Thursday, November 28, 2013

1200. A Word with the Reader: On Thanksgiving and Nuclear Negotiations with Iran

By Kamran Nayeri, November 28, 2013
Assistant Editor, Oskar

The occasion for this 1200th post coincide with the Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Despite the hype, there are a number of reasons to dislike Thanksgiving.  In popular lore it is a family day, the most favorite holiday. However, the family get together centers on a food orgy that runs counter to the fact that millions in the U.S. and billions around the world go without adequate nutrition. Meanwhile, weeks a head millions of turkeys and pigs are slaughtered for this food orgy. 

Thanksgiving in the U.S. is also celebration of the culture of English colonial settlers first established in New England in 1621. To Native Americans Thanksgiving is a reminder of colonial settlers who took away their land and destroyed their culture all in the name of civilization. For decades merchant capitalists have turned Thanksgiving to the kickoff day for the mass consumerist ritual that cumulates in Christmas.  To read more about Thanksgiving see Mitchel Cohen’s Why I Hate Thanksgiving by Mitchel Cohen.

Last week, the much trumpeted nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)  produced an interim agreement. Washington together with its European allies have claimed that the IRI has a program to build nuclear weapons.  The IRI has claimed all along that its pursuit of nuclear power is for peaceful (energy and medical) needs and not for weapons.  The issue has polarized the public opinion across the world.  Many in the industrial capitalist countries believe that IRI is a “rouge state” that cannot be trusted with having nuclear weapons. On the other hand, many Iranians support the IRI’s program to master the nuclear technology.  Israel and Saudi Arabia—the two most reactionary regimes in the Middle East—have been urging Washington to take military action against Iran—Israel openly threatens to bomb Iran. On the other hand, a majority of world population and many countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America support Iran’s right to pursue nuclear power.  Prominent among them have been the former President of  Venezuela Hugo Chavez and the Cuban government. 

Given the fact that all permanent members of the Security Council—United States, Russia, Britain, France and China—are the major nuclear powers in the world, it would seem that their aim is more to keep the nuclear club (the five plus India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea) exclusive rather than making the world a safer place.  In fact, despite post-Cold War agreements between the U.S. and Russia both countries possess enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world many times over. The United States has actually used nuclear weapons (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and has considered using them again a number of times.  None of the nuclear states show any desire to get rid of their own stockpile.  

In the capitalist world pecking order, nuclear weapons give elites in nation-states  added “respectability” on the world stage as might is right.  The dynamics of capital accumulation leads to global competition where military power aids economic domination.  Between 1945 and 1998, the nuclear club is responsible for 2053. This leaves out North Korea's two unconfirmed nuclear explosions and those by Israel that possesses between 200 to 300 nuclear bombs (the Israelis state neither confirms or denies having nuclear weapons and the International Atomic Energy Agency has consistently turned a blind eye). 

While I would support the right of any nation—including Iran—to have access to energy and condemn sanctions and threats of military action against Iran for pursuing its nuclear program, it should be said at the same breath that all forms of nuclear energy—for peaceful or military ends—are dangerous to the health of the planet and should be abandoned.  Four of the most ten polluted cities are in Iran. There is no reason to believe the nuclear pollution will be less likely there. 

Nuclear power cannot be a substitute for fossil fuels (i.e., coal, gas, oil). For energy we need an ecological socialist program that will include substitution of these energy sources with renewables, improving efficiency in energy combined with a reduction in energy use in the industrial countries while energy use should be increased by billions who currently have no or little access to energy, and a gradual, democratic program to reduce human population through empowering women. 

The seven-minute video clip below produced by the Japanese artist Hashimoto is highly educational to show in graphic form nuclear explosions by the nuclear club (he does not include Israel or North Korea). 

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There have been 99 posts since my last A Word with the Reader column (posts 1100-1199). Global warming and climate change (12 posts), ecological socialism (10 posts), permaculture/food (8 posts), capitalism and crises (7 posts) have been prominent. As usual, a large number of posts were dedicated to Cuba (17 posts). Other topics included population, evolution, species, and science 11 posts), political resistance and animal rights (12 posts).  There were four book reviews.

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1199. Global Warming and Tornadoes


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