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Commentary: Renewed Hope for Peace

In bringing us together, Obama promises to eliminate the nuclear weapons that drive us apart.

“A new dawn of American leadership is at hand ... Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.”

Steven Crandell
Steven Crandell

Those were the words of President-elect Barack Obama on Election Night after winning his historic campaign for the White House.

Some of us were elated. Some disappointed. But in spite of our differences, Obama made it clear that his goal is to bring us together. In his words, “to heal the divides that have held back our progress.”

During the campaign, Obama made clear statements on what steps he will take to address nuclear proliferation, promising to “seek the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.” Addressing the nuclear threat is expected to be one of the top foreign policy priorities of the Obama administration.

Here are some of his stated goals:

» Secure loose nuclear materials within four years.

» Negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material.

» Strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

» Stop the development of new nuclear weapons.

» Work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair trigger alert.

» Seek dramatic reductions in U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear weapons and material.

This is a great start. David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, is drafting a special First 100 Days program to make sure the new administration does in fact make progress toward these and other goals.

Krieger has already completed a briefing for Obama called “A Return to Sanity - United States Leadership for a Nuclear Weapons-free World.” Click here to read it.

Obama’s election, and the hope he brings for progress on reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons, is a perfect fit for the theme of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s 25th Annual Evening for Peace. On Nov. 22 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort Hotel, we will be honoring two peacemakers who have shown great courage and commitment in a program called “Renewed Hope for Peace.”

The Rev. George Regas, retired rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena and a pioneer in the interfaith movement for nuclear disarmament, will receive the Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, an honor given in past years to the Dalai Lama, Walter Cronkite and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Stanley Sheinbaum, who has spent decades of his life working for peace in the Middle East, will receive the World Citizenship Award, an honor given in past years to Ted Turner, Daisaku Ikeda and Queen Noor of Jordan.

Why “Renewed Hope for Peace?” Obama put it well at the end of his speech Tuesday night. We renew our hope for peace because it defines who we are as people. It also defines the kind of world we want our children and grandchildren to inherit:

“This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth — that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can.”

Steven Crandell is development and public affairs director at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. This commentary originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

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