Women Speak out for a New Nuclear Future

Sixty-seven years ago in August, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, the only time that nuclear weapons have ever been used in warfare. To commemorate the anniversary, Minnesota State Senator Sandy Pappas authored an op-ed in the JTA highlighting the disconnect between the U.S.’s outdated, bloated nuclear arsenal and the 21st century security challenges the country faces.

"America continues to rely on strategic plans, targeting and alert status settings that were conceived during the Cold War,” Pappas noted. “We also spend billions of dollars each year to maintain our oversized arsenal.”

Pappas also serves as Vice President of the Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL), a program of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) and a long-time Ploughshares Fund grantee. For the past 20 years, WiLL has provided training workshops, policy briefings and professional development opportunities to help female legislators become more effective at home and to strengthen working relationships with Congressional colleagues, particularly on national security issues. The group is one of the few working to increase the voices of women in an overwhelmingly male field.

With Ploughshares Fund support, both WiLL and WAND have been deeply engaged in the recent national conversation about reducing Pentagon spending, citing cuts to nuclear weapons and related programs as an opportunity save money and increase U.S. national security. In addition to the op-ed by Pappas, the group has successfully coordinated and placed op-eds around the country on nuclear issues.

The media opinions voiced in these op-eds represent the views of women members throughout the country. As Pappas eloquently summed up in her op-ed: “I favor more security and fewer nuclear weapons. American leadership must take action to minimize nuclear dangers.”

Pappas isn’t alone in this view. Many other security experts and Congressional leaders are eying the nuclear budget as a top area to find savings, while simultaneously reducing nuclear dangers. As my colleague Leah Fae Cochran recently pointed out, Sen. Carl Levin says the nuclear budget is “ripe for cuts” and Rep. Adam Smith said that there are “clearly savings” to be found in the nuclear arsenal.

The world has changed enormously over the past 67 years. So should the U.S. nuclear arsenal.


Photo by WAND