‘U.S. policy is nuclear narcissism’

May 2, 2010 - 0:0

TEHRAN - Political activist Marcy Winograd says the current U.S. policy on non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament is actually nuclear narcissism.

Ms. Winograd, who is a candidate for a seat in the U.S. Congress, made the remarks in an interview with the Mehr News Agency last week.
She will be on the ballot in the Democratic party primary in the 36th District of California, which is being held on June 8.
Winograd is challenging incumbent Jane Harman in the primary for the second time. In 2006 she got 38 percent of the vote.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q. U.S. President Barack Obama has said that he would retain the option to use nuclear weapons against Iran and North Korea. How have U.S. citizens responded to this?
A: I am not sure that most Americans either know the president’s position on a first-strike or understand the ramifications for world annihilation. Of course, some are aware -- and believe the threat will never be carried out or think it’s important to be tough in the face of nuclear proliferation. During the Bush years a lot of propaganda was used to frighten the American people -- and unfortunately that propaganda continues as the fear reverberates. Americans fear a nuclear-armed Iran and do not understand why Iran persists in developing a nuclear program. They do not believe the program is solely for the purpose of providing energy to the nation of Iran. My position is that we cannot dictate nuclear abolition to the world while we pursue research on new nuclear weapons; this is called nuclear narcissism. Given the lethal history of U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, it’s understandable that Iran would feel threatened and want to protect itself. Many Americans do not understand this, however -- the feeling of being threatened because of invasions and occupations next door -- and simply feel the world cannot tolerate another nuclear-armed nation, particularly in the volatile Middle East.
Personally, I would urge the people of Iran and the United States to embrace the pursuit of green technology, not nuclear technology, because nuclear energy is fraught with problems: radioactive waste that lives forever, nuclear plants that can become targets for attack, as well as the threat that nuclear materials can be stolen and used for terrorism.
Q: When Obama took office in January 2009 his stances were so moderate that he was actually considered to be a realistic politician, but now we see that his political stances are getting harder and harder. Why is that the case?
A: I agree there has been a shift to the right, though the president was clear on Afghanistan from the beginning, advocating for a redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. In the words of one of my students, “Obama didn’t lie to us. We just weren’t listening.” I do not excuse the madness of militarism, only acknowledge that the American people, after so many years of the much-reviled Bush, wanted desperately to believe in change, real change -- and so we closed our eyes and hoped that Obama was parroting hawkish positions simply to get elected, and that once elected he would realize there was no military solution in Afghanistan. He may come to that realization later rather than sooner, while our economy crumbles and needs for jobs, housing, and education become secondary to a bloated military budget. You have to understand there is so much hatred towards Obama on the right -- with gun-toting threats and Nazi caricatures and burgeoning militias -- that the left is reluctant to criticize him for fear of amplifying the right. It’s a delicate balance because if the left remains silent then the right assumes the mantle of populism and runs off with the microphone. Our country is deeply polarized. I wish our president had immediately used his victory, his political capital, to fight for transformative change: a transition from a permanent war economy to a new green economy. In the end, one man cannot make change all by himself; there needs to be a movement in the streets.
Q: Have the political realities of U.S. society, such as pressure groups and lobbies, influenced Obama’s decision to take a tougher stance on international issues like Iran’s nuclear program?
A: I am the co-founder of LA Jews for Peace, and though we are small, we have embraced monumental challenges such as peace in Palestine/Israel. We have protested the blockade of Gaza and raised money to rebuild homes Israel demolished in the West Bank. Even in our group, one that is passionate about peace, we cannot agree on the role of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in determining U.S. foreign policy. Which is the dog? Which is the tail? Israel or the American military-industrial complex? Who is in charge here? I’ll say this -- candidates and elected officials are fearful of criticizing Israel lest they be attacked or run out of office. When I speak up, speak out, people whisper to me, “You can say that because you're Jewish. I can’t say anything.” This silence perpetuates the injustices, and so it becomes a vicious cycle with ramifications not just for Palestine and Israel but for Iran, too -- given the fact that Israel talks about an existential threat from Iran and this much-talked about threat is used, in part, to justify a hard line against Iranian nuclear ambitions.
I am a non-Zionist Jew who believes in equality and dignity for all in the Middle East. I hope my candidacy and my convictions will give courage and strength to others who dare to question.