The Bush administration has dug itself–and all of us—into an incredible hole when it comes to Iran. It is also doing its level best to move the nuclear doomsday clock to midnight.
First we have our war-mongering president blustering scarcely veiled threats about possible military action against Iran and its nuclear facilities–threats which the Iranians know to be bluffs, given that they have spread out their facilities and hardened them underground, and given how overstretched the U.S. military already is in Iraq.
Then we have the threats to seek sanctions from the U.N.–an institution which the same Bush administration has consistently trashed, lied to, underfunded and ignored for five years–and to which we have now dispatched a tarnished ambassador whose open animosity and disdain for the international organization is well known.
Finally, we have the Iranians themselves, victims of decades of abuse, manipulation, destabilization and proxy warmaking–not to mention having one of its passenger jets blown out of the air–by the U.S. This is a country that, finally on its own independent feet, and feeling feisty thanks to a flood of petrodollars and petroeuros coming in at a rate of $62/barrel. This is not a nation that is likely to listen to any orders — or threats–emanating from Washington.
Whatever the flaws of the 1968 antiproliferation treaty, this administration in Washington has single-handedly destroyed the last hope of preventing the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons by establishing, and loudly promoting, the notion that America, as the world’s only “superpower,” has the right to unilaterally invade or attack any nation on the globe on whatever pretext it wants to trump up, not to mention by calling for the development and deployment of nuclear “bunker-busting” weapons designed for use on Third World battlefields. (Bush and his gang should watch the “Spiderman” movie, with its message: With great power comes great responsibility, not omnipotence)
Iran has watched as North Korea, with nuclear weapons already built, has thumbed its nose at the U.S. It has watched as Pakistan, which perhaps more than any other nation, has contributed to the growth and invincibility of Al Qaeda, but which also has nuclear weapons, has remained on friendly terms with the U.S, even receiving supersonic fighter-bombers capable of delivering its nuclear weapons. It has watched India, which also has the bomb, take delivery from the U.S. of bomb-capable fighter-bombers while steadily improving trade relations with America. And of course it has watched neighboring Iraq, which didn’t have the bomb, be invaded and torn apart by American military forces.
It has also, over the years, seen Grenada and Panama, Nicaragua and Haiti invaded, their governments overthrown and their leaders overthrown, killed or jailed at the hands of U.S. forces acting unilaterally or by proxy. It has seen an attempted coup in Venezuela with the clear fingerprints of U.S. direction. It has watched Cuba being strangled by a U.S. decades-long embargo–an act of war.
None of these victimized countries has the bomb, of course.
So tell me: If you were an Iranian government official-or even an ordinary Iraqi citizen-looking at all this, wouldn’t you want the bomb, too?
On its face, it appears clear that countries that have the bomb have little to fear from the U.S., while countries that don’t have it are in grave danger of being invaded, subverted, embargoed or in some other way threatened or bullied by America.
Given that the world is awash in nuclear material and given that most countries have or can hire scientists and technicians with the know-how to fashion it into bombs, current U.S. policy seems purely perverse. It is perfectly designed to promote the spread of nuclear weapons, and not surprisingly that is precisely what is happening.
If things don’t change, and quickly, I predict we’ll soon see a nuclear-armed Middle East, Far East, and Latin America. Even Africa, with its more limited resources, may not be far behind. Certainly Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria have the technical wherewithal and the resources to develop or buy a bomb. And of course, besides the almost inevitable regional nuclear wars that would then occur, the more nukes there are out there, the more likely one will fall into the hands of some group, or even some aggrieved small nation, that will decide to ship one to a U.S. port and detonate it to make a point.
Think about this the next time our Commander in Chief talks about how he’s making America safer.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org