Remember the beast slouching towards Bethlehem? Yeats wrote a poem with that image in it. When it comes to nuclear weapons being reined in by a regional compact in the Middle East, slouching is a good term. Certainly, nobody’s rushing.
The reason I bring it up again, after having written eleven diaries touching on the subject over half a dozen years, including here and here and here without generating any kind of interest, is because David Swanson, the champion of peace, took umbrage with President Obama’s assertion that, when it comes to the nuclear arming of Iran, nothing is off the table and implied that’s a war-mongering threat. And, of course, there have been echoes.
But, for whatever reason, Swanson made no reference to the fact that a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone for the whole Middle East has been on the table for a long time. And he could have, because the new President of the UN General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, has made it a priority to either expand the Central Asian compact or set up a sixth to join the existing five.
What’s been the hold up, one might ask? Well, not only has the United States been unenthusiastic about solving a problem in which its ally Israel has a big stake, but it actively opposed the ratification of the CANWFZ on the specious grounds that the participating nations might object to nuclear bombs being transported through their air space.
Then it happened anyway and our mainstream media took almost no notice. People agreeing on something is so BORING. Well, writing about the same thing over and over again is also boring, but it has to be done.
Now President Obama has signaled that the U.S. is open to all options just as President Al-Nasser is making a push to set up a conference for a MENWFZ. (Perhaps we should have a contest for a better name.)
This year, in addition to the adoption of its annual consensus resolution entitled “Establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Region of the Middle East”, the General Assembly adopted another resolution, entitled “The Risk of Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East”, where specific reference has been made to the 2012 Conference on the establishment of a Zone Free from Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East and where the Conference has been strongly endorsed.
On various occasions, including through my statement before the First Committee of the General Assembly, I welcomed the appointment by the UN Secretary-General of a Facilitator from Finland, Mr. Jaakko Laajava. I have offered the support of the General Assembly as a whole to facilitate his task in convening of a successful conference this year, in line with the consensus outcome document of the 2010 Review Conference of States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
To demonstrate the importance of this issue on my agenda, I dispatched a senior representative from my office to participate, as an observer, at the Forum convened in November 2011 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Relevant Experiences of Other Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones to the establishment of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in the Middle East. I continue, both personally and through my office, to lend all possible support to formal and informal efforts and events dedicated to a timely convening of the 2012 Conference. These efforts will continue.
It’s easy, and perhaps lazy, to just always think in terms of two. Clearly, a sixth nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East, reaching from Afghanistan to Egypt stands apart from letting Iran (and other states) invest resources in a useless and destructive technology or smashing their facilities to smithereens. It seems to me that, if the U.S. wants to be trusted, it also has to trust.
We know that domination appeals to some people–very insecure people, one suspects–but domination is an obsession and the good feeling doesn’t last. I don’t know which one of the seven deadly sins it falls into but the lust for power destroys. So, even if the MENWFZ is a rough beast, we should welcome it.