Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
President Eisenhower said that not achieving a nuclear test ban ''would have to be classed as the greatest disappointment of any administration of any decade of any time and of any party.''
That was in 1961.
The CTBT was concluded in 1996 after 40 years of bipartisan effort. The United States was the first to sign. President Clinton called it ''the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in the history of arms control.''
We join many others in the belief that ratification of this treaty is the most important vote that the US Senate will ever make in our lifetime. On October 13, 1999, it was rejected after only 3 days of debate by a vote that, with few exceptions, was totally along party lines. All but four Senate Republicans voted against ratification, despite the fact that this is a completely non-partisan issue and is supported by 80% of Republicans.
We think the Senate rejection of the CTBT was a national embarrassment.
This is the most serious mistake the Senate ever made, said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.
Indeed, the rest of the world agrees with Biden. Among officials at NATO and the United Nations, there were expressions of regret, often combined with fears that the U.S. vote had dealt what Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon called an enormous blow to all our efforts to make the world a safer place to live in.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE...here's how:
The view of the President has an enormous impact on whether we will ratify the treaty in the near future. And the leading candidates for President disagree on whether this treaty should be ratified. Each side argues that their view will reduce risk for the US. Obviously, they can't both be right.
AGAINST RATIFICATION: Bush
FOR RATIFICATION: Bradley, Gore
Who is right? We encourage you to make up your own mind about this critical issue. Here are five really simple things that YOU can do to help save the world:
Here's some quick background...a column that appeared in the Washington Post by syndicated columnist Geneva Overholser before the Senate vote. Unfortunately, the Senate did not vote as she expected and the treaty was not ratified.
SENATORS RECKLESS IN HOLDING UP TREATY
|DO YOU HAVE friends or family in North Carolina or Mississippi? Then do yourself -- do
all of us -- a favor. Beg them to call Jesse Helms and Trent Lott and demand an end to
their outrageous refusal to allow Senate consideration of the Comprehensive Test Ban
Mississippi's Lott, the Senate majority leader, and North Carolina's Helms, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are peevishly and recklessly bottling up the ban on nuclear weapons testing that, by all logic, the Senate should be ratifying.
|The CTBT was concluded in 1996 after 40 years of bipartisan effort. The United States
was the first to sign. President Clinton called it ''the longest-sought, hardest-fought
prize in the history of arms control.''
Since then, 151 other nations have signed; 41 have ratified. Until the U.S. Senate ratifies it, however, the treaty cannot go into force for any country.
The United States already has stopped testing nuclear weapons. Precluding other nations from testing, as this verifiable treaty would do, is powerfully in the interests of this and other countries.
Lott's and Helms' refusal to allow hearings is not based on the treaty's merits. They are using it as leverage to further their own agendas -- holding the treaty hostage to goad Clinton to send other, unrelated matters to the Senate. If the treaty were allowed to go to the Senate floor, it appears all but certain that it would be ratified; it has strong support in both parties. Yet the Helms-Lott impetuosity has continued for a year and a half.
Last week, treaty backers showed signs of life. Clinton -- who could, if he invested enough of himself, put this issue onto the public agenda so squarely that Helms and Lott could never get away with their recklessness -- gave a brief and fairly lackluster speech, in which he called for hearings.
More vigorous action came from a group of senators of both parties, who fielded a lively news conference in which they called for an end to Helms' and Lott's stonewalling.
Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, called the treaty ''a matter of survival.''
Added Delaware's Joseph Biden, a Democrat: ''The unwillingness of Trent Lott to allow us to debate this treaty, the unwillingness of the Foreign Relations Committee to even bring up the treaty, is counterintuitive.
''It is irresponsible, it is against the interests and wishes of the American people, it overrides the vast majority of the view of the United States senators, and it is stupid. It is stupid.''
Public opinion on the treaty is overwhelmingly positive, as a bipartisan poll released at the news conference confirmed. Eight in 10 Americans support the treaty.
President Eisenhower said that not achieving a nuclear test ban ''would have to be classed as the greatest disappointment of any administration of any decade of any time and of any party.''
That was in 1961. Almost 40 years later, Helms and Lott hold the treaty's success or
failure in their tight little grip, and only a full-fledged showing of public outrage can
jar it loose.
