Several months of limited surfing and consumption of news has caused me to overlook a number of important and interesting occurences. I hope to catch up with a few of them in the coming days.
For instance, on December 10th, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Emergy Agency, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize he shared with his organization, and gave his Nobel lecture. Here's part of what he said:
[W]hy has [the security of humanity] so far eluded us?
I believe it is because our security strategies have not yet caught up with the risks we are facing. The globalization that has swept away the barriers to the movement of goods, ideas and people has also swept with it barriers that confined and localized security threats.
A recent United Nations High-Level Panel identified five categories of threats that we face:
1. Poverty, Infectious Disease, and Environmental Degradation; 2. Armed Conflict – both within and among states; 3. Organized Crime; 4. Terrorism; and 5. Weapons of Mass Destruction.
These are all 'threats without borders' – where traditional notions of national security have become obsolete. We cannot respond to these threats by building more walls, developing bigger weapons, or dispatching more troops. Quite to the contrary. By their very nature, these security threats require primarily multinational cooperation.
But what is more important is that these are not separate or distinct threats. When we scratch the surface, we find them closely connected and interrelated.
We are 1,000 people here today in this august hall. Imagine for a moment that we represent the world's population. These 200 people on my left would be the wealthy of the world, who consume 80 per cent of the available resources. And these 400 people on my right would be living on an income of less than $2 per day.
This underprivileged group of people on my right is no less intelligent or less worthy than their fellow human beings on the other side of the aisle. They were simply born into this fate.
In the real world, this imbalance in living conditions inevitably leads to inequality of opportunity, and in many cases loss of hope. And what is worse, all too often the plight of the poor is compounded by and results in human rights abuses, a lack of good governance, and a deep sense of injustice. This combination naturally creates a most fertile breeding ground for civil wars, organized crime, and extremism in its different forms.
In regions where conflicts have been left to fester for decades, countries continue to look for ways to offset their insecurities or project their 'power'. In some cases, they may be tempted to seek their own weapons of mass destruction, like others who have preceded them.
Today, with globalization bringing us ever closer together, if we choose to ignore the insecurities of some, they will soon become the insecurities of all.
Equally, with the spread of advanced science and technology, as long as some of us choose to rely on nuclear weapons, we continue to risk that these same weapons will become increasingly attractive to others.
I have no doubt that, if we hope to escape self-destruction, then nuclear weapons should have no place in our collective conscience, and no role in our security.
To that end, we must ensure – absolutely – that no more countries acquire these deadly weapons.
We must see to it that nuclear-weapon states take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament.
And we must put in place a security system that does not rely on nuclear deterrence.
We still have eight or nine countries who possess nuclear weapons. We still have 27,000 warheads in existence. I believe this is 27,000 too many.
A good start would be if the nuclear-weapon states reduced the strategic role given to these weapons. More than 15 years after the end of the Cold War, it is incomprehensible to many that the major nuclear-weapon states operate with their arsenals on hair-trigger alert – such that, in the case of a possible launch of a nuclear attack, their leaders could have only 30 minutes to decide whether to retaliate, risking the devastation of entire nations in a matter of minutes.
Since the beginning of history, human beings have been at war with each other, under the pretext of religion, ideology, ethnicity and other reasons. And no civilization has ever willingly given up its most powerful weapons. We seem to agree today that we can share modern technology, but we still refuse to acknowledge that our values – at their very core – are shared values.
I am an Egyptian Muslim, educated in Cairo and New York, and now living in Vienna. My wife and I have spent half our lives in the North, half in the South. And we have experienced first hand the unique nature of the human family and the common values we all share.
Shakespeare speaks of every single member of that family in The Merchant of Venice, when he asks: "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?"
Imagine what would happen if the nations of the world spent as much on development as on building the machines of war. Imagine a world where every human being would live in freedom and dignity. Imagine a world in which we would shed the same tears when a child dies in Darfur or Vancouver. Imagine a world where we would settle our differences through diplomacy and dialogue and not through bombs or bullets. Imagine if the only nuclear weapons remaining were the relics in our museums. Imagine the legacy we could leave to our children.
Imagine that such a world is within our grasp.
ElBaradei's vision has elements of wishful thinking about it: he acknowledges that warfare is an integral part of human interaction, but still believes it possible to eradicate it. I don't think that's true, but I do believe that it's possible to minimize warfare through international cooperation. That means strengthening international organizations such as ElBaradei's, and the UN, and the International Criminal Court, not weakening them as has been Bush's overriding policy throughout his time in office.
Addenda: I failed to make clear, I think, that while aspects of what ElBaradei said can be thought of as pie-in-the-sky thinking, his essential point is correct: that knee-jerk militaristic adventurism such as that practiced by Bush does not in the long run make us any more secure. It might if we had the wherewithal, the inclination and the willingness to suppress those who might oppose us throughout the world, and keep them suppressed for the foreseeable future -- but we don't. Not only don't we have the ability to do that, our political culture wouldn't stand for it after just a short time. Worse, the Chinese, who at this point are underwriting our deficit society through their purchase of massive amount of US government bonds, would at some point step in and stop us once our activities started to be a danger to their regime.
And more importantly, and besides all those practical objections, it would just be morally wrong thing to do. Purchasing our own freedom at the cost of the majority of the world's would be, well, unAmerican, in that it goes entirely against everything this country was founded to stand for.
So, absent keeping the third world under our thumb, the real answer to becoming more secure would seem to be to work towards minimizing the vast disparity in wealth between different regions of the world, and bring everyone into the fold. In the meantime, there would still be instances where we might need to use military force when we are attacked, or in imminent danger of it, which would be the only morally justified reason for doing so.
(Of course, an administration which works so hard to increase the gap between the rich and the poor in its own country would hardly be open to the argument that minimizing the gap between poor societies and rich ones might be a useful policy to implement.)
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.