Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Bombs Away: President Obama Wants to Lock Up Nukes-But He Isn't about to Throw Away the Key

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Bombs Away: President Obama Wants to Lock Up Nukes-But He Isn't about to Throw Away the Key

Article excerpt

IHE 2008 ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA WAS ARGUABLY A culmination of the hope-filled idealism that helped propel the 1960s civil rights movement. Although it's fashionable these days, in the last gasps of the frat-boy revivalism that began the century to ridicule such idealism, the truth is we wouldn't have made it to the Obama era's here-and-now without that there-and-then.

Now the president is engaged in another crusade that unconsciously nods to the '60s. His recent negotiations with Russia and cattle call of nuclear powers at the Washington nuclear weapons summit in April recall the efforts of previous dreamers who imagined peace--or at least a piece of the future liberated from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

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But Obama is no '60s retread in post-boomer clothing. His style of disciplined policy-making leaves little room for dreaming out loud. His preferential option is a world with fewer nuclear weapons, knowing that it may take generations to completely rid the world of the threat of nuclear ruin or the unspeakable devastation of even a single nuclear strike.

The nuclear issue allows Obama to again make common cause with U.S. bishops, a likely relief to both after the recent unpleasantness over health care reform. The bishops seem enlivened by Obama's interest in reducing the world's nuclear stockpile. Recent statements have reiterated the church's call for nuclear disarmament, and statements from both the U.S. bishops and the Vatican now essentially reject the notion that nuclear weapons can ever be deployed in keeping with just-war proscriptions.

In a speech at Georgetown University in March, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's representative to the United Nations, said, "The conditions that prevailed during the Cold War, which gave a basis for the church's limited toleration of nuclear deterrence, no longer apply in a consistent and effective manner."

Speaking in February at the Global Zero Summit in Paris, Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin O'Brien reiterated the Catholic Church's condemnation of "total war" in a call for courage and for common sense as we seek to construct a practical, forward-leaning ethic of disarmament.

"A world with zero nuclear weapons will need robust measures to monitor, enforce, and verify compliance," he said. …

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