Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Obama's Nuclear Policy


“President Obama has announced a new policy on America’s use of nuclear weapons,” I told the class. “He won’t be the first to use them in a conflict with another nation, he said. And, he won’t retaliate with nuclear weapons if we’re attacked by a country which is using other WMD, or ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction,’ such as chemical or biological weapons against us.”

I waited for that to sink in.

After a pause, a boy raised his hand and asked, “What would be the point of that?”

“Yeah,” said another boy. “Why have them if we’re not going to use them?”

“President Obama says America won’t retaliate with nuclear weapons against a country that has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty - countries that have pledged not to make nuclear weapons. I think he’s trying to encourage more countries to sign it and that’s a big reason for his new policy,” I suggested.

“Who agrees with Obama’s new policy?” I asked.

A couple of girls didn’t stick their hands up, but turned their palms around to me while their elbows stayed on the desk. They smiled meekly.

“Who disagrees?”

Most of the students raised their hands. We had been studying WMD and the arms race following World War II. Students had seen “Hiroshima,” a made-for-TV docudrama focusing on President Truman’s decision to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s decision to surrender. They learned what a nuclear weapon can do - how it kills with a blast, with heat, and with radiation. They learned about kilotons and megatons. They learned what countries have nuclear weapons and when each obtained them between 1945 and today. They knew that North Korea has tested one and that Iran is trying to develop one. They knew that Iran is threatening to “wipe Israel off the map.”

A couple of days later I said to the class: “Sarah Palin criticized President Obama’s new nuclear policy saying, ‘It's kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, “Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me,”’”

“Good for her,” said a boy. “Is she going to run for president?”

“Maybe,” I said. “I’m sure she’s thinking about it. Who agrees with Sarah Palin on this?” I asked.

A scattering of hands.

“Who disagrees?”

Another scattering. Most did not to have an opinion one way or the other.

The next day, I told the class that President Obama responded to Sarah Palin’s criticism. “He said, ‘Last I checked, Sarah Palin's not much of an expert on nuclear issues.’” I paused and let them chew on that.

“And he is?” suggested a girl skeptically.

“Well, he does have experts advising him,” I said, “and he would have access to much more information than you or me or Sarah Palin would. He also said, ‘[I]f the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I'm probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.’”

“But he hasn’t been president very long and he wasn’t an expert before that,” she said.

“Okay,” I answered.

The next day, I told them, “Sarah Palin has another response to President Obama. She mocked his criticism saying, ‘all the vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer . . .’ The president was a community organizer in Chicago for fifteen years or so before becoming a state senator and a US senator. Today, he’s in Prague, Czech Republic signing a treaty declaring that the United States would further reduce the number of nuclear weapons we have. He made a speech there last year saying he wants a world without nuclear weapons.”

“Can we do that?” asked a boy. “Can we get rid of our nuclear weapons? What would we do with them”

“We can disassemble them down to the enriched uranium or plutonium that is turned into energy according to the equation E=mc2, but we cannot unmake that material. We can only store it somewhere and guard it. Also, directions for constructing a nuclear weapon can be downloaded from the internet, so a world without nuclear weapons doesn’t seem like a real possibility.”

“How many weapons would it take to destroy the whole world?” asked another boy.

“Nobody knows for sure,” I said, “and I hope we never find out. Some speculate that it would be around 3000 or so.”

“And how many are we going to get down to?”

“Around 1600 in our arsenal, I think, assuming the Senate ratifies this treaty.”

“Hmm,” he said.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you make Obama look like he was flipping the bird again? That is so funny.

Stephen said...

Let's take a look at entertainer Palin's silly statements. As for her simple-minded playground analogy, NO, it is NOT saying that the US wouldn't retaliate if punched in the face. America’s vast conventional military superiority is more than enough to retaliate without resorting to nuclear weapons. America should lead by example, and this is a great step.


As for her juvinile attempt to ridicule Obama's community organizing, as if that had anything to do with his nuclear experience, what can be said but how moronic the woman is. The facts are that:

Obama took fact-finding trip to former USSR to examine WMD stockpiles. In 2005, in his first foreign trip as a U.S. senator, Obama traveled to Russia, (no, he didn't just see Russia from his house) Ukraine and Azerbaijan with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), then-chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. The purpose of the trip was to examine facilities for the storage and destruction of conventional, biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons

With Lugar, Obama co-authored non-proliferation initiative signed into law by President Bush. Obama and Lugar co-authored the "Lugar-Obama non-proliferation initiative," which "enhances U.S. efforts to destroy conventional weapons stockpiles and to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction throughout the world."

