(Based on actual quotes from the President Barack Obama’s speech on September 24, 2014 at the United Nations)
I am alarmed that President Barack Obama, who has always talked a good talk about eliminating nuclear weapons, is now ramping up production of nuclear weapon delivery systems. And proposing to spend a TRILLION “modernizing” our nuclear arsenal over the next three decades. Modernizing? The most modern thing, in my mind, is to get rid of them all. I had this in mind when I listened to his recent speech at the United Nations. What follows are quotes from his speech, with the rebuttals that came to mind when I heard them.
Me: Such an honor to meet you Mr. President Barack Obama! Last year I wrote you one hundred letters urging the elimination of nuclear weapons. I’ve been waiting for so long to talk to you about how scared I am of nuclear war and the ridiculous number of nuclear weapons in the US arsenal. I am so afraid.
President Barack Obama: “We come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope.”
Me: I couldn’t agree more. So tell me again why you are spending tens of billions on “modernizing” our nuclear capabilities.
President Barack Obama: “…we come together…with a choice to make. We can renew the international system that has enabled so much progress, or allow ourselves to be pulled back by an undertow of instability.”
Me: But you are already spending more on nuclear weapons than in any time in our history. And are proposing building new delivery systems for nuclear weapons: new nuclear missile submarines (12), new nuclear bombers (100), and new land based nuclear weapons (400). What happened to your pledges of working for a world with no nuclear weapons?
President Barack Obama: “…there is a pervasive unease in our world.”
Me: Duh. It doesn’t feel comfortable living with the threat of nuclear annihilation...coming at you from many sides, many countries, hostile countries.
President Barack Obama: “We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs; we chose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.”
Me: How many nuclear weapons are needed in this world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be?
President Barack Obama: “First, all of us—big nations and small—must meet our responsibility to observe and enforce international norms.”
Me: How about ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty? 157 countries have ratified, but not the United States.
President Barack Obama: “We believe that right makes might–that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones…”
Me: And having enough nuclear weapons to destroy life on earth many times over is…what?
President Barack Obama: “America is committed to a development agenda that eradicates extreme poverty by 2030. We will do our part—to help people feed themselves; power their economies; and care for their sick.”
Me: I am just the teensiest bit concerned that it may be hard to do that if we are spending the TRILLION dollars you propose we spend on nuclear weapons programs over the next three decades. Did you maybe forget how big that number is? If you made $40,000 per year it would take you 25 million years to earn a trillion. And the thing about spending all this money on nuclear weapons… if we are lucky, we will never use the damn things. We spend all that money on something we hope we will never use? What else could we use that money for if we really wanted to spread goodwill and discourage extremism?
President Barack Obama: “America is pursuing ambitious reductions in our carbon emissions, and we have increased our investments in clean energy…But we can only succeed in combating climate change if we are joined in the effort by every major power. That’s how we can protect this planet for our children and grandchildren.”
Me: If any of the 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world are used, we won’t have much of a planet to protect.
President Barack Obama: “On issue after issue, we cannot rely on a rule-book written for a different century.”
Me: Then why are you acting on cold-war thinking?
President Barack Obama: “Indeed, it’s time for a broader negation in which major powers address their difference directly, honestly, and peacefully across the table from one another, rather than through gun-wielding proxies.”
Me: Yeah baby. No nuclear weapon wielding proxies either!
President Barack Obama: “Eleanor Roosevelt…once asked, ‘Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places,” she said, ’close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps in the world.’”
Me: I voted for you because I felt like you were an individual that believed in justice and knew how important peace has become to our planet. But I feel as if the office of President Barack Obama of the United States has changed you into a hawk, presiding of a giant build up of nuclear arms. Don’t cave to the pressures of the military industrial corporate complex! Remember your roots. Remember you can still work for peace, in the small place, close to home, called the White House.