by Nikolas Efstathiou:
Q: Dr. Blair, you’ve had a long career in politics. What was it that inspired you to create and co-found Global Zero?
A: It all started with my career in Washington DC. I was writing a few books, did a few broadcasts, participating in the political discourse, working for a number of agencies, the US Congress and the Pentagon and also took part in the Air Force. I really came to the conclusion that you need to reach the hearts of the audience, a popular audience, in order to make big changes happen. So I left my work in 2000 to start my own organization that would start the campaign to take nuclear weapons off their world. It was still a time when the Russians were keeping thousands of weapons in their territory, and I thought that was the main issue when I started my campaign. So after raising money, I created this organization, called World Security Institute, and the idea was to reach a much larger audience, not only national but people throughout the world. I started TV shows, documentaries, publications in many different languages and established offices in many parts of the world, including Moscow, Brussels, and Cairo. I tried to expand the horizons of our work into the area of international affairs, and with the use of the media tried to reach a bigger audience. In the early 2000s I started realizing that the problem of nuclear weapons was getting out of control. We have a financial global problem that a number of leaders such as Merkel, Sarkozy and Obama are trying to solve. The same leaders are the ones who said nuclear proliferation is a massive problem, but have taken little action to solve it.
Q: There are a lot of think tanks, NGO’s or independent organizations in today’s world. Yet, few actually manage to have the impact that Global Zero has had in international affairs. Why do you think that is?
A: There is a perception that nuclear abolition is a policy advocated only by Democrat supporters. Global Zero, however, has approached it as a global problem, attracting a lot of Republican supporters as well. Liberals and conservatives, from America and abroad are all part of this truly global movement. Around the world we are working with people who are devoting their time and life to this cause, treating Global Zero as a profession. We have media companies working for us as full-time consultants in London, Washington, New York and other places. And then we work with leaders around the world, attempting to influence decisions that are coming along, such the ratification of the START agreement. The bottom line is that this trend has now become a movement, and there is no way to stop it. You don’t have to do a lot, or to channel a lot of energy; people across the world as scared of the future, and join our cause.
Q: It looks as if there are two separate groups that are involved in Global Zero. On the one hand you have the about 300 political, military, business, faith and civic leaders. And on the other hand, you have the hundreds of citizens that support Global Zero’s cause. How do you think these groups are intertwined?
A: I think there is another really important group. Our student chapters, which are closer to the high level groups, and sort of bridge the gap between the “global leaders” and the hearts and minds of the people. We really are a bonded organization, and the elder statesman of our group love to interact with younger people, and vice versa. There is a lot to gain from this interaction, networking, career opportunities, and connections. And then, as you said, we have partnered with some, more “unusual groups”. Most NGO’s in the past haven’t really escaped the traditional coalition building, but we were more strategic with our partnerships. For example, we partnered with avaaz.org, one of fastest growing online movements in the world now, and they now send emails on behalf of Global Zero. These are ordinary people from all around the world, and yet manage to help us in unique ways.
Q: Global Zero’s action plan revolves a lot around the so-called nuclear superpowers, the US and Russia. How do you plan to get emerging nuclear powers, such as India, Pakistan, Israel or North Korea involved in the abolition movement?
A: Well, the main step we hope to accomplish in the next few years is to get all the world leaders to come together, and to launch a multilateral abolition movement. The P5 – The US, Russia, China, the UK and France – as well as the three other nuclear weapon powers, Israel, India and Pakistan should start laying the political ground for this global movement. It takes time, but we are confident that the power of the abolitionist voice will speed up the process.