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Recent Nobelist Al Gore and Chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission Hans Blix have a few things in common.  They’re both passionate

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"After that you just disappear into the sharks"

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Recent Nobelist Al Gore and Chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission Hans Blix have a few things in common.  They’re both passionate about the impending dangers of climate change, neither is George W. Bush’s #1 fan (nor is he theirs), and they’ve traveled the world together (thrice) espousing the necessity to cut down on carbon emissions – but only one of them was devoured by sharks in 2004’s Team America:  World Police.

Blix, who spoke last night to a packed audience at the University of Washington (free passes to the event and its overflow room were completely “sold out” within a few weeks), has indeed seen the movie.  “My assistant forced me to do it.  Yes, it was moderately amusing,” he said, “I’m all in favor of irreverent critique, but I think they underestimate the power of a report.”  Blix is parodied in the film inspecting and preparing a report on Kim Jong-Il, before being fed to sharks by the North Korean leader.

As the U.N.’s former chief weapons inspector, Dr. Blix is convinced that democracy can not work in Iraq as long as an occupying force is present, and that the U.S. government exaggerated the possibility of WMDs to push its own agenda, but lately has shifted his discourse to what he calls the “second inconvenient truth” – the danger of the nuclear arms race.  This was the topic of last night’s lecture, “From a Cold War to a Cold Peace – Time for a Revival of Disarmament?” which could have easily been retitled, “Dear Dr. Blix – Seattle loves you.”

The audience, made up of students, faculty and community members, listened raptly to the hour-long presentation and applauded Dr. Blix with two standing ovations.  During the question and answer session, audience queries were proceeded by “I want to thank you for your service to our world in general” (to more applause), and “It’s an honor just to be in the same room as you, Dr. Blix” (to nods and affirming mmm-hmms).

While it was clear last night that Seattleites are informed and concerned about the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the United States’ culpability in the lack of global disarmament negotiations and the need to stop the enrichment of uranium for weapon development, there’s also a feeling of inefficacity – what’s Joe Seattle supposed to do about the nuclear arms race, anyway? 

Stay informed; don’t accept “the lies the government wants to push,” get global perspectives and, of course, vote for the right people.  Hillary Clinton has been pushing for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and Barack Obama has been very articulate about the subject – Rudy Giuliani would be the least useful (on working with the U.N. to begin disarmament negotiations), said Blix in an interview this morning.  At least the future of disarmament is looking bright for 2008.  “Any one of [the Democratic] presidential candidates will be a vast change from what we’ve seen" he said.

I sat down with Dr. Blix this morning to discuss, among other things, climate change, population control, Team America and French literature (for this we detoured into French).  After shaking hands and producing a signed copy of the 2006 WMD Commission report, he offered one final piece of information:  “Did you know, ‘hali’ is the Turkish word for carpet?”

 
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