The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Weekend homework

October 13, 2006

How would readers feel about adding these sets of questions to graduate school comprehensive exams in international relations?

Some powers proudly announce their production of second and third generation nuclear weapons. What do they need these weapons for? Is the development and stockpiling of these deadly weapons designed to promote peace and democracy? Or are these weapons, in fact, instruments of coercion and threat against other peoples and governments?

How long should the people of the world live with the nightmare of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons? To what length can powers producing and possessing these weapons go? How can they be held accountable before the international community? And, are the inhabitants of these countries content with waste resulting from the use of their wealth and resources for the production of destructive arsenals?

Is it not possible to rely on justice, ethics and wisdom instead of on instruments of death? Aren’t wisdom and justice more compatible with peace and tranquility than nuclear, chemical and biological weapons?

Please ignore the fact that those questions were asked by…Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his address to the UN General Assembly, September 20, 2006.

Ahmadinejad asked many more questions than he answered, but he did offer this diagnosis immediately following the above:

If wisdom, ethics and justice prevail, then oppression and aggression will be uprooted, threats will wither away and no reason will remain for conflict. This is a solid proposition because most global conflicts emanate from injustice, and from the powerful not being content with their own rights and still strive to devour the rights of others.

The recently declassified National Intelligence Estimate, “Trends in Global Terrorism” dated April 2006, finds that perceived injustices, feelings of powerlessness and fear of Western domination are fueling the jihadist movement worldwide.

So, maybe the US and Iran can find some things to talk about before it is too late..

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Rodger A. Payne is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Louisville. He serves on the University’s Sustainability Council and was a co-founder of the Peace, Conflict, and Social Justice program. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and book chapters and coauthor, with Nayef Samhat, of Democratizing Global Politics: Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community (SUNY, 2004). He is currently working on two major projects, one exploring the role of narratives in international politics and the other examining the implications of America First foreign policy.