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“Obama Isn’t Done Being President”: He Promised To Play Through To The End Of The Fourth Quarter

Most of the time when President Obama is mentioned in a news article these days it is to talk about his legacy or note that he will be one of Hillary Clinton’s biggest assets on the campaign train over the next few months. All of that will change for a moment on Wednesday when he travels to Dallas to speak at the memorial services for the police officers who were killed in the attacks on Thursday night.

But in the meantime, he’s still busy being President. As I noted back in March, he set a far-reaching goal back in 2009 when he traveled to Prague.

So today I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials.

Since then, the United States has hosted four Global Summits on Nuclear Security and the President affirmed the need to continue working on these issues during his visit to Hiroshima.

That is why we come to Hiroshima.

The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening.

Obviously Obama intends to keep working on this one right up until the day his second term is over.

In recent weeks, the national security Cabinet members known as the Principals Committee held two meetings to review options for executive actions on nuclear policy. Many of the options on the table are controversial, but by design none of them require formal congressional approval. No final decisions have been made, but Obama is expected to weigh in personally soon…

Several U.S. officials briefed on the options told me they include declaring a “no first use” policy for the United States’ nuclear arsenal, which would be a landmark change in the country’s nuclear posture. Another option under consideration is seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution affirming a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons. This would be a way to enshrine the United States’ pledge not to test without having to seek unlikely Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The administration is also considering offering Russia a five-year extension of the New START treaty’s limits on deployed nuclear weapons, even though those limits don’t expire until 2021. This way, Obama could ensure that the next administration doesn’t let the treaty lapse. Some administration officials want to cancel or delay development of a new nuclear cruise missile, called the Long-Range Stand-Off weapon, because it is designed for a limited nuclear strike, a capability Obama doesn’t believe the United States needs. Some officials want to take most deployed nukes off of “hair trigger” alert.

The administration also wants to cut back long-term plans for modernizing the nation’s nuclear arsenal, which the Congressional Budget Office reports will cost about $350 billion over the next decade. Obama may establish a blue-ribbon panel of experts to examine the long-term budget for these efforts and find ways to scale it back.

After the 2014 midterm elections, President Obama promised to play through to the end of the fourth quarter. Don’t count him out just yet. He is obviously making good on that promise as well.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, July 11, 2016

July 12, 2016 Posted by | Hiroshima, Nuclear Weapons, President Obama | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“One Can Only Answer To Conscience”: Should America Apologize For Hiroshima?

The first flash came at 8:15 on a Monday morning. Eyewitnesses remember it as a bolt of soundless light as if the sun had somehow touched down to the Earth.

And suddenly, Hiroshima was gone.

The second flash came that Thursday morning at 11:02. Eyewitnesses recall two thumps — possibly the sound bouncing off the mountains that cradled the city — and a flash of bluish light.

And Nagasaki was decimated.

Japan surrendered the following Wednesday, ending the Second World War.

Last week, when it was announced Barack Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima, everyone from Salon to the National Review raised two important questions:

Will the president apologize for what America did 71 years ago this August? Should he?

The White House says the answer to the first question is No. For whatever it’s worth, the answer to the second is, too.

It is a measure of the deep emotion this subject still stirs that that will be a controversial and divisive opinion. Many good and moral people will find it abhorrent. Of course, the opposite opinion would also have been controversial and divisive and would have appalled other people, equally good, equally moral.

In the end, then, one can only answer to conscience, and this particular conscience is disinclined to second guess the long-ago president and military commanders who felt the bombs might obviate the need to invade the Japanese home islands at a ruinous cost in American lives. Remember that the Japanese, inebriated by the “bushido” warrior code under which surrender equals shame and dishonor, had refused to capitulate, though defeat had long been a foregone conclusion.

Indeed, even after Hiroshima was leveled, it still took that nation nine days to give up.

That said, there is a more visceral reason the answer to the second question must be No: Any other answer would defame Americans who endured unimaginable cruelty at Japanese hands.

Should America apologize?

Ask Ray “Hap” Halloran, a B-29 navigator from Cincinnati who was beaten, stoned, starved, stripped naked and displayed in a cage at the Tokyo Zoo.

Ask Lester Tenney, a tanker from Chicago whose sleep was forever raddled with nightmares of a twitching, headless corpse — a man he saw decapitated in the death march on Bataan.

And by all means, ask Forrest Knox, a sergeant from Janesville, Wisconsin. He was trapped with 500 other prisoners in the hold of a Japanese freighter where the heat topped 120 degrees and there was barely any water. Some of the men broke out in gibbering, howling fits of madness, prompting a Japanese threat to close off the hatch through which their meager air came if there was not silence.

The maddened men could not be reasoned with. So American men killed American men. Knox saw this. And participated. And for years afterward, he was haunted by dead men walking the streets of Janesville.

Should America apologize? No.

This was not slavery. This was not the Trail of Tears. This was not the incarceration of Japanese Americans. This was not, in other words, a case of the nation committing human-rights crimes against innocent peoples.

No, this was war, a fight for survival against a ruthless aggressor nation. Japan committed unspeakable atrocities. America did the same. Such is the nature of war. Seven decades later, the idea of an apology feels like moral impotence, a happy face Band-Aid that denies the awful immensity of it all.

There are two words that should be spoken, in fact, reverently whispered, with regard to Hiroshima and they are not “I’m sorry.” No, the only words that matter are this promise and prayer:

Never again.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, May 15, 2016

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Nuclear Weapons, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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