Getting the Inside Scoop

Now that the 2012 elections are over and the results are in, the nation’s capital is getting back to the business of policymaking. And, certainly, it seems that policymakers are energized and ready to go. And so are we! 

Just one week after the election, Ploughshares Fund’s Board of Directors and key supporters got the inside scoop on the policy issues that will shape Washington during the next four years at our “2012 National Security and Nuclear Policy” briefings. Each year, our Board of Directors and key supporters convene in Washington, DC for a day of briefings about nuclear weapons policy from prominent journalists, Members of Congress, and our expert partners. This year’s session, which focused on the prospects for nuclear policy over the next four years, provided the most exciting briefings yet.

Multiple Members of Congress from both chambers and political parties – Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) – dropped-by to share their thoughts. They spoke about diverse national security and nuclear weapons policy topics, ranging from the future of U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation to the potential for future nuclear weapons treaties and actions by congress to the nation’s fiscal woes and the nuclear weapons budget to prospects for preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon through diplomacy.

We also heard from leading thinkers throughout the briefings. First up was a panel of leading journalists – Amy Walter of ABC News, Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal, and Mark Thompson of Time Magazine who all gave a lively overview of the political environment we can expect on national security for the next four years.  Their dynamic panel was followed by an in-depth discussion of the growing debate on the nuclear weapons budget by Ploughshares Fund grantees, featuring Terri Lodge of American Security Project, Susan Shaer of Women’s Action for New Directions, and Jeff Smith of the Center for Public Integrity. Following this up was a working lunch about the conflict and state of governance in Pakistan with Ploughshares Fund grantee and leading expert Shuja Nawaz of the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. After lunch, participants dove deep into the diplomatic, military, and technological challenges that the Iranian nuclear program presents for American policymakers with grantees Melissa Dalton of the Center for a New American Security, Ambassador Bill Luers of the Iran Project and Dr. Jim Walsh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A bus then swept the group off to Foggy Bottom, where the group was met with some of the State Department’s finest non-proliferation policy experts and leaders and get an inside tour of the brand new Nuclear Risk Reduction Center.

It was a busy day, but one well worth the effort, as it gave Ploughshares Fund and our key supporters a rare look inside Washington’s policy community. 


Did these honorable people talk about the ratification of CTBT? Do they think it posssible for Obama to push the CTBT through the senate during his second term in office?

Thanks for this informative peek into the annual briefing of your well-regarded Fund, and Board of Directors. It provides a good insight of the thoughtful processes that have grown into place in Washington and American society as an whole: to keep an eye on the many challenges created by the existence of nuclear weapons. And how you manage this business is hugely influential on what then happens in my British culture. That preamble is mainly to indicate that I am acquainted with the position and policies of Ploughshare, and yet would dearly like to suggest that you apply your collective discipline and acumen to looking behind the scientific account that created the weapons and become more curious and concerned about the social nature of the particle world. I have come to see that we are like Christopher Columbus, in that we have "discovered" or uncovered another world ... which is the Atomic World. But we are presently so wrapped up and preoccupied with the weapons issue - which were made in frantic haste when we first became aware of the available energy in this "new world" - that it is very hard for us now to step back and properly register the social and sentient nature of the particle world. There is no one with a remit to look into this perception of the Atomic World. So anyone suggesting it, like myself, is easily dismissed. All the same, I have developed a web site: which seeks to show the evidence of the living nature of the particles, and indeed, the whole holographic nature of our Universe. Once you see it, it feels quite obvious. But turning ourselves around to look this way needs the collective intelligence and investment of a determined group. I believe the whole awkward nuclear subject is ready for this kind of approach. Thanks and good wishes. Ian Turnbull. Findhorn. Scotland.

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