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The other side of the looking glass The other side of the looking glass
by Jan Sand
2006-11-05 09:21:35
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The President of the USA, outfitted with the strongest army in the world with the most advanced military capability, is witnessing this fine piece of equipment being slowly ground to pieces by primitive devices worked up out of cheap junk and planted surreptitiously along the various thoroughfares where it is currently occupied.

The dumbest workman is aware that a sledgehammer is inappropriate where a pair of tweezers is most useful, but if all you have to work with is sledgehammers, the temptation for the dumb workman to use a sledgehammer is probably irresistible. And, of course, the results are disastrous.

Humanity, among all the other beasts tumbling out of the infinite inventiveness of evolution, stands apart as being the most ingenious for devising new ideas. It is so delighted by this dangerous capability that it very frequently seizes on whatever crystallizes as a wonderful novelty to be immediately put to use whatever the consequences - very frequently the consequences prove catastrophic in a major way.

During the Second World War, a group of scientists, with the aid of Dr. Einstein, initiated the arduous process of separating U235 out of the overwhelming mass of U238, which comprises the bulk of uranium ore, thus bringing humankind into the dawn of the age which now threatens all life on Earth. These distinguished and gentle and very intelligent people were appalled when this demonic power was put to use to fry alive approximately 200,000 Japanese in what probably remains as the most spectacular single example of collateral damage to date.

At that time, it was obvious to the Japanese that they had lost the war and negotiations were in progress towards surrender to the USA. However, President Truman felt it necessary to demonstrate to the Soviet Union that the moral superiority of capitalist USA over communist Russia was overwhelming. Since Stalin had been less efficiently torturing and murdering millions of Russians and others for decades he might have had something of a debating point, but I would prefer not to get into that now.

It was, after all, ever since the advent of totalitarianism in Spain and Germany and Italy, something of a modern murder-fest for humanity and it seemed an appropriate fitting finale for the USA to put a superior technological cap on the bloody celebration. And, anyway, it was only a very short hiatus.

But the human race has more or less been steady in mutilating and butchering its members for various reasons and causes, and sometimes for mere entertainment as, for most of history, the modern media was not available to provide daily virtual killings and tortures. So much for modern conveniences. They had to do with the real thing. It was, after all a popular cottage industry. Christ had advised wronged individuals to turn the other cheek and the Church, taking the advice seriously, gave cheek turners multitudes of opportunities.

The current problem of an atomically-armed North Korea puts the whole world on the other side of the looking glass where Alice noted how odd humanity really is. The USA continuously accuses North Korea of using blackmail to obtain what it desires by waving its nuclear capability, a most peculiar and ironic accusation for a nation that has been flaunting its weapons of mass destruction for decades to pressure the world to its will.

Admittedly, the USA has something of a current edge in civility and moral superiority and general well being of its citizens, an edge which the current administration is determinedly dulling by its inexorable disintegration of basic human rights for its citizens. It still has a ways to go to totally undermine its Constitution but it seems to be generating quite a lot of momentum and no realistic opposition.

But the world seems stymied by North Korea's determination to retain its nuclear weapons. It cannot use military force for fear of atomic retaliation and it fears North Korea will sell its weapons to irresponsible clients for horrendous results.

Perhaps it should consider North Korea's motives for a free market in nuclear stuff. In all probability, North Korea is interested in making a fat profit on its technology and is not interested in destroying the world. If the USA really wants to stand behind the principles of the marketplace, it could acknowledge North Korea as a reputable supplier and outbid any other buyer for the nuclear devices. That would be tremendously cheaper than a military operation and a good deal more humanitarian in prospect.

Dealing with a gangster nation may sound morally reprehensible but if North Korea is thus seduced into becoming a member of the capitalist economy, as was China, it might, in the end, be persuaded, as was China, to get into a less destructive line of production and become better behaved. And if nobody is killed in the process, it seems to me worth a tryout. Hell, it's only money.

Of course, the US Republicans will be deprived of one of their bogeymen to frighten the American public into submission but bin Laden could certainly be brought back into fashion in an emergency.

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