Sunday, April 12, 2009

If Ever The Twain Shall Meet...

...John McCain and Barack Obama could beat swords into plowshares

In a recent speech delivered in Prague, Barack Obama called for the global elimination of nuclear weapons.

"I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," Obama announced. His stance remains at odds with American nuclear policies that weakly pursue non-proliferation elsewhere in the world -- in places such as Iran and North Korea, while failing in Israel, India and Pakistan -- while continuing to maintain stockpiles of nuclear weapons at home.

Those aresenals have long been maintained under the pretences of deterrence.

In a more reecent speech, John McCain called fof continued work on the US anti-ballistic missile shield.

McCain's comments were made in response to a recent missile launch by North Korea. "I believe there is no more compelling argument for missile defense capability than what just happened with the North Korean launch," McCain explained.

Many intellectuals, such as Freeman Dyson, have long opposed the missile defense shield -- otherwise known as the Strategic Defense Initiative -- because they argue that such counter-measures can only lead to increased proliferation by the United Statess' nuclear opponents.

Under conditions in which the United States continued to maintain nucear weapons, and especially under a doctrine that allows for first use of nuclear weapon, this was certainly true.

But with the Cold War long over, and the American nuclear doctrine that allowed for first use but not first strike -- reserving the right to use nuclear weapons to repel an invasion by the now-non-existent Soviet Union -- clearly outdated, a new possibility has evidently presented itself that was never present during the Cold War: the combination of SDI with complete nuclear disarmament.

Considering that the missile shield has yet to work, and whether or not it ever will work remains questionable, this may be a moot point.

But a successful missile defence shield would allow the United States to wean itself off of what the Plowshares movement calls "the idolatry of nuclear weapons".

The Plowshares movement -- the name given to the largely-Catholic movement that vandalizes nuclear weapons sites and pours their own blood on them as an act of civil disobedience (even if an act of civil disobedience fused with vandalism) argues that nuclear weapons became a false idol when the United States became politically and psychologically dependent upon them. Moreover, they argue this "idolatry of nuclear weapons" has become ecclesiastical, as few American politicians (at least until now) will refute the need for such weapons.

When Plowshares activists damage missile components and missile sites with hammers they are acting to help bring the prophetic events of Isaiah 2:4 to fruition. This passage reads:
"And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."
Their spilling of their own blood -- usually drawn for weeks in advance of their protest, and smuggled in bottles -- is meant to symbolize Jesus Christ's self-sacrifice at the time of his crucifixion.

Clearly, the Plowshares movement does this in pursuit of a national redemption -- one similar to the kind that the Biblical Christ offers through his death and resurrection.

Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain have been shy about their Christian religious beliefs. Many of those in the Plowshares movement -- who, if anything, enjoy increased legitimacy in the post-Cold War world -- must feel encouraged by each man's support for nuclear disarmament.

McCain has declared his support for Obama's disarmament agenda, although Obama remains lukewarm to the missile defence shield.

Barack Obama needs to understand that, although costly, a successfully-developed issile defence shield would grant the United States the security necessary to pursue complete disarmament.

The United States unilaterally disarming will not rid the world of nuclear weapons. France, Britain, China, Russia, Israel, India and Pakistan will continue to have them. Iran and North Korea will continue to pursue them.

While the threat of a nuclear launch against the United States -- or any other western country -- is nearly non-existent today, it cannot be ruled out that there will not be such threats in the future. The United States needs to be prepared to meet them, and nuclear deterrence has clearly become an oudated model.

It's also important to note that, according to Christ's own example, the United States turning its nuclear cheek wouldn't entail passively accepting evil, but rather retaliating nonviolently -- in the case of missile defence, through the destruction of incoming missiles.

Realistically, SDI and nuclear disarmament are policies that can only be pursued together.

With any luck, Barack Obama and John McCain share the wisdom to recognize this.

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