International politics and MRT
It is written: MRT should not discuss international politics. At least it was written in many e-mails we received during the 2003 IWCE.
Former ambassador Richard Butler influences public discourse on issues such as the war with Iraq, which is why we chose him as a high-profile keynote speaker. The former chief United Nations arms inspector has dedicated his life to eliminating the most atrocious weapons imaginable. Everyone should read his books, Fatal Choice and The Greatest Threat. Sad to say, but everyone should think about weapons of mass destruction and how to deal with them. This is the issue that will have the greatest effect on war and peace in the coming years. It is the greatest threat to every local community on the planet.
IWCE Live!, an e-mail newsletter that we put out daily during the show, included a couple of paragraphs about his speech. A few people interpreted that as a political statement by MRT. We were even accused of advocating stripping Americans of their handguns — which we were told is what is wrong with Australia and England. Discussion of disarmament of any kind disturbs some folks.
Butler had something to say, not only about the war in Iraq, but the future. You can dismiss his assertions about the Bush administration and take to heart his assertions about the reaction of the Arab street. No one should dismiss the threat of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. Ambassador Butler has seen the evidence first-hand.
Obviously, a plan that prevents terrorists and rogue states from obtaining vicious weapons needs to be debated. You don’t have to agree with Butler to weigh what the man has to say.
But if you can see Richard Butler at IWCE and put him into context, he may have meaning for you locally or he may spur some ideas for a product or service that makes a profit and makes us safer. What he says is important to you — and your customers — even if you work in the public sector. The dangers, the attitudes of people around the world and the consequences for our communities cannot be ignored.
Those of us who work in the world of communications must be aware that what we like to call “convergence in technology” is also a convergence of information sources for people everywhere. Communications brings international issues to our doorsteps. It is a sort of brain convergence that drives some of us nuts as we try to keep up with the information flow.
We hoped that Butler brought another dimension of the information flow to IWCE attendees and gave folks in the wireless industry a chance to venture outside the comfort zone of technology to discuss the somber issues that loom over us.
MRT taking a position on the war in Iraq makes about as much sense as MRT taking a stand on abortion.
On the other hand, providing more handguns in England and Australia might make sense…