This week at The Nation and TheNation.com, we bring you breaking developments out of Libya. Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa announced Friday a halt to military operations in response to Thursday’s UN Security Council Resolution “to take all necessary means…to protect civilians…” including the imposition of a no-fly zone. It remains to be seen whether the on-going violence will continue.
As we’ve argued here and in the pages of this week’s issue, the Obama administration was right to resist calls by some policymakers in favor of unilateral action and instead throw its support behind UN sanctions; however, caution remains paramount. As Friday’s editorial points out, with its support for the UN no-fly zone resolution the US risks arousing suspicions of neoimperial adventurism. And it remains to be seen whether a no-fly zone will have the intended results. “The most productive role for America in the Middle East,” Friday’s editorial concludes, “is diplomatic and economic, not military.”
Also this week, we take a look at the nuclear crisis unfolding at the Fukushima nuclear facility in Japan. The fallout isn’t just the radiation seeping from the damaged nuclear reactors and spent-fuel rods. It has forced our national collective attention on the dangers of nuclear power and the state of nuclear facilities in the United States. As peace and disarmament correspondent Jonathan Schell writes this week in “Hiroshima to Fukushima,” the problems with nuclear power aren’t just about backup generators or lax safety rules; it’s about our own inability to wield such dangerous power. Read Schell’s compelling reminder here, and catch his appearance on Charlie Rose discussing the future of nuclear power in the US and around the world. Watch that here.
And contributing editor Christian Parenti focuses our attention on the US’s existing nuclear facilities. The industry has been pushing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to re-license more than half of America’s decades old, brittle and leaky nuclear reactors. Vermont Yankee, for example, is one plant that is due for re-licensing. Its reactor was built by General Electric (the same company that designed the Fukushima reactor) and houses eight times more radioactive waste than what’s currently housed at Fukushima. What’s worse, the pools that insulate the waste from exposure with the atmosphere are not equipped with back-up water circulation systems! Moreover, Indian Point, a nuclear reactor less than thirty miles outside of New York City sits on a major fault line. It has already been identified as among the most vulnerable nuclear reactors in the US.
If the Fukushima disaster and subsequent radioactive fallout that has displaced hundreds of thousands can teach us anything, it’s that the consequences of disaster are just too great.