Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 219- The coming nuclear holocaust

Without a doubt the best thing I've ever seen Rick Larsen do:

Oh Rick, I take back (almost) every thing I said about your spinelessness in 2006. Now if only you could take back your vote on the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.

Dear Mr. President,

Just last night two friends and I were debating the respective cases for Kim Jong Il or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being the best crazy dictator. Today I feel pretty guilty for not even mentioning Fidel Castro, but even when accusing you of leading the world toward nuclear holocaust, he sounds considerably more reasonable than the leaders of either North Korea or Iran. Castro warns that it is up to Cuba and other nations to convince the US not to use the bomb.

Asked by one parliamentarian if Obama would be capable of starting a nuclear war, Castro replied, "No, not if we persuade him not to." (from Jpost)

The sentiments in this statement are hopeful and even encouraging. While I may cling to my faith that you are not in fact trying to start a global nuclear war, I'm glad to know that Castro at least has the optimism to believe that you can be talked out of it. That your better angels might be reasoned with, even by nations of less geo-political power. Considering that Glenn Beck recently compared America under your administration to the Planet of the Apes, I think that Castro is actually sounding more reasonable than much of the FOX news staff.

For the first time since we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, the US is participating in the memorial service. To me, this is a moving symbol of the healing that has occurred since the war's end; a sign, even, of your administration's commitment to a future without nuclear weapons. I didn't realize this might be controversial. FOX posed this issue to readers on its website:

The U.S., for the first time, is sending an official delegation to Friday's Hiroshima anniversary ceremonies in Japan. There is concern that this change in longstanding policy could be interpreted as an apology. Do you think the U.S. should send this delegation?

Possible answers to this question are:

Yes -- It's been 65 years, and it's time to heal old wounds.
No -- America has nothing to apologize for, and this is completely inappropriate.
Not sure, but I'm curious, why now?
Other (post a comment)

The poll is not scientific by any stretch, but 85% of almost 25,000 responses were "No -- America has nothing to apologize for, and this is completely inappropriate." This actually frightens me more than Iran, North Korea and Cuba combined. Our inability to apologize for the terrible things we have done, even decades later, when it doesn't hurt any one or cost us anything, astounds me. The war with Japan was complicated and horrific for both sides- I would never make the argument that I know, for sure, that President Truman made the wrong call. Using the atomic bomb may have ended the war and ultimately saved lives. But it was still an awful, world-altering thing to do. The terrible and lingering civilian toll of that decision is still worth apologizing for. Who does an apology harm? After 65 years, can't we just be satisfied that we won? I don't understand the mentality that says victory at war excuses, justifies or exempts us from apology for the means by which we achieved that victory.

So Fidel Castro may have misjudged your own hunger for war, but I am truly afraid he has not misjudged the American people's. Far more ridiculous than hating Paul the psychic octopus or dressing like Elvis or even an old man desperately clinging to the illusion of his own significance, our own iron-clad belief in the righteousness of America's conduct is the most dangerous delusion of all. We have made mistakes. We will make more. People will die, and suffer needlessly because of this. It is the cost of being a global power, and if we cannot summon the humanity to empathize and apologize and admit our own culpability, we don't deserve this kind of power any more than Castro. Thankfully, Mr. President, I think that you are a calmer American leader than the world is used to, and I am grateful that we are represented to the world more reasonably than many on the right deserve.

Respectfully yours,


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