Jonathan Schell on the candidates; and questions of war and peace


Story Transcript

VOICE OF PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: so, Jonathan, again, as people make their decision on Obama versus Clinton on Super Tuesday, one of the issues that Susan Rice talked about in the interview I did with her was Obama’s attitude towards nuclear weapons, and here’s what she said.

(CLIP BEGINS)

SUSAN RICE, FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR FOR SEN. BARACK OBAMA: He’s also said, if I can just add on this, that for the United States to lead on these issues of nonproliferation, we have to be much more aggressive in fulfilling our end of the nonproliferation treaty, which is working towards and reaffirming the goal of eliminating our nuclear arsenals not in a unilateral fashion, but through negotiated reductions with the other nuclear powers.

(CLIP ENDS)

So is there a significant difference on nuclear weapons between Obama and Clinton?

JONATHN SCHELL, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: I think that we do have a clear difference in the positions on nuclear weapons between Obama and Hillary Clinton. As you may know, there have been now two, actually, Wall Street Journal articles by a group that includes Secretary of State, formerly, George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Senator Sam Nunn, and William J. Perry, former secretary of defense, calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. One came out on January 4 of last year, and one came out ten years ago, reiterating the idea and elaborating upon it. And it’s caused some waves, and it’s a pretty big shift as far as established opinion on nuclear weapons goes, because that idea of getting rid of them has been pretty much dismissed as ridiculous and utopian and naive over the years. So the fact that these heavy hitters have supported it marks a very serious change. And into the bargain is given political candidates sort of three-inch-thick steel political cover if they care to move down that road. Now, what’s interesting is that Barack Obama picked up the invitation, as Susan Rice says, and he has on several occasions reiterated it. He hasn’t made the kind of big deal of it that would be really necessary to show a really firm and solid intention to proceed in such a direction, because that’s a very dramatic thing to do. Nevertheless, it’s there, and he keeps bringing it up, and he keeps mentioning the nuclear question. Clinton, on the other hand, did something rather slippery. In her Foreign Affairs article on foreign policy some months back, she too mentioned the Schultz, Kissinger, etcetera article, and she said that she agreed with it, and she said, “I too would reduce the emphasis on nuclear weapons,” using language like this in American foreign policy in order to help out with proliferation, while keeping forces adequate to beat out all nuclear challengers, in other words, to preserve American nuclear superiority, more or less, forever. So, in other words, under the guise of agreeing with the Schultz-Kissinger article, which called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, she actually slipped out of that commitment and turned it into merely favoring reduced emphasis and cutbacks on nuclear weapons. So that’s a real difference. And as far as I’m aware in no other statement has she embraced that goal.

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Story Transcript

VOICE OF PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: so, Jonathan, again, as people make their decision on Obama versus Clinton on Super Tuesday, one of the issues that Susan Rice talked about in the interview I did with her was Obama’s attitude towards nuclear weapons, and here’s what she said. (CLIP BEGINS) SUSAN RICE, FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR FOR SEN. BARACK OBAMA: He’s also said, if I can just add on this, that for the United States to lead on these issues of nonproliferation, we have to be much more aggressive in fulfilling our end of the nonproliferation treaty, which is working towards and reaffirming the goal of eliminating our nuclear arsenals not in a unilateral fashion, but through negotiated reductions with the other nuclear powers. (CLIP ENDS) So is there a significant difference on nuclear weapons between Obama and Clinton? JONATHN SCHELL, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: I think that we do have a clear difference in the positions on nuclear weapons between Obama and Hillary Clinton. As you may know, there have been now two, actually, Wall Street Journal articles by a group that includes Secretary of State, formerly, George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Senator Sam Nunn, and William J. Perry, former secretary of defense, calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. One came out on January 4 of last year, and one came out ten years ago, reiterating the idea and elaborating upon it. And it’s caused some waves, and it’s a pretty big shift as far as established opinion on nuclear weapons goes, because that idea of getting rid of them has been pretty much dismissed as ridiculous and utopian and naive over the years. So the fact that these heavy hitters have supported it marks a very serious change. And into the bargain is given political candidates sort of three-inch-thick steel political cover if they care to move down that road. Now, what’s interesting is that Barack Obama picked up the invitation, as Susan Rice says, and he has on several occasions reiterated it. He hasn’t made the kind of big deal of it that would be really necessary to show a really firm and solid intention to proceed in such a direction, because that’s a very dramatic thing to do. Nevertheless, it’s there, and he keeps bringing it up, and he keeps mentioning the nuclear question. Clinton, on the other hand, did something rather slippery. In her Foreign Affairs article on foreign policy some months back, she too mentioned the Schultz, Kissinger, etcetera article, and she said that she agreed with it, and she said, “I too would reduce the emphasis on nuclear weapons,” using language like this in American foreign policy in order to help out with proliferation, while keeping forces adequate to beat out all nuclear challengers, in other words, to preserve American nuclear superiority, more or less, forever. So, in other words, under the guise of agreeing with the Schultz-Kissinger article, which called for the abolition of nuclear weapons, she actually slipped out of that commitment and turned it into merely favoring reduced emphasis and cutbacks on nuclear weapons. So that’s a real difference. And as far as I’m aware in no other statement has she embraced that goal. DISCLAIMER: Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Jonathan Schell

We deeply regret the passing of Jonathan Schell. We will do
everything possible to keep his life long mission for peace and
disarmament a central part of TRNN coverage.

Jonathan joined the board of TRNN in 2005, he was at our very
first board meeting, smiling ear to ear. Since that day he never
missed an opportunity to stress the importance of our work.

As a journalist and anti-war activist he condemned conflicts
from Vietnam to Iraq and warned of a nuclear holocaust in
terrifying detail in his prize-winning book, The Fate of the
Earth (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize).

He was a writer and journalist, Peace and Disarmament
Correspondent for The Nation magazine, a fellow at the Nation
Institute, visiting lecturer at the Yale Law School, and a staff
writer at The New Yorker magazine from 1967 to 1987. He was a
native of NY.

Schell's companion, Irena Gross, reported that Schell died of
cancer on Tuesday at their home in New York City.

Here is a link to his work with TRNN:
The Real News

The Nation Magazine:
The Nation