Monday, August 24, 2009

The Atom Bomb, Human Rights and Nation States

My husband had a conference in New Mexico this past week and "invited" me to go with him. I had never been to New Mexico, except for an overnight stay with our children on our across country trip many years ago.

As this was the week-end after our anniversary, my husband decided to give me the opportunity to experience this Southwestern State and celebrate our anniversary. It was a memorable experience, not just for "our celebration", but in what I learned.

On Saturday, after the conference was over, we drove through the mountains and attended an Indian art exhibition in Sante Fe. My husband wanted to continue up the mountains to Los Alamos and see where many physicists worked on the nuclear bomb during WWII.

I was not aware that there was a musuem in commemeration of these scientists, their work and the ongoing work of other scientists today. I had just gone through another musuem on the Holocost in downtown Albuquerque the previous week. The musuem was really about prejuidice and illustrated what inhumanity "looks like". These were human tragedies that scar the face of the world. And it gave me a "humanitarian context" to evaluate what I was viewing in our nation's history.

During this visit, I also had an opportunity to talk with a German, who was raised during WWII in Germany. He talked about how his uncles struggled with their resistance, and were unable to express their view of dissent. There was no freedom of expression, as they were to serve the Furher. I cringed to think how they must have struggled to maintain their dignity.

In the context of this visit, the "atom bomb" became a necessary evil . There was no other way, with the advancement of Hitler's army and his insane dependence on narcotics. He was not going to be stopped without some sort of force. His alliance with Russia and Italy made the war a world wide concern for "freedom" and "difference" itself.

Unfortunately, innocent lives were lost, but how many more would have been lost, if the Allied Forces had looked the other way and had not sought justice? Time had already been lost when America entered the war and with it, many countries had been conquered.

These scientists and their families were kept in isolation and worked frantically to discover nuclear power before Hilter did and used it to profit his own "selfish ambition". These scientists were awe struck at the results and some questioned what they had done.

What else could they have done or could we do?

We will continue to make the same mistakes, if we do not learn from the past. The question is what should we learn from the past? Are we to learn that people do not change? That people will assume power and subvert decency if justice, is not maintained?

Or should we learn that Hiroshima should never happen again? That humans should be "kind" to one another and understand difference? While these are "noble values", they cannot be the policy driving nations. Nations are to uphold justice for the law-abiding. Those who do not adhere to the 'rule of law' as it pertains to internatonal law, treaties between countries, are to be considered an "enemy". Enemies cannot be tolerated, when they undermine everyone's security. Of course, we do not want another nuclear explosion, and this is why we have tried to verify what countries have and how they plan to use it.

We cannot be naive. History has been replete with examples that without a "just government", where the "rule of law" upholds human rights, then we will see another Holocost, or worse. But, human rights cannot undermine national security, either.

America and the rest of the free world cannot be blind and short-sighted. We fight against those who do not allow liberty of conscience and do not value the freedom of the individual.

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