their own nuclear weapons, did so in part on the basis of this promise of disarmament. These states have become increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress among the nuclear weapons states toward meeting their treaty obligations.
If the U.S. makes progress on the previous four steps in this Playbook, it will energize and inspire people around the world. For decades, the U.S. and other nuclear powers have not taken seriously their pledge to reduce their nuclear weapons. If we are reducing our arsenals, moving toward a world that does not depend on nuclear weapons for security, not threatening other countries, then we are in position to argue that other countries forego nuclear weapons. Ultimately, the United States should champion a global treaty to prohibit the first use of nuclear weapons and devise and implement an action plan detailing the technical and diplomatic steps needed to achieve a nuclear-free world.