Monday, April 12, 2010

Opposing Nuclear Weapons

In 1981 the First Presidency, in a statement opposing the storage of nuclear weapons in Utah and Nevada, made the following statement:
First, by way of general observation we repeat our warnings against the terrifying arms race in which the nations of the earth are presently engaged. We deplore in particular the building of vast arsenals of nuclear weaponry. We are advised that there is already enough such weaponry to destroy in large measure our civilization, with consequent suffering and misery of incalculable extent.
It is my feeling that nuclear weapons are evil, and that part of the responsibility of bearing the Gospel of Peace is speaking out against them.  I would love for members of the church to take the lead in opposing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and encouraging the nations of the world to disarm.  This goal can only be achieved through full international cooperation, and since the church is an international entity preaching peace we should have a strong and loud voice.

And there is a lot going on in the world of nuclear weapons these days.  President Obama recently signed a new START Treaty and Protocol with the Russians which will significantly reduce the number of weaponized nuclear warheads in both countries and increase monitoring of the progress of that reduction.

This is important for two reasons.  First, we want to live in a world with fewer nuclear weapons, not more.  We want to live in a world that values and engenders peaceful conflict resolution, not saber-rattling and faux macho-ism.  We want to live in a world where there is a lesser chance of nuclear weapons and materials falling into the hands of terrorists than a greater chance.  Since the United States and Russia possess more than 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, this treaty and those that will follow are crucial.

Second, it is necessary in our efforts to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons in other parts of the world.  The United States and other signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are in the business not only of not proliferating themselves but of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons to currently non-nuclear states.  We can only ask for the latter of other countries with a straight face if we are doing the former.  Non-nuclear states have no incentive not to pursue nuclear weapons if we are not offering to disarm ourselves.

On that note, the Obama Administration has called a nuclear security summit next week which will bring leaders from 46 nations to Washington to discuss how to protect and secure the world's nuclear material and punish those nations like Iran and North Korea that refuse to cooperate.  But, as the invaluable Foreign Policy Magazine points out, all 46 visiting nations have their own agendas and the issues are varied.  It is not as easy and just everyone agreeing to the reduction and securing of nuclear weapons, everyone wants something different in return for cooperation and it is almost unimaginable complex.

Which brings us to the appropriate foil in this whole nuclear story.  As part of the administrations emphasis on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, it recently released a new Nuclear Posture Review.  One of the very sensible things it does is, again in an effort to create a more peaceful world and gain the cooperation of non-nuclear nations, declare that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against conforming NPT nations.  It says the fundamental use for nukes is deterrence.

Our foil -- you guessed it, Sarah Palin -- had this to say in response:
It's unbelievable. Unbelievable. No administration in America's history would, I think, ever have considered such a step that we just found out President Obama is supporting today. It's kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, "Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me."
It goes without saying that she got the facts wrong.  But more embarrassing, she has managed to reduce this entire complex and downright scary issue to a childishly simplistic playground fight analogy.  I don't think we can overstate how dangerous she could be to America, and let me say here that I am becoming absolutely convinced that Palin is the 2012 Republican frontrunner.  She gets the biggest crowds by far, she gets the most media attention by far, she is the preferred candidate among the vocal and energized TPN.  And her response to Pres. Obama trying to get the world to reduce and retard the number of nuclear weapons to a comparison of a couple kids fighting during recess.

I don't know if I'm mortified at the prospect of her leading the nation, not to mention a major political party, or giddy at the thought of an Obama-Palin matchup in 2012 which would likely end in a Reagan-esque 1984.  I guess both.


Daniel H said...

I fear that the Republicans are much better able to get their loyal "troops" out to vote more than the Democrats, however.

If the Dems can rally the vote, I wouldn't be surprised to see a 1984-esque result - and that's what I could hope for the Palin-Bachman ticket that's been bandied about becomes a reality.

Jacob S. said...

I don't think a single moderate or independent in the country would vote for Palin, though. I don't think any president could literally reproduce 1984 in this political climate, but I really believe it would be a laugher.

For more on the Palin-nuke thing, read this, which I came across this morning:

GreatWhiteHope said...

