Halting the Nuclear Arms Race


Our Jewish tradition has long warned of the dangers of militarism, warfare and of the relation of injustice to war. From the day that our prophets first dreamed of the time when nations would convert the swords of war into the plowshares of peace, we have sought ways to avoid conflict even while maintaining our security. In our own time we are proud of the role of our movement and the leadership of our rabbis in working for nuclear disarmament.

Our commitment to "seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms 34:15) has been translated into resolutions and reaffirmations of arms control provisions which would work toward the goal of universal disarmament. In this context, we recognize that the signing of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty by former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was an important first step in a process which can lead to reversing the nuclear arms race. For the first time in our history, an agreement was signed to eliminate a whole category of nuclear delivery systems. Similarly, we recognize that proposals presented by President Bush and affirmed by NATO allies may hold the potential for major breakthrough in reducing or even eliminating short range nuclear missiles.

We have long supported specific steps aimed at halting the nuclear arms race. Among these steps are support for a comprehensive test ban treaty; support for a verifiable treaty prohibiting the testing, production, and deployment of space-based weapons and of earth-based and atmosphere-based weapons designed to attack targets in space; and support for measures to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Yet these steps will only halt the increase of weapons while leaving the world subject to the artificial stability of a nuclear deterrence based on the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

That concept has come under serious moral and strategic reevaluation. The Roman Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders have expressed grave disquiet about the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction, maintaining that the United States possesses an overabundance of nuclear capabilities, more than sufficient to deter a nuclear attack even if it takes limited unilateral steps to test the Soviets willingness toward real disarmament. Rejecting the premise that, in the foreseeable future, production and/or modernization of nuclear weapons is needed in order to deter a nuclear attack, they urge the United States to look actively for constructive unilateral steps which can reverse the direction of the nuclear arms race even while maintaining our security. However, they also recognize that, in an uncertain world, large scale unilateral disarmament of nuclear weapons would be a form of national suicide. While the reality of existing armaments requires acceptance of nuclear deterrence for the present as a stabilizing force, genuine disarmament and true peace require that reliance upon nuclear deterrence end and that nuclear weapons be eliminated.

THEREFORE, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations resolves to:

  1. Commend former President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for the leadership they demonstrated by the signing of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
  2. Commend President George Bush for taking significant steps toward limiting short range nuclear missiles and urge the American government to intensify its efforts toward achieving a START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement, a comprehensive test ban, and a ban on weapons in space.
  3. Express appreciation to the Roman Catholic Bishops and the Methodist Bishops for calling for a reassessment of the moral and strategic assumptions of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).
  4. Work toward elimination of long term reliance on nuclear armaments as a deterrent and adopt as our goal a multilateral, negotiated, verifiable arms control process to decrease and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.
  5. Support the concept of limited unilateral cuts in the U.S. arsenal which might encourage further similar cuts by the U.S.S.R. without eliminating a credible level of deterrence.