No Power At All


This report – if substantially true – gives me all the reason I need to consider the US and Russian governments to have failed, and failed hard, at the most basic, fundamental purpose of a government.  That purpose being to act in the interests of their people.  To protect those people.  To ensure those people have as good a quality of life as is possible to attain.

But these governments have allowed a period of relative peace – a great opportunity in so many ways – to go by without taking any significant steps to improve people’s safety and quality of life by removing the greatest threat – and one of the greatest day-to-day financial millstones – from their respective peoples and millions of others around the world: the plague – no, the sustained crime – of nuclear weapons.

Such weapons are the ultimate crime against humanity.  Those who conceived them, who designed and built them, who now maintain them and tend to them, and all those who stand in positions of political power but have not yet done anything of note towards abolishing them – all these people are complicit in that crime.

Obama and Putin do not strike me as stupid men.  But they persist in reprehensibly stupid courses.  Meaningless sabre-rattling; attempting to out-threaten each other when the First Cold War surely showed us that this does nothing.  It bred distrust and resentment that, as we now see, threatens simply to start a new confrontation: a Second Cold War.

Constant military development serves only the arms industry – but the arms industry is there to provide for the military, to equip them to fulfil their one purpose.  That purpose being to protect the people – a purpose actively subverted when money is being taken from those very people to feed the machine. To vaguely paraphrase Eisenhower, seeking peace by preparing for war is robbing from, and therefore hurting, the very people these governments and their armies exist to protect.

It is a false security.  It is a lie.  How many people in Britain alone die because of inadequate emergency facilities and resources in hospitals?  Abolish the UK’s nuclear deterrent, Trident – more correctly a part of the American nuclear arsenal that Britain has to pay for – and those hospitals could be fully funded for decades. There is a convincing argument to suggest that Britain’s maintenance of Trident does nothing but make us a target in the event of any conflict: that, in effect, this ‘security measure’ makes us less secure than we would be without it.

Or, if hospitals aren’t your thing, what about schools?  Build and staff as many schools as we need – educate our children effectively; teach them that there are better ways to do things than simply repeating the failures of their parents and grandparents.

Russia struggles even today to feed its people.  Yet how many roubles are held away from those very people by their own government, sunk into silos or skulking beneath the sea?

America’s poor are everywhere.  The US and the UK have a reputation around the world for aggressive interventions and, recently at any rate, very little reputation for actually getting things done. We start wars, we fight wars, we disengage from wars with nothing achieved but hundreds or thousands of deaths, a large proportion of them non-combatants, and billions of dollars wasted.

Meanwhile, technologies that could be used to improve our lot – energy research, spaceflight development, and so on – take a firm back seat to ‘defence’ and ‘security’; yet how much more effectively would our security be bolstered if we would show the world our friendship, help and co-operation?

Many will retort that being peaceful in attitude and action would only make us an easy target – but how do we know?  When has any modern government ever actually tried it?  The world is different now.  Communication is fast and global.  People are in touch with each other.  And people are finding the things they have in common.  What does a Russian want?  Peace; prosperity; the safety of his family.  What does an American want?  She wants exactly those same things.  The same things a Brit wants, an Israeli wants, a Cuban wants, a Chinese person wants.

But we’re denied these.  We’re made to live in constant fear because our leaders, our industries, our media decree that we must concentrate on differences.  They’re communists!  They’re Muslims! They’re lefties!

Putin and Obama are not stupid men.  But are they controlled by stupid men?  Are they the puppets of men so stupid as to believe that wielding the power to extinguish humanity from the universe forever is a proportionate approach to the threat of one transient ideology being briefly replaced by another equally fleeting?

“Better Dead Than Red” droned the propaganda litany of the fifties – but why?  What is the reasoning behind that statement?  When American capitalism and Soviet socialism were and are both mere flashes in the ideological pan?  Red is brief and affects a few generations.  Extinction is forever and affects humanity forever. No-one, but no-one, has the right to make that sort of decision on behalf of the species.  No-one has the moral or logical right even to make the statement.

So, I would be an ‘appeaser’?  Like the hated Neville Chamberlain, who tried to suck up to Hitler?  But Chamberlain didn’t want to suck up to Hitler: he wanted to avoid a war, a war he knew would kill tens of thousands, if not millions.  A war that would potentially dwarf that from which the world, and Europe in particular, had at the time yet to fully recover.  And he was right.  It did.

Would things have been better if agreement had been reached with Hitler?  I don’t know.  We venture into utilitarianism and start having to compare the mortality of the history we know with that of an imagined alternative.  There are arguments for and against the prosecution of World War Two as it happened historically.  But now we talk of nuclear weapons – hateful, abhorrent perversions that the leaders of both east and west seem still besotted by.  Such vile instruments represent power, but only the power to make a choice between never using them or subjecting the world’s population to famine, starvation, disease and death.

Their power, then, is no power at all; and even keeping that power for themselves, and thus necessitating the other side keep it too, is a betrayal of everything governments should be.

I’m not ignorant of the complexities of nuclear disarmament: I realise that there would need to be co-operation, careful mutual monitoring and a staged reduction.  Imbalance equals danger.  But a balance at zero is far better, existentially and morally, than the balance we have. But we are wasting time.  We have had every opportunity to bring this about since the end of the First Cold War; now, with little if any progress made, we walk back out into the cold and claim this is where we prefer to be?

The world needs a breather.  I know I do.  I don’t know if I can bear another Cold War.  I certainly don’t think it’s fair to subject yet another generation of children to the terror – and if that sounds like a ‘think of the children’ argument, so be it.  If you prefer, think instead of the happy, contented, safe and peaceful adults that those children could grow up to be if we could only bring ourselves to do the sensible thing.

Please, won’t someone think of the adults?



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