I'm sure everybody remembers learning about the Cold War and the arms race during an American history class at some point during their high school or college curriculum. To be honest, it was my senior year in high school and at that point, I was basically checked out for the school year.
It wasn’t until coming to college and taking more foreign policy-centered courses that the true gravity of the situation struck me. During a time when renewed fears of nuclear warfare are so high, our own Bloomington City Council members felt the need to address the issue.
Although there have been treaties and agreements prohibiting the development, stockpiling and usage of these weapons, they still remain a credible threat and risk. Given the current state of international affairs and turmoil, this needs to become a top priority for all nations of the world.
I want to clarify this by saying in no way do I pretend to be an expert on international relations or global policy-making. I’ve had the opportunity to take classes that have broadened my knowledge on the subject, but I do not have any sort of conclusive answer to this problem.
But then again, I don’t think there is one single solution to this problem.
Clearly, the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START and START II) agreements haven’t accomplished as much as the US would’ve hoped with Russia still stockpiling and maintaining the most nuclear weapons in the world according to the Federation of American Scientists.
Given that North Korea has once again begun reconstructing nuclear test sites, it seems like many of the measures and precautions we’ve taken thus far seem to have fallen short of the mark. So what should we do?
Although it seemed odd that our local officials felt the need to address this international issue since they can’t do much to directly address the issue unlike the federal government, I have come to see this as a potential solution to this problem. Some may assume these representatives already understand how grave this situation may be for the countries directly threatened, but they need to hear it from us, the people they represent.
As a country, we are fortunate because we are about 5,500 miles removed from the egregious and unprovoked war in Ukraine. Yes, war, not a disagreement between nations or a “special operation.” It is a war not only for the Ukrainian military, but also for the people.
The might and will of the Ukrainian citizens and their fight for sovereignty shows us how everyday citizens have the power to institute change. Although we aren’t fighting in the sense that they are, we are still able to voice our concerns to incite reform.
Often, politicians get elected to office, they migrate to Washington D.C. and spend less time here in their district. Although they still live locally they don’t spend near as much time in their home district and they don’t hear from their constituents as much either. We need to open these lines of communication and address our concerns.
Let your opinion on nuclear weapons be heard. Call or email your representatives. Don’t think you need to have a solution — all they need to hear is that this issue matters to you. Join activist groups and protests. It may feel like elected officials aren’t listening and often, they aren’t. Make them hear your voice.
Sean Gilley (he/him) is a senior studying political science and economics with a certificate in informatics.