By the mere act of contingency planning for the first use of nuclear weapons, the Bush administration has guaranteed that not just Iran, but probably many other nations that see themselves as remotely threatened by the U.S., will seek to obtain either nuclear weapons, or some other similarly catastrophic weapon for the purpose of resisting such nuclear blackmail.
The rushed announcement Tuesday by Iran that its scientists and engineers had succeeded in creating some enriched uranium is almost certainly a direct result of the administration’s nuclear threats.
Most sane observers have calculated that if Iran is really planning on developing a nuclear weapon, it is years–perhaps even a decade–away from that goal. That was plenty of time to reassure Iran that it would not need the bomb, or to use international diplomacy to discourage the country from embarking on such a wasteful, expensive and dangerous project. Instead, by threatening to nuke Iran’s nuclear research and processing facilities, the administration has predictably put Iran onto a crash course for developing the bomb. What alternative did Iran’s leaders have after all the administration’s bombast?
In fact, Bush-Cheney rhetoric may well have pushed Iran to seek to obtain nuclear capability by other faster means, such as obtaining a weapon, perhaps illegally, from Russia, or perhaps more directly from North Korea. After all, North Korea has the bomb and is strapped for two things that Iran has in abundance-oil and cash.
These are dangerous times. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of the neocon wackos who infest the West Wing, the Pentagon, and various right-wing “no-think” tanks, have already succeeded in creating a cauldron of anti-U.S. fury in Iraq that will haunt this country for a generation to come. Now they appear dead-set on igniting something even worse in Iran. But just as the attack on Iraq has had repercussions far beyond the boundaries of that fractured land, the nuclear threat against Iran will have effects that reach far beyond Persia in both geography and in time.
It is clear from Bush policy over the past five years that nations which have no nuclear deterrent are considered fair game by these guys, while those nations that have the bomb are handled with kid gloves. Look at Bush administration policy towards Pakistan, India, China, and even North Korea. Iran clearly will make every effort to enter the safety circle in which those countries find themselves, thanks to this administration’s threats.
What makes this doubly treasonous is the undeniable reality that the more nations there are with nuclear weapons, the more likely it is that nuclear weapons will ultimately be used.
Instead of working to limit the spread of these ultimate weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration is doing the opposite–promoting it. The administration’s plans to begin developing a new generation of smaller tactical nuclear weapons are having the same effect. By signaling to the world that the U.S. is getting prepared to use nuclear weapons in its campaign of endless wars on smaller nations, the Bush administration is insuring that the potential targets of U.S. malevolence will do their best to acquire similar weapons. It’s only a matter of time, then, before one of those countries succeeds in slipping one of those small devices into an American city.
And that’s not even to mention the terrorists, like Osama Bin Laden’s merry gang, who will have a wider range of potential sources for acquiring a small nuclear device of their own as the nuclear club grows apace.
If we Americans want security, we need to start telling our elected officials they need to put a halt to this madness and treason.
The U.S. needs to declare unequivocally that it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons in any conflict, and particularly against any nation that has no nuclear weapons of its own. That is a fundamental act of sanity and security.
If this Congress won’t vote such a resolution, then 2006 is the year we need to elect a Congress that will. Then we can start examining that article in the Constitution that declares treason to be an impeachable crime.
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. Lindorff’s new book, “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is due out May 1.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org