Last winter, as the world scrambled to make sense of what the new Trump administration would do to decades of nuclear security progress and policies, Ploughshares launched its first-ever Emergency Response Fund. Like you, we were stunned by Trump’s election. Any number of potential disasters were suddenly staring us in the face:
- On Inauguration Day, Trump would be handed the codes to launch the world’s most advanced nuclear arsenal without any deliberation or oversight from Congress.
- He talked openly during his campaign about “tearing up” the Iran nuclear agreement, which would gut many of the restraints on Iran’s nuclear program and push the US closer to a new war in the Middle East.
- And his hostile, impulsive rhetoric threatened to blow up arms control agreements, exacerbate tensions with North Korea, and encourage other nations to acquire nuclear weapons.
At the same time, we maintained a glimmer of hope. Republican presidents have historically led efforts to reduce the US nuclear stockpile and build new global security agreements. Could President Trump actually work with Vladimir Putin to make cuts in our arsenals? Would he follow through on discussions with North Korea. We were skeptical, but open to potential opportunities.
To meet this moment with quick and nimble action, we put out a public request for new projects under $10,000, designed to combat these challenges and take advantage of possible opportunities. We mobilized our grantees, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.
The response was immediate and overwhelming. We received nearly 30 innovative proposals, ranging from grassroots organizing to sophisticated policy analysis. We made 10 grants across our key priority areas: reducing US nuclear weapons; resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis; and protecting the Iran nuclear deal. Two investments went to entirely new grantees, and the work that emerged on North Korea has grown into its own core policy campaign.
This is some of the urgent work you made possible as we entered the chaotic, uncertain early days of the Trump administration:
- Georgia WAND—a women-led social justice organization working with communities of color—knew that engaging the Korean American community will be a critical component of any strategy dealing with North Korea. In partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice, they built a public research campaign to gather the views and ideas of Georgia’s Korean American community on diplomacy with North Korea. Their findings led to a telephone town hall in both English and Korean attended by more than 600 people.
- Korea Peace Network focused on diplomatic paths to resolving the Korean nuclear crisis and building policy off-ramps to the Trump administration’s combative talk. They assembled 13 experts, including former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, for a conference to discuss US-North Korea relations, Northeast Asian security and human rights. Additionally, they helped launch the American Friends Service Committee’s new report “Engaging North Korea II” and coordinated outreach to US, UN and Korean officials on options for reducing tensions and boosting diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula."
- CATO Institute created a series of op-eds, podcasts and events that reinforced the fact that the Iran deal strengthens US security interests by preserving peace and avoiding the massive human and economic costs of military action with Iran. These efforts amplified our campaign’s broader war and peace narrative, and built buy-in from conservative experts and officials. In our current partisan environment, this nonpartisan message is essential to reaching wider audiences and preserving the Iran Deal.
- Princeton Citizen Scientists—a group of Princeton University engineering and physics graduate students—became an official partner of the March for Science in Washington, DC to defend evidence-based policies, open and accessible scientific knowledge, and respectful airings of public concerns. This was critical work as the Trump administration attacks information itself. Now registered as a civil society organization with the United Nations, Princeton Citizen Scientists have participated in briefings and negotiations at the UN in favor of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty.
- Tri-Valley CAREs launched a three-month media engagement, congressional education and community outreach campaign on the risks of renewed US nuclear testing, which remains a real possibility under the new president, and particularly personal with Lawrence Livermore National Lab right in their backyard. Now with the release of the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review—which calls for a host of new nuclear weapons that would require new nuclear testing—this grassroots network is already in place to oppose new weapons work at its epicenter.
This was all made possible by committed individuals like you, who generously supported this emergency effort and helped us raise more than $100,000 to support these urgent initiatives.
Ploughshares Fund wouldn’t be in our current position of strength without the critical work of our grantees or without you. With your help we have again proved our ability to leverage the brightest minds with the best ideas when our nation, and the world, needs them most.
Since the early days of 2017, the Trump administration has charted a course that is even worse than expected. If his most recent round of firings and chaos in the West Wing are any indication, we have a long road ahead of us. In the weeks and months ahead, we expect the Trump administration to intensify its pursuit of nuclear policies that will only make the world a more dangerous place.
We’re standing by—ready to do more in the face of this reckless administration.