Saturday, June 23, 2007

Council for a Livable World

About the CLW

Why The Council Exists

Council for a Livable World was founded in 1962 by eminent nuclear physicist Leo Szilard and other scientists who worked in the pioneer days of atomic weapons.

The goal of these men and women, who knew firsthand the nature of nuclear weapons, was to warn the public and Congress of the threat of nuclear war and lead the way to rational arms control and nuclear disarmament.

The mission of the Council has remained simple and pragmatic.

The Council provides Senators and Members of Congress with sophisticated technical and scientific information that helps them make intelligent decisions about weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, nuclear non-proliferation and other national security issues.

The Council was instrumental in passing the Chemical Weapons Convention and the 1992 nuclear testing moratorium, the Intermediate- Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the START Treaties; banning biological weapons; terminating chemical weapons production and the Minuteman missile; negotiation the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; limiting MX and B-2 deployment; blocking deployment by the Clinton Administration of a National Missile Defense and eliminating funding for the nuclear bunker buster, a new generation of nuclear weapons.

Council for a Livable World will continue to advocate deep reductions and the eventual elimination of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. As we broaden our mission in the 21st century, we will focus on ending the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and finding non-military solutions to international conflict.

How It Works in Washington

The Council uses many tools to monitor and influence arms control legislation in the U.S. Congress.

Legislation. The Council helps initiate and draft national security legislation, monitors appropriate committees, arranges for expert witnesses for important hearings, and keeps accurate head counts before votes are taken.

Lobbying. Council national security experts work to shape pending legislation in Congress and the Administration. Many Council supporters have joined the Grassroots Network to lobby Members of Congress personally on key votes.

Seminars. Council board members and other knowledgeable authorities outside of government provide valuable technical, scientific, and tactical information to Members of Congress and their staffs.

Public Information. To inform the public, political figures, and news media, the Council publishes fact sheets on weapons of mass destruction, nuclear nonproliferation and other national security issues; distributes voting records of senators and representatives on national security issues; has extensive email lists to distribute articles, analyses and other information and maintains an extensive website:

Joint Actions. The Council works closely with other arms control and national security groups to track major legislation, build coalitions to work with Congress, and keep the public informed about key national sdcurity issues.

Council for a Livable World Candidate Fund

The Council for a Livable World Candidate Fund is the electoral arm of the arms control and national security community. Over the last 44 years the Council’s political efforts have helped elect 113 U.S. Senators and 150 Members of the House of Representatives.

Council for a Livable World sends to its members regular updates on the closest Senate and House elections. Unlike other candidate assistance groups, Council members themselves decide which Council endorsed candidates they prefer to support.

A Council member makes out a check to a candidate and sends it to the Council or contributes online, where the contributions are sent with hundreds of others to the candidate. This guarantees that the candidate knows the contributions are from advocates for sensible national security policies.

Council supporters provide more funds to opponents of the arms race than any other arms control organization in America – $1.5 million in 2006. Incumbents and challengers alike understand that Council members are very serious about eliminating weapons of mass destruction. The Council’s political program begins with exhaustive campaign intelligence gathered months, even years, before elections take place.

Candidates are required to answer rigorous questionnaires on issues and to defend their positions in interviews. The nonpartisan Council does not get involved in every race.

-It chooses races where the differences between candidates on arms control issues are clear-cut.
-It prefers to concentrate on smaller states and primary elections, where campaign dollars go farther.
-It recommends candidates in close races where Council dollars can be crucial and when candidates have true financial need.

The Council model is widely recognized as very effective. Over the past three election campaigns, the Republican Party has spent well over a $1 million on ad campaigns designed to portray Council-supported candidates as unpatriotic and un-American for their support of more sensible national security policies—a message that ultimately failed to resonate with voters. In 2006, the Council helped defeat arch conservatives Conrad Burns (R-MT), Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Mike DeWine (R-OH), and replace them with Jon Tester, Bob Casey, and Sherrod Brown, respectively.

For the 2008 elections, the Council will support candidates who advocate reductions in nuclear weapons, an end to the deployment of an ineffective missile defense system, and expansion of non-proliferation programs. Council welcomes suggestions from its members.

1949 Photo of Leo Szilard

In 1932, Szilárd had read about the fictional "atomic bombs" described in H. G. Wells's science fiction novel The World Set Free. This inspired him to be the first scientist to seriously examine the science behind the creation of nuclear weapons. As a scientist, he was the first person to conceive of a device that, using a nuclear chain reaction as fuel, could be used as a bomb.

"During 1943 and part of 1944 our greatest worry was the possibility that Germany would perfect an atomic bomb before the invasion of Europe...In 1945, when we ceased worrying about what the Germans might do to us, we began to worry about what the government of the United States might do to other countries."

-Leo Szilard(left), physicist


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