Monday, April 06, 2009

President Obama's vision of a nuclear free world

(courtesy of Catoon stock and Punch Magazine (RIP))

A warm wave of cautious optimism crept over me as I watched Obama's speech on nuclear weapons to the crowds in Prague yesterday. The full text is here on the Huffington Post.

Watching him, the warmth of his personality, the clarity of his thought and expression, we remembered the dark days of the Idiot President, George W Bush, and we should again breathe a sigh of relief. The People for the New American Century have shuffled off the world stage, hopefully for good, though their toxic legacy remains.

True, the speech had a bit of a curate's egg quality to it, because his fingers are still clinging to the slippery rock of Atoms for Peace - civil nuclear power. We should not be naive about Obama, he is in command of the machinery of the US state, but the machine has its own momentum and mindset, and it will take a lot to change it. We should not be naive, but neither should we be nihilistic. A change has taken place with Obama, and we should try to ride the wave, not try to erect a wall against it.

Here are the promises and pledges from his speech:

Some argue that the spread of these weapons cannot be stopped, cannot be checked -- that we are destined to live in a world where more nations and more people possess the ultimate tools of destruction. Such fatalism is a deadly adversary, for if we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.

And as nuclear power -- as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.

we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same.

we will negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians this year.

my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons.

we will strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a basis for cooperation.

Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy.

we must stand shoulder to shoulder to pressure the North Koreans to change course.

We will support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections.

If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defense construction in Europe will be removed.

a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.

There is violence and injustice in our world that must be confronted. (Was he thinking about the G20 Police Riots here??)


President Obama is aware of the logic that if the US can find "security" in WMD, why should Iran and Korea not also seek the same insane "security"?

As for North Korea (DPRK), it is just beginning to pull out of a famine that has lasted for more than a decade. A regime that cannot manage to feed its people, yet can afford a nuclear weapon and space rocket/ICBM programme is a regime that has no grip on reality. We may point at the hypocrisy of our own Governments who are afflicted with the same lack of proportionality, but DPRK is in a class of its own.

The way to stop idiotic regimes from forming is through the Global Index of Human Rights, including Appendix 4: We need therefore to move to a framework of international rules of governance that will help all dictators, indeed all rulers, to learn that certain courses of actions will certainly lead to unwanted effects on their own freedom to act for their own personal
advancement. Specified forms of misconduct will be matched with a tariff of penalties
which are applied in a measured, stepwise and consistent basis, in order to avoid the
protection that they often obtain from allies in the UNSC.

(That reminds me, I need to draw this into a resolution to put before the next Green Party Conference. Should be fun.)

On Iran, Obama himself can do much. Pres Ahmedinajad is into writing letters. George W Bush was unable to read them (no pictures), but Barack could write back, and even give him AhmeDJ a call on the phone. Personal chemistry could work wonders. Go, barack, contact him, do a Walk in the Woods with him. If you can persuade the American voters to choose a brown President, you can persuade Ahmed to switch off the centrifuges. Yes You Can!

Finally, as in any speech, there is stuff left out. He did not say the sensible thing about Afghanistan - buy the opium. Nevertheless, Obama's speech was much better than a poke in they eye with a blunt stick.

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