The President of Peace

I know I have been absent from the blogging scene, but today is a fantastic day to return. It's a good day because of what happened over the weekend - President Obama, one more time, has proven to be the anti-Reagan. From the moment he took office, this president has been enamored with accusations of weakness from the Right and warmongering from the Left when it came to international affairs. From the media, the accusations have been alternating between the two, with seemingly no hint of irony.

But it has been this president who has been the most effective advocate of peace on the world stage of any American president since John F. Kennedy. President Obama has ended two wars started by his predecessors, disarmed Syria of its chemical weapons without firing a single shot (even if no one in the media noticed, it did happen), and now is poised to permanently keep Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon. In the agreement unveiled over the weekend, it seems that President Obama, Secretary Kerry and their team has had yet another major Middle-East breakthrough:
  • Iran will stop enriching uranium beyond 5%, and "neutralise" its stockpile of uranium enriched beyond this point
  • Iran will give greater access to inspectors including daily access at Natanz and Fordo nuclear sites
  • There will be no further development of the Arak plant which it is believed could produce plutonium
  • In return, there will be no new nuclear-related sanctions for six months if Iran sticks by the accord
  • Iran will also receive sanctions relief worth about $7bn (£4.3bn) on sectors including precious metals
Not only has Iran agreed to give international inspectors access to ensure that they are complying with this agreement, according to the White House, Iran has also agreed to nutralize all of its weapons grade uranium.

For the longest time, American presidents and politcians postured and positioned about Iran and the threat a potentially nuclear Iran would pose to Israel, the United States, and our allies in the region, as well as how it would alter the balance of power. Barack Obama's first presidential opponent, Senator McCain personified the neo-con crowd by singing about bombing Iran in his faltering presidential campaign, and then-Senator Obama's Democratic opponents in the primary mocked him for being willing to talk to Iran without preconditions. War without preconditions, they did not seem to have a problem with.

And yet. And yet. Here we are. This president yet again delivers on what everyone across the political spectrum says they want, and he will yet again be given next to no credit for it. The neocons will be dismayed by the president's propensity to miss yet another good excuse for war, and the Leftist will move on to yell about drones some more. And the media will lose its collective shit because the American neocon that is now in charge of the Israeli government is whining.

But this post isn't about the neocons. It isn't about those who are interested in a constant state of war. It is about those who have a genuine desire for peace. For all the songs we sing about "giving peace a chance" and all the rallies we attend with signs about "hands off" some fill-in-the-blank country, Western peace activists make a fatal mistake that makes them the subject of jokes: we step into the trap that peace is the absence of resolve to use force if necessary, that peace is the absence of weapons at all costs.

That only gives us the illusion of peace. I have said it before, and I will say it again, letting a dictator gas his own people has nothing to do with peace. Standing by while an American Al Queda recruit takes up arms against the United States and causes others to do the same has nothing to do with peace. Backing away from taking out the world's most wanted terrorist because someone somewhere is going to complain about Osama bin Laden's civil rights and Pakistan's territorial integrity has nothing to do with peace.

Peace isn't simply the absence of falling bombs. Peace is the presence of rising hope. Peace is the realization of co-existance. Peace is ending war, yes, but peace is also about ensuring that not another innocent child has to die in the arms of his mother because his government decided to terrorize the other side in a civil war. Peace is about ensuring that other countries know that we mean business - not in a western movie cowboy kind of way, but in a way that our friends can be reassured and our adversaries understand that the same arm we have extended in good will is also capable of waging battle if necessary. That isn't a threat. That is negotiating with good will - understanding that the United States is not at the table simply to posture, and neither should the other parties be there to posture.

The media will never acknowledge it, but President Obama's spine of steel and his actions of resolve are what have led us to this point. The world met an American president for the first time in some time that wasn't interested in conflict for conflict's sake, but someone who also couldn't be pushed around. He ended the war in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan, but he has not hesitated to take targeted action to deliver devastating blows to terrorist groups. Barack Obama was prepared to use a military strike in Syria, but he never gave up the option to resolve the situation peacefully, if he had willing partners.

This is what peace requires. It requires a commitment to fair play, and an iron strong guarantee of consequences for fouls, born out by facts. It requires an American president thirsty for peace, but undaunted to deliver consequences to anyone who takes him for a fool. It requires a president committed to security with targeted actions rather than all-out conflict. It requires neither a warmonger nor a peacenik. It requires the president of peace.

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