Obama introduced Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction Act of 2007. Obama introduced the Nuclear Weapons Threat Reduction Act of 2007 (S.1977), with then-Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)


Palin probably is truly ignorant to these facts (as she has proven to be with almost every political issue) but as an educator you should have known better and relayed the facts to your students.

Anonymous said...

Finally an article in which Tom does not bash Obama! He actually shows him in a good light with the comparison to Palin's babblings. I'm not sure what the point of the whole column was though.

Anonymous said...

How obnoxious for somebody who quit on her state (for a chance to grab some quick $$ as an entertainer before her 15 minutes ran out) to babble on about playgrounds and other such nonsense in her desperate attempt to play to the teabaggers. She has managed to make a bigger joke out of herself than she was at the peak of the SNL/Tina Fey era.

Keep it up, Sarah, your act is incredibly funny and the demage you are doing to conservatives is priceless!

Anonymous said...

Wondering what the point is here, there is only one person who has experience with using atomic weapons and Mr Truman is dead. And no one asked Mr Obama what he would retaliate with if he didnt use nuclear weapons. Did you mention this to your class? I see nothing that says he would not retaliate at all. Being President is on the job training. It is pure speculation to predict how any individual will act in time of crisis and to say or believe other wise is foolish. Ms Palin or not, the Republican party is already scrambling to find a capable candidate. Time is fast running out.

Irregardless NH said...

They knew that Iran is threatening to “wipe Israel off the map.”

Sadly - predictably - Educator McLaughlin continues the out-and-out lie that is the mistranslation of Ahmadinijad's comment regarding Israel. What he actually said (and, let's be clear, he's a Holocaust denier and no friend of Israel) was that he was calling for REGIME CHANGE in Jerusalem. Much like what the United States called for (and for which we sacrificed our blood and treature) in Iraq.

It's mind-boggling and nothing short of infuriating that such a foaming ideologue is paid (with taxpayer funds, one might add) to shape the minds of impressionable children.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Irregardless:

Look here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/oct/27/israel.iran

Irregardless NH said...

Read this from someone you can trust:

http://www.davidduke.com/general/1746_1746.html

-or-

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/january2007/260107offthemap.htm

Anonymous said...

Tom, don't be so quick to believe rumors just because they fit your agenda. Investigate the truth. That is the least you can do for your students.

http://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/irans-president-did-not-say-israel-must-be-wiped-off-the-map-by-arash-norouzi-2007/

Tom McLaughlin said...

What's next fellas? Will you send me to a site that channels Adolph Hitler from hell?

So, from now on I should disregard the annual "Death to Israel!" festivals attended by millions in Tehran? Should I ignore Iran terrorist proxies Hezbollah and Hamas when they chant "Death to Israel!" and "Death to America!" and promise to kill every Jew in Israel?

Do you like Ahmadinejad so much because he hugs Hugo Chavez who hugs Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and Bill Ayers and Fidel Castro?

Anonymous said...

Tom, what the heck are you babbling about. I simply directed you to a site that shows you are playing a little loosely with your facts and that you should check multiple sources. It seems people like you are a big reason why our public schools have such a bad name.

Irregardless NH said...

It seems people like you are a big reason why our public schools have such a bad name.

You say it like it's a bad thing...

Jim said...

Ahmadinejad brands Israel a 'stinking corpse'
(AFP) – May 8, 2008

TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday called Israel a "stinking corpse" which is doomed to disappear as the Jewish state celebrated its 60th anniversary.

"Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.

"Today the reason for the Zionist regime's existence is questioned, and this regime is on its way to annihilation," he said.

Ahmadinejad added that Israel "has reached the end like a dead rat after being slapped by the Lebanese" -- a reference to the July-August 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite Hezbollah militia.

Iran does not recognise the Jewish state, and since becoming president in 2005 Ahmadinejad has repeatedly provoked international outrage by predicting that Israel is doomed to disappear.

He has also caused controversy by playing down the scale of the Holocaust.

Anonymous said...

Ahmadinejad is a scumbag lunatic. Everybody knows this. Do you have a point, Jim?

Erik Corbett said...

I'm sure you also pointed out to your class that Iran and North Korea haven't signed the Non Proliferation Treaty, N Korea did then pulled out in 2003 I believe. So if they were to attack us or our allies the nuclear option even if the Joint Chiefs have recommended not using it.

