Stepping back from a nuclear threat
Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, are dates that must be remembered forever: On those days atomic bombs were dropped from the American B-29 “Superfortress” bomber Enola Gay on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, demonstrating how humankind’s annihilation can happen. The bombs ended World War II but started the Cold War, with the United States and the then Soviet Union embarking on the nuclear arms race. That race has since been set aside through SALT (or the strategic arms limitation treaty) and a subsequent agreement on the nonproliferation of nuclear arms.
The world, however, is reluctant to get rid of nuclear arms. These countries continue to keep their nuclear stockpile: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and the Nato-sharing countries Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey. A world free of nuclear arms remains an aspiration. Man’s folly can lead to self-destruction.
The Iran nuclear deal was announced in The Hague last July 14 and is now under deliberation for ratification by the US Congress. The Republicans and Israel call it a bad deal. It faces imminent disapproval by the US Congress but a veto by President Barack Obama is likely to push it forward, unless the numbers for a veto override will be mustered. It is being endorsed by the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. It should pull back Iran from making nuclear warheads by a minimum of 19 years in exchange for the lifting of debilitating economic sanctions and restore it into the global mainstream of nations.
Diplomacy and continuing dialogue made the deal possible. Yet critics say that the deal is based, not on trust and goodwill, but on verifiable compliance, and that the outcome may be far from ideal. But the no-deal alternative may lead to very unpredictable consequences in the light of the volatility and instability in the Middle East and Africa, in the war on terror. There is no alternative to continuing dialogue and diplomacy.
In these parts, the debate on the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) will be on again in Congress. It would seem that transparency and the participation of all direct stakeholders have not been the hallmark of the process that led to the Framework Agreement and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, as well as the proposed BBL submitted by President Aquino to Congress. Stepping back and revisiting the basic premises of the peace negotiation may be the prudent thing to do.
This is not going back to square one; this is to make sure that the objective of an autonomous Bangsamoro, with the concomitant objectives of economic, social and cultural emancipation, will be achieved within constitutional bounds. And where the terms may need constitutional amendment, such will be done subject to the process that the Charter dictates, to be accepted by all in the spirit of goodwill. A good deal should pass the test of a popular referendum.
No one wants war, or the threat of war. Whether it is the Iran nuclear deal or the aspiration for a Bangsamoro, diplomacy and continuing dialogue must constantly be the platform on which the realization will happen. The lessons from war should never be forgotten. Transparency is an imperative in the entire process.
Millions of dollars are being spent on advertising material working for the US Congress’ disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal. The Jewish lobby is very strong in Washington. The fundamental premise is that Iran is a nation that has vowed the destruction of Israel. Can there be no change in the position of Iran’s leaders in their consideration of Israel? Is the threat of a holocaust real and viable in the 21st century?
The world is dynamic, and changes have been profound. Information technology and communications have opened opportunities for human beings to grow and develop their potentials. The obstacles are biases and prejudices founded on the pursuit by groups or nations of power and dominance over others using whatever means, including that which can annihilate humankind. Yet when one thinks seriously about the threat, it is at best a deterrent as no one is expected to launch a nuclear attack knowing the counterattack will be forthcoming from somewhere. Nuclear aggression will be suicidal.
China’s aggressiveness in the West Philippine Sea is an unnecessary show of force and power play detrimental to regional stability. Clearly, this behavior would not have been demonstrated without the huge economic gains that China has made since the 1990s. China is a contemporary economic power. Again, power and dominance are the justification for aggression toward neighbors. But if bottom-line goals are economic in nature, there should be nothing that diplomacy and continuing dialogue cannot resolve. It is a sad testament that the human psyche leads to the strong overpowering the weak instead of making collaboration and cooperation work for an even stronger collective. Empires have risen. But they have fallen, too.
The Iran nuclear deal is a step forward and away from a nuclear threat. The deal will be pursued under constant watch by all the stakeholders to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions. There is merit in giving the deal a chance; there is no viable alternative that can be pursued with specifics acceptable to all concerned. When the deal gets implemented, nations can work together in making sure that extremists will never get hold of any nuclear arsenal. The real potential Armageddon is when those who have no respect for human lives, including their own, will be able to get hold of and use weapons of mass destruction. No one wins in war.
Danilo S. Venida ([email protected]) holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the University of the Philippines and the Center for Research and Communication/University of Asia and the Pacific. He is a former president of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and is now a business consultant.
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