Remarks by Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr.,
at the Arthur Armitage Award Ceremony honoring Jonathan Granoff
Rutgers Law School-Camden
June 11, 2009
We are here today to honor Jonathan Granoff, the 2009 recipient of the Arthur E. Armitage, Sr. Distinguished Alumni Award and richly deserving of this honor. The Rutgers University School of Law is to be commended and Jonathan is to be congratulated. I had the opportunity to read Jonathan’s planned remarks in advance and noticed the emphasis on spiritual values, important to Jonathan and to me as well. Accordingly, I would like to begin with a quotation from my favorite religious philosopher, Thomas Merton.
We prescribe for one another remedies that will bring us peace of mind, and we are still devoured by anxiety. We evolve plans for disarmament and for the peace of nations, and our plans only change the manner and method of aggression. The rich have everything they want except happiness, and the poor are sacrificed to the unhappiness of the rich. Dictatorships use their secret police to crush millions under an intolerable burden of lies, injustice and tyranny, and those who still live in democracies have forgotten how to make good use of their liberty. For liberty is a thing of the spirit, and we are no longer able to live for anything but our bodies. How can we find peace, true peace, if we forget that we are not machines for making and spending money, but spiritual beings, sons and daughters of the most high God?
During the early days civil society played almost no role in the ever more dangerous thermonuclear confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. This central and all- important issue was completely in the hands of the governments. Nongovernmental organizations (NGO’s)working in the field of international security were few and far between. Over the years this gradually began to change with the growth of civil society and the important role that NGO’s began to play at the United Nations. In the mid 1980’s there had continued for a decade a dispute between the United States and the Soviet Union over the actual yield of Soviet nuclear weapon tests and whether they were in compliance with the 150 kiloton limit of the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, signed by both countries in 1974 but never ratified. The Soviet Union permitted an American NGO, the Natural Resources Defense Council, to come to the USSR test site and verify a few tests which the United States government could also monitor with its remote monitoring systems. This opened the door to a negotiation between the two countries on additional verification provisions, which in turn led to the ratification of the Treaty in 1990. This event also was a breakthrough for NGO’s in the international security field, soon followed their explosive growth in the 1990’s.
When I was leading United States government efforts to extend the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in the mid 1990’s, I worked very closely with a NGO, created for the purpose of helping with NPT extension and headed by my good friend Joe Cirincione. Among other assistance and support it provided, this NGO helped to organize at the United Nations a meeting of 20 or more African Ambassadors to hear arguments for the permanent (or indefinite) extension (the strong US preference) of the NPT. The two presentations to this group were by a senior official from the Nigerian Mission at the UN, against, and me, for. The Nigerian speech included statements such as (paraphrased) “Perhaps all countries should have the opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons so they can determine whether they really want them” and “The only reason why Nigeria doesn’t have nuclear weapons is that we can’t afford them now.” After the presentations those 20 Ambassadors were virtually lined up asking in effect, “How do I sign up for indefinite NPT extension?” So NGO’s can play a crucial role and increasingly are doing so.
Jonathan is President of one such NGO, the Global Security Institute. It was founded by Senator Alan Cranston and with his passing now for some years Jonathan has been carrying the flame, and under his leadership GSI is doing so much. On Capitol Hill, there is the Bipartisan Security Group which I chair. It has been working with the Bipartisan Nonproliferation Task Force in the House of Representatives. There is Jonathan’s extensive work with the Nobel Peace Laureates Organization. Also the GSI Parliamentary network, an organization with considerable world-wide influence, is part of the GSI effort. The Article VI Fora, twice annual gatherings in international capitols and important for the cause of nuclear nonproliferation: e.g., Ottawa, Dublin, Berlin etc. have been established by GSI. These meetings are usually led off by the Foreign Minister of the host country and involve many distinguished figures in the arms control/nonproliferation field. The Carter Center Consultations, led by former President Jimmy Carter is another important GSI contribution. Jonathan and GSI are also in the front ranks of the movement toward the world-wide, verifiable and enforceable elimination of nuclear weapons.
This work steadily grows more important as the world becomes more dangerous by the day. There could be as many as 50-70 failed and failing states today, breeding grounds for terrorism and the pursuit of mass violence. Preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons becomes ever more difficult with the spread of nuclear weapon related technology all over the world. Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons which could trigger a nuclear arms race among major states in the Middle East. North Korea seems to have made the decision to pursue the status of a nuclear weapon state and to threaten Japan in the process. Japan could build nuclear weapons very quickly and then what would South Korea do? North Korea might also contemplate selling nuclear weapons to Iran and elsewhere. And with the growing strength in Pakistan of the Taliban- an ally of Al-Qaeda- and the weaknesses of the Pakistani state, the specter is raised of Al Qaeda acquiring part or all of the Pakistani nuclear weapon stockpile. If this ever were to happen, today’s dangerous security situation would seem like paradise by comparison. The world community simply must find a way to move toward zero nuclear weapon world-wide, on a verifiable and enforceable basis, for the sake of the safety of our children and grandchildren.
Thus, nuclear disarmament is no longer something merely to strive for, its achievement is a moral imperative if peace and security for this world is ever to be found. Jonathan has contributed much to this effort in the past and will continue to do so for years to come.
I will close with some words by our President-
The Holy Koran tells us, “O mankind! We have created you male and female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.” The Talmud tells us: “The whole of the Torah is for the purpose of promoting peace.” The Holy Bible tells us “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision.