FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama Must Recommit to Eliminating Nuclear Arms

On May 27, President Obama will become the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima, Japan, where at the end of World War II the U.S. became the first and only country to drop an atomic bomb. The president will use the occasion to revive attention on the need to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Immediately, the critics assailed the president for going on an “apology tour.” The White House sought to calm the furor, assuring reporters that the president would not use the word “sorry.”

“We said that this is not about issuing an apology,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters on Thursday.

Why not apologize? The president will visit the 30-acre Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, located directly under the spot where the bomb exploded, with a museum displaying the charred belongings of the 100,000 people who perished, as everything with one mile of the bomb blast was entirely wiped out. The short inscription on the park’s memorial arch reads, in part: “We shall not repeat the evil.”

The United States, thankfully, is the last country to have used nuclear weapons in wartime. We dropped them on Hiroshima and Nagasaki even as Japan was on the verge of surrender. That the bomb was dropped reflected the savagery of that war — from the secret attack on Pearl Harbor to the horrid battles in Okinawa and elsewhere. Massive firebombing had already devastated Tokyo, in the single most destructive bombing attack in history. Some scholars believe President Harry S. Truman made the decision less to bring Japan to its knees than to put the world — and particularly the Russians — on notice of America’s power. But you don’t have to see the bombing as criminal to agree that this evil must not be repeated — and to apologize that it should ever have been unleashed on humans in the first place.

But as Elton John sang, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word to say.” Rhodes, Obama’s much publicized deputy national security advisor for “strategic communications,” says that the president “will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II” but will instead “offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future.”

The visit returns the president to the solemn pledge he made in Prague soon after coming to office. He reaffirmed “America’s commitment to a world without nuclear weapons,” arguing that their very existence posed a threat that they might once more be used. He pledged to make their elimination — complete and general nuclear disarmament — not just a wistful dream, but a central goal of our national security policy.

Under Obama, there has been some progress towards that goal. The 2010 START agreement with Russia limited the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to fewer than 2,000. The role of nuclear weapons in U.S. military strategy was reduced. The historic 2015 agreement with Iran — which has already resulted in Iran’s surrender of nearly all of its nuclear material — gave new life to nonproliferation efforts. Obama helped organize pressure that succeeded in reducing the dispersal of bomb-grade nuclear fuel.

But now informed observers argue that the risks of a nuclear disaster are getting worse. Tensions are rising with both Russia and China, with the U.S. deploying forces near their borders. Nuclear stockpiles contain more than 15,000 warheads. As many as 1,000 remain on hair-trigger alert. U.S. security strategy still claims the right to use nuclear weapons first, a dangerous and dumb refusal to limit their use to actual deterrence. The U.S. just activated anti-ballistic missile system in Romania that the Russians say violates the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Agreement. President Obama has signed off on a modernization of both nuclear weapons and their delivery systems with a projected cost of $1 trillion over three decades that could very likely to trigger a new arms race.

“As the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons,” President Obama has argued, “the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them.” With or without an apology, he should use the occasion of visiting Hiroshima to once more recommit to that goal, so that no one will ever again be victims of that evil.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail