There is a force – a secret force hidden wisely from our view – that makes you and me, this newspaper, our planet, our sun and the Milky Way galaxy stretching trillions of miles around us. This force is omnipresent, coursing through every particle of your body. Indeed, this force IS you. It is the most powerful force we know, a force that makes the Universe we see, by the balance – the equilibrium – in its eternal action.
57 years ago, this equilibrium was shattered when human beings split atoms within a primitive nuclear weapon. Through intervening decades, the phrase “weapon of mass destruction” has become all too well known in our lexicon.
I became familiar with the controversy surrounding weapons of mass destruction in the late 1970s, when my father and mother organized Utahns United Against the Nuclear Arms race, an activist movement that confronted the United States military and ultimately helped to defeat the monstrous MX missile “shell game” basing plan. Before and since that era, other historic visionaries have battled the nuclear weapon insanity and its obscene policy fig leaf, mutually assured destruction.
But life took me in other directions. into business, investment, and the technology breakthroughs of Silicon Valley. For more than a decade I pursued the American entrepreneurial dream as a CEO, driven by innovation and measured by profit. I was successful and content in this pursuit. That is, until I came to appreciate that there are other kinds of weapons of mass destruction than those launched from bunkers, subs and planes.
Since 1998, I have come to realize that weapons of mass destruction come in many forms.
A global economic program that rapes the natural world is a weapon of mass destruction far more lethal than any device in any arsenal of this world.
An energy policy that invests in destructive rather than benign production is a weapon of mass destruction.
Copyright and patent laws that artificially inflate the cost of sharing stories, songs, and science are weapons of mass destruction.
Education systems that fail our children are weapons of mass destruction.
Media that places ratings over truth is a weapon of mass destruction.
A national security policy that shreds the sacred civil liberties within our democracy, and which sheds the international obligations between democracies, is a weapon of mass destruction.
Indeed, a nation – our nation – whose high-school history teacher has a deeper grasp of world affairs than the man it entrusts with the future history of the world… is a weapon of mass destruction.
To be sure, Saddam Hussein’s attempts to develop devices of mass destruction must be halted by the community of nations. But at the same time, we must ask ourselves: how can such devices best be eliminated from every nation’s arsenal? Shall it be by the development, testing and deployment of more such devices by a 21st century empire? Or rather by the global abolition of them, and a global program of verification, catalyzed by the greatest democracy the world has ever known?
To me, one thing seems certain: we will not succeed in eliminating devices of mass destruction while we fail in eliminating policies of mass destruction. I find myself in rare agreement with George Bush in saying that we cannot allow the world’s worst leaders to use the world’s most dangerous weapons. I am hard pressed to identify a single major policy initiative of the Bush administration that is not a weapon of mass destruction.
The elections of 2002 and 2004 are our opportunities for regime change. Let us use them wisely.