“And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations.”
- Isaiah 25:7
In the week before Christmas of 2011, the Senate took an crucial step in making the world safer for us and our children by ratifying the New START treaty 71 to 26. Though the Cold War has ended, we continue to live in the Nuclear Age and the specter of nuclear weapons is as urgent a national security issue as ever. That is why the Senate’s action was so important. Dangerous regimes, such as North Korea and Iran, are working hard to acquire a nuclear weapon and Russia has the largest nuclear stockpile in the world. New START gives the U.S. vital access to Russia’s nuclear arsenals, enabling us to ensure that they are secure and in compliance with international standards. The treaty was backed by the Pentagon, our intelligence services, virtually every living Secretary of State and Defense going back to the Nixon administration, as well as the Catholic Bishops, National Association of Evangelicals, and National Council of Churches and its ratification is a victory for all those who put our country and smart policy above political power plays.
And yet, while our country has cause to celebrate the ratification of this landmark treaty, the New START vote also stands as a warning. When all of our generals and military leaders agree on how best to protect our country, when Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton are unified on a matter of foreign policy, when religious leaders from all the major denominations say that a treaty is moral, there should be no room for political posturing and zero tolerance for those who engage in it. It is inexcusable that so many Senators bowed to ideological extremists and special interests and publicly voted against the best interest of American families.
Honest debate and dissent must always be protected, but we must not allow ourselves to become so divided that we cannot recognize a universal good. The level of destruction that can be wrought by a single bomb – the loss of life, the devastation to creation, the political and economic repercussions – is of a magnitude that could never be desired by God or anyone of good will. In a world where terrorists and extremists seek to destroy our way of life, we can not allow ourselves or our leaders to become so consumed by the differences that divide us that we become blind to the ties that bind. Our leaders have a moral responsibility and divine charge to serve the people and act in the best interest of American families, not a political party or big donors. As a group, the Senate did so, but the number who were comfortable voting against American interest is worrisome and makes it all the more important that the American people continue to lift a unified voice in support of those who work to protect our world and nations from the shroud of nuclear weapons.