Sunday, December 20, 2009

more on Obama's speech...sort of

My post on the President's speech in Oslo was one insignificant comment among millions that were made and I found one other that interested me.

The part of this that jumped out reminded me of something that may seem peripheral, but something that is at best a "lesser included" ramification of the major point. Mr. Obama said:

"… America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention — no matter how justified."

This is about integrity, now, not an American strong point. But we are Friends and walking one's walk, living out one's spirituality regardless of consequences is pretty big onions (at least aspirationally) in my Quaker neck of woods. We should talk about this when we see it--or don't see it--working out in the world.

Because the United States turned its back decades ago on integrity where nuclear weapons are concerned our President now faces an unsolvable problem in the Middle East. We are apparently worried about the collapse of our geo-political control (such as it remains) in the Middle East because of the danger that Pakistan's nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of the Al Qaeda. How can we leave if that possibility looms?

So, we are stuck in sin because we are afraid of the outcomes of righteousness in light of our previous sins?

Well, whose fault is that?

For 60 years we have sanctimoniously held on to nuclear weapons and conspired with those who also have them to guarantee the exceptional-ism of our possession.

(There are several layers of hypocrisy, here--including slogans like that of the Strategic Air Command--"Peace is our profession.")

This means that we created a premium on developing such weapons. North Korea, for example, didn't suffer invasion as Iraq did because that member of the "axis of evil" could give us a radioactive bloody nose that Saddam could not. In fact, Saddam getting the nuclear weapons was on of the most harped upon distractions from the reality of the blood for oil policy of the United States. The word is out--get nukes and no one, not even the United States, will mess with you. What a surprise that Iran got the message.

If the United States had worked for abolition of all nuclear weapons--including our own--and to implement President Eisenhower's "open skies" inspection system to guarantee a practical way to assure everyone that no one else had nukes would we be where we are now? Forget unilateral disarmament--what if we had been tireless champions of verifiable abolition of nuclear weapons for the past fifty years? What if that had been the policy of every US president since?

(Yes, I know, that would have conflicted with other US policies--but those are the very policies that have us in trouble, now, on so many fronts. And I use the word "fronts" consciously.)

If we had the courage to allow integrity to shape our policy would we be where we are now?

Perhaps nuclear weapons would still be sought by small countries fearing larger habitual enemies. Perhaps, however, not.

If every powerful nation had destroyed its nuclear weapons in concert with all others, in the context of an openness that would guarantee no secret program would make re-arming possible, would Pakistan have developed nuclear weapons that might, now, fall into the hands of terrorists?

We not only look stupid saying that we can handle nuclear weapons but other countries cannot, we have sown the seeds of what could prove, yet, to be our own destruction.

If Quakers don't have something to say about this who could?

And, next, should we talk about integrity and the military draft?


No comments: