Saturday, December 15, 2007


Here's one more reason to have Barack Obama as president; he could very likely be the president who does the most for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. In a talk on C-SPAN, Richard Rhodes indicated the formation of an exceptional group of experts including Senator Sam Nunn and Reagan Secretary of State George Schultz. Barack Obama has signed on to this group's plan for the abolition of nuclear weapons. One of the most significant obstacles facing this goal has been the still-grotesque nuclear arsenal of the US and of course the Bush war-mongering. With its belligerent bombastic about Iran, the Bush administration itself has been the greatest obstacle to achieving nuclear peace. The next president may change that. The fundamental point to be understood is that you cannot be safe unless your enemies feel safe, and the current president is doing everything in his power to make all his enemies, not to mention friends, feel unsafe. The next president could go to the UN and declare that the US is cutting down drastically on nuclear weapons or is getting rid of them entirely. And then he could ask, "Who else is with me on this?". That could be the way out of the current dilemma. To be sure, it is a little utopian to expect complete elimination of these weapons. But even if the next president could get down the number to a few hundred -currently it is a senseless ten thousand or so- there would be immense progress. As an aside, in a book in 1993, former National Security Advisor to JFK McGeorge Bundy and physicist Sidney Drell had suggested a maximum estimate of 1500 weapons, an estimate that's still quite high. But Bundy and Drell set reduction to this number as a goal for the year 2000. We don't need to reiterate how dismally far the country still is from it. Perhaps Obama will change this.

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Blogger The Tobacconist said...

Off topic, but I thought you might be interested in watching, "The Four Horsemen":,2025,n,n

1:25 PM  
Blogger Narainder said...

The more I hear Obama speak, the more I read about him, the more I feel that he is exactly the kind of leader that the US and the World needs right now. Brilliant, articulate and with an inspiring back-story; he as the face of America will immediately raise america's status in the world from the abysmal depths it has been languishing in under the current administration. The only concern is- his relative youth and lack of experience in the rough and tumble world of politics, but may be thats what makes him different from the rest of the choices out there. I am all for Obama as President.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

I completely agree. I have always rooted for Obama because he always has seemed to me to be the most reasonable and balanced of the candidates. He seems to be the only one who would not be wedded to a narrow POV.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Tobacconist, thanks very much for the link. It's wonderful!

7:50 AM  
Blogger Chetan said...

" I have always rooted for Obama because he always has seemed to me to be the most reasonable and balanced of the candidates. He seems to be the only one who would not be wedded to a narrow POV."

Although, I would love the leader of a country to possess the qualities you mentioned, I am a bit sceptical as to how effective can individuals with such qualities prove as a leader. Obama seems to give out a message of bipartisanship and getting things done by working together. But crucial decisions rarely involve a scenario where all parties are willing to cede part of their agenda in order to come up with a compromise that appeases all and yet get things done. Driving through your agenda involves some rancor, some partisanship, a thick hide and throwing your weight around. And on these counts I think Clinton aces Obama.

Take for example, Bush's proposal for the troop surge. As much as I hate to give him any credit, I have to concede that the surge has worked, unequivocally. Had Bush pandered to the Beltway opinion circuit and worried about political support, he would not have been able to achieve anything. It was only because he muscled his way through, that he got what he wanted. But I am wary of leaders like Bush who fit in the Hegelian great man theory. (Do read that article, it is very interesting) Such people have a tendency to be either path-breakingly right or spectacularly wrong. I prefer candidates who are not ideologically wedded and who don't see themselves set out to change history but whose motivation arises from self-interest and ambition to bring about an implementation of their reasonable/balanced agenda and not some devotion to any ideology. Bill Clinton being the perfect exemplar.

Bill Clinton was chastised heavily in the media for the welfare reform he undertook during Newt Gringich's term as a speaker in a republican dominated congress. The press made it look as if Clinton was kowtowing to pressure by the conservatives and that he was altering the fundamental nature of the democratic party by being anti-poor. Yet, Clinton believed in what he sought to achieve and despite his party and support base being against it, he did push for welfare reform and this will remain one of his crowning legacies as the welfare rolls have actually reduced after the implementation of the reforms, widely regarded then as anti-poor.

For any given issue, there are certain stakeholders who are going to raise hell for not changing the status quo that suits/benefits their agenda/vision, be it corporate interests or labour unions or environmental groups. As a leader it is not enough just to be willing to empathise and discuss with these groups and try to come up with a solution that everyone applauds. Such solutions try to please everyone and end up complicating the problem it was set to solve. " Krugman has a good piece stating this very thing today in Nytimes.

I think in general its better to have a candidate whose agenda sounds reasonable and balanced but who is a practitioner of the partisan brand of politics to push that agenda through.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Chetan said...

On a related yet unrelated note, and I think that the article has been haphazardly phrased and not cogently articulated, however, the contexual morality mentioned in this article is observable even within myself and does seem to shape our policy a lot.

12:05 PM  

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