“Is there any man or woman–nay, any child–who does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is commercial and industrial rivalry?” — President Woodrow Wilson, September 1919
Unlike some gullible chaps who have faith in electoral politics as a representative democracy, I did not experience a yawning chasm of disappointment or abandonment upon the realization that Obama is not the messiah who will rid the world of all pestilence, trickery, and wrong. To this day the mainstream media is touting Obama as a great conciliator and philanthropist in his single-minded quest to rid the world from the threat of mutually assured nuclear extinction. But the more you unravel Obama’s political alliances and network of election financiers, the more you come to understand how deeply beholden the President of the United States is to the nuclear energy industry as well as nuclear weapons development.
Obama made his way into office at the hands of corporate financiers, who are heavy hitters in the financial industries as well as “essential services” such as the nuclear power industry.
They helped elect him, they were thrilled to death when he won, and his cabinet is no stranger to the business of building new nuclear power plants.
David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist, had a previous position with nuclear energy firm Exelon to win public support for rate increases. Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was instrumental in the creation of that company, which went on to become the nation’s most valuable nuclear utility based on market value.
His nuclear family close at hand, he pledges to build “a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants.” In his climate change policy, Obama openly embraces nuclear power as a carbon-free alternative to petro-energy. The government plans to subsidize the construction of over 30 nuclear reactors in the coming years. While the carbon imprint is less than coal or natural gas, there is no known method of safely storing or disposing of the spent fuel rod waste from nuclear reactors. Each one has a half-life of 10,000 years, which means any facility built to store them must last at least that long.
Creating deadly poisonous waste and stockpiling barrels of it along fault lines at seismically unfit facilities is ecological suicide. But so is the government’s nasty habit of dumping this waste on Native reservations and sacred sites, often targeted for their “sparse levels of human habitation”.
But more nuclear reactors responsible for more nuclear waste only promises to kill people slowly, over time. Obama’s investments in the nuclear arms industry is more distressing. With an arsenal bulging upwards of 10,000 nuclear warheads, Obama ordered large increases to pad the budgets of the National Nuclear Security Administration (13% raise) and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, up 22% from last year.
This funding increase to the National Laboratory in Albuquerque is to begin construction of the innocuously named “Chemistry and Metallurgy Building Replacement Project”, a multi-billion dollar laboratory capable of manufacturing over 200 plutonium pits per year, a crucial ingredient of the nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory is making strides towards the world’s first “subcritical” warhead. It’s for projects like these that Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, formerly of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, proclaims we must train and recruit a new generation of nuclear scientists to build a new generation of warheads for America’s arsenal. It’s these lab managers, nuclear scientists, and military planners who create livelihoods from sowing the seeds of political instability the world over.
How can you pay lip service to a nuclear free world (see his magnanimous “Yes, we can!” speech in Prague) one moment and up funding to the nuclear laboratories to build MORE bombs the next? We have 24,000 plutonium pits in the arsenal, only half actively deployed in weapons. We have 50,000 warheads in the world and enough enriched uranium for the production of over 200,000, enough to blow to smithereens every man woman and child on Earth. With so many avenues of annihilation already available, why must we produce more under the banner of arms reduction?
This leads us to a few possibilities concerning Obama’s intentions. He might be a hypocrite, a political flip-flopper, or a mastermind of Orwellian inversion, most poetically displayed when he asserted the necessity of war while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize with absolutely no hint of irony. Anyone who believes Obama is truly interested in ridding the world of the threat of nuclear warfare hasn’t studied history hard enough. The American economic empire is predicated on perpetual warfare and the threat of warfare as an engine of commercial growth. Ultimately, we need to blame the free market system that rewards this sociopathic and genocidal behavior, but that doesn’t remove Obama’s personal culpability in constructing a dangerously deceptive nuclear policy in a supposedly post-Cold War world.