Friday, September 25, 2009

Obama hails historic resolution to rid world of nuclear weapons.

Barack Obama yesterday became the first US president ever to chair a session of the UN council, whilst that council took steps for the first time in it's history to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Obama described the resolution as "historic", saying it "enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons".

The resolution calls for states with nuclear weapons to continue disarming, to ratify a ban on testing them and to agree a treaty stopping the production of fissile material. In return, non weapons states should accept stronger safeguards designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.

The resolution, however, is non-binding, and there are many obstacles to its aspirations becoming reality. Obama faces serious opposition in the Pentagon and the US Congress, which has yet to ratify the test ban.

I find it fascinating that Obama's instincts are so in tune with the rest of the world - I mean, we all can see that getting rid of nuclear weapons altogether is the only way to prevent smaller nations from eventually seeking them - and yet the place where he faces his toughest opposition is when he tries to get the US Congress to ratify what the UN has proposed.

That's because in the US Congress he has to deal with Republicans, a group of people who make Mugabe look sane in comparison. Their answer to nuclear proliferation is not to ban these weapons, but to construct a missile defence system which would, in theory, allow them to fire the weapons and avoid retaliation. The fact that the missile defence system doesn't work is not something which deters them, indeed, it appears not to bother them at all.
The US and Russia are due to sign a treaty in December bringing down the number of their deployed strategic weapons from more than 2,000 each to 1,500. Obama today promised much deeper cuts to follow. In January negotiations are due to start on a treaty banning the production of new weapons-grade fissile material. In May, the NPT comes up for review, and Obama hopes to persuade the US Senate to ratify the test ban soon afterwards. "The next 12 months will be absolutely critical in determining whether this resolution and our overall efforts to stop the spread and use of nuclear weapons are successful," Obama said.
Of course, should the Republicans refuse to ratify the deals which Obama has worked out here they will be going against the instincts of their own hero, Ronald Reagan, as it was Reagan who proposed a complete elimination of these weapons at Reykjavik.

In 1986 at the Reykjavik summit, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, both passionate about nuclear disarmament, shocked deterrence experts with an unimaginable proposal – total nuclear disarmament. “It would be fine with me if we eliminated all nuclear weapons,” said Reagan. “We can do that,” replied Gorbachev, “Let’s eliminate them. We can eliminate them.”

However, U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz explained that the proposal was “too much for people to absorb, precisely because it was outside the bounds of conventional wisdom,” and “the world was not ready for Ronald Reagan’s boldness.”

Obama is all for bipartisanship, so I have a theory. Obama should sell this to the US Senate as the Ronald Reagan Bill for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Present it to them with a big bow wrapped around it and see if they will still refuse to ratify Reagan's vision 23 years later.

Force them to stand up and tell us why Ronald Reagan was wrong.

Click title for full article.

No comments: