Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The next Jewish Holocaust?

Charles Krauthammer states convincingly that just one nuclear weapon could inflict a horrifying second Jewish Holocaust -- cheaper, easier and faster than Hitler’s effort. (Auschwitz, today Jan. 30, 2015).  And, that those results would essentially make deterrence irrelevant.
What Krauthammer doesn’t mention is the greater Holocaust threat the Jewish people face from a biological weapon.   Advances in bioengineering and genomic research now make it possible to target specific genotypes within our human species.   Not all Jews have a similar genotype but a majority does.  And one bio genocidal weapon could make a second Jewish Holocaust far cheaper and easier than a nuclear bomb.  
Just last week President Obama announced a plan to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into cutting-edge research for treatments tailored to genetic makeup for individual patients.  He said this would “lay the foundation for a new generation of lifesaving discoveries.”   It would also lay the foundation for genome targeted weapons.  January 21, 1999, the British Medical Association published a report warning that advances in genetic knowledge could be misused to develop new biological weapons.   Commenting on the report that day Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, BMA Head of Health Policy Research said genetic information is already being used to enhance biological weapons.  “It would be a tragedy if in 10 years time the world faces the reality of genetically engineered and possibly genetically targeted weapons.”   The exponential growth of biotechnology continues today.
As a child in the 1960’s I watched pictures of the holocaust.  It profoundly altered my view of humans and our capacity to inflict suffering on one another.   I spent much of my professional career trying to reduce that suffering as well as our intention and capacity to inflict it.  In the late 1990s I realized that our institutional capacity for reducing human suffering was infinitely greater than directly trying reduce violent intentions or our technological capacity to mass murder.  The power of dual-use technology (bio, cyber, nano, even conventional) continues to grow exponentially today, increasingly yielding affordable mass murder capacity to almost anyone with a grudge.   And, the number of the begrudged appears to be growing too.   Possibly faster than the linear growth of our moral capacity.  But, the truly horrific challenge we face is the static condition of our national and global political institutions.   They simply and profoundly lack the legal capacity to deal effectively with this conundrum.   They are essentially flat lined.  
After the Holocaust the civilized world said “Never Again!”   On December 9th, 1948, the UN Assembly adopted the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.  But sense then genocide has happened again, and again, and again.   Over 148 genocides taking the lives of well over 22 million people since then.   Krauthammer’s limited focus on the nuclear security threat to Israel grossly understates the greater problem we all face.   Even worse is Krauthammer’s urgently implied solution to that Middle East problem.  Punishing Iran militarily or with painful economic sanctions for acting on its right as a sovereign nation to build and possess nuclear weapons as the US, Israel and over a dozen other nations have done freely, could easily start another world war.  A war more catastrophic than any in human history.
What Krauthammer, most conservatives, most liberals and even most other American’s don’t yet fail to understand, is that the fundamental problem is not nuclear weapons, or any other capacity for mass murder.   The problem is the current world paradigm that holds national sovereignty supreme to human rights yielding more and more people with a grudge.    Until we recreate a United Nations system that puts the protection of fundamental human rights above that of nations rights (rights to abuse people or the use of technology)  humanity will be perpetually threatened by war, genocide, infectious diseases, terrorism and any other threat that nations acting alone or in coalitions of the willing cannot stop effectively. 
The UN today is essentially a confederation of states -- much like our 13 colonies prior to becoming a federated nation.   We need a federated world where the rule of law is used to resolve disputes instead of relying one fickle law of force.   But, even our nation’s Founding Fathers erred in keeping States rights above human rights.  Our nation is still paying for that fundamental mistake.   We shouldn’t make it again in creating a federated world.  
We must remember that it was after witnessing all the horrors of a World War, a holocaust and the creation of a new weapon technology that could vaporize 100,000 people in a flash that the world’s nations came together and unanimously passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  USHR was, and still is, a profound document.  But it essentially remains just ink on paper within the lawlessness of the existing confederation of states we now call the UN.  Those involved in its drafting and passage after WW II understood fundamentally that ‘saving future generations’ from these horrors would require the significant reduction of human suffering and injustice globally.  But all nation states at the time failed to yield any of their nation state power.    “Liberty and justice for all” is often considered a US motto.  It needs to become the worlds if we want the words “never again” to really mean “never again”.   
 My wife and I recently watched “Night will fall”.  A documentary film capturing the actual liberation of Nazi concentration camps by Allied forces.   Alfred Hitchcock, the masterful US movie producer was hired to make the documentary into a powerful propaganda tool for shaming the Germans and justifying the Allied war effort.  But because of its unprecedented graphic horrors, and the national need to assimilate Germany into our new fear, the Soviet empire, the film was shelved for nearly 70 years.  Movie clips captured during concentration camp liberations were used as evidence in the Nuremberg trials, but the civilized world has largely been spared from the full extent of the original Jewish Holocaust.  
Most Americans today seem to be spared from the full extent of horrors of world hunger, poverty, disease, illiteracy, genocide, terrorism and war.  Distracted by party differences, a sluggish economy, illegal immigration, deflated footballs, and other local, state or national concerns we largely ignore the fundamental global conditions influencing every aspect of our lives.
Auschwitz today, is the world today.  Deterrence is dead.  War is insane.  Genocide will happen again.  And the power of technology will not yield to national policies in a lawless world of injustice and human suffering.  
We can pray.  But it would be far more productive to make world law and the protection of human rights the law of the land, sea, air and heavens.


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