Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from
Here at CounterPunch we love Barbara Ehrenreich for many reasons: her courage, her intelligence and her untarnished optimism. Ehrenreich knows what’s important in life; she knows how hard most Americans have to work just to get by, and she knows what it’s going to take to forge radical change in this country. We’re proud to fight along side her in this long struggle. We hope you agree with Barbara that CounterPunch plays a unique role on the Left. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
A World Made Safe for Nuclear Violence, Again
There was optimism that the end of the Cold War also meant the end of the threat of nuclear war. The doctrine of ‘deterrence’ as a reason for maintaining nuclear weapons argued that peace was maintained in the world through a balance of power. That balance was stabilized by the threat of mutual annihilation; of course not a balance of power, but rather a balance of terror. It was this terror that we thought had become a thing of the past as the Soviet Union imploded and then fragmented.
Our optimism was brief. The furore around the development of uranium enriching technology by Iran is a case in point. It is indeed a troubling development when there is the potential to use this programme in order to develop nuclear weapons. Mohamed El Baradei in following the guidelines of the Non-proliferation Treaty is quite right to be concerned about the goings on there. However, making sense of this development, whether it is of a sinister nature as George Bush claims, or benign, as the Iranian government claims, must be placed in a wider context, which is not simply about the honesty of the leadership of Iran, but which is both a product and a reflection of practices that have unfolded in the world over the last few years quite independent of Iran, with consequences inside of it.
There are those who are quite rightly skeptical about the reasons for the ‘international’ concern with Iran’s uranium enriching programme. Surely, if possessing nuclear weapons in and of themselves are so problematic, then why are we not going to the security council in order to reprimand the USA, France, India, Pakistan and Israel? These skeptics note that if the rule applies, then surely it must apply equally to everyone. Seen from this perspective, the focus on Iran is seen as just the latest volley fired against Islam by the ‘West’. However, rather than being illuminating or explanatory, this view is symptomatic of the moment we live in. That this view is symptomatic of the moment we inhabit is more apparent when you follow that argument to its logical conclusion: "if they can have so can we, and if they have it, so should we".
A turning point occurred in the run up to the war on Iraq and one of the many appalling consequences of that turning point is what we are dealing with now. Up until then the idea of pre-emptive military action was an agreed-upon taboo in the international community. Let us not forget that following the failure to secure UN-backing for an attack on Iraq, the United States opted for a new reason to oust Saddam Hussein- self defence.
Let’s be clear, the right to self-defence is enshrined in the UN-charter, in article 51, which explicitly states that "nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security."
And herein was the problem for the US administration. The charter presumes that an attack had to have occurred. In the face of no direct or convincing evidence linking the 9/11 attack to Iraq, George Bush declared that it was now acceptable to use pre-emptive force: "If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long".
And so a war was launched on the basis of a now baseless assumption that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Why? ‘Because he tried to kill my daddy’ was one of the tear-jerkers we were offered at the time, amongst others in that ghastly drumroll in the desert. This was a turning point since it has created the conditions for ‘deterrence’ to sneak its way back into policy doctrines of national security. The only thing, some countries who feel unpopular with the US will rationalize, that stands between us and an invasion is that we have something that will act as a possible deterrent to uncle Sam’s army. And the lesson of the Cold War was that nothing works better than a nuclear weapon.
What is at stake here is sovereignty. And, rightly or wrongly, some in Iran might feel that they could be a target of the United States, and that the only convincing deterrent is remains a nuclear weapon. Yes, we must argue unconditionally against nuclear proliferation, but we also keep in mind the actions that have set off this latest controversy. And those actions do not lie in Tehran, they lie in Washington. So, its not only that the rules apply equally, but that responsibility must apply equally too, if we are to resolve this crisis constructively.
SUREN PILLAY is a senior lecturer in the Dept. of Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.