The Nature Of Power

Nuclear disarmament would be a decision made by a relatively small number of people at the top of the political power structures in each of the nuclear weapons states. This is particularly true in those countries where democracy is weak or non-existent.

As example, we aren’t negotiating nuclear issues with Iran, a country of 80 million people, but rather with a small handful of leaders at the top of the Iranian regime. That’s who will decide, the few, not the many.

The Good Guys

My thoughts were drawn to these obvious facts after the Democratic Presidential debate that happened just before the Iowa caucuses, the first votes to be cast in this year’s Presidential contest.

Right after that debate there were Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of my favorite politicians, on the stage squabbling in front of an open mike about who called who a liar on national TV.

Here’s what could have happened instead.

Sanders and Warren could have used that event to announce that they were merging their campaigns, a move that would have likely won their ticket the Democratic nomination before the first primary vote was cast. Thus united, they could have quickly gathered the Democratic Party behind them, and shifted the focus away from Democrats fighting Democrats, to Democrats fighting Trump.

But that didn’t happen. Even with my favorite politicians. Instead of unity and a march to victory, Sanders and Warren are still focused on which one of them should get the top job, even though the policies they each are arguing for are very similar, certainly within reach of a compromise.

In my mind, Sanders and Warren are examples of two sincere well intentioned politicians who both envision a progressive political revolution. And yet, even they can’t seem to shift their focus from what would be good for them to what would be good for the country. Even they can’t seem to emerge from the same old power game we’ve all seen a million times.

The Big Guys

But this post isn’t really about Sanders and Warren or the ongoing Presidential campaign, but rather about the nature of power and those who seek it.

Here in the United States the power game election season is loud, long, looney and laughable. If Sanders or Warren loses this election they can just try again, or vanish in to a dignified well funded retirement.

But in other nuclear weapons states the power game is a ruthless fight to the death. If you play and lose the power game in Iran, Russia, China or North Korea you can easily wind up in prison or your grave. In these societies getting to the top is high stakes poker, with every one of your chips on the table.

In America, what kind of person wants power so bad that they are willing to run for President around the clock for years?

In the dictatorships, what kind of person wants power so bad that they are willing to put everything on the line, their family, their fortune, their life?

I’m not a psychiatrist, so I’ll offer no theories about what’s going on in the hearts and souls of those who want power so badly.

But that is who we must persuade to give up nuclear weapons, the tiny few at the very top whose entire lives revolve around the need for power.