Obama must react as President, not parent

18 December 2012

Snapshot 2012-12-18 12-56-36

Barack Obama said last week that each time there is a massacre in America, he reacts not as President, but as a parent. Perhaps he should think again, and act as only the President can in finally confronting the insidious and lethal grip on public policy by the weapons industry. Not just the Newtown murder weapon maker Glock, the Austrian importer of pistols which boasts on its website that countless users swear by its advantages at work and leisure. Nor just Sig Sauer, the US company which supplied the backup weapon, which recently invested $18m in tripling its workforce.

Defence contractors also feed a parallel passion for destructive power by arming nations and encouraging conflict and insecurity. The President alone can start a real global disarmament, not just of nuclear warheads, but the lethal market in guns which enables the criminal traumatisation of millions. By using American power and influence it can treat all weapons manufacturers as parties to a global scourge and bring them to account through tax sanctions, human rights enforcement and laws to discourage and remove state and street weapons from our society. Only he can start this process; the various well-intentioned campaigns have utterly failed to stem the arms industry.

That said, I also recognise that the most lethal mass murder weapon in America was an airliner. So we do need to consider the motives for the murderers. Even the most deranged mentally ill person has some sort of rationale for their action. We need to stop ignoring the outcasts from society who tend to perpetrate mass killing, understand why they do it and try to put right the injustices that drive them to it. On a larger scale, that includes outcast states and cultures to which we deny basic human rights and respect. Have a guess who I mean. Start in the Middle East. Have a look at Africa. And don’t forget the Korean peninsula. Yes, we have a lot of ignoring to put right, and a lot of alienated angry nations and individuals to bring into the fold of caring, charitable humanity. Merry Christmas.

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