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US Election and Global Nuclear Disarmament

Yes you can Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Dear IPPNW Friends,

After eight dark years of neo-con rule, the American people voted for hope and change, backed by global demand for progressive new US leadership. It feels like a new dawn.

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. Like all US presidents, he has said he supports a strong military, and 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 a global effort to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely.

On the campaign trail, candidate Obama said, “A world without nuclear weapons is profoundly in America’s interest and the world’s 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, Obama’s election presents us with what may be “our last best chance to end the nuclear era.”

This 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 heard.

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 country’s 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!

Our 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 – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

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.

Our 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 – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

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 Convention—our practical roadmap to a nuclear-weapons-free world—in 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: ICAN Abolish Nuclear Weapons!

In Peace,

Michael Christ
Executive Director

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