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General Interest, Politics

A BRAVE STANCE ON THE MISSILE SHIELD

Barack Obama has made the first move towards disarmament, a policy that will surely see him crucified in print and electronic media by his political opponents. The President has decided to scrap the folly of Star Wars missile shields in Europe, the brainchild of daft old Ronald Reagan and furthered by the even dopier Bush The Younger. The idea was that we would build missiles to shoot down enemy missiles before they blew up either our allies or us. Of course that meant that our potential enemies would have to get busy inventing something to thwart this missile shield, prompting us to spend more dough to thwart their thwart. And then they’d have to thwart our thwarts of their thwarts and so on and so on. If that sounds silly, well, it is. Upon this crazy idea was built the Cold War, which scared the crap out of mankind for nearly 50 years until the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight.

The end of the Cold War, however, did not put an end to Cold Warriors, whose entire mindset was permanently fixed on building bigger and better nuclear missiles. The result is that existing nuclear missiles can now kill everything on the planet a hundred times over. The Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal is still intact, now in possession of Russia. Our own nukes are still around too, of course, aging rockets in their reinforced silos, cruise missiles in submarine tubes and bombs in the bellies of aircraft ready to be launched at a moment’s notice, all having a global reach. If anything, the digital age has made them more accurate than ever. Not that accuracy would matter all that much in a full-blown nuclear war, since the result would be death to everything and everyone on earth.

Rather than negotiate the gradual elimination of these weapons like John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon attempted to do, the Star Wars initiative was sold as an antidote to nuclear attack, never mentioning exactly what would happen to the nuclear payloads of the missiles our anti-missile missiles shot down. Outside of lassoing them and flinging them into the sun or into outer space like Superman would do, you would still have hundreds of nuclear missiles with their multiple kiloton warheads falling somewhere. That is assuming that the Star Wars thing worked in the first place, with most responsible scientists in agreement about it’s complete inefectiveness.

So even if these thwarted nuclear bombs fell in flames on the nations that launched them, there’s no guarantee that the bombs would not detonate anyway and that the wind would eventually carry the deadly radiation to every corner of the earth. Rather than an immediate nuclear holocaust we would then have a few months to think about how fucking stupid we were to think we could play “chicken” with nuclear bombs in the first place while waiting for our skin to melt from our faces and our bleached bones to glow in the dark. And the not-so-funny thing is that everybody knew that! The Star Wars missile shield was really just one more stop-gap in a never-ending arms race that led to only one destination, the complete annihilation of humankind. So President Obama bowed to this reality and said “No More!”

Somebody somewhere had to say that and, far more importantly, act upon their words. Almost every politician everywhere will tell you that their goal is a nuclear weapons-free world, but few of them have done a damned thing about it. It is only now, post-Cold War, with the United States as the only Superpower left standing, that we can be in the position of making the first move. Rather than use our position of strength to increase our lead in the Horrible Death For All Mankind Department, we can begin to peel away the layers of killing machinery that still holds the entire world hostage, even if we are no longer on the edge or our seats about it like we were when America and the USSR were trading threats and playing global chess by staging small wars on other countries’ real estate.

While America and Russia are still playing the proxy war chess games (Iraq, Afghanistan [by both nations], Georgia, Chechnia, etc), this one small step means something important, something long overdue. Let the war mongers cry that the President is placing American security at risk. Let them lament not having the power to kill every man, woman and child on earth a hundred times over, as if that were something desirable. We have already bathed in the blood and the fear of their solution for 60 years now, and America has been attacked on their Cold War watch. Our greatest city and our nation’s military headquarters were in flames 8 years ago from an attack by an enemy, nuclear umbrella or no nuclear umbrella.

The fact is that the use of any nuclear arsenal, large or small, is unthinkable, unconscionable. Our possession of the vast majority of nuclear bombs has not helped us, nor has it stopped other nations from attempting to acquire their own. The rapid leaps in technology have even made it theoretically possible for terrorists to obtain such a bomb, and were they to detonate one in America or in one of our allies’ cities, our nuclear arsenal would still be useless to us since there would be no nation to bomb in retaliation. If in the event of such a horrendous act, could we trust every nuclear power to stay their hand from vengeance, even the nation who suffered such an attack? Even a minor volley of nuclear missiles would devastate huge portions of the planet and kill hundreds of millions of innocents.

That is the reality, and a reality that has finally dawned upon a sitting U.S. President, the only man in the position to begin to reverse the series of horrible decisions all the nations involved have made about nuclear weapons. America is in the driver’s seat seat now, and it’s time to turn this vehicle right around and drive somewhere peaceful, away from the edge of the abyss, to lead by example. Next stop: eliminating our nuclear arsenal, an albatross around our necks and a loaded gun pointed at every head on the planet. Do we go on hoping that every future leader in every nuclear armed nation will never pull that trigger? Or do we start taking the bullets out of the gun? President Obama has started unloading the gun, and if he accomplishes nothing else, for this we must be grateful, applaud his courage and insist that he continue down this road. We know where the other road was headed, and it wasn’t anyplace good. Just maybe this new road will lead us towards the light. We’ll never know unless we try, and if we don’t try, shame on us.

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