Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation mourn the passing of Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).
For many years, Kennedy was a leader of progressive causes, including the Council’s core mission of the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. In 2007, the Council and Center honored Kennedy by awarding him the second annual Father Robert F. Drinan Peace and Human Rights award. The first recipient of the award was Father Drinan himself.
Kennedy was a leader in the movement to end the Vietnam War. In the 1980s, he rallied opposition to America’s involvement in conflicts in Central America. In recent years he has been the leader of opposition to the war in Iraq, first taking a bold stand against launching the invasion and then leading efforts to begin a responsible withdrawal. Kennedy called his vote against the authorization of the use of force in Iraq “the best vote I’ve made in my 44 years in the United States Senate.”
Kennedy was also a prominent advocate of nuclear disarmament. In 1982, he and Senator Mark Hatfield (R-OR) introduced the Nuclear Freeze Amendment, which called for a verifiable and mutual nuclear weapons freeze between the United States and the Soviet Union. Though the amendment was not passed, the popular support it received resulted in the eventual negotiation and ratification of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Following a trip to Russia in 1986, Kennedy relayed to President Reagan that the Soviets were willing to negotiate a separate treaty on nuclear weapons in Europe. This resulted in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
During the Clinton administration, Kennedy led the fight for ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Though this fight was unsuccessful, President Obama has promised to resubmit the treaty for approval in 2010.
The youngest son in a family of political icons, Edward Kennedy’s life and work dominate the political history of the second half of the 20th century. We dedicated ourselves to the fulfillment of his dream of a world at peace, free of the terrible danger of nuclear weapons.