I sent the following email recently to Tom Campbell who is running for Senate. Campbell is presently against ratification and his reasons are very similar to the reasons that Presidential candidate Bush articulated to me recently as to why he is against the treaty. So the arguments below apply to Campbell as well as to Bush:
I've taken some time to educate myself on the nuclear test ban treaty because I, along with many others, believe that the CTBT is arguably the most important vote that the Senate will ever cast in our lifetime (which, with the recent rejection of the CTBT, now looks to be a lot shorter than it was before).
I've had discussions with four-star General George Lee Butler (former head of the US Strategic Command) and many others. I've also read everything I can on this issue because it is so important.
It seems very clear to me that rejection of the treaty is a mistake of global proportions. Therefore, the views on the CTBT you posted on your website make it impossible for me to support you now and if you continue to hold these views, I will make every effort to urge my fellow CEOs to not support you either.
You have a reputation as an environmentalist. As I'm sure you know, one of the leading environmental groups in this country is the NRDC. Have you read the NRDC's analysis of this issue? Or seen any rebuttal of their rebuttal of the Cato Institute analysis? I urge you to personally take a look at the CTBT links on the Ploughshares website, which includes the NRDC report. The arguments you present on your website in support of rejection of the CTBT are fully rebutted by those documents.
You put forth 3 arguments on your website:
CAMPBELL: "detection would be a problem"
Yet leading experts agree that NO violator could be CONFIDENT of escaping detection of any explosion that could threaten us. Sure, it's POSSIBLE a country might be able to do a few tests without detection, especially low-yield tests. But nowhere near the number of tests to be a major superpower or even a major threat. Who is going to risk it? We've done over 1,000 nuclear tests (far more than any other country). Nobody is going to get even close to being a threat to us without detection. That's the whole point.
Tests of weapons with more than a one-kiloton yield can be reliably detected, and the CTBT monitoring provisions increases the seismic monitoring stations which would improve the ability to detect tests.
Dr. Hans Bethe, who was the head of the Manhattan Project's theoretical division had a great piece in the recent NY Review of Books where he argues that the information a country would gain from a low-yield test (less than one kiloton) would not be helpful in the development of a hydrogen bomb with large destructive power. New nuclear powers would gain more information from testing a larger 5 to 20-kiloton bomb which can be detected.
Also the CTBT does allow for on-site inspections of suspicious events (the process is a bit cumbersome - i.e., 30 of the Executive Council's 51 members have to approve the inspection before it can go ahead), but it is an important aspect of the deterrent as NRDC argues its point on verification:
This paper [Cato Institute's analysis of the CTBT] largely misses the point on verification. One hundred percent certainty is not the goal. The goal of any verification system is to deter all violations of the treaty, while assuring detection of violations that would deprive a party of the security benefits it derives from the compliance of the other parties. Thus the probability of detecting violations must be high enough so that potential violators will believe that the risks of being found in violation outweigh the expected benefits of the illegal act. Conversely, the law-abiding nations must be convinced that the security risks posed any by undetected violations are substantially less than the security benefits of the treaty.
CAMPBELL: "I share the concerns expressed by two of President Clinton's own CIA Directors, Jim Woolsey and John Deutsch, that the treaty was unenforceable. We would end up complying with it, while other nations either would not sign (e.g., North Korea), or having signed, would not be able to be monitored due to the low yield of their tests (e.g., Russia, China, IF they signed)."
But we already comply with it, and we have since 1992, and it's likely we'll continue to do so. So there's no downside for us. We have no further need of nuclear testing (unless we want to start an arms race again and develop even more weapons of mass destruction....we can now destroy the planet more than 100 times over... isn't that enough?). We've done well over 1,000 tests. Far more than anyone else. So for the nations who won't sign, we're no worse off than we are now, and for the nations who do sign, we're clearly much better off. Bottom line is a net win if we sign, and an increase in world stability.
There aren't any perfect treaties that guarantee people won't cheat. Heck, the Senate themselves has never passed any law ever where it is 100% guaranteed that violators will be caught. So what makes them think that this should only be ratified if it is 100% foolproof? It's a pretty good compromise considering the number of countries that must approve it. This treaty is a step in the right direction because it makes it highly unlikely that violators will escape detection. And hopefully, a follow on is that there is a second treaty that supercedes this one, that makes it even harder to escape detection and makes the enforcement provisions have even more teeth and includes even more countries.
