President Obama and Russian President Medvedev took major steps today to further reduce nuclear arsenals that once terrified the world:
PRAGUE — President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a sweeping new arms reduction pact Thursday that pledges to reduce the stockpile of deployed, strategic nuclear weapons in both countries and commits the old Cold War adversaries to new procedures to verify which weapons each country possesses.
Obama arrived in this historic city Thursday morning to formalize a step toward the vision he laid out here a year ago — of a world without nuclear weapons.
The leaders met privately for about an hour before signing the pact in a ceremony hosted by the Czechs and full of symbolism. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was among the many dignitaries looking on as Obama and Medvedev began signing, at one point exchanging amused glances as if to say, “This isn’t so hard.”
“Together, we have stopped the drift, and proven the benefits of cooperation,” Obama said in remarks a short time later. “. . . This day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia — the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons — to pursue responsible global leadership.”
No doubt many on the right will criticize Obama for this, but the truth of the matter is that this is exactly in line with what Ronald Reagan hoped would happen:
President Reagan was a nuclear abolitionist. He believed that the only reason to have nuclear weapons was to prevent the then Soviet Union from using theirs. Understanding this, he argued in his 1984 State of the Union Address, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. The only value in our two nations possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely?”
Ronald Reagan regarded nuclear weapons, according to Nancy, as “totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, possibly destructive of life on earth and civilization.”
In his book, Ronald Reagan and His Quest to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Paul Lettow quotes Reagan as saying, “I know that there are a great many people who are pointing to the unimaginable horror of nuclear war…. [T]o those who protest against nuclear war, I can only say, ‘I’m with you.’” Lettow also quotes Reagan as stating, “[M]y dream is to see the day when nuclear weapons will be banished from the face of the Earth.”
We aren’t at that day yet, Mr. President, and it may still be a long time before the world is peaceful enough that these weapons can be fully abolish, but I think you’d be pleased with what happened in Prague today.