Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nuclear Summit

April 14, 2010

It has been interesting being in Washington DC for a colleague group meeting at the same time as a huge meeting, including many heads of state, who are discussing the security of nuclear materials. This is clearly part of a series of events focusing on security issues. At the beginning of April we saw Russia and the US sign a pact which limits their respective stockpiles of nuclear weapons. It seems a long time since President Reagan and Michael Gorbachev came so close to agreeing to get rid of the things altogether at their summit in Reykjavik in 1986. Last week we saw the release of the latest ‘Nuclear Posture Review’ in which President Obama has limited ay possibility of the US striking first. Finally, we are looking towards a new multinational non proliferation treaty early in May. This has to be a huge accomplishment by any measure and especially important in an environment where rogue states and terrorist organizations are determined to get their hands on nuclear materials, and in which our troops appear to have been fighting with less equi98pment than they need due to budget constraints.

The conversations facilitator for our meeting of Episcopal Clergy was James Carroll, author of Practicing Catholic and Constantine’s Sword among other works. He led us in thinking about a deep stream of apocalyptic, messianic idealism in American history that he sees as serving to undergird the idea that we can resist violence or end violence only through more violence. He argued persuasively that what really motivated people on both sides in the civil war was less the cause of slavery or Union and more a kind of religious ‘manifest destiny’. I’m looking forward to his next book.

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