By my count 5 countries have now agreed to relinquish their highly enriched uranium, South Africa, Ukraine, Mexico, Canada and Romania. South Africa made the decision in 1999 and the others did it in the wake of the non-proliferation summit in Washington. By my count 5 nations have been willing to give up potential nuclear weapons to Democratic presidents and 0 have been willing to do it with Republicans in the White House. If loose nukes are the greatest international threat can Republicans really keep us safe if nobody is willing to make concessions to them on highly enriched uranium?

sam clement said...

Palin didn't actually say nuclear, she said nucular. LOL.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Yeah. I know what you mean. It's almost as embarrassing as Obama talking the navy "corpseman" or the 57 states he visited.

Anonymous said...

Wow Tom, what a great defense of your column after it got ripped apart again - Obama has bumbled his words a time or two! Oooooh!

Anonymous said...

The truth is seemingly as important to Tom as it is to the head of the Teabaggers, Mark Williams. Williams, when asked why he invokes long-debunked smear attempts and continually makes slanderous statements says he "uses strong language to bolster his arguements and animate audiences, and that his forceful rhetoric, even if it skirts the truth, is appropriate to fight the Obama administration" [Boston Globe]

So while the man has no dignity and is morally weak, at least he admits that he lies to play to his rabid audience. I know it must be tough to admit that you can't make your case with the truth, because that is pretty much admitting that you are a phoney with a bad cause.

Some aren't man enough to admit this like Williams did, eh Tom?

Tom McLaughlin said...

Wow. Talk about rabid. Palin and the Tea Party folks really get to you leftists, huh?

You must be very afraid of the November elections. I don't blame you.

Tom McLaughlin said...

Erik:

I did tell students about North Korea and Iran and the Non-Proliferation treaty.

There's no problem making concessions to countries likeSouth Africa, Ukraine, Mexico, Canada and Romania, but let me point out that Libya decided to forego its nuclear ambitions right after we took down Saddam Hussein in 2003. There were concessions involved.

Let me also point out that Kim Jong Il made a fool out of Madeline Albright and Bill Clinton when they made a deal in the '90s to send aid to North Korea while they were secretly building nukes.

You can't negotiate with the likes of Qaddafi, Ahmadinejad, Il, or al Qaeda. They're not rational. And yes, it's hard to decide what could be worse than losing an American city to a nuke. There are 200 suitcase nukes from the Soviet Union unaccounted for.

Or how about an Electromagnetic Pulse-producing nuke fired from an Iranian ship offshore? That could be worse.

These are real vulnerabilities whether you want to look at them or not. Meanwhile, Obama appeases Russia by promising not to deploy defensive missiles in eastern Europe and cuts funding for missile defense development.

Anonymous said...

Rabid? You are babbling nonsense again, Tom. Afraid of elections? I'm all for voting out anybody in office not getting the job done - which is most everybody nowadays. The teabaggers? I love them! Great entertainment, and helping destroy the conservatives reputation and the same time!

Anonymous said...

From SodaHead:

For months, Tea Party protestersTea Party protesters have blazed a revolutionary trail through the halls of Congress, declaring their intention to rein in the out-of-control spending and unconstitutional inclinations of their representatives in Washington D.C.

And for months, Republican lawmakers have highlighted every outlandish demand and reckless comment of the Tea PartiersPartiers, believing that the fractured group’s passion and numbers would assist the Republican Party in the midterm elections.

Oops.

According to a new Quinnipac University poll, the Tea Party could actually hurt the GOP in the upcoming Congressional races. While the majority of those polled, 44%-39%, said they would vote for a Republican over a Democrat this November, the Republican lead dropped to 36% when a Tea Party candidate was introduced to the race.

Now, Republicans have begun their campaign to marginalize and mock the very people whom they once referred to as patriots. Today on MSNBC, Karl Rove referred to the Tea Partiers as “novices” and “unsophisticated people”. It would seem that the blue chip wing of the Republican Party has begun to turn on the blue-collar wing of the Party.

Tom McLaughlin said...

That could happen. Tea Party people are basically conservative non-partisan and they're political novices. They see Republicans as not conservative enough and they're right about that. If they should field candidates, they'd split the conservative vote and benefit Democrats the way Perot helped Clinton in 92 and 96.

It's all still ominous for leftists though, because we're seeing what comes of their socialist policies and we'll continue to see it for the next several years.

Backlash is looming.

Anonymous said...

