The Obama Legacy: Nice Words Over an Unforgiving, Brutal, Evil Military Mindset
President Obama went to Hiroshima, did not apologize, did not state the facts of the matter (that there was no justification for the bombings there and in Nagasaki), and did not announce any steps to reverse his pro-nuke policies (building more nukes, putting more nukes in Europe, defying the nonproliferation treaty, opposing a ban treaty, upholding a first-strike policy, spreading nuclear energy far and wide, demonizing Iran and North Korea, antagonizing Russia, etc.).
Where Obama is usually credited — and the reason he’s usually given a pass on his actual actions — is in the area of rhetoric. But in Hiroshima, as in Prague, his rhetoric did more harm than good. He claimed to want to eliminate nukes, but he declared that such a thing could not happen for decades (probably not in his lifetime) and he announced that humanity has always waged war (before later quietly claiming that this need not continue).
“Artifacts tell us that violent conflict appeared with the very first man. Our early ancestors having learned to make blades from flint and spears from wood used these tools not just for hunting but against their own kind,” said Obama. “We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves,” he added, leaping from a false claim about the past to a necessity to continue dumping our resources into the weapons that produce rather than avoid more wars.
After much in this higly damaging vein, Obama added: “But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them. We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe.” He even said: “We’re not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can learn. We can choose. We can tell our children a different story. …”
That’s right, but the U.S. President had already told a really bad one. If war were inevitable, as Obama has repeatedly suggested, including in the first ever pro-war Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, there would be little point in trying to end it. If war were inevitable, a moral case might be made for trying to lessen its damage while it continued. And numerous parochial cases could be made for being prepared to win inevitable wars for this side or that side. That’s the case Obama makes, without seeming to realize that it applies to other countries too, including countries that feel threatened by the U.S. military.
Developing ways to avoid generating conflicts is part of the answer to eliminating war, but some occurrence of conflict (or major disagreement) is inevitable, which is why we must use more effective and less destructive tools to resolve conflicts and to achieve security. But there is nothing inevitable about war. It is not made necessary by our genes, by other inevitable forces in our culture, or by crises beyond our control.
The disgrace of Obama’s Hiroshima visit is the $1 trillion the U.S. is wasting on new nukes, not just the refusal to apologize
The important question the Obama administration should be asking is not just why it refuses to apologize, but moreover why it decided to waste $1 trillion dollars over the next three decades to revitalize its nuclear program, in a plan that “has been widely panned by critics as ‘wasteful,’ ‘unsustainable,’ ‘unaffordable,’ and ‘a fantasy,'” The Intercept noted.
Obama has frequently claimed he and his administration are working toward a nuclear-free world. He reiterated this claim in his visit on Friday. Yet his own actions blatantly contradict his rhetoric. Instead, U.S. nuclear escalation with Russia and China threatens “to revive a Cold War-era arms race,” as The New York Times put it.