World Citizenship

Published: May 28, 2010

By Jim Lichtman
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Yesterday, David Krieger offered a persuasive argument to the question, “Won’t the abolition of nuclear weapons leave the United States vulnerable?”

I followed up with some questions of my own. Here are David’s responses.

Q: “How do we convince irrational leaders to sign on to a plan to give up nuclear weapons?”

Krieger: “These leaders may appear irrational, but their pursuit of nuclear weapons in the face of threats from current nuclear weapons states may actually be quite rational.  To keep such leaders from pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities will require that they feel secure from attack. The fact is that we cannot tell with certainty whether these leaders are rational or irrational, but we know that nuclear deterrence requires rationality. The uncertainty of their rationality undermines nuclear deterrence. I believe that when the U.S. becomes serious about seeking a world without nuclear weapons, it will be able to develop methods of verification and enforcement for all countries that will preclude cheating.”

Q: “How do we deal with the lack of accountability of nuclear materials?”

Krieger: “That’s a difficult issue. It was what the Nuclear Security Summit that President Obama convened with 47 heads of government was meant to address. It clearly needs to be taken seriously.  It is a global responsibility and can only be dealt with globally, but U.S. leadership, as Obama has shown, is essential.”

Q:  “How do we get the U.N. actively back into the peace process and get member countries to participate in meaningful sanctions against any country that continues down a path towards conflict?”

Krieger: “The U.N. has clear rules about the use of force.  I think it has always been a beacon for peace, but its rules have not always been followed or enforced.  Again, I think that U.S. leadership is a critical element, and it must be leadership based upon universal rather than double standards.

“The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is a designated consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and was named by the U.N. as a Peace Messenger Organization.  Among the NPPF’s accomplishments, they co-founded and provided early leadership to the Abolition 2000 Global Network, made up over 2,000 organizations and municipalities seeking a multilateral treaty banning nuclear weaponry.”

Every time I consider how daunting the task to abolition nuclear weapons in our lifetime is, I keep coming back to a basic ethical duty that Krieger makes clear to us all.

“World citizenship has become essential to our survival as a species… our problems [are global], and the solutions to these problems must also be global.

“We all have a vested interest in preserving our planet.  Our time calls out for world citizenship.”

It doesn’t get any clearer than that.


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