Yesterday, in a speech given to a crowd in Prague, United States President Barack Obama reintroduced as a priority for the international agenda the theme of global nuclear disarmament. This issue has remained in the background since dissolution of the Eastern bloc and the Soviet Union, despite existing stockpiles of nuclear bombs that constitute latent, but serious threat to world peace, the survival of the species, and the environment. Nuclear disarmament: yes, but for everyone.
These considerations would suffice to characterize as positive, in principle, the appeal by Obama for a world free of nuclear weapons. To those considerations should be added, for the first time in many years, the willingness of a U.S. leader to lead by example, from addressing the ongoing issue of an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe - the development of which was presented as incontrovertible fact by the George W. Bush government - to gaining guarantees from Iran that it will not build a nuclear arsenal.
Nevertheless, Obama’s initiative ignores the same point circumvented by his predecessor when he spoke of disarmament: the existence of governments that have constructed nuclear arsenals with implicit approval of Washington and Western Europe, and have not been harassed or threatened for it: India, Israel, and Pakistan. If one accepts that these three countries have become nuclear powers outside international law, condemnation of alleged armament efforts of North Korea and Iran is becoming, inexorably, a moral double standard.
Furthermore, it is unscrupulous to omit the fact that nuclear arms development programs on the part of Tehran and Pyongyang - if more than a threat to the paranoid West - have, as their most important motivation, inclusion by Washington in a list of enemy countries. To illustrate this point, it is important to mention the paradox that Iraq was not destroyed by U.S. forces because of possessing weapons of mass destruction, but instead, because of wanting them. From this point of view, it seems logical to assume the war mongering of the earlier White House resident and the dreadful spectacular of human and material destruction in Iraq have caused various leaders – like those of Iran and North Korea, included by Bush in an alleged axis of evil - at least to consider possessing such weapons as the only possible defense when facing a superpower dedicated to razing governments unwilling to submit to its geopolitical projects and corporate looting.
Today, as Obama’s government attempts to lift the foreign policiy of his country from the logic of illegality, destruction, and imperial rape that has ruled for eight years, a credible call to global nuclear disarmament would have to begin with the building of consensus among those who actually own nuclear arms: the U.S., itself, and its allies, France and England, and also Russia and China. That is say, the permanent members of the Security Council of the UN would eliminate their nuclear arsenals; and then, those five governments would energetically act to convince Tel Aviv, New Delhi and Islamabad to destroy their respective atomic bombs. Only then would they have the moral authority to demand Tehran and Pyongyang to commit, emphatically and definitively, not to manufacture such weapons.
Finally, we are left to hope that in an exercise of good faith, the new U.S. government understands that global nuclear disarmament - a reasonable, desirable goal in itself - cannot succeed if efforts to attain it are only an exercise in imperial power, a rebellious slogan directed only at adversaries or in recognition of done deals that freeze membership in the so-called nuclear club to its current eight members.