Obama's unfinished business

Our bloated and dangerous nuclear modernization budget

As voters go to the polls in New Hampshire, we are reminded that President Obama’s time in office is coming to a close. But it’s not too late to take care of unfinished business. Nearly seven years ago, President Obama gave hope to tens of thousands gathered in central Prague, and to billions around the world. In no uncertain terms, he declared “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

It was a declaration the world was hungry to hear. Nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945 and have no role against the major threats we face today, such as terrorism, global warming or cyber attacks. And yet, over the past two years, the Obama administration has set in motion a 30-year, $1 trillion effort to rebuild the US nuclear arsenal from the ground up.

Today, the hope felt in Prague back in 2009 was once again dashed with the release of the administration’s $583 billion defense budget including a major down-payment on the whopping $1 trillion nuclear upgrade.

In the final stretch of his presidency, Obama is on course to leave a legacy that boosts, not busts, America’s nuclear arsenal. This is a profound disappointment, particularly given Obama’s historic achievements — the Iran nuclear accord, the New START Treaty with Russia, and the biannual Nuclear Security Summits that he spearheaded after Prague.

But there is still time for Obama to live up to his words and set a new course. Two studies just released by Ploughshares Fund grantees, the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the centrist Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), provide critical new data that can help inform strategies for cutting back our bloated — and dangerous — nuclear modernization budget.

A new president will take office next January. These next 12 months are critical if we are to re-set the US on a path towards the vision Obama laid out in Prague. Reports like these from our grantees provide practical policy strategies that can help make a real difference.

Ploughshares Fund and its grantees won’t give up. With the continued generosity of our supporters, we will do all we can to make sure our country stops throwing money at the weapons of the past, and starts investing in protecting our futures.

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Photo: Prague, Czech Republic | Flickr / Moyan Brenn (cc)