Monday, March 21, 2011

Obama's Mistakes

While I continue to support many of Barack Obama’s initiatives, there are two areas in which I have had serious misgivings: war and nuclear power. Both of those areas have come to the fore in the past week.


In terms of Obama’s war policies, I believe he has lingered in Iraq too long, and I disagree with his stepping up the war in Afghanistan, but these are policies I have been willing to accept. However, our recent incursion into Libya under the guise of a UN protectionist mission is dangerous and misguided.

In general, there are three circumstances in which we should go to war:
  1. If we and/or our avowed allies are directly attacked.
  2. If a genocide is taking place that we can stop.
  3. If there is a proven and unquestionable buildup of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.
To my current knowledge, none of those is the case in Libya. Of course, some civilians have been fired upon, but the evidence of that is no more excessive than what is going on in Yemen or Bahrain. Should we attack those countries as well?

What is going on in Libya is a civil war, with rebels trying to overthrow the leader. The same activity is underway, with varying degrees of success, in countless nations around the world. The reason we have chosen to support the rebels in Libya instead of those in other countries is that while we were blocking investment in that country, allies like Britain and France were fostering such activity, and now they want us to protect those investments. Let us not forget that historically, both of these allies have often been on the wrong side of conflicts.

Let’s also not forget that it wasn’t so long ago that we supported rebel insurgents in Afghanistan in their war to oust the Soviet Union. Those rebels were the Taliban, and we all know how that turned out. In fact, historically, whenever we’ve tried to take down a foreign leader, the result has often been a worse leader or a long war that killed our soldiers and hurt our nation. As evidence, I suggest examining Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, and the aforementioned Afghanistan.

The correct course of US action is to do nothing, unless one of the above circumstances takes place. While it may be risky to avoid conflict in some cases, we don’t have the right to attack countries around the globe, without suitable provocation, simply to enforce our will.

Nuclear Power

For years, the energy companies and many in the government have touted “safe nuclear power,” and our president has bought into that concept. But as has been proven many times although never so graphically as this week in Japan, THERE IS NO SAFE NUCLEAR POWER. To support this viewpoint, I point to two factors:
  • No one has developed an effective approach for dealing with the radioactive waste these plants produce. In this country, we have loaded it into containers designed to last 100 years and buried it underground in places like South Carolina and Nevada. The problem is that this waste remains radioactive for upwards of 10,000 years. So, we are forfeiting the Earth’s future so we can have electricity today.
  • No matter how safely we build these reactors, they can still melt down, and one such accident can be so catastrophic that it endangers the entire world.
It’s just common sense, folks. It’s as obvious as the sun in the sky. If we invest into solar power the kinds of funds we spent to fight in Iraq or to bail out the nation’s banks, we can have an endless supply of power. Nuclear power advocates claim that dependence on solar power is decades away, and they are right as long as we continue to invest so little in it.

The corporate incentive is not there…no one can own the sun. But if Obama and the Congress made a funding decision to develop solar power and stop wasting our time and money on unsafe approaches like nuclear and fossil fuels, I have no doubt we could solve the world’s energy needs in a relatively short period of time.

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