Well in case you think Palin is the Savior of the Conservative Right, you are wrong. I'm about as conservative as they come, which I'm sure you have been able to tell, and I wouldn't vote for Palin ever. She's an idiot. Furthermore you're right on nuclear weapons, suprisingly enough something I can agree on, on this blog. However, the world in which we live dictates the necessity to defend ourselves against people less ethical, so I don't think negotiating the "non-proliferation of nuclear weapons" or whatever they want to title making America less safe, is the answer. In an ideal world yes, but this isn't an ideal world. I'm a gun guy, but when I was in Mongolia, no one had guns, not even the police - and I felt as safe as I've ever felt, but how can you ever be sure that no one has a gun, ever? Likewise, how can you ever be sure that your treaty partner follows through on their side of the bargain in getting rid of their nukes as you get rid of yours? Saddam played that game with the UN inspectors, and look where that lead. By the way, before you say he didn't have anything let me say that you are wrong, because he did have WMD, he used them against his own people in Kurdistan, we just didn't happen to find any.... which is convenient for him and further proves the point that I'm trying to make. So I guess the question I would pose to your blog here, is how can you live a higher law on an international scale when enemies and extremists do not?

Jacob S. said...

I'm a little leery about starting another discussion with you, GWH. You're history, here and at other sites, is to insult us and attempt to invoke strong emotions and question our testimonies as opposed to having substantive discussions. Since you posted your comment here I went and checked out your blog and noticed that you claimed that you were banned from here because you hold opposing viewpoints, as opposed to being asked to not come back because of the aforementioned bad acts. In fact, we've never banned anyone and we have a long history of discussing the issues with people with different politics from us. Perhaps you should go back and clear that up and state that it is your belief that people of differing political viewpoints can in fact be members of the church in good standing.

But, you did recently apologize and this seems to be an attempt to discuss the issue in a level-headed manner, and maybe this will be a "fool me twice shame on me" situation, but I'll respond.

First, as to Iraq, you are absolutely right that Saddam did have WMD's in the form of chemical weapons that he used against the Kurds in the 80s. But that program was publicly and openly disassembled by the UN. Pres. Bush claimed that he started the program up again as a justification for war, which turned out not to be true. And it's not the case that he disassembled the program again in the months leading up to the second Iraq War, he simply wouldn't have had time to do it. He just never started it up again. So, in that case, the international community did what it set out to do, get rid of the chemical weapon capability of Iraq. Saddam never had, nor ever came even close to having, nuclear weapons.

A useful analogy would be the following. When my wife and I were first married we had a Nissan Altima. We sold it off about four years ago. If the UN Nissan Altima inspectors came around today looking for it, and GWH invaded our family on the premise that we still have that Nissan Altima, they wouldn't find it, but that doesn't mean I never had it and never used it, I did. It just means we don't have it any longer.

Second, the United States could unilaterally cut its nuclear stockpile dramatically, without requiring anything from any other country, and still perfectly maintain our ability to defend ourselves. We have enough nukes to kill the world over several times. So we are doing the right thing dismantling those weapons. But we're smart and use it as an opportunity to get stuff out of other countries, such as having Russia dismantle its weapons and ensuring that other nations don't seek the nuke.

And it's not like those other countries are doing it just to be nice. They are getting major swag from the US in terms of dollars and technologies, so it is in their best interest to go along. And it's also not like we just sign the treaty and never look inside those countries to make sure they're complying. We have inspectors crawling all over every major nation monitoring their nuclear activities and know pretty much as soon as they start doing something sneaky, as we have seen in both Iraq and N. Korea recently.

So, as to your final question, I reject the premise. It's not that we are living some higher law, instead we are acting in self interest in making sure that nuclear countries destroy their nukes, that non-nuclear countries don't obtain them, and that the existing nuclear weapons are more secure than ever before. That's what this administration is doing. And in doing so we are not compromising our defense capabilities at all. If you can show otherwise, please do. It's not that we shouldn't stoop to the level of extremists (though we shouldn't), it's that we never have to. We are playing from a position of strength and they are not.