Saturday, May 3, 2014

360 Degree Feedback in New York (2014 NPT Prepcom and How the World Views the United States)

Untitled, Henrik Starcke, 1953
UN Trusteeship Council Chamber
(More information)
It's sobering to sit in the UN meeting hall and hear country after country state in polite but urgent tones that the U.S. (and other nuclear states) must eliminate their nuclear weapons, in accordance with Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). For example:

While there has been progress in implementing some of the concrete steps agreed at successive review conferences since 1995, including through the reduction of the number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of some nuclear weapon States and increased transparency measures by some nuclear weapon States, the threat posed by nuclear weapons remains and the objectives of article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons have not yet been met. The continued existence of nuclear weapons and the threat of their proliferation 44 years after the entry into force of the Treaty contradicts commitments made under the Treaty. Accordingly, the 2015 Treaty review cycle should decisively tackle these challenges and address the confidence deficit among States parties to the Treaty. The implementation of disarmament commitments aimed at achieving and sustaining a world free from nuclear weapons cannot be postponed again.

("Nuclear disarmament: Working paper submitted by Ireland on behalf of Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa, as members of the New Agenda Coalition." Many more examples at NPT Prepcom papersmart portal.)

Trusteeship Council chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Venue for "Prepcom" (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty/NPT
Preparatory Conference) sessions -- May, 2014

The Netherlands.

Morocco. Nigeria.

Morocco. Iran. Hungary.

Kazakhstan. Argentina.


And on and on . . .

I don't know what else I imagined. (Perhaps they would say, "Sure, you committed to get rid of your nuclear weapons, but we're easy . . . ." ?) But somehow I was surprised again and again as country after country said, in effect, What you've done so far is not good enough and we expect -- demand -- nothing less than full elimination of your nuclear weapons.

Sculpture, UN Headquarters, New York
"Sculpture depicting St. George slaying the dragon. The dragon
is created from fragments of Soviet SS-20 and United States
Pershing nuclear missiles." (UN Photo/Milton Grant)

"26 September 2014 – The time has come for the total elimination
of nuclear weapons stockpiles, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
today declared as he urged the revival of nuclear disarmament
as a “top international priority.” (UN News Centre)
And so I tried for a moment to put myself in their position.  How do you formulate a statement that can somehow convince the United States to eliminate its threatening nuclear weapons?  How do you formulate the 10th request? Or the 100th? Knowing all the time that the United States is in the position -- will always be in the position -- to say, "No" ?  At what point does it dawn on you that the United States will never give up its nuclear weapons, because it has the power and the rest of the world doesn't?

And then a thought experiment occurred to me: what if the rest of the world suddenly found itself in a different position?  What if the rest of the world had a button in front of them, and by pressing that button, they could make the United States vanish? Would they say, "We must never, ever press this button; no, we will just continue to implore the United States to eliminate the weapons that threaten our destruction" ? Or would the rest of the world say, "This is our only salvation" ?

The biggest wake-up call is learning truly how you are viewed by others.


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Related posts

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(See Countdown to U.S. Nuclear Disarmament (With or Without the Politicians) )

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 (See Now HERE'S an "Asia Pivot" I Can Believe In! (Marshall Islands Sues Nuclear "Haves") )

With the New York Times publishing "analysis" like this, is it any wonder that Americans can say things like . . . "It won't be a war. We're just going to drop a few well placed bombs on them" . . . "the object of fighting a war is to 'cause devastation'" . . . "my finger is on the button. Run back to your mud hut or I am going to press it!" . . . "when war is devastating, then people will do everything possible not to get into it!" . . . as some of my high school classmates wrote on Facebook today?

(See The Bankruptcy of U.S. Nuclear Doctrine )

I don't think Alanna and I ever talked about what it must be like to be trying to escape a shower of sparks and hot ash. But she seemed to know that the sparks and hot ash are too important a part of the picture to be left out.

(See The Children Are Waiting)

We have had a window of opportunity -- nearly 70 years in which the constitution of Japan has explicitly renounced war, pointing the way for the rest of us. What have we imagined we were supposed to do?

(See Renouncing War: An Opportunity Not To Be Missed )

I'm marveling at the adjacency of a piece of public art -- one with a very clear message about the risk of human ambition and self-absorption and heedlessness -- to the center of political power in the city of Chicago.

(See NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Who will bring us down to earth? )

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