White Paper: Changing Cultural Conceptions of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear weapons have been around for almost 70 years. In that time, nuclear weapons have become just a synonym for “the ultimate weapon;” Hollywood’s trump card in case of dangerous terrorists, deranged dictators or alien attack.

It’s as if we have collectively forgotten the real horror of weapons whose only purpose is mass, indiscriminate destruction. Instead, the Hollywood illusion threatens to become reality. We have become collectively complacent about the continued threat we face from the same nuclear weapons that we imagine keep us safe.

At Ploughshares Fund, we started asking ourselves the question: what could be achieved if we could change these cultural conceptions of nuclear weapons? What would happen if Americans believed that we don’t need weapons of mass destruction to keep us safe? And instead, started to understand that nuclear weapons are liabilities no matter who holds them?

To find out, we consulted with some of the nation’s experts on cultural advocacy, Liz Manne of the Culture Group and Mik Moore and Miriam Fogelson of Moore and Associates asking them what would need to be done to start to change public perceptions of nuclear weapons.

The resulting white paper lays out a useful history of how nuclear weapons have been experienced in US culture since 1945 and makes recommendations for funding strategies that could work to shift our current cultural notions around nuclear weapons. Their findings also point out areas of opportunity that we believe are new to the peace and security conversation.

As an organization that highly values transparency, we are pleased to make this paper public. We hope that it will stir up a valuable conversation within the peace and security community and spur new ways to achieve our goal of a more peaceful and stable world. 

Read the full report: Cultural Strategy Report.


Photo: Flickr / Robert S. Digby