In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway, President Obama, one of the world’s great orators and purveyors of hope, gave a speech that must reflect the divisions within himself and his personal struggles to reconcile them. It was a surprising speech for the occasion. Rather than a speech of vision and hope, it was a speech that sought to justify war, and particularly America’s wars. It was largely an infomercial for war, touting not only war’s necessity but its virtues, and might well be thought of as the “Nobel War Lecture.”
By David Krieger
Hiroshima, as the first city attacked by an atomic weapon, was transformed to a city of ashes and death. From this devastation, it would be reborn to challenge humanity to a higher destiny.
Hiroshima became more than a place; it became a symbol of the terrifying threat of a new age of virtually unlimited destructive power. One bomb could destroy one city. By implication, a few bombs could destroy countries and a few dozen bombs could reduce civilization to ruins. As the nuclear arms race gained momentum, the future of life on the planet was placed at risk. Eventually tens of thousands of nuclear weapons would be created and deployed. We humans, by our own scientific and technological cleverness, had created the tools of our own annihilation. Hiroshima was the opening chapter of the Nuclear Age.
President Obama raised expectations for achieving a world without nuclear weapons when he said in Prague on April 5, 2009, “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” But he only succeeded in moving the world a very small fraction of the way toward this goal when he met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow on July 6, 2009 to announce the outcome thus far of US-Russian negotiations on nuclear disarmament. A Joint Understanding signed in Moscow by the two presidents gave little cause for celebration for those who share President Obama’s vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
When a country tests a nuclear weapon, it is sending a message. It is not always clear, however, what that message is. In the case of the recent nuclear test by North Korea, some commentators have argued that the North Koreans are sending a “pay attention to me” message to the international community and particularly the United States.