It’s summer, and if you are on vacation, you might be headed off to one of the Great Lakes or Lake Champlain. But just imagine, for a moment, that you had a special guest with you on your trip: President James Monroe.
If Monroe gazed out at the Lakes, he might breathe a sigh of relief, and not just because of the summer heat. Instead, he would be glad not to see fleets of warships on those Lakes.
Monroe worked to disarm the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain and avoid a dangerous arms competition with Great Britain after the War of 1812. Having scores of warships roaming the Lakes was not the road to peace. A treaty was forged which practically disarmed the Lakes, except for a few vessels.
Fort Niagara overlooking Lake Ontario
In Monroe’s words, “By this arrangement useless expense on both sides……..is prevented.”
Today, Americans would also like to avoid useless expense when it comes to nuclear weapons. However, the new START Treaty reducing U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons is stalled in the Senate and nuclear spending may go up. All this is happening in a post-Cold War world.
Steven Pifer of the Brookings Institution says the administration “intends to spend $80 billion over 10 years for NNSA weapons’ activities and the nuclear weapons complex, as well as $100 billion over 10 years to maintain and modernize strategic delivery systems.”
Keep in mind that a Carnegie Endowment report showed U.S. nuclear weapons spending of at least 52 billion during the year 2008.
More spending looks to be on the way, and arms control pacts like the new START and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty appear to be in great jeopardy. The stage may be set for a renewed arms race and nuclear weapons test explosions. This will mean more expense, not to mention an increase an international tension.
Think of how just a tiny fraction of the nuclear weapons spending could perform wonders in the massive global hunger crisis impacting over 1 billion people. This struggle – to fight hunger and poverty – is where the true struggle for peace lies in this century, not with massive spending on nuclear armaments.
However, with new nuclear weapons spending proposals on the way, you will need to be on standby to open your wallet. Also, before you finish your vacation, be sure to drop off President Monroe at one of his summer homes in the Virginia countryside.