Aug 12

Sarge on Nuclear War

by Sargent Shriver Peace Institute | 08/12/2019 6:00AM | Quote of the Week | Peacebuilding | Nuclear Disarmament

Sarge on Nuclear War

Sarge on Nuclear War

Our Quote of the Week focuses on an issue that Sargent Shriver worked on in the 1970s and 80s: nuclear disarmament. The quote is from Sargent Shriver's 1976 US Presidential campaign foreign policy statement. A recent finding from our archives, the statement outlines several foreign policy issues that are interesting to compare and contrast with the platforms of our 2020 Presidential candidates.

If you've been paying attention to the news, you'll know that the topic of nuclear weapons comes up often in coverage of both domestic and foreign policy. With reports about treaties and negotiations between the US and Iran or North Korea, the prospect of a new nuclear arms race with Russia, stories about several countries building up and testing nuclear nuclear arsenals, or even questions directed at the the 2020 US Presidential candidates about their stance on this issue, our news is peppered with concerning reports about this topic.

Sargent Shriver chose to tackle the topic of nuclear disarmament in a diplomatic and typically Shriveresque way: over a number of years, he brought together both political and spiritual leaders to exert their influence both in the United States and internationally to tackle the issue from various angles. As part of his efforts, he was one of the vocal proponents a “No First Strike”  or "No First Use" policy, whereby the United States would pledge not to deploy a nuclear strike in an armed conflict unless nuclear force had already been used by another power. You can read more about his efforts here.

With the flood of information we receive, it can sometimes be difficult to absorb and process our political news these days. We believe that as challenging as it can be, it's important to pay attention to any coverage about nuclear weapons. Sargent Shriver knew that it takes political courage to stand behind a No First Use policy and to negotiate with other nations about the build-up and use of nuclear weapons. He also knew that such courage was necessary in order to build sustained peace. As we gear up for the 2020 election, we must pay close attention to what our leaders say and do on this issue, so that we ensure they make the thought of nuclear war an unthinkable one.

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