You have to start somewhere. This treaty is merely a first giant step in the right direction. Rejection means 40 years of hard work down the toilet after only 3 days of debate in the Senate. Not very responsible.
CAMPBELL: "Four former Defense Secretaries were opposed to this treaty, because it could not be verified, and because it would put the US at risk."
The facts suggest otherwise on both counts (verification and risk). I realize you are using the Defense Secretaries as examples of smart people who support your position, but there are even more smart people who support ratification. Shouldn't you trust a US President's judgement more than a Defense Secretary? Or the judgement of those whose job it is to be the primary military advisor to those Defense Secretaries (namely, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). The treaty is supported by current and former US Presidents, important military officials like the last two former Commander in Chiefs of the Strategic Air Command (Habiger and Butler), the Department of Defense, Gen. Colin Powell, current and former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (including General John Shalikashvili) , 82% of the American public and the 154 nations who have already signed including Russia, UK, France, and China. And how about the 15 of 19 NATO nations that have already ratified? Are most of our NATO nations wrong in ratifying a treaty that is so clearly in our favor? The treaty also has the support of former Senators such as Republicans Nancy Kassebaum (KS) and John Danforth (MO), and Paul Nitze who was an arms control negotiator for Reagan.
We've already covered verification above. Now let's look at your argument about "putting the US at risk". Rejecting the treaty puts a GREEN LIGHT on testing and buildup for India, Pakistan, China, etc. so that puts the US at MUCH GREATER risk than if they have to do that testing secretly or decide not to do it because it is too risky. We aren't testing anyway. So it's much less risky if everyone else is not testing too, isn't it? It seems obvious to me (and others smarter than me like all the Nobel laureates who support the treaty...are there any Nobel laureates that oppose the treaty?) the more deterrents you put in place for testing, the better. If you are looking for a PERFECT solution, you are a dreamer. Rejecting the treaty opens the doors to everyone building up arms putting the US at much greater risk.
Fortunately for us, China and Russia continue to express their intention to ratify (Jiang Zemin in a recent meeting with French Pres. Chirac reiterated that China intended to ratify), and Foreign Minister Ivanov recently said that they will ask the Russian Duma to ratify. Whether they will remains to be seen.
The test ban treaty is the culmination of worldwide efforts dating back to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy to prevent additional countries from developing nuclear weapons and the existing nuclear powers from improving theirs. That it could be rejected after only 3 days of debate in the Senate along party lines is a national embarrassment. That's why Senator Byrd voted "Present." He, like many people who are educated on the issue, thought it was absolutely preposterous to make the most important decision the Senate will ever make with only 3 days of debate.
The bottom line is:The US has a substantial lead in nuclear weapons technology and we haven't needed to test since 1992. This treaty, therefore, is strongly in our favor.Yet we rejected it?! That makes no sense to me. It should be totally clear to everyone that if ANY country should reject this treaty, we should be the LAST country to reject it!
This is a non partisan issue. It is supported by 80% of Republicans! And it was rejected almost totally on PARTY LINES after only 3 days of debate!?! Doesn't that raise a red flag in your mind? Surely you acknowledge that revenge at Clinton played a major role. Senators who voted against the treaty admit this privately. Don't you think this is very petty, putting the world at risk, just to hand Clinton a defeat?
Will you go to the Ploughshares website, read the articles on the subject linked to on their webpage, and call me?
On the one hand, I'd be pleased if you change your views on this. However, by doing this, you'd signal that you took a position on an issue of extremely high importance without doing a thorough job of research. That's disturbing. On the other hand, if you don't change your position after doing more research, that's even more disturbing.
So no matter which way you decide, you can't get a clean "win" in my mind, unless of course you can convince me that people like General Butler, the NRDC, former Presidents, Nobel laureates, etc. are misinformed and that the scientific facts as expressed by top scientists are wrong. That's possible, but not likely.
Of course, supporting a candidate is not about who the perfect candidate is, but selecting between alternatives. I hear from others that you are a good guy. I hope you change your mind on this issue. It would be much easier for me to support you.
The ABC News website has statements from experts arguing each side of the CTBT issue. They can't both be right. Armed with the knowledge you now have, you decide:
You may also want to read the emails I've received about the CTBT.
From Naila Bolus and Paul Carroll of PloughsharesWe have come up with the following responses to the various points, questions, issues raised. Also I want to note that we refer primarily to those organizations we fund (as well as our scientific advisors) - they are the experts on the technical aspects of the treaty and the testing issue generally. And I'm sure any of them would be happy to talk with you in detail about any of these issues.
Again, I apologize for taking so long to get back to you, but I wanted to provide a thorough response. Hope this helps.
I. Safety and Reliability of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal
Much of the debate and concern about the CTBT centers on the nuclear arsenal "turning to green cheese" over time if we do not constantly update, improve, and test it. These issues are complex, but there are some key points to be made.
1) The definitions of "safety" and "reliability" are very different and distinct, despite the fact that DOE tends to use them together ("safe and reliable"). There is a very technical definition for safety, having to do with the probability of a warhead detonating with a nuclear yield if subjected to certain adverse conditions. Basically, a "safe" warhead is one that will not explode even if subjected to fire, crash, theft, etc. The standard is high, on the order of less than one chance in a million. All current U.S. warheads are certified as "safe" and the passage of time will have little to do with any changes to safety. Safety is a function of the design of the weapon and its integration into the overall weapon system. In fact, DOE's own data show that "no age-related safety issue has ever occurred in the nuclear component of a nuclear weapon." (This is from a report about the Stockpile Stewardship program by Ploughshares Fund grantee Tri-Valley CAREs of Livermore, California.)
"Reliability" on the other hand, is the assurance that a warhead will explode within a relatively close range to its design yield. In other words, if a warhead is designed and intended to explode with a yield of 300 kilotons (roughly 20 Hiroshimas, a typical U.S. warhead) and it explodes with only 270 kilotons, it is deemed unreliable (only a 90% yield performance). Reliability, it is feared, will deteriorate over time as materials decay and warheads age.
These fears have slightly more merit than those about safety. But "aging" is rarely a significant problem with respect to reliability, either. (A report by another Ploughshares Fund grantee, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) called "Nuclear Safety Smokescreen" found that "Most reliability problems have a minor effect: almost seventy percent [of defects] reduced reliability by only one percent or less. The majority of reliability problems do not need corrective action or can be solved through production changes.")
Thus, the question for reliability is really one of "how reliable is reliable enough?" Congressman Campbell raises this issue in his correspondence of Monday, November 15 when he cites Dr. Robert Barker discussing the issue. Barker talks about those who would argue that "it doesn't matter if the reliability is only 65 percent". Based on the historical record, those few reliability problems that were discovered after the production of a warhead model, it is clear that negative impacts to reliability were far less than this arbitrary number. Furthermore, they had nothing to do with aging.
2) The vast majority of U.S. nuclear tests over the last 50 years were carried out for design proof testing and not for testing safety once a warhead model was in production. Using the automobile analogy that many, including Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs at DOE, Vic Reis, use, the nuclear tests are done on prototypes to test design concepts and performance. The designers use the information to refine the weapons. Once a design is "in production" it has been tested upside down and sideways to ensure that it is both safe and reliable. As thorough study of DOE data has shown in a study by the IEER, those warhead problems over the past decades that were severe enough to require "major modifications" were inherent in the design of the warhead, NOT due to aging. Thus, the "lemon" analogy falls down since it is the design of the car that went into production that was at fault, not time past since the consumer bought the car. The point here is that we need to be clear on what all those tests were actually carried out to do. Very few were for "checking" on the reliability or safety of warheads already produced and deployed. Most were for proof of design concept and actual nuclear weapons effects testing for military planning purposes.
There have been many good points made and questions asked by Bill Krause, Ed McIntosh, and Congressman Campbell about the verification regime in the current CTBT.
It is important to understand some basic facts about developing nuclear weapons and who the CTBT is aimed at. Bill Krause points out that "it is absolutely possible to build nuclear weapons and test them without detection consistently." We would not agree with this completely. There is an important distinction to be made between fledgling nuclear aspirants, and established nuclear powers.
The United States, in 1945, never tested the type of bomb it dropped on Hiroshima. This was a "gun type" atomic weapon that used two parts of uranium-235 and drove them together to produce the blast. The scientists and engineers knew it would work based on solid understanding of the relatively straightforward physics, and the test pile at the University of Chicago. We did test the plutonium bomb, like "Fat Man", that was used on Nagasaki because it was a more complex implosion device. This first ever nuclear explosion at Trinity in July of 1945 had about a 12 kiloton yield.
We need to be clear about what the CTBT can and cannot do, and what it can achieve even with limitations. There are today at least 9 assured nuclear states. The traditional 5 (U.S., Russia, China, France, and Great Britain) are mature and have long experience with nuclear weapons. We would argue that for these states, the CTBT would act as an arresting hook to stop "vertical proliferation" - the continued improvement and advancement of nuclear weapons technology.
For the others (India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa), and nuclear aspirants, their state of maturity is far less. The tests in May of 1998 in India and Pakistan were readily detected and identified by international seismic means not part of any proliferation regime. Like the U.S. experience, the "infancy" stage tests were around the 10 kiloton range.
Back to Bill Krause's assertion (through Gen. Goodpastor) that it is possible to hide nuclear tests consistently. Yes, a mature nuclear state with the capability to "decouple" a nuclear test and conduct tests in the low-yield range around 1 kiloton could escape detection. But why would they want to? Russia (or the U.S., or China) would have nothing to gain from carrying out clandestine tests in the 1 kiloton yield range.
There is excellent information available about seismic testing and the CTBT verification regime available at http://earth.agu.org/revgeophys/vander00/node4.html. This is written by Gregory van der Vink, and expert on seismic verification issues. He notes that in the 1980s "the range for the verification limit was between 1 and 10 kilotons [ Sykes, 1982; Hannon, 1985; Evernden et al., 1986], with a general conservative consensus of around 5 kilotons [ U.S. Congress, 1988]." "For an explosion of ten kilotons or more, decoupling would not be a credible evasion scenario." He continues: Without decoupling, a 1 kiloton nuclear explosion creates a seismic signal of M 4.0. There are about 7,500 seismic events worldwide each year with M 4.0 (Figure 1). At this magnitude, all such events in continental regions could be detected and identified with current or planned networks. If, however, a country were able to decouple successfully a 1 kiloton explosion in a large underground cavity, the muffled seismic signal generated by the explosion might be equivalent to 0.015 kilotons and have a seismic magnitude of M 2.5.
A threshold nuclear state would have to make several leaps beyond what every other nuclear weapons state went through to succeed in such evasion. Not a likely scenario. Furthermore, in today's world, it is far more likely that such a state or group would simply seek to buy a weapon rather than undertake the formidable enterprise of producing fissile materials, designing a weapon, excavating a test site to "decouple" the explosion, and test the bomb. It should be noted that these other steps would likely be detected by other means such as satellites, radiological detection, and even human intelligence. There is a good discussion of the range of the verification system under the CTBT at http://www.clw.org/coalition/briefv3n14.htm.
It would be remarkable indeed if a brand new or "threshold" nuclear state or actor were to kickoff its nuclear birth with a 1 kiloton range test. These are the levels of tests that might easily "fall below the radar" of seismic verification. But these are only tests that mature nuclear states could carry out. Furthermore, tests in this range are likely to yield only information of use to advanced, thermonuclear capable states. Ray Kidder of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is an authority on nuclear testing, safety and reliability, and what various tests and their magnitudes can and cannot do. We defer to him for a fuller discussion on who can gain what knowledge from what kinds of test, let alone actually carry them out. (Also see the article by Hans Bethe in the New York Review of books I referred you to before; it's on Ploughshares Fund's website now.)
III. Other Issues
Ed McIntosh stated that "we may be out to do a lot more nuclear testing in the near future" as part of the potential decision to deploy a National Missile Defense (NMD) system. This is inaccurate. While the far-flung Star Wars program of the 1980s foresaw a number of different kill mechanisms that would destroy incoming missiles in the boost phase and post-boost phase, and re-entry phase, the currently planned NMD is strictly a "kinetic kill" system. Star Wars did have provisions for using nukes to kill nukes. NMD is a more pure "hit a bullet with a bullet" system, and the defending bullet is decidedly non-nuclear.
Bill Krause writes that "another severe limitation has to do with the fact that the current CTBT is forever binding with no outs." This is not accurate. The United States demanded several "safeguards" as part of its treaty ratification position. Most of these have to do with the DOE's massive Stockpile Stewardship program, another whole topic of conversation. However, these so-called "safeguards" and the treaty itself allow for parties to withdraw under a clause of "supreme national interest." The safeguards can be found on the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers site at http://www.clw.org/coalition/whsafeg.htm.
As to your point about testing "detonators", there are three distinct parts, to oversimplify, of modern thermonuclear weapons. 1) a chemical high explosive that implodes the plutonium "primary", also called a "trigger" 2) the primary that results in a fission explosion and sometimes a "boosted fission" explosion and 3) the fusion "secondary" that gives today's weapons most of their explosive power.
A note on "triggers" and deterioration. While it is true that we don't know with certainty what will happen to warheads say, 100 years from now, we do know a lot about the special nuclear materials in them. Plutonium, the key element in the "trigger" or primary, has a half-life of 24,400 years. Doubtful much will happen in the way of deterioration over even 100 years. The secondary, or the "H" part of today's H-bombs, is mostly uranium-238 with a half life of about 400 million years. Also, as the IEER report points out, the nuclear components are the most solid state and robust parts of today's weapons. The non-nuclear components are more likely to experience age-related problems. These components can be fully tested in a non-nuclear manner, and in fact are tested under the DOE's Stockpile Surveillance and Maintenance Program.
A final word. As you (and we have argued), with any arms control treaty the ultimate measure of its worthiness is a cost/benefit one. Will the CTBT's benefits outweigh the costs from possible cheating? We would argue yes, since the verification regime can continue to improve, since cheaters are extremely likely to be "caught", and since the CTBT does have powerful symbolic impact as well as real world affect in arresting the advancement of nuclear weapons technology and the proliferation of more rudimentary capabilities. No treaty will ever deter a party that is un-deterrable, just as no amount of nuclear weapons will prevent a terrorist attack. This is an unrealistic standard to set. But the international norms that can be achieved by the CTBT can go a great distance toward global stability in the nuclear weapons realm.
Q: Can you test the detonators without doing a nuclear test? e.g., to find out whether the electronics still functions? Campbell's argument is that if we don't know if the ICs still work, the weapon may not fire. And we can't just replace the electronics in 10 years because the components of the original may not be manufactured anymore. So is it possible to test a detonator without a nuclear explosion?
As I understand your question, the answer is yes. Our grantees have pointed out that under the Stockpile Suveillance program warheads of each type are annually withdrawn from the stockpile, dissasembled and inspected - visual inspection for signs of corrosion or deterioration of materials, plus electronic and mechanical checking of components. We can use non-nuclear testing methods even for the high explosives next to the pits. DOE documents show that the majority of aging effects occur in the testable and more easily replaced non-nuclear components.
Also, test ban opponents claim that the original materials in warheads, such as some plastics and adhesives, might not be available in the future. While this might be a minor problem in the future, our grantees and experts (such as Ray Kidder) argue that in reality replacement materials need not be exactly the same as the originals; they need only to perform the same functions, within established tolerances for error. That perfomance can be evaluated under stockpile surveillance and occasionally full-scale dynamic testing short of nuclear detonation.
Here are some final words to think about from four-star General George Lee Butler, a career military officer and a classic cold warrior, who commanded the U.S. Strategic Command from 1991-1994. He is among the very few whose job description has included the power to destroy the planet. He has a unique insight into the issues and scenarios surrounding nuclear war. He supervised the huge and complex system that exists solely to prepare to launch a massive nuclear strike. He was confronted daily with the irrationality of that system. "The capacity for human error, human failure, mechanical failure and misunderstanding was virtually infinite We escaped the Cold War without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck and divine intervention."
So are you feeling lucky today? Or will you help make a difference by helping to elect the right President and Senators through voting and talking to your friends?