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Where Are Nukes at the Table of Peace?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the toughest of them all when it comes to using nuclear weapons against Osama bin Laden and terrorists in radical states such as Iran and Afghanistan? And by the way, while you’re pondering that, mirror, mirror, what should people of faith and those who seek peace demand of candidates and leaders who feel the need to appear the toughest against our enemies?

In response to Barak Obama’s statement that nuclear weapons were “not on the table” with regard to ungoverned territories in the two countries, Hillary Clinton responded that “presidents should be careful at all times in discussing the use and nonuse of nuclear weapons,” adding that she would not respond to hypothetical questions about the use of nuclear force. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
“Presidents since the Cold War have used nuclear deterrents to keep the peace,” said Clinton, “and I don’t believe any president should make blanket statements with the regard to use or nonuse.”
 
The race is on to see who is the toughest, the biggest and the baddest when it comes to defending <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />America against terrorism.
 
Targeting a person or small group with nuclear weapons? Seriously? Detonating a nuclear bomb on a country to eliminate a few persons within their population? Really? Ridiculous. And yet Clinton scores big for being hard-hitting, ready to strike at the least indication of terrorist activity, while Obama scrambles to define himself in stronger terms.
 
Don’t put the points in the “win” column for Clinton too quickly, however. Only just last year (April 2006) Clinton said of Iran, “I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table.”
 
Where is this table, and is anything nailed down on it?
 
Being in my mid-30s, hearing someone defend nuclear weapons as a potential option in flexing American muscle is beyond troubling. Does anyone really believe nuclear escalation holds any future for America? We deserve better leadership than that. Hearing candidates retract positions on nuclear weapons that clearly make sense in order to appear “tough” is disheartening. It suggests that our fears, not our courage and vision, will most dictate policy in the future. 
 
As a person of faith, and one called to be a “peacemaker” by Jesus, I’m shocked that candidates who say they follow the same teachings as I do could be so careless regarding the use of nuclear weapons. The same follows with the use of torture and the reflex use of violence against our enemies.
 
People of faith should hold the mirror up for candidates to square their beliefs with their policy positions.
 
People of faith should present peacefulness as a genuine ideal to strive for, not a pie-in-the-sky possibility that can only be seen down the barrel of a gun.
 
People of faith should demand that U.S. policymakers work to eradicate nuclear weapons and their use in all scenarios.
 
That kind of leadership, I believe, would demonstrate a different kind of toughness. 
 
Brent McDougal is coordinator of Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.