TOS Endorses Back from the Brink

All the graphics by Maria Oswalt from Unsplash.

The Theosophical Order of Service has taken a major step through its endorsement of the Back From The Brink campaign. Back from the Brink: The Call to Prevent Nuclear War is “a national grassroots campaign seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons and fundamental change in U.S. nuclear weapons policy.” The organization was conceived and initiated by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Physicians for Social Responsibility in the fall of 2017. It is a collaborative effort, designed to not be owned by any single individual or organization, but is partnered with many other like-minded organizations of which the Theosophical Order of Service is now among. 

Back from the Brink presents five policy solutions with supporting legislation to bring them into reality:

  • Pursue a Verifiable Agreement Among Nuclear Armed States to Eliminate their Nuclear Arsenals:

Given the extraordinary destructive power of nuclear weapons, it should be the highest US national security priority to seek the elimination of these weapons — those possessed by other countries and those in our own arsenal.”

  • Renounce the Option of Using Nuclear Weapons First:

The United States has never renounced the right to use nuclear weapons first. This increases the chance that a conflict could escalate to nuclear war. The United States should instead declare that it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons.”

  • End the Sole, Unchecked Authority of Any U.S. President to Launch a Nuclear Attack

Currently there is no check on the president’s authority to order the use of nuclear weapons, either first or in response to a nuclear attack. If the president decided to launch a nuclear strike, he/she would simply notify the military of this decision. The president may consult advisers, but this is not required, and no one has the authority to countermand a legal launch order. This system is risky and unjustified. There are practical ways to include multiple decision-makers in authorizing the use of nuclear weapons, and the United States should adopt such changes.”

  • Take U.S. Nuclear Weapons Off Hair-Trigger Alert

The United States has roughly 1,700 deployed nuclear weapons and another several thousand in reserve. Four hundred of these are on missiles in underground silos, ready to be launched within minutes of a presidential order. This alert status — called hair-trigger alert — increases the chance of a launch in response to a false alarm. There have been numerous close calls over the past forty years due to both human and technical errors, and keeping missiles on high alert increases the danger of accidental war. There is no compelling rationale for maintaining this option. The United States should remove its missiles from hair-trigger alert.”

  • Cancel the Plan to Replace the Entire U.S. Nuclear Arsenal with Enhanced Weapons

Over the next 30 years, the United States plans to spend an estimated $1.7 trillion dollars to replace its entire nuclear arsenal and the bombers, missiles, and submarines that delivers the weapons with more capable versions. Such a tremendous investment of money and effort is unnecessary. The U.S.’s current nuclear arsenal is more than sufficient to deter an attack (and indeed sufficient to destroy life on this planet as we know it many times over), and the conventional military deterrent is also sufficient to not need additional nuclear weapons or upgrades.”

This effort to promote peace, justice, and environmental stewardship, and its alignment to the core values of the TOS, prompted the board of directors to unanimously agree to endorse its work. For more information on “Back from the Brink” and its ongoing efforts please visit

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