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 April, 2009


 Obama's First Trip Abroad as President

A Nuke Free World?

What’s this I hear about President Obama wanting to get rid of all of the nuclear weapons on earth? Who does he think he is?

I love those nukes. I wouldn’t know how to live in a world without them.

The last one used for its intended purpose (Nagasaki, Japan on August 9th, 1945) was 1,165 days before the day I was born. That means I’ve lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation my entire life. I’m pretty used to it by now. I’m used to that nagging fear that I may, someday, be in need of holing up in some dusty and decaying fallout shelter, removing the rust and decades-old debris from cans of rotted green beans, and then waiting for the all clear signal (if there’s one left to be sounded).

I’m really distressed by those 20,000 Czech Republicans, in Prague who cheered Obama’s pledge to do all he could to eliminate nuclear weapons, and by extension, my lifelong desire to “duck and cover” when it counts.

Oh, he knows he’ll have an uphill fight on his hands. Obama will eventually have to convince the heads-of-state of nine (if you count North Korea) countries that they’ll have to verifiably convert as many as 20,000 nukes into large flower pots.

Flower pots aren’t out of the question. I’ve had the opportunity to see those things at close range.

As a young member of the United States Air Force, one of my jobs was to personally guard nuclear weapons at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia.

Excuse me. I just got a little shiver. I just realized there were times when the only thing preventing those nukes from turning the entire Eastern seaboard into the world’s largest parking lot – was me.

I say this to say, that by the looks of them, it wouldn’t be that difficult to dismantle many of them. Unlike the five ton bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, the ones I frequently saw at Langley weren’t even as big as bread boxes.

The physical act of eliminating stockpiles of nuclear arsenals would probably be the easiest part of Obama’s stated wishes.

Convincing North Korea, Iran and America’s neocons (not necessarily in that order) could be the hard part.

We know that North Korea’s designs on joining the Nuclear Club are of a grave concern to the Obama administration.

Iran’s pledges to use nuclear technology for energy-only purposes have (and rightly so) been viewed with skepticism.

Yet, it’s the extreme right in the U.S. that could be the president’s biggest obstacle to a nuclear weapons-free world.

Washington Post’s rightwing columnist Bill Kristol (the classic neocon) seems to imply that a clearer path to a nuke-free world would be to drop a nuke on North Korea.

Regarding North Korea’s most recent missile test, Kristol claims nations will “huff and puff” about such things, but that “the United States will do nothing to destroy North Korea's nuclear or missile capability, or to topple its political regime.”

Kristol is never at a loss for warmongering. He’s already forgotten he was a lead cheerleader the last time an American president thought there were nuclear weapon stockpiles in a country. That president sought to “topple its political regime” in Iraq.

Tough talk hasn’t worked before, and it’s doubtful it’ll work now.

Obama’s first trip abroad was virtually devoid of such tough talk – except for his response to the North Korean missile launch.
Mostly, it was an example of the president’s campaign pledge that he would endeavor to rekindle America’s standing around the world.

The results are in. A CBS/New York Times poll indicates 67% of the world’s leaders respect Obama. While in the same poll in 2006, only 30% respected George W. Bush.

Obama certainly has the global clout to announce he’s working to do away with the world’s nuclear weapons and world leaders (even those who have them) offer their support.

I’d stand with him, but I don’t know what I’m going to do if he gets his wish, and I’m forced to live in a world without nukes.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net