This is a fitting time to assess where we are 50 years after those tense 12 days in October when the world came closer to nuclear annihilation than at any other time.
Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament puts it clearly, bluntly and succinctly:
"50 years on from the Cuban missile crisis, we have still not learned the lessons of this grim period of human history... the bleak reality is that we have not moved forward" said
"Spending on nuclear weapons worldwide will top $1 trillion in the next decade, and with the spread of nuclear technology through civil nuclear programmes, the risks of nuclear terrorism and further states developing nuclear weapons are manifold."
"A Nuclear Weapons Convention is the only rational way forward. States must reassess their blind commitment to maintaining nuclear arsenals and genuinely work towards their legal obligations as signatories to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: to negotiate in good faith towards disarmament."
"Reductions of stockpiles are an essential part of the process, and we have seen some progress through the START agreement between the
But with the Russia
alone set to spend around $700bn on nuclear weapons over the next decade, this
is only the tip of the iceberg." US
"To pass on genuine peace and security to future generations, we cannot afford to ignore the lessons of the past."
Indeed, we have not learned the lessons of the past, and we therefore prepare to make them again. Today, just as most every other day in recent months, we sit wringing our hands over Iran's nuclear intentions while the U.S. and Russia deploy vast arsenals of operational nuclear weapons on alert status, ready to launch.
While Iran may or may not develop a single nuclear weapon, the two largest nuclear powers stand ready each day to launch accidental or intentional nuclear war. Both the U.S and Russia continue to build up their nuclear weapons capabilities. We are moving into a new nuclear age, creating the conditions for a new Cold War, and greatly increasing the probability of accidental or intentional nuclear war and the subsequent end of life as we know it.
Although neither U.S. Presidential candidate has publicly articulated the tremendous threat posed by nuclear weapons, one of these men will end up in The White House for the next four years, what will arguably be a critical time in the struggle to abolish nuclear weapons.
Will the next occupant of the Oval Office have the courage to forge a path toward disarmament, leading the way for the rest of the world, or a path towards disaster??? Let's hope he has learned the lessons of history, and takes to heart what President Kennedy once said before the United Nations General Assembly (and I take some liberty with paraphrasing):
"Humankind must put an end to nuclear weapons — or nuclear weapons will put an end to
50 years later, thermonuclear armed missiles sit in underground silos (and in submarine launch tubes) on alert, ready to launch in short order, awaiting the President's command to launch "on warning"). When will be the next "crisis"??? Isn't it time to end this madness???
Do something NOW to create a nuclear weapons free world. Go to the Nuclear Abolitionist Blog and pick one or more of the many current actions (from Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace Action, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and more) on the right hand column and advocate for a nuclear weapons free world.
Editor's Note: Kennedy's actual (and full) quote was, "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind. War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today."
Also read The Missile Crisis That Never Went Away, By Steven Starr, David Krieger and Daniel Ellsberg