Celebrate! Today the Senate voted to ratify the New START agreement, which will re-establish mutual, on-the-ground verification of American and Russian nuclear arsenals, and cut the deployed strategic weapons on each side by about 1/3.
This is one step in the right direction for nuclear security in our day—but it is a huge victory for American Christians, who overwhelmingly and vocally supported the treaty. And make no mistake: your work mattered. So, for standing with us and putting up with innumerable New START emails, Facebook updates, and tweets (oh, the tweets!):
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now that the votes are cast, we can reflect on what it all means. So, in the spirit of Dickens (cue Marley’s chains) here’s my brief meditations on the ghosts of New START past, present, and future.
The campaign to ratify New START revealed two things—one good, one bad. First, New START proved that the work and witness of the Two Futures Project is both vital and unique. Treaty advocates at the highest levels cited 2FP often as making a critical contribution to the groundswell of support for New START. I am proud of our team and our work: from the on-the-ground voter education efforts in Tennessee and other key states, to our convening an unprecedented pro-ratification press call with Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Bishop Howard Hubbard of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Second, our national public debate about nuclear weapons is profoundly flawed. This conservative treaty, with the unanimous support of the military and the bipartisan security establishment, should have been a slam dunk. But despite this support, a tiny, ideologically driven fringe was able to marshal a substantial campaign against New START by simply and brazenly repeating blatant untruths in public, until they started to sound like facts. And all this over an agreement that still leaves us with thousands of strategic nuclear weapons, doing little to challenge obsolete, Cold War modes of thinking.
New START has exposed the astounding lack of moral seriousness in our public debate about nuclear security. You simply don’t play politics with these weapons if you really apprehend the threat they pose—and from the abundant posturing, pontificating, and political quid pro quos surrounding New START, it became clear that many in government see nuclear security as just one more facet in the endless power game that has consumed Washington politics. Americans of goodwill, regardless of party, should be deeply concerned by this state of affairs.
Fortunately, 2FP closes this year as a mature movement that can help address this malaise. 2011 won’t have any of the big-ticket nuclear policy items of the past year, which gives us the freedom to double down on what we do best: spreading a Christ-centered, biblically grounded moral and cultural mandate to eliminate these weapons of indiscriminate death and destruction. Stay tuned in the new year for our roll-out of several exciting new programs.
Our organization’s name describes the stark choice that we believe we face: a world without nuclear weapons, or a world devastated by them. But from an eternal perspective, of course, there is but one future, authored and anchored by the Triune God, and foretold in scripture’s glorious prophecy of creation restored in a new heavens and a new earth. This recognition does not make us apathetic to the present: the threat of human sinfulness manifesting in nuclear destruction is all too real, but not at all a given. We are stewards of history in our time. But this indispensable focus on the eternal aligns our work and our activism as an expression of fidelity to God Most High.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth—the Lord, Messiah of Israel, Son of God, Word made Flesh, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel—it is therefore fitting to cast away anxiety about what will come. So attend to the breath that is in your lungs—for none of us is guaranteed another—and sing praise the Lord who died for our sins, and whose resurrection throws open the gates to eternal life for all the faithful of God.
O Holy Night, indeed:
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother,
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
From all of us at 2FP, wishing you and yours a season filled with grace and peace and love.