What ARE we seeing of their "socialist" policies? The economy is rebounding from the disastrous state Obama inherited it, people will soon be seeing the reality of the historic health care bill instead of the lies spread about it....what exactly are you talking about?

Anonymous said...

"They see Republicans as not conservative enough and they're right about that."

Yes, from their point of view, and yours, they are right. At the same time most liberals see Obama as being not nearly liberal enough, and they are right about that.


The ominous thing for Republicans is that they have let to dig up a viable candidate that has a chance to unseat Obama in '12.

Anonymous said...

"Backlash is looming."

Backlash came in 2008 and Obama is the result.

Anonymous said...

Here is a great column from the America Doomed website:

Today, President Obama was asked to comment on Sarah Palin’s criticism of the recent nuclear arms agreement with Russia. No surprise that Palin was very opposed to the historic agreement. No matter that Ronald Reagan spoke many times about reducing the number of nuclear weapons. No matter that the U.S. and Russia both agreed to have over 1500 nuclear weapons based on these agreements. Seriously, can you imagine the need for more than 1500 nuclear weapons, considering the damage that two tiny ones (by today’s standards) did to Japan?

The more interesting and scary aspect of Obama commenting on Palin’s criticism is that he is legitimizing Palin. This has got to have the Republicans scared to death. And Democrats would just love to see Palin nominated. How will the Republicans stop poorly educated Palin — who didn’t even complete a single term as Governor — from being the nominee in 2012? First, Iowa is bible crazy and Palin already has like 40% of the vote in Iowa before even showing up. Those bible people love their god stuff and Palin can dish out the god stuff as good as anybody. It doesn’t matter that Palin is an intellectual joke because bible crazies feel anybody with a quality education is controlled by the devil.

Romney is in trouble because of the health care reform. That is, the federal program looks a lot like the Massachusetts program that he helped create. It makes it difficult for Romney to call it socialism without the Republican glue sticking on him — no problem for Palin to call everything socialism since she has no idea what socialism actually is. Who else do the Republicans have to run? Newt Gingrich? Yesterday, Newt declared Obama was the most radical President in history — not sure what he is talking about. Obama has been acting like Republicans of old — not the new wing nut Republican party of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.

Palin has also been harping on the idea that women are much better leaders in her speeches lately. She never got the memo that is acceptable if you are a Democrat but Republican don’t really like hearing about women. Those religious right people still believe that women should be seen and not heard. Since Palin plays the jesus card constantly, they will forgive her. Plus, for Republicans a woman is better than a black man. Palin feels it is god’s will for her to succeed – enough said. Time for everybody to be very scared.

SPIKE said...

Tom asks:
Do you like Ahmadinejad so much because he hugs Hugo Chavez who hugs Sean Penn, Danny Glover, and Bill Ayers and Fidel Castro?

All this male hugging means it's time to get out the gay leather porn!

Alex said...

I remember reading Palin's first comments (involving playgrounds) and thinking that "Go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me" sounded awfully Christian. After all, we are to emulate Christ our Lord, who spoke words very similar to these.

Interesting...

DAWN said...

"After all, we are to emulate Christ our Lord, who spoke words very similar to these."

In context Alex. Means everything. Remember a text taken out of context is nothing but a pretext. Jesus was talking personally not corporately. Otherwise why did God go to battle with the Israelites?

Also, Scripture is pretty clear that when we, as Christians, face personal physical battles we should turn the other cheek. It's for the glory of God to do so.

But if it's a spiritual battle we are to "contend for the faith." Christians are also likened to soldiers marching as to war, spiritually speaking.

DAWN said...

"It doesn’t matter that Palin is an intellectual joke because bible crazies feel anybody with a quality education is controlled by the devil."

This is so not true. It's also a very ignorant statement to make. Very ignorant. There is quite an extensive list of very intelligent people in our history who also were strong believers including many who founded our own country.

My son who just received his doctorate this week (at 27) is a strong Christian. He's a Neuro Scientist. One of the other Scientists in his lab (who didn't know my son well) recently remarked (to his detriment) that a person who goes to church has about a 50 point IQ less than one who doesn't attend church.

Another Scientist, who knew my son quite well, spoke up quickly and asked (knowing quite well the answer) "Bobby don't you attend church every week?" She said that because my son gave what his reviewers said was the best dissertation they had ever seen.

So whoever gave you that information can't be trusted. In fact your owning it makes you not very credible.

Anonymous said...

Dawn, make sure you harp on Tom as well when he goes off again on one of his put-downs on intellectuals.