Iowa, Indonesia and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
by Paul Deaton
is a sad day when Indonesia is willing to lead on a ban of nuclear
testing, and the United States is not. Such an idea should give Iowans
Little noticed by the corporate media was a story about Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa's call for his country to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), something the United States has not done. Blog for Iowa notes that this was reported Wednesday on an obscure (to Iowans) blog Cempaka Asean and comes on the heels of President Obama's visit to Jakarta, Indonesia in November. Few Iowans know that President Obama gave a key speech about the relationship between the United States and the Muslim World on this trip. According to the White House, it was a “followup to the President's Cairo Speech.” The corporate media yawned.
Based upon the extent of corporate media coverage, there is no news in President Obama doing the work of being president. They reported on false assertions about the cost of the Asia trip, instead of the fact that President Obama was doing the work of mending relationships in the Muslim world in a way that few of his predecessors have done. Obama pointed to Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population, as an example for the rest of the world in three intertwined areas, development, democracy and religious tolerance. The speech is worth the half hour to view it here.
We don't know that the announcement reported on Cempaka Asean was a direct result of Obama's visit, but how could it not be. Indonesia's position on ratification of the CTBT has long been that countries that have nuclear weapons should be first to ratify. Absent action on the part of the United States and other nuclear powers on the treaty, Indonesia maintained that as a sovereign nation they reserved the right to develop and test nuclear weapons.
Indonesia's beginnings towards ratification was an indication that, as Natalegawa said, ”now was the right momentum for disarmament and Indonesia should show its leadership by proactively ratifying the CTBT. He said this would strengthen Indonesia's position and influence as a country that supports nuclear disarmament and give strong pressure on other countries to do the same.” Those of us seeking nuclear abolition continue to wait for the United States to lead by ratifying the CTBT.
If you were to ask eighteen months ago, ratification of the New START Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation was to have been a slam dunk and the main focus should have been on ratification of the CTBT. The conventional wisdom is that there are enough votes today to ratify New START. Instead, New START has become a media circus in which the vast majority of people and related institutions support ratification. New START remains in limbo with the CTBT queued up behind it.
It is a sad day when Indonesia is willing to lead on a ban of nuclear testing, and the United States is not. Such an idea should give Iowans pause.
Deaton is a native Iowan living in rural Johnson County and weekend
editor of Blog for Iowa. E-mail Paul Deaton