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In our lifetime: an appeal to a Nobel Peace Laureate missing in action

January 25, 2018

On April 5, 2009 the newly elected, young, and promising US President Barack Obama made a speech in Prague about nuclear dangers. He said:

“…This matters to all people, everywhere. One nuclear weapon exploded in one city – be it New York or Moscow, Islamabad or Mumbai, Tokyo or Tel Aviv, Paris or Prague – could kill hundreds of thousands of people. And no matter where it happens, there is no end to what the consequences may be – for our global safety, security, society, economy, and ultimately our survival…So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons…

With these words President Obama surprised and impressed the world, and he filled us with hope. For these words, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009.

Did he mean the words he spoke? In retrospect, it’s hard to know. Did he stand behind them? What we know is that he made a strange reservation in saying that nuclear abolition might not happen in his lifetime. What rubbish from a young man! If you really are determined to end something, you have to act fairly quickly, and at least in your lifetime. We also know that during his eight years in office, Obama did not achieve anything that measured up to his early promises. To the contrary, his nuclear posture review and spending on nuclear weapons were much like those of his predecessors and, in fact, he was the president who decided to spend the absolutely terrible amount of US $1.24 trillion for what he and members of Congress from both political parties called “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenals. Not very worthy of a Nobel Peace laureate.

Despite the new—and from early accounts even worse—nuclear posture review of Obama’s successor, there is still hope. As long as nuclear weapons have not been used again, it is still not too late. As a grandfather, I appeal to former President Obama, who has a wonderful family and might one day be blessed with his own grandchildren, to please think this over once more. You can still make a positive difference. It is time for you to join the sane majority of humanity who are demanding an end of the lunatic nuclear weapons age.

We simply must abolish nuclear weapons before they abolish us. Please Mr. Obama, join the group of great humanitarians like Pope Francis, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, and most of your fellow Peace Prize laureates—now joined by ICAN—who have warned humankind of the intolerable threat that nuclear weapons pose for all of us, and who demand that the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) be signed and ratified.

For the sake of our children and grandchildren, for those whom we love, and for everyone with a name, for humanity, and all life on our planet, we must end nuclear madness now.

Every voice is needed, and it would be really good if a former US President (who else but you?) could take the lead in mobilizing public opinion to put pressure on politicians from states still armed with nuclear weapons and their allies to sign and ratify the TPNW and to soon come together in good faith to fulfill their clear obligations to nuclear disarmament, embedded in the Non Proliferation Treaty from 1970.

Yes, Mr. Obama, together we can create a safer world free from nuclear weapons—in our lifetime.

  1. Bjorn Hilt permalink
    March 12, 2018 2:13 pm

    Dear Colleague. Thank you for reading my piece on the blog. I am afraid I have not heard anything back yet, and probably will not ever. But think it was still worth writing.

  2. Dr Michael Orgel permalink
    March 12, 2018 10:42 am

    Have only just seen this blog. Very well reasoned. Have you had any feedback from former President Obama?

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