LET’S WORK TO BAN THE BOMB
As Hiroshima Day approaches, five Order of Canada recipients urge the Liberal government to stop defending nuclear deterrence and start working on an international weapons convention.
When U.S. President Obama visited Hiroshima earlier this summer, he called for “a moral revolution” to respond to the unmatched killing power of nuclear weapons. All who desire a world freed from the threat of a humanitarian catastrophe caused by nuclear warfare should pause for a moment on Saturday, Aug. 6, Hiroshima Day, and reflect on just what it will take to launch such a revolution in thinking.
It is a huge mistake to remain complacent about nuclear weapons, as if the threat of nuclear destruction had gone away with the Cold War. A new nuclear arms race between the U.S., Russia and China has broken out, and the 15,395 nuclear weapons still in existence are all being modernized by the nuclear powers. Both the U.S. and Russia still keep many nuclear weapons on high-alert status. India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed, threaten each other.
That is why, as members and companions of the Order of Canada, we support the efforts of Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a civil society network, to press the Canadian government to help lead the way in getting comprehensive negotiations started to prohibit and eliminate all nuclear weapons. So far, some 900 members of the Order have endorsed this effort. The 900 represent all walks of life and every corner of Canada. Surely the new government, which has shown concern for the United Nations agenda promoting peace and human security, will not turn a deaf ear to our unprecedented call.
We are not alone in demanding action. Threequarters of the nations of the world have already voted at the UN to start such negotiations. Mayors for Peace, which represents 7,095 cities around the world (105 in Canada), has issued a similar call. Religious leaders from all the world’s major faiths have come together at the UN to make their plea.
Military leaders are agreed that nuclear weapons, because of their horrendous destructive power, have no military value. Even a “limited” nuclear war could instantaneously destroy millions of people, their cities, their culture and their histories.
Why, then, do countries such as Canada, which pride themselves on espousing human rights values, still defend the strategy of nuclear deterrence — a strategy that has led to constant nuclear modernization? We need to break out of this outmoded thinking, which keeps Canada trapped in the nuclear box. Working with like-minded countries, Canada must push NATO to change its fallacious doctrine that nuclear weapons are the “supreme guarantee” of security.
We understand very well the obstacles standing in the way of progress. These barriers were well outlined by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, who, in 1961, warned against the encroaching military-industrial complex. The arms producers are cashing in on the $1 trillion the U.S. has earmarked for nuclear weapons modernization over the next 30 years. Canada needs to speak out — and act — against this outrageous exploitation of human conflict for profit.
The trillions of dollars wasted on nuclear weapons are stealing from human development programs.
The Sustainable Development Goals, aiming to eradicate the worst forms of poverty by 2030, will bring us far closer to peace and security than the burgeoning nuclear arsenals.
It is the utmost folly for governments to think that the world can build peace through maintaining nuclear weapons. Lip service to nuclear disarmament is not good enough at this dangerous moment in world affairs. Several years ago, Parliament unanimously urged the government to act. Canada should host a meeting to get comprehensive nuclear disarmament negotiations rolling.
Canada can help turn Obama’s vision of a nuclear weapons-free world into “a moral revolution.”
Bruce Kidd, OC, is a renowned scholar, community activist and respected academic leader.
James Orbinski, OC, is a humanitarian practitioner and leading scholar in global health. Toronto. Landon Pearson, OC, is child rights advocate and former senator living in Ottawa. Setsuko Thurlow, CM, is retired social worker, founder of Japanese Family Services of Metropolitan Toronto and survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Jean Vanier, CC, is a theologian, philosopher and humanitarian.
Three-quarters of the nations of the world have already voted at the UN to start … negotiations (to prohibit and eliminate all nuclear weapons). Mayors for Peace, which represents 7,095 cities around the world (105 in Canada), has issued a similar call.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, together with U.S. President Barack Obama, placed wreaths during a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima in May.