El-Baradei Nobel Lecture: Imagine a World

by Roger Alford

The text of Mohamed El-Baradei‘s Nobel Peace Prize Lecture is here. It is quite good. It is perhaps too utopian for my taste, but if any group deserves utopian license it is that category of individuals known as Nobel Peace laureates. We may have in El-Baradei a prophet of peace from (and for) the Arab world.

The speech is hopeful, cosmopolitan, poetic, tolerant, demanding, and imaginative. It does not target any one nation (i.e., the United States) for specific criticism. It does not attempt to address current events (i.e., the war in Iraq). Rather, it focuses on the broad sweep: globalization, intolerance, world poverty, and nuclear proliferation. It is far more expansive than you might expect from someone who has spent the last twenty years focused on a single theme. The essence of the speech is a call for the world to address root causes that create human strife. Best of all it uses simple language to convey profound ideas.

Here is the hopeful and eloquent conclusion:

Imagine what would happen if the nations of the world spent as much on development as on building the machines of war. Imagine a world where every human being would live in freedom and dignity. Imagine a world in which we would shed the same tears when a child dies in Darfur or Vancouver. Imagine a world where we would settle our differences through diplomacy and dialogue and not through bombs or bullets. Imagine if the only nuclear weapons remaining were the relics in our museums. Imagine the legacy we could leave to our children. Imagine that such a world is within our grasp.


One Response

  1. I think El Baredei’s speech is incredibly bad, and perhaps indicative of why the otherwise highly competent IAEA is so ineffecitve. The argument that poverty breeds conflict is without foundation. India is populous and very poor, but largely peaceful, because it has free institutions and a socio-economic system that allows people to work thinks out without killing each other. Where there is conflict, be it in Israel/Palestine, Chechnya, the Sudan or Congo, it is because of a specific political, tribal or religious system, or in the latter two cases, the lack of any functioning social and political system. In no case is it merely because of poverty.

    His argument that we should move toward a world in which no country has nuclear weapons is even worse, because it posits an equivalency between the Free World and authoritarian, terrorist states like Iran. That India has nuclear weapons is by itself a non-issue, except as related to the fact that Pakistan has them, and that is a great danger, should Islamists ever take over. But if the U.S. were to relinquish its nuclear weapons, then the entire world could be held hostage by a single nuclear